Orlando Lopes de Sá is one of the Portuguese designers that MEBO Games is pleased to edit. With us published Porto, a game that has won several national awards and has been accepted by players all over the world. We talked about the experience of playing, creating and human interaction these days.
1. What do you like most about board games and how is it reflected in your creations?
What attracts me in modern board games is the social factor and the fact that everyone around the table connects through an analog element and not through the digital, contrary to what happens with most human interactions in the last decade . In my games, I always try to enhance interaction between players, so that players don’t take their eyes off the game board and, as such, forget about their cell phones or other distractions.
2. You have made many games whose theme is Portugal. For MEBO Games you created the game Porto, which was widely accepted by the critics, even winning many awards. What attracted you when you tried to recreate this city’s iconic riverside area and what were the difficulties you felt when transposing it to the board?
The idea was to start from the principles explained above and use a thematic clothing that would be recognizable by all players (national theme, known icons), where the rules were intuitive, simple, but which would maximize interaction between players. In Porto, there is never really negative interaction between players, because even if a player denies an opportunity to another, he will invariably be opening other opportunities. The game mechanisms resulted in a very natural way (you start building on the ground floor, the floors have to be the same color, when you reach the top you put a roof) and the fact that the houses do not belong to no one, it enhanced the much-desired interaction.
3. One of the outstanding aspects of the experience of playing Porto is the board that is very beautiful and gives a feeling of being there. In fact, you can almost smell the river. How was your relationship with illustrator Luís Levy Lima? Considering that you are an architect, do you feel that this influences the dynamics you have with illustrators?
Usually I have a very close relationship with my game illustrators because I like to be part of the process. As in all areas, sharing know-how always adds, never decreases. And I try to support the illustrators I work with in order to make the illustration process easier for them. In Porto, being my first game, I didn’t have the opportunity to follow the whole process, but I was very happy with the final result. The MEBO development team and Luís did a remarkable job.
4. In time of pandemic, how did you manage your passion for board games? Did you play a lot or did you take the opportunity to advance on your next creations?
It is often said in jest that a game designer only has time for 2 of the following 3 hypotheses: Family, Play, Create. As my family is the number one priority, I have to divide my remaining time between playing and creating. This means that I can never play everything I want to play and that I don’t have the time I want to go ahead with all the projects that are under development. This balance is sometimes frustrating, but it is part of the so-called “growing pains”. Perhaps one day I will be able to work part-time creating games and thus be able to restore a more effective balance between playing and creating.