Tuesday, April 3, 2018

People Behind the Meeples - Episode 114: Jan Richard Hansen

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. Support me on Patreon!

Name:Jan Richard Hansen
Day Job:I work as a Multimedia Designer in my own company. Doing everything from designing board games to making videos and music.
Designing:Five to ten years.
Facebook:Muzak Games/
Find my games at:It could be I will put out World Dumbination on tabletop simulator or something like that. So if people are interested I recommend they like the Muzak Games Facebook page or sign up for the newsletter!
Today's Interview is with:

Jan Richard Hansen
Interviewed on: 2/18/2018

Jan Richard Hansen has been involved in the board game industry for over 20 years now, but started designing his own games in just the last few years. He's already published a game called Christmas King in Norway and has plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign for his newest game, World Dumbination, in May. He also has a number of other games in the works, through his company Muzak Games, so keep your eye on Jan Richard and the projects he's working on!

Some Basics
Tell me a bit about yourself.

How long have you been designing tabletop games?
Five to ten years.

Why did you start designing tabletop games?
I have worked with graphic design and illustrations for the board game industry in Norway for 20 years. I also did some small contributions to the mechanics of the games I worked on, but after a while I started to get too many good ideas for games myself. So around 5 years ago I developed and designed some games from scratch. Now I just started my company Muzak Games and started on my first Kickstarter project.

What game or games are you currently working on?
I’m working on a funny political war game called World Dumbination. You play the only 5 world leaders that are left on earth, after aliens have collected the most intelligent people to inhabit a new and better world. THe goal for the game is, of course, world domination.

Have you designed any games that have been published?
Yes. I have done a children's game for a Christmas television series here in Norway, called Christmas King, that was published a few years ago. The players had to explore a hidden world, finding things to make them able to make snow, and then go to the castle to be crowned king, or queen. The hidden world was cursed so it had stopped snowing. And as everyone knows, we Norwegians love snow ;-)

What is your day job?
I work as a Multimedia Designer in my own company. Doing everything from designing board games to making videos and music.

Your Gaming Tastes
My readers would like to know more about you as a gamer.

Where do you prefer to play games?
In my office. We have a nice conference room that works well for gaming.

Who do you normally game with?
I try to play games with a lot of different people, so don’t have a regular crowd.

If you were to invite a few friends together for game night tonight, what games would you play?
I have a lot of games waiting to be played at my office, but lately we have mostly been playing my World Dumbination game. As long as my friends would rather play my games over others, I’m not going to protest :-)

And what snacks would you eat?
Something that is not sticking to the game elements.

Do you like to have music playing while you play games? If so, what kind?
Don’t listen to music while playing, something I think the other players are just happy for since I like jazz ;-)

What’s your favorite FLGS?
Don’t have any.

What is your current favorite game? Least favorite that you still enjoy? Worst game you ever played?
I actually don’t have one favorite game. Its many good games that I have played, but I need more time to get to know more of the newest things. I hate quiz games, so that’s by far my least favorite. Quiz games are very popular in Norway, so I have designed a lot of them, but never played any of them ;-)

What is your favorite game mechanic? How about your least favorite?
Have to go with another boring answer that I don’t have a favorite mechanic. I like games that combines things. I don’t think so much about mechanics when i developing my games either. I just make things work, and if I encounter any problems that needs to be solved, I just try to be creative and come up with a good solution, but I usually don’t know if what I come up with are new things or not.

What’s your favorite game that you just can’t ever seem to get to the table?
Gloomhaven is a game that often gets mentioned when I meet other players, so that is probably something I should try to play sometime.

What styles of games do you play?
I like to play Board Games, Card Games, Miniatures Games, Video Games

Do you design different styles of games than what you play?
I like to design Board Games, Card Games, RPG Games, Video 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?
In my first games I come up with the mechanics first, but lately I done the opposite. When I made the mechanics first I have been struggling to come up with a cool enough name for the games afterwards. I also think it’s easier to get a game with a cool theme noticed when you’re not a well-known designer, but of course the mechanics have to be good as well.

Have you ever entered or won a game design competition?

Do you have a current favorite game designer or idol?

Where or when or how do you get your inspiration or come up with your best ideas?
When I am waking up in the middle of the night. Something I do almost every night. Seems like my brain is thinking about problems that need solving while I sleep, and it wakes me up when it has come up with a solution.

How do you go about playtesting your games?
I playtest the games by myself to find the obvious bugs first. Then I gather some friends and test different amount of players. In the end I try it on someone completely new, and just place the game on the table and sit in the corner and watch how things goes.

Do you like to work alone or as part of a team? Co-designers, artists, etc.?
Since I just started my company Muzak Games I work mostly alone now. But I would like to have some more people to lean on in the future. That probably comes down to how the World Dumbination Kickstarter goes.

What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a game designer?
My biggest challenge is the marketing of the games. Since I am not completely into the board game scene (it’s not my main hobby), I feel it’s difficult to get news of a game spread to the right places. Now it seems to be a lot of people Kickstarting games, so you game can just disappear in the crowd. In that way it can also be an advantage to be "new" on the scene and maybe look at things differently.

If you could design a game within any IP, what would it be?
My World Dumbination game is in a way playing a bit on the borders since the characters are suppose to be some of the most profiled world leaders.

What do you wish someone had told you a long time ago about designing games?
I wish someone had told me no one uses sand timers anymore. I went to Essen a few years ago, just to check it out, but also to show off my prototypes for a totally new design of a sand timer. I had made a game that used a sand timer, but it was a big problem that we often had to wait for the sand to completely run through when someone had used half the time. So I fixed the problem by redesigning the 3000 year old hourglass design, and made the world’s first resettable sand timer, which also looked quite good. There was only 1 game that used a sand timer at Essen that year. I should have made that 20 years ago ;-)

What advice would you like to share about designing games?
With just one game published in little Norway, I don’t feel I am in a position to be giving much advice just yet, ask me again in a year ;-)

Would you like to tell my readers what games you're working on and how far along they are?
Published games, I have: The Christmas King.
Games that will soon be published are: World Dumbination
Currently looking for a publisher I have: I have some games that I plan to try to get published the old way.
I'm planning to crowdfund: World Dumbination
Games I feel are in the final development and tweaking stage are: World Dumbination
Games that I'm playtesting are: A very cool party game! Again, a theme a bit outside the normal gaming world.
Games that are in the early stages of development and beta testing are: A fast card game
And games that are still in the very early idea phase are: Anyone up for a Ski resort game, or is that just a Norwegian thing? :-)

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?
Star Wars, Coke, SVHS ;-)

What hobbies do you have besides tabletop games?
My main hobby is paragliding. I’m actually on the Norwegian national team, so I am going to fly with the Europeans this year. Before paragliding (17 years ago) my hobby was composing and playing music.

What is something you learned in the last week?
Learned again that things take more time than you think.

Favorite type of music? Books? Movies?
Jazz, electronica, funk, soul. Don’t have time to read books.

What was the last book you read?
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Do you play any musical instruments?
Bass, guitar, keyboards.

Tell us something about yourself that you think might surprise people.
I have actually been on the Mensa Norway national IQ team, where we competed against Sweden in what I believe was the first national IQ competition between nations to have ever been arranged.

Tell us about something crazy that you once did.
I am one of the few that have flown past the Cristo Redentor statue in Rio in a paraglider twice. Its a short flight, but very difficult since the cloudbase usually is so low and the landing fields are so few, it is not many days it is possible.

Biggest accident that turned out awesome?
Doing paragliding acrobatics 14 years ago I lost control of the glider and ended up falling straight down on a roof. For some minutes I was sure I was paralyzed, but I just broke my upper arm. I stopped doing acrobatics after that. ;-) The flying I do now is quite safe, it gets safer with a lot of experience.

Who is your idol?
Have no idols.

What would you do if you had a time machine?
Checking out the future, since it would be too risky to go back in time.

Are you an extrovert or introvert?
I started out being very extrovert, then I got extremely introvert in school. But now I am back where I started.

If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
Then I would probably be the last alien on earth, which you can find in my game. He is extremely popular, and just travels around in a red electric sports car he found floating in space on his way here. With the alien superpower he is a kind of superhero.

Have any pets?
I don’t have any myself, but I share office space with someone that has a cute little dog that sits on my lap every day. Everyone should have an office dog!

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?
In my World Dumbination game the spaceships actually look like asteroids. So I would think it’s probably the aliens that come to visit instead of a asteroid swarm hitting the earth, hehe ;-)

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):
Hope everyone checks out my game World Dumbination that will be launched on Kickstarter in late May if everything goes to plan!

Thanks for answering all my crazy questions!

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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