How Dan Letzring Makes Games


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Tell us about yourself - Who are you? What do you do? I am Dan Letzring. I own Letiman Games and I co-own Galactic Raptor Games with Carla Kopp of Weird Giraffe Games. I am a co-host on Breaking into Boardames and am a semi infrequent contributor to the Indie Game Report.

If I’ve never played your games before, what’s the first one I should try? That depends on what type of games you're into! If you like more strategic games then Groves for sure! It is a bag building Worker Placement Game that is really fun! Into family games? Check out Dino Dude Ranch with the Hatchlings Expansion!

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One fact that we probably don’t know about you: I grew up in the Boston area and have a deep desire to move back there!

What games are you playing most right now? “Welcome to... “ It is so quick and easy to set up! Such a fun game! Adventure Tactics as we are working on finishing it up and getting it ready to send off to print.


What are your all-time favorite games? Kingsburg, Kings Forge, Seven Wonders Duel, Pandemic Legacy, Blood Rage, Tzolk'in


What draws you to make games? I love creating things. I love bringing creative projects to life and seeing them go from concept to physical creation!

How did you get started making games? Has your creative process evolved significantly since you began? I originally wanted to make a card game that mimicked the agony of going through grad school (which i was experiencing at that time). My concepts of how the industry works has changed but how I approach design and playtesting hasnt changed much!

How do you market your games? Anywhere and everywhere. I do a lot of local cons, facebook ads, continuous presence in the bg community. I also work hard to network and make great contavts within the industry

What game-related or game business-related media do you consume on a regular basis? The many facebook groups!

What are some tools/programs/supplies you wouldn’t work without? Sharpies. Card sleeves.

What’s your playtesting philosophy? How often/early do you playtest? How do you find playtesters? Right away. It is important to me to get somethong to the table ASAP, even if it is just me playing multiple roles. I just need to see how it functions and feels at the table before doing anything else. We have a good sized playtest group in Rochester and I have a lot of different game groups (comprised of both casual and more hardcore hobby gamers) that are all willing to check my stuff out.


What are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in your work, and how have you overcome them? Really just not having the time to do it all. I know many of us have multiple ideas going all at the same time. For me, it is very important that once I pick a game to move forward with, I completely sideline everything else so I can focus on the one most important to me at that time.


How do you handle life/family/work balance? Not sleeping. Haha jk, kind of. I have regular schedules that I stick to. I also have a wife who is very supportive of what I do. She also has her own hobbies so we can easily take time for ourselves to do our own things that we love.


What one piece of advice would you give aspiring game designers? Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Meet people. Show your game early and often. Listen to what your playtesters are saying and dont get defensive. Give back as often as you ask for others to give to you.


What designer(s) would you like to see answer these questions? Steven Aramini


What’s the best advice about life that you’ve ever received? Can I have 2 answers? 1. Don't be afraid to try for something (like applying for a job/school, trying a creative endeavor), the worst that happens is it doesnt work out and is no different than if you had never tried. But if it succeeds it can change your life. 2. If you embrace the creative lifestyle it can easily cause anxiety stress and burnout. Dont forget to step away, enjoy your life, and have some you time outside of your creative endeavors.

Thank you so much for your insight, Dan! At the time of publishing this article, Dan has an awesome looking new game on Kickstarter - Adventure Tactics. You can also check out his work at LetimanGames.com, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

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If you’re interested in how video games are made as well, check out our designer interviews at Doubtful Games!

Jason Rohrer's story: how to get off the rails and do what you want with your life.

(This is an interview I did years ago, for another – now unavailable – set of interviews called "The Weirdness Studies", where I interviewed people doing weird and fantastic things. I really loved listening to Jason's story, so I got his permission to share it with you. This was a conversation, and has been edited for clarity. –A)  

So, how did you choose your weird career?

 

Right, right, so basically you want to know how I got off the rails? I went to college for computer science. When I was in school, there was no such thing as studying video games or game design. There was a big video game industry, but there was no mention of it...

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Jay: Hey there! I’m Jay. I’m the taller version of Sen, but without kids. I work in video production as a day job thingy and I also teach game design at the Vancouver Film School as a night job thingy. The rest of my time is spent designing games!

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I am a tabletop gamer. I love strategy based games as much as bluffing, social and party games. Over the last 5 years or so I’ve been offering advice or suggestions on other people’s games but didn’t really consider making them myself. Back in 2012 I created my first game with my husband Chris. After that, I knew that I could actually do this and started working on a few ideas. Schrödinger’s Cats is just such a marketable idea that we felt it should be the first one in (hopefully) a series of many.

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I am a writer and crafty type person. I’ve worked in the video game industry for the last 10 years and I have my Master’s degree in Library Science. I read an unhealthy amount and do not like chocolate or vanilla.

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