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Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Archives Games


Tirade's Choice

Homemade Roller Coaster

"I've been playing Fluxx for a few months. I am hooked. Can't get by without playing a few games each day." -- Beth K, comments with order #108440

Rash provides another batch of links and commentary on topics including: His currest group of students, the Top Ten Low-pass Fly-by's, a visit to the Baikonur cosmodrome, the Shanghai Expo, Noam Chomsky, Le Tour du Monde en 80 secondes, Ten radical restaurant designs, Seven Astounding Beach Scenes, 3-D fatigue, Soviet Sci-Fi anime from the 80s, a Michael Jackson rotoscope, the new re-mastered Beatle CDs, Doing a Total Background Check on Yourself, Pennies, Unshaven Women, the Future of Space Flight, Rash's occassional round-up of wacky new products, and the question, "What do you call a small neighborhood store that sells stuff like candy, beer, lottery tickets, and an assortment of groceries?"

Back To the Future! / New Hires / Renaming Rabbits / Shel & Shake

It's been another very busy month. Firstly, in case you haven't heard yet, the exciting news I couldn't really talk about in my last update is that our big fall release is Back to the Future: The Card Game!

Here's the cover art and official blurbage (which is all Looney Labs is cleared by Universal Studios to release so far):

"Now you can jump into the action of the Back to the Future movies, with this ingenious new time travel card game! Play as the descendants of Marty McFly, Biff Tannen, Doc Brown and others, as you travel back to the events depicted in the movies. Your mission is to make sure pivotal events are not changed by other time travelers before time travel itself gets un-invented. Using a unique, patented game mechanic for simulating time travel, Andrew Looney now puts you in the driver's seat of the famous DeLorean!"

The artwork is being done by Derek Ring, whose exceptional work appears in Zombie Fluxx and EcoFluxx. As you can see from this first image (and you'll just have to trust me on the others he's finished so far) he's doing an awesome job!

In other big news, we've had some major personnel changes this month. Firstly, as I talked about last time, Jessica Blair is no longer working for us... we wish her the best of luck in her future endeavors. And as luck would have it, we've already found someone to take over the Sales Department. His name is Chris Marshall, and he has tons of experience selling games in our industry from 5 years at Games Workshop. He's a gamer through and through, and has already learned enough about our games to give me a run for my money in my favorite Icehouse game, Binary Homeworlds.

At the same time, we've also hired our old friend Josh Drobina, to help out with Sales Processing and Customer Support. For the last year and a half we've had a series of part-time temps doing this job (Nikki, Susannah, Mo, Ki'ana & Sadaf) but we've gotten to the point where we need someone doing this full-time. Josh moved back here from Ohio last year, and when he heard we had a position open, he quickly applied. We concluded he was just right for the job, and it's great to have him working in our office again. (Josh is also an excellent Homeworlds player.)

That's Chris on the right in the photo shown here, while Josh is on the left.

So far, everything has been going very smoothly with these new hires, and we're feeling really good about our new team. (To put it in "Good to Great" terms, it feels like we've got a great set of people on our bus.)

Another big change is something we've been contemplating for years, which we're finally decided to move forward with: renaming our fan club program.

The name we used for many years was Mad Lab Rabbits, but we've come to realize that this name has a number of problems and drawbacks -- enough so that we want to change it.

To begin with, it must be understood that we make games for adults. Most of our games can be played by children, but we design them to be fun and challenging for grownups. Unfortunately, what people think of when they see our Mad Lab Rabbit imagery is "stuff for kids," and it can be very difficult to get past that first impression.

Why rabbits, anyway? Well, because that name seemed fun and catchy, and we wanted our fans to multiply like rabbits. But rabbits don't feature in our games in any way. (OK, there's a Keeper in EcoFluxx called Rabbits. But that's it.) Meanwhile, one of our game company peers (called Playroom Entertainment) has a series of games called Killer Bunnies, and this unfortunately just leads to more confusion and misunderstanding. It's easy for people to see our rabbits and assume we're the Killer Bunnies company.

Then there's the problem of people just getting it wrong, and calling our fans Lab Rats. Sigh.

Anyway, we've gradually been moving away from the rabbit imagery, referring to our dormant fan program simply as our Fan Club. But now that we're finally moving forward on relaunching the program, it's time to adopt a new name.

But what should the new name be? That's the big question we've been struggling with ever since we realized that Rabbits just isn't the best name for our fan group. But after literally years of contemplation we think we have the answer, and it's very simple: Lab Assistants.

It'll still be awhile before we roll out the new Lab Assistants program, but we felt it was time to start letting our fans know that we're going to be ask them to hang up their Rabbit ears and start calling themselves Lab Assistants instead.

On top of all that turnover and change, Wunderland.Earth has two new residents. Due to some major upheavals in her own life, our very close friend Shel West found herself looking for a new place to live, just as we were finally getting our spare room ready to turn into a rental. Since moving most of our business and life operations across the street to Alison's house, Pepperland.Earth, we've been re-purposing the rooms at Wunderland.Earth. We still do a lot of entertaining over there, and parts of the old house will continue to serve as office space, but the place has been needing a new resident, so I'm delighted that Shel has moved in.

Shel brings with her a charming white cat named Milkshake. My own very dear black cat, named Little Cat, is taking a dim view of this change in her once peaceful household, but integration of the cats is also going well enough so far.

As if all that weren't enough, I've had some great new game design ideas this month. My 21st game for Icehouse pyramids is a big hit with my playtesters, as are my Radically Simplified New Rules for Nanofictonary. Also, I had a great new idea for a new Fluxx rule while working on the design for BttF, and we've decided to make it into a promo card to release at Origins.

Speaking of which, Origins is fast approaching, and planning for Big Experiment #11 is starting to dominate our thinking. (It's my favorite week of the year -- will YOU be there?)

AndyAnyway, that's what's going on around here at this time. Thanks for reading, and have a great Whenever!

Thought Residue
Another recent event is that I got to portray Plato in a wacky little time travel movie made one weekend by a bunch of my friends, as part of the "48-Hour Film Project". Thanks for the plum role in "The History Job" dudes!

Other things that happened in the past month are that I went to New Jersey for a game store appearance, and also spent an afternoon talking to (and playing games with) a classroom full of fifth-graders. In both cases, I was urged to visit because of strong local fan-bases, and in both cases I had a lot of fun. Thanks for inviting me out, Rob of Family Fun Hobbies and Seth of the Green School!
Lately I've been getting into Starship Farragut, one of several amazingly sophisticated home-made Star Trek shows created by fans and distributed via the internet. I was particularly delighted to see that they've done a couple of episodes in the style of the animated series, of which I've always been a particular fan, it being the version I started with.

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