Creator Spotlight: Bailey Villipart, Tabletop/RPG Designer & Podcast Host
Written by Nicholas Uster
Bailey Villipart is an aspiring tabletop/RPG designer attending Marist College. He also hosts the Digital Delights, and Fable's Cove podcasts.
“At one point I was walking in the snow outside, alone, and had the thought that I am the only person on Earth right now experiencing this moment, in this space, in this snow. I’m the only person having this feeling of content, right here, right now. I strive to recreate that feeling in games, whether it be virtually, or imaginatively in tabletop/role-playing form.”
BAILEY’S EARLY JOURNEY
Tabletop gaming has been a beloved hobby for Bailey Villipart since the age of 14. Beginning his college journey as a music education major, a computer science class his freshman year helped him to discover his passion for tabletop design. The allure of designing and creating games enticed him to transfer schools. He is now double majoring in computer programming for game design, and emerging media in technical writing at Marist College.
Bailey studied and practiced tabletop/game design through his academic programs, and insightful videos he found on the internet. “What’s great about this field is that so many people have had the same questions before you, and so many expert resources are available online to learn at your own pace,” he explained. Bailey ensured that practicing design for a few hours a week truly enhanced his skills. The feedback from those that have played Bailey’s games throughout the years have served as a constructive learning experience, “More often than not, the people playing your games will have a much better idea of what is fun than what has been designed in your head. I take that feedback and grow from it every day.” Regarding podcasts, he learned to create and edit on his own by utilizing various online videos and his prior experiences from studying music and sound editing.
Bailey explained that school has helped to teach him the basic building blocks of game design theory and programming, but otherwise he is mostly self-taught. His professors have been a great inspiration to him, especially Professor Fanfarelli. As Bailey mentioned, “He showed me there really are no bounds to this field, being that he’s had jobs from working as a professor, to a game team, to working on a project with NASA. The project studied the human mind while undergoing the shock and awe effects of seeing Earth from space for the first time, through game simulations.”
Bailey desired to work on in-depth game design with his dev partner and best friend Joe (The second host of Digital Delights). However, the unforeseen quarantine took away their access to their school’s labs, and resulted in them being a state away from each other. These obstacles were overcome with the creation of the Digital Delights podcast. Bailey and Joe began to meet once a week over Zoom. Two random words are generated each week, forming the title of a new game which the duo designs over the course of an hour. This evolved into Bailey eventually creating Fable's Cove, a podcast that he hosts alone. He interviews game masters and their players, authors, and fantasy enthusiasts alike about their experiences and tales.
Digital Delights Cover Art
Aside from the Digital Delights and Fable's Cove podcasts, one of Bailey’s most meaningful experiences was running a 4-year-long Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition campaign. “It started out as a simple way to get a large group of 15 people together to play D&D with three different DM’s, and it evolved into a beautiful homebrew story in Faerun. Being able to witness it grow, and see the emotion and joy it brought to everyone involved over the course of 4 years made me grow a real appreciation and love for the immersive experience of tabletop RPGs. It will always have a special place in my heart, and inspire me every day.”
Any tabletop game that Joe and Bailey design on Digital Delights is developed into a real, playable tabletop game for their patrons to enjoy. They are currently designing a tabletop deception game called Who. Threatened. Her?. It entails role-playing different roles as citizens in a town, run by the mayor role. An aggressor role doesn’t like the way the town is run, and is trying to sneak threats to the mayor’s mailbox to scare them out of town. It is everyone else’s job to remain innocent and not be convicted by the investigator role. “Discussing through the individual steps of game design theory each week has really opened my mind to what goes into everyone’s job in the games industry. You can jump on a Goomba in Super Mario and pay no mind to it, but a programmer made that game logic happen.”
The two are also wrapping up development on a simple, 2D platformer called Life Light. Players play as a wisp, traversing a mountain to bring light and color back to the world by climbing to the top. Joe and Bailey’s most exciting project, which is still being developed, is called Roll. It is a life simulator that revolves around the player character who moves to a new town. In lore they are used to their old town, so everything seems bland, and black and white, quite literally. However, once the player interacts with NPC’s and bonds with them, the town starts to shimmer and radiate with color and light. Bailey hopes the game will be a thunderous entry to the game development industry.
Bailey explains that the hardest part of developing a project as a team is time management. Getting together to discuss design, splitting up work, and completing the work on top of day-to-day life is a challenge. “The biggest responsibility for either of us in a team like this is deciding who does what, and how to get it done together. We combine our strengths and weaknesses, and over time it gets easier, but will always remain a challenge.”
LOOKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE Bailey plans to build a career working in narrative game design, creating stories and encounters for Dungeons & Dragons at Wizards of the Coast. Regardless he has the experience of design, evolving skills in programming, and a great team of two with Joe to start creating and marketing their own games. Bailey is also interested in working in level design and gameplay design at Media Molecule, thatgamecompany, or Media Tonic. “So long as I am making great games, and creating even greater experiences for the people playing them, it’s hard to not be happy!”
Bailey advises that new designers never stop learning. “Each day, try and practice something new in your field, or revisit something you haven’t worked with in a while. Part of learning in this field is the never-ending cycle of practice in design, writing, programming, interaction design, art, audio-visual, and level design.” Taking the appropriate risks to chase your dreams are also important, “Don’t be afraid to take a big step in a direction you aren’t quite used to. The hardest decision I’ve ever made in life is to transfer into a college, studying something completely new, when I swore up-and-down since the age of 10 I would be a music teacher one day. Step out of your comfort zone, do something new, and enjoy learning what you do. If something is on your mind, chances are it’s because you truly want to do it. Don’t be afraid of change, especially in this field of design, because “normal” can never make a difference.”
Check out Digital Delights on Spotify, iHeartRadio, SoundCloud, iTunes, and on their Discord server. They design a new game every episode and walk through all of the major steps of design. If you enjoy their shows and want to play the games that they design, join their Patreon simply by searching “Digital Delights Podcast” on Patreon.
“We love what we do and would love if you did too!”
Also check out Bailey’s personal website to see all of his podcasts, blogs, and tidbits of work in progress!
If you are into fantastical stories and experiences in tabletop RPGs, check out Fable’s Cove on YouTube for videocasts, and SoundCloud for it in podcast form. Bailey has interviewed a grand master DM named Chris, one of the original playtesters of D&D modules in the early 80’s. Chris even ran games for Gary Gygax, in person, three times!
Fable’s Cove - EP 1 Fable’s Cove - EP 2