Friday, September 27, 2013

My Suns are Burning!

Featured Kickstarter Interview

Burning Suns
Game Designer Emil Larsen

Burning Suns, my current Featured Kickstarter, has just about a week left and I had the great opportunity to ask the game's designer, Emil Larsen, a few questions.

Emil, I really appreciate you taking the time to answer a few questions. I will try and make the questions different/interesting since I know you have answered the same questions again and again for other people.
Thanks a lot Lou, I'm glad you wanted to take time to interview me. I really appreciate that. 
Q - First question is very random and perhaps a bit strange (perhaps some background is in order: I'm a big Superman fan and Bizzaro is the opposite version of Superman as Jerry Seinfeld so nicely explains to us...)

Snus Gninrub. That is Burning Suns spelled backwards. Describe for us a game that is a "Bizzaro Burning Suns" (or what would be the exact opposite version of Burning Suns).
Haha, that's a great question... the opposite game of Burning Suns would be something along the lines of:
Snus Gninrub is a game of meaningless choices done by placing cubes on different actions that will maximize the decay of your one race. Every player spends around 6-7 hours in order to conclude who have won using the most Cthulhu friendly strategies available in the game. It's about staying apart and try to avoid moving around the static board. The game comes with a limited variety of pale clip-art tokens made in Word, together with some wooden zombie meeples.
Nicely done! I don't think we will be seeing Snus Gninrub hitting the store shelves anytime soon. Burning Suns however is a different story. Speaking of stories...

Q - Story time! Can you give us a little prologue or set up for the theme of the game?
The story of Burning Suns takes place in the end of a 1,000 years peace across the galaxy. Many empires had grown strong during this period, which increased the tension between many of the empires. New races have since appeared trying to gain foothold in the galaxy... all leading up to a climactic event that set the galaxy on fire.

I can't really say anymore, since my backers will be formulating these stories together with me (we'll soon be voting for the backer to write the event).

Another reason why this Kickstarter is so great. The involvement of the gaming community and backers of the project. What better way to make a game than to include those who will be playing the game in key decisions and brainstorming.
Q - What is your absolute favorite thing about Burning Suns? (I'm still trying to decide between the awesome Dieships/miniatures and the hundreds of different empire combinations.)
Hmm.. choosing one thing, that's unfair :D .... Well, I'll have to go with the Dieships I think. Mostly because of how spontaneously I created that concept, and how well it turned out. While I really like a lot of other elements, this one came just from me fiddling around - and that's the beauty of a creative process.

With the great success of the Dieships, it makes you wonder what people will start sticking die into next. I would really like to see a drinking glass with a die suspended in the middle of it in some sort of gyroscope device. Just saying, pretty cool. If anyone is interested in making this happen, let me know and we can make it a reality. Sorry, side tracked.
Q - Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars any day. While I do like the science and setup of Star Trek. When it comes down to it, Star Wars is the epic story that became a part of my life.

I agree 100%. The new Star Trek movies are great by the way, I only hope that the next Star Wars movies will be good. Star Wars, such an epic universe. I think it inspires a lot of people. A fun fact: I grew out my beard recently and have had a co-worker start calling me Wookie. I take it as a complement (also, funny video and tutorial on how to make a "wookie sound" if anyone is interested).

Q - Where did you derive your inspiration from for this great game?
The greatest influences on atmosphere is Star Wars, Sins of a Solar Empire, and Twilight Imperium.
When it comes to influences on mechanics, I found most of my inspiration in Rebellion, Starcraft, and Eclipse. I actually think the reason why Burning Suns doesn't really feel like the other great 4X games, is because of the heavy influence from computer games.

That is really cool. I remember the good old days playing Starcraft late into the night... And for those unfamiliar with "4X" you can click here and read about it on Wikipedia. 

Q - Describe for us what a normal turn consists of.
Income (yay!) > Refill and exchange some tokens and the action sheets > Placing your leaders on the actions you want to take (this will also tell us who start out in next round) > Execute the actions in the order they have been placed...

Sounds pretty straight forward to me. Clear as crystal.
Q - What is your favorite color?
Green - the color of nature, balance and hope. 

Good choice. Green is a great color. Hooray for St. Patrick's Day! Right?
Q - I really like that you have involved the gaming community in the creative process and included us in the game development. What are some key things that you have gained from others during this process?
*phew* There's A LOT!

Just to name a few: Ideas for expansions, balancing ideas, design choices, solutions on some Kickstarter issues, unit naming, stories, stories and more stories. It's simply awesome. I could be mistaken, but I've yet to discover a campaign/production that involves backers on such a level. I mean, that's what I believe is the spirit of Kickstarter.

Emil, I don't think you are mistaken at all and I think that involving the backers and gaming community as much as you are is one of the great things about your project. Sure, the game is awesome and you have sweet Dieships, but involving others in the game making process is very cool! 

Q - It is really important to have a supportive wife when you undertake ventures like this one as well as have support from friends. How has your wife and friends supported you and how would you like to thank them?
Yea - without a solid foundation at home, you won't be able to reach any goals whatsoever. I'm so thankful for the wife I have. She's used to having me away all week (army), and then when I come home there's also the Kickstarter. It's crazy, but she's been there for me every day. The amount of thanks I owe her can't be formulated in plain text.

I've had some very understanding colleagues at my work - and some very cool board gaming industry colleagues in Denmark giving me a push in the back. It's awesome to be surrounded by such people, especially with this kind of almost one-man-show I've been putting on for the last 30 days!

Well said.

Q - What is your favorite planet? (Remember when we were growing up and Pluto was still considered a planet?)
Hahaha... true... dissed by the men of science :D I've probably always been kind of a Mars person. 

Favorite color is green, but favorite planet is the red one eh? I do like the fact that Mars is nearby allowing us to explore it more easily than any of the others. Sadly, Pluto was always mine.

Q - I love the Dieships, and I know a lot of others do as well. And I found out that it is your favorite thing about the game. How did you come up with this brilliant idea?
This is what sometimes happen when you just play around with components. I was doing some 3D figures, imported some dice and started to play around with some robot parts.... and suddenly the d4 had legs. The rest is Dieship history ;)

Seriously, they are killer. I think the Dieships alone should make everyone want to back the project right away.
Q - What is your favorite board game?
It's cheap to go for your own game ;) ... Hhhmm... at the moment it must be X-wing miniatures, it's just a wonderful blend of theme and mechanics.

I really enjoy that one as well. Very fun even though my wife piloting the tie-fighters seems to defeat me every time.

Q - Describe Burning Suns with only one word.

Q - This is a huge project and future projects may be very far from your mind right now, but tell us - do you have something on the back burner for a future game after this one?
I do.... though it's still in early beta since I don't have time to prototype more at the moment ;)
It's a spiritual successor or predecessor I guess - called Burning Rome (and you're the very first I tell it to).

In short, it's going to have the same tactical level and adaptation of Burning Suns. It'll (if they want to continue) feature the same wonderful artists... you could probably call it an epic scale board game implementation of the computer game "Rome - Total War".

Thanks to me being so talkative - Now I have to go an register the name on BGG :D

Wow! Thanks for sharing. I feel honored indeed to be the first. I think you have a bright future in board games my friend across the pond.
Q - Name the top 5 things that make you happy.
My wife...
Our still unborn son she carries around ;)
My parents.
Appreciation of my work.
My dreams

It is important to surround ourselves with happiness. Great list.

Q - 8 days remaining. What would you like to tell others about the game? Anything else you would like to share?
Join forces with me and my backers, go to our Kickstarter > > and become part of this cool experience, it doesn't end with the Kickstarter :)

I'm really looking forward to share the final development and game with all of you!

Thank you very much for your time and putting up with my off the wall questions. You were a great sport. I think you have a fantastic game  here and I can't wait for the finished product!
Thanks a lot for interviewing me Landon, that's really nice of you - and I had a blast answering your questions!

If you are not convinced yet; check out the Kickstarter page, Sun Tzu Games, or the Board Game Geek page. What are you waiting for? Go get involved in creating what is to be one of the great games of 2014 when it is unveiled in all it's Dieship glory and that is How Lou Sees It!

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