Nightlight Interview – Louis-Nicolas Dozois

This week we interview Louis-Nicolas Dozois, creator of Shake Out.

Welcome! Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Louis-Nicolas Dozois. I’m Canadian, born in Montreal, Quebec
but lived most of my life where I live now in Ottawa, Ontario.

What game or games have you had published?

In addition to a long list of video games, both personal and
professional, I have two board games available online. One is Non-Stop
Safari which I co-designed for the 2011 Global Game Jam which you can
download to print and play from the GGJ website here:
http://globalgamejam.org/2011/non-stop-safari
More recently I released my first commercial project Shake Out!
available from The Game Crafter:
http://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/shake-out-

Do you publish under your own design label?

Well, yes and no. I, as of yet, self publish but not under any sort of
label, just under my name.

How long have you been designing games?

This is a tricky question for me because I can’t really tell you when
I transitioned from simply making games up as a kid to “designing”
games. I started releasing free-ware computer games as a young teen,
so I guess that’s when I started thinking about it more seriously.
So.. um, 15 or 16 years?

How much time do you spend designing and playing games?

If we’re talking board games, I have two groups I play with, one from
work I usually join every couple months and another group of high
school friends I meet monthly for twelve hour marathons. Between those
I will play a lot of lighter fare and party games. As for designing,
it depends a lot on whether or not I have a project “on the go”. I’m
always thinking of game designs and improving existing designs. Usually
during my daily commute but when I was in the thick of it with Shake
Out! I was probably spending about ten hours a week for 2 or 3 weeks
doing artwork, promo stuff and writing the rules.

What types of games do you enjoy playing?

The only thing that seems to be a constant when it comes to my
preference is game length. It might just be the gamer in me but I tend
to prefer games I can play in about an hour. Other than that I like
all sorts of games! I’ve highly enjoyed more thematic games like
Memoir ’44 to more abstract ones like Ra: The Dice Game. I will rarely
turn down a game unless it really doesn’t seem mechanically
interesting or has a play time of two or more hours.

What’s your favorite game other than one you’ve designed yourself?

I don’t do favourites. Not for movies, music and certainly not games!
But the two mentioned above are definite examples of games I hold
quite dear and, oh! Tikal, I like Tikal a lot! It has that nice mix of
interesting mechanisms and feeling like you’re exploring the jungle.

Of your own projects, which is your favorite and why?

What!? Seriously!? Like, pick between my children!? Well, now I REALLY
don’t have a favourite, but I can tell you about my favourite
development experience. Non-Stop Safari! Participating in the Game Jam
was a blast. Its was 48 hours of super condensed game design and
development. Being a board game rather than a computer game, we were
able to be play testing concepts within hours of receiving the secret
theme, it was a blast!

What keeps you motivated to design games?

The light at the end of the tunnel I guess, heh heh. Seriously though,
I think of game ideas compulsively so I figure I can either be a poser
with a notebook full of scribbles or actually take the good ideas and
make games out of them. That’s what mostly keep me motivated, that and
having people enjoy what I’ve created. When players enjoy my games
it’s all the boost I need to work on the next one.

What advice would you give to aspiring game designers?

Get advice from professional designers… not me. Or, better yet, make
games. I’m not trying to be funny here, that’s really the best advice
I can give. It doesn’t matter if the game looks like crap, it doesn’t
matter if it plays like crap. You have to make games to learn to make
games. Game design is 5% idea and 95% development. It’s that 95% you
have to really get good at.

Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like us to know about?

Well, my friend and I are hoping to bring Non-Stop Safari to market
through The Game Crafter before the 2012 holiday season… Other than
that, tons of projects but none far enough along to mention just yet.

Do you have a Twitter account, Blog or Facebook page you’d like to share with your fans?

Fans? Nah, my parents have my home number, it’s fine. As for everyone
else they can find me on Board Game Geek, username “Louard” or hit up
my blog which may or may not go anywhere:
http://louardongames.blogspot.com/
If anyone is interested in seeing some apps I’ve collaborated on for
the iPhone, then can hit up : http://www.northernbytes.ca

It’s been great chatting with you Louis, we wish you lots of success!

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