Welcome to an interview for the series Game Credits Who’s Who (#GameCreditsWW). Ever read the credits page of a game you enjoy and wonder about the various positions listed? Would you like to work in the game industry someday but are not sure how some of the positions work? This Monday series will take a personal look into those positions and introduce you to real people doing those very jobs in the game industry. This week, let me introduce you to Jon Lonngren, co-owner of Fallen Dominion Studios. This interview is timely as their first Kickstarter for Fallen Land: A Post-Apocalyptic Board Game is in its final days. I met Jon and his team at Gen Con this year. I enjoyed getting to know them and learning about their game.
Tell us a little about yourself and what you do as a co-owner of a publishing company.
Hi folks! My name is Jon Lonngren, and for the last eleven years I have been an indie tabletop game designer. I am the co-owner of Fallen Dominion Studios, LLC. I definitely wear a lot of hats here at the studio, but my major roles are as the writer, project manager and public relations, marketing etc… My business partner (and best friend) Sean Cahill and I created and designed Fallen Land: A Post-Apocalyptic Board Game.
It is currently available on Kickstarter (Campaign ends on September 4th! Hurry up and get your copies now!) and it is a massive sandbox style board game, with unlimited re-playability that features a ton of great pulp-stories and artwork. You will NEVER play the same game twice; not a lot of games can claim that.
As an Indie game designer at a small company, there is always a lot going on; you either sink or you swim. We are currently in an age that has been called “The Golden Age of Board Games,” by many industry leaders and researchers. Therefore, it’s a mixed bag–it has never been a better time to be a designer, but the completion is fierce, too. The commitment it takes to be in this industry is also pretty intense. For me, it has meant a solid 80 hour work week for the last eleven years. I know that I speak for both Sean and I when I say that we are both truly passionate about game design. We wouldn’t do any of this if we weren’t. Nothing is more important to us than the fans and fellow gamers. We receive personal messages and emails everyday from fans and gamers; it makes it all worthwhile. Excluding Gen Con and other conventions, it is rarely shiny sun, unicorns and rainbows.
I think most people in the industry would agree that game design as a whole is a broad spectrum of inter-related endeavors. From my perspective, it definitely requires a very driven individual–the type of person that will overcome ANY obstacle or encounter to achieve their mission objective. In this case, that mountain to climb was Fallen Land: A Post Apocalyptic Board Game. In hindsight, we maybe should have started with a smaller, less intense game; that is the game that we were passionate about. In my opinion, it was one of the very few genres of games that were in desperate need of some serious bedrock. All of the other board game genres have been done numerous times and include several masterpieces. I can’t begin to tell you how many times we have had gamers tell us, “We have been waiting for a game like this for a long time!”
Being an indie game designer requires an endless amount of creativity, analysis, problem solving, public relations, serious salesman skills and being a people person. I’m not a game tycoon or a designer with tons of games under my belt. But I have been doing this for eleven years, and I personally view game design as a 20-sided die. Each of its faces represents a different aspect of what is involved with making games. Over the years, Sean and I have had to learn each of those facets the best we could, from the creative process to printing and from marketing to manufacturing. There is always more to learn and we have made plenty of mistakes.
As a rule, you should try to surround yourself with quality people to help you accomplish your goals. In our case, those people were Warren Ripley (Art director 2008-2016), Patrick Phillips (Lead Play Tester 2008-2016), Bonz Jones (Mechanics analyst 2013-2016), Bill Pitcher (Editor 2016), and a slew of great artists, like Joe Lower and Carter Allen, just to name a few…
We are optimistic about our future. As more and more people play Fallen Land: A Post-Apocalyptic Board Game and enjoy their experiences, this game has the potential to become one of the greats. We’re playing the long game here. Fallen Land never gets old, because players will never play the same game twice. And Fallen Dominion Studios has so much more coming soon down the pipeline…
How did you become a co-owner of a publishing company?
Lots of hard work: that’s what it takes. Never giving up on your dream. Sean and I have had to invest every spare dollar we had, every extra hour of free time and sacrificed a lot in every other area to create Fallen Land. It was a team effort that involved help from some great people. Of course, everything has its highs and lows, but if you’re serious about something and it’s important to you, you should always do your very best work and never quit.
Share with us some of your recent projects.
Eleven years in the making, Fallen Land: A Post-Apocalyptic Board Game.
We’re also working on several other games right now, but Fallen Land is our magnum opus.
What is your greatest frustration or pet peeve as a co-owner of a publishing company?
My personal pet peeves and frustrations are a result of communication “black outs,” rude people and people that waste my time. Unfortunately, gems like that are often rolled into one. When you work an 80 hour work week and you have a family, time is always at a premium. When the bad things happen (above), it wrecks the time I have planned with my wife and kids. I have to spend time picking up the pieces, changing course and trying to fix the situation. People without kids sometimes have a hard time understanding that.
How can readers learn more about you or contact you?
Thanks again for this opportunity, T.R. As for those who would like to contact us, Sean and I would enjoy hearing from you. Nothing makes us happier than fellow gamers and friends reaching out to us via private message or email. Sean and I couldn’t do what we do without all of you folks out there enjoying our game.
We are usually able to get back to you within two to three days.
For those of you who took the time to read all of this and would like your copy of the two FREE Fallen Land PROMO CARDS that we were giving away at Gen Con 49 this year, simply send us a self addressed envelope with another envelope inside it and MAKE SURE it has the return postage and the return address on it. We would be happy to send them to you:
My Free Promo Cards!
C/O Jon Lonngren
Fallen Dominion Studios, LLC
3 Partridge Court,
Iowa City, Iowa,
Fallen Lands: A Post-Apocalyptic Board Game is currently available on Kickstarter, from July 21st-September 4th, 2016: You can order your copy of Fallen Land: A Post Apocalyptic Board Game here. After our Kickstarter campaign ends September 4th and once our game arrives from the manufacturer, you’ll be able to get copies of the game on our website www.fallendominionstudios.com and after that, the retail copies will be soon to follow.
There are so many ways to reach out to us!
Business Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Fallendominionstudios/?pnref=lhc
Youtube Channel: This is new to us, so please bear with us as we build up our content here 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4ZBsmWvwZT53BW-y7C2cRQ
Business Email: Info@fallendominionstudios.com
Public Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jon.lonngren
Twitter: JonLonngren @FallDomStudios