2020 brought us a global pandemic and, along with it, social distancing, masks, financial uncertainty and postponed delivery dates. For our end-of-the-year special we decided to turn to some of our favourite solo and soloable game designers and ask them to share their own experiences, feelings, plans and hopes both for the year we leave behind and the year to come. Every day until December 31 we will publish one of these short interviews (we have no patience for long ones). Our guest today is Jacob Fryxelius. Designer of Terraforming Mars and After the Virus, among others. He was kind enough to answer our 3+1 questions.
1. Nobody likes being forced to stay at home, but did the quarantine actually help you concentrate on your design work? Or did it instead feel restraining and cause designer's block? Did you miss any face-to-face meetings or conventions?
I actually already work mostly from home with daily Skype meetings, which suits my solo designing. I do miss going to conventions though - you really get energy and inspiration from conventions. Missing Essen Spiel was kind of depressing...
2. Marie Kondo shows up in your dream in the form of a yokai. She is throwing away your entire board game collection and only lets you keep one game: the one that 'sparks the most joy'. Which one is it?
Looking over my collection I was surprised to find that I'd most like to keep Cities: Skylines by Rustan Håkansson. I don't consider it the MOST elegant, balanced, thematic, or engaging game, but it hits pretty high on all categories. Soloable, interesting mechanics, sandbox, city building (I've always loved Sim City). It's a satisfying experience.
3. We are a news website, so we will obviously ask you to share your plans for 2021. Anything us solo gamers can look forward to?
My next release will be Star Scrappers: Orbital, a remake of my first game Space Station. It was recently on Kickstarter and will hit retail during 2021. It felt very good to be able to streamline the game.
Also, we (FryxGames and Stronghold Games) will very soon have a new game on Kickstarter: Angel Fury, where a hundred angels battle against 100 demons. Hordes of miniatures, and epic gameplay with tactical maneuvering and deckbuilding, as well as resource management. I made the solo version, which pits the angels against a simplified automated demon horde relentlessly advancing across the battlefield. I want a solo game to focus on your own gameplay, not on complex algorithms to perfectly simulate an opponent (which is doomed to fail anyway). For a game with so much interaction, it works surprisingly well with a predictable opponent - since the battles are resolved with dice you always have that uncertainty and you have to be really clever to beat the overwhelming opposition.
There will also be a new Terraforming Mars game...
Bonus question: After the Virus is a gem. Do you have a favourite zombie movie?
I'm glad you like After the Virus! My favorite zombie movie would be the Walking Dead series. I like that it is not non-stop action, but actually portrays everyday life and people. The tendency to sometimes focus on super-evil villains takes away from the experience though, for me. I prefer the man-against-nature (zombies) narrative.
Thank you very much for participating, Jacob! All the best wishes for 2021. Where can our readers follow you online?
Our website FryxGames has a webshop with exclusive stuff for our games, but we also have some extra stuff for our games downloadable for free (extra characters and a confrontative variant for After the Virus for example).