Welcome to People Behind the Meeples, a series of interviews with indie game designers. Here you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know about the people who make the best games that you may or may not have heard of before. If you'd like to be featured, head over to http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html and fill out the questionnaire! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples.
Interviewed on: 8/24/2016
If you've been online in any of the game design spaces you've probably seen Ian Zang. He's pretty active in the community (offline as well). 2017 is looking to be a pretty good year for Ian with a few games scheduled to be published, his first published games. So read on to learn more about Ian and be sure to follow along to see all that he has in store for the gaming community!
Tell me a bit about yourself.
How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Two to five years.
Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I had fallen in love with the social aspect of tabletop gaming, and wanted to bring my own ideas to the table. I was a full-time teacher at the time as well, and games really helped to get to know my students better.
What game or games are you currently working on?
Constellations, Xtronaut v2 (working title), and an unannounced game from IDW. I have a few personal unpublished designs as well that I'm currently working on.
Have you designed any games that have been published?
Not as of yet! I should have a couple coming out next year, though.
What is your day job?
Educational Professional Development Specialist
Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.
Where do you prefer to play games?
Anywhere and anywhere. I have a game on my person at all times.
Who do you normally game with?
Anyone who agrees to it.
If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
Galaxy Trucker or something more thinky.
And what snacks would you eat?
Normally grab pizza, and I also make killer dip.
Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
I try to keep it thematic to the game!
What’s your favorite FLGS?
Games Unlimited in Pittsburgh
What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
Galaxy Trucker is favorite. Dominion; I appreciate it, but am not completely engaged. I don't share worst games; I don't like hating on things.
What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Multi-use cards. I salivate. -- Pure luck games are not cool. I need a little bit of strategy.
What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Video Games
Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games
OK, here's a pretty polarizing game. Do you like and play Cards Against Humanity?
You as a Designer
OK, now the bit that sets you apart from the typical gamer. Let's find out about you as a game designer.
When you design games, do you come up with a theme first and build the mechanics around that? Or do you come up with mechanics and then add a theme? Or something else?
I think of the experience that is tied to the theme, then build mechanics to support that.
Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?
Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?
I appreciate Rob Daviau. His sense for good mechanics and story is so good.
Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
Spur of the moment! When I'm in the middle of something, I sometimes think of an idea I have to put on paper.
How do you go about playtesting your games?
Go to a local game night!
Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
For the past few years, I've been solo-designing. I love working as a team though! Recently, I've been working with Dante Lauretta on the Xtronaut line of games, and have enjoyed the conversations we've had about design and business.
What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
Playtesting. 1) Finding people to play. 2) Dealing with sometimes harsh criticism. 3) Figuring out what the underlying issues are behind the problems players encountered. 4) Implementing those changes. Over. and. Over.
If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
Stargate. I love that whole series.
What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
It's ok to move on. Getting stuck on a design that is not working. Down the road, you might find the inspiration you need to finish it.
What advice would you like to share about designing games?
Listen and talk with other game designers. You will learn so much so quickly!
Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: None
Games that will soon be published are: Constellations, Untitled Xtronaut Game, and an Unannounced IDW Game.
This is what I have currently crowdfunding: None
Currently looking for a publisher I have: Swing State, Inquisition, Melee Magicka
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: Onslaught
Are you a member of any Facebook or other design groups? (Game Maker’s Lab, Card and Board Game Developers Guild, etc.)
Pretty much all of them.
And the oddly personal, but harmless stuff…
OK, enough of the game stuff, let's find out what really makes you tick! These are the questions that I’m sure are on everyone’s minds!
Star Trek or Star Wars? Coke or Pepsi? VHS or Betamax?
Yes, No, VHS
What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
I love movies and filmmaking.
What is something you learned in the last week?
Many galaxies that are visible to the naked eye are titled M12, or M50. Always M-number. I learned that M stands for Messier, the guy who discovered every one of them. He cataloged 110 different galaxies and clusters using a 4 inch refracting telescope in the mid 1700's. The M classification still is used today for those objects.
Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
World Music, Any books, Anything but gory stuff
What was the last book you read?
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Do you play any musical instruments?
I can play violin.
Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I'm an avid waterskiier
Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I took 16 high schoolers on a two-week camping trip.
Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
My marriage proposal. It happened two days earlier than I had anticipated, and many hijinks ensued. Reach out to me on social media for the whole story...
What would you do if you had a time machine?
Check out the far future. I'd like to see how everything ends up.
Are you an extrovert or introvert?
Extrovert. By a large margin.
If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Batman. Mostly because he made himself a superhero.
Have any pets?
An african grey parrot.
When the next asteroid hits Earth, causing the Yellowstone caldera to explode, California to fall into the ocean, the sea levels to rise, and the next ice age to set in, what current games or other pastimes do you think (or hope) will survive into the next era of human civilization? What do you hope is underneath that asteroid to be wiped out of the human consciousness forever?
I hope play as a concept never dies. If the yellowstone caldera explodes, though, it's a hard reset. I think everything under the sun that I'd want gone would be.
If you’d like to send a shout out to anyone, anyone at all, here’s your chance (I can’t guarantee they’ll read this though):
Doug Levandowski: He's a cool dude.
Just a Bit More
Thanks for answering all my crazy questions! Is there anything else you'd like to tell my readers?
I will look at any game design. I love talking about games. Reach out to me on social media, and I will talk your ear off!
Thank you for reading this People Behind the Meeples indie game designer interview! You can find all the interviews here: People Behind the Meeples and if you'd like to be featured yourself, you can fill out the questionnaire here: http://gjjgames.blogspot.com/p/game-designer-interview-questionnaire.html
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