Interview with Frank DiLorenzo

em português

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How did you come up with the idea to create "Masters of Venice"?
I've tinkered with economic game ideas for years wanting to do a game that focused mainly on stocks and commodities. One day I was struck by the pegging idea as a way to track the rise and fall of prices and sat down to flesh out a game around that. Within 24 hours I was testing the very first prototype of the Venice game. The theme came out of how I built the first board spaces with a river/canal between them.

Where do you get the ideas for your games? Do they start with the mechanics or the themes?
Both really. MOV was the result of tinkering with a mechanics idea revolving about the volatility of prices. But other games I've designed were straight from themes. For example, Overthrone developed from a conversation about how it would be cool to have a game about taking control of the French court in the time of the musketeers. Disorder came from wanting to translate an old favorite spelling game into board game form.

What kind of mechanics do you prefer to focus on the development process of your games?
Ironically I try to keep things as simple and straightforward as possible. It may not look that way from the MOV rulebook, but once you've played it, you'll come to realize it's not really that hard to learn, and truly a reactive game in play since everything revolves around timing and other players' actions. I try to always have some random element in my games, but =
mainly keep the bulk of the game play with mechanics that will force reactions that effect the other players.

When did you realize that create games were your dream?
A - I began designing games when I was 10 years old, mostly simple but satisfying war games. I kept it up sporadically over the years until one day I designed a treasure hunt game that so many friends seemed to like, that I began to investigate getting it published. After a little while of getting nowhere fast, I decided to start my own publishing company and it took off from there. Creating the games is definitely the most fun part of my work, but unfortunately, I also have a company to run.

Which level of luck is acceptable for you in a game?
I'm fine with a little element of luck. But too much luck in a game kills me and I really don't like games that are purely luck related. To me, a game has to have a strategic element, a challenge for the players beyond just pulling a card or rolling a die.

How many games do you work on at one time? Are you working on several designs simultaneously, or do you work solely on one project?
I have several ideas always simmering on the back burner, but typically I only have time enough to focus seriously on one game at a time. I'd love to do more, but at the moment, I can't possibly stretch my time that thin.

Can you tell us anything about the project you are currently working on? Can you tell me any details about the game itself?
No, it's highly classified, eyes only. I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you sort of design. Actually, I'm not working on any of my designs right now, we've got a backlog of great games from other inventors that we need to focus on so my stuff will have to wait.

How often do you play test a board game before publication?
A ton. We test it to death and then bring it back to life and test it to death again. It's necessary to see all the possibilities and crucial in order to knock out the flaws and problems that may not be seen at first glance.

What game that you've designed took the longest and had the most changes?
It was Masters of Venice. I was told by some playtesters that they were happy with it in previous versions. I however wasn't so it went back for some 20-30 iterations before I was satisfied. And since I'm able to still happily play it and enjoy it, we must have done something right.

How do you define yourself as a game designer?
Not sure that I do. I tend to be open to most anything so I don't really confine myself within any rigid structure. If anything I like to think that I am a game designer who will try to give you a game that will challenge you in ways, make you think in ways and yet still be fun. I think that many of my designs however are tough for newbies to play with those who know the games as their is a distinct advantage to knowing the strategies of my games.

Your family and friends participate in your adventure to create a new game?
Those who like games, absolutely. My games are always better for their input and comments and suggestions.

The creation of a game, have several moments? Creation, editing, testing and publishing? Which is the most pleasant for you? Why?
Creation is the most fun by far. Watching a game take shape and trying out new ideas is always the best part. Editing is tedious and mind numbing and despite how much I've done, there's always something that slips by. Even with outside editing that's been a problem. Testing is fun but can get tedious as it is quite intensive. It is fun to watch though and learn as others find the flaws you've missed or make suggestions that can add to the game. And publishing is not bad, but is a lot of work. The interesting part is watching the game come to life through the work of the graphics and illustrations team. By far the most odious part is the rules writing. It's no simple task to write clear concise rules. ( Especially for someone as verbose as I am!)

You play games time to time, or the games are part of your daily life?
I love playing games and often make time to play once a week just for fun. I have much less time for it than I used to, but I still try to play as often as possible.

How often do you play your own games after they've been published? Do you prefer playing your own games or the games of others?
For a while after they've been published I play them a lot just because the game is new and everyone wants to try it. But most I lose interest in.
The exceptions have been Masters of Venice, which is always so different and a genre that I really enjoy, and Overthrone which is a fun yet cutthroat card game. I actually look forward to playing Masters of Venice despite personally playtesting it a gajillion times.

Can you tell me the game you enjoy playing the most? Why?
I love games with stock in it and economic themes. I'm an entrepreneur at heart so I have a natural attraction to games that involve money and the building of economic engines. I love games like Acquire and Puerto Rico. But I also love party games that get everyone laughing like Time's UP. I'm a huge trivia buff (holding a record of dubious distinction on the TV show of Who Wants to be a Millionaire ) and always enjoy trivia games ( with one notable exception). I enjoy the occasional wargame, particularly Richard Borg's Battlecry and Diplomacy. I'm a big werewolf fan too. Really, any game at all, let's play!

Can you tell me your favorite game?
Fu Manchu's Hidden Hoard. A childhood favorite that holds special favor with me. Probably Acquire right up there with that one too.

And your favorite type of game?
Really depends on the mood and the people I'm with. I'm open to most games and will play most anything once.

Do you prefer play the games or create them?

You will present "Masters of Venice" in Essen?
Not sure. I don't have plans to do that yet, but it's definitely a venue that it belongs in and I think would do well at. Plus it's been a while since I've been to Essen and this is the perfect excuse to go.

Do you think sales are a determining factor of whether a game is good or not?
Tough question. The core gamers are very savvy as to what constitutes a good game or not. So good sales obviously means the game is being enjoyed and therefore can logically be considered to be good. But it's possible for a good game to be poorly marketed in a sea of games and thus get ignored. I've definitely encountered small print games that were quite good yet their sales would paint them as a terrible game.

Do you normally follow any particular game designer with especial attention?
Absolutely, I love what Martin Wallace is doing, great games coming from him. And there are others of course, but I've played 10 games in the last 4 weeks, 7 are his and 1 is mine.

Do you think that board games can be use for an education purpose?
Absolutely, without question. They are great for teaching social skills, mathematics, vocabulary, spelling, history, problem solving, etc. The list goes on and on. Are all games educational? Absolutely not. But plenty areand should be so used.

Do you have another job, or you are a full time game designer?
I am a full time publisher, secondly a game designer.

What you think about the economic crisis? It will affect the games sales?
To a certain extent yes, but really, we've seen only growth in sales in most sectors. There have been changes and I've seen more than a few small specialty stores go under in this economic storm. But overall, it appears that toys and games are weathering the economy decently if not well.

When had started the history of R&R games? Which is the public target for R&R Games? Tell us more about the company.
I founded R&R Games back in 1996 in my quest to publish my first game, Riddles & Riches. It was a treasure hunt game that grew from my love of designing live treasure hunts (something I still do as part of R&R). The game was pretty well received and we began adding more of my designs to the line as we slowly expanded. We began bringing in outside designs in 1999 and the company blossomed. Our main focus has been party games ( like Time’s UP, Smarty Party, etc.) and family games (Pigpile, Flea Circus, etc.) Games that are simple to pick up and play, that make people laugh. Ones you can enjoy with the whole family. In 2005 we added a toy/game in Hide & Seek Safari for young children that won Toy of the Year awards from television’s Today Show toy test and Parenting magazine. It became one of our best selling products ever. This year we forayed back into the hobby/gamer market with my Masters of Venice game. We try to make a wide variety of games, hopefully unique and fun for everyone.

What kind of games do you edit?
Every game in our line. I go through each component from rules to box to card content in the editing.

What you know about Portugal? Have you ever visited Portugal?
It's next to Spain geographically, it has its own language, I'm familiar with it's history and I can name its' capital. It also has a supply center in Diplomacy. Other than that, not much as I have never been to your country. I hear it is beautiful though and I would certainly love to visit someday as I love to travel, meet new people and see new places.

Thank you very much!
Thanks for the interview!

BoardGameGeekSite Oficial
Frank DiLorenzo BGG
Masters of Venice

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