Interview with a Designer: Andy Looney of Looney Labs

Andy Looney

Andy Looney is the driving force behind Looney Labs, the company responsible for classic games including the all-conquering Fluxx and its many editions.

I recently got the chance to quiz Andy about his background, what he gets up to at Looney Labs, and how the team picks the next edition of Fluxx.

So sit back and enjoy a fun interview that, if you’re anything like me, will make you jealous of the lucky ones who work at Looney Labs…

Your background is widely known – former engineer turned game developer. Could you tell us, how long did it take before Fluxx became a big enough success for you to ‘give up your day job’? It can’t have been an easy decision to make, and must have been something you were very passionate about?

I invented Fluxx in July 1996 and I ‘jumped off the cliff,’ as we described it when I quit my day job, in late 1998. So, about two years. But it was only a difficult decision because of the concerns about money… I was more than ready to cease being a programmer and start focusing on my creative career.

What’s your favourite game / type of game and why?

It’s hard not to choose Fluxx as my favorite game, since it’s done so much for me, but the game I’m always the most eager to play is Homeworlds, my favorite game for the Looney Pyramids game system, which is certainly my favorite type of game. But I’m biased. If I can’t choose my own works, my favorite games are traditional card games, Hearts and Poker specifically.

What are you up to at the moment? What’s keeping you busiest with Looney Labs?

Three big projects at the moment, all of which will be part of our 2016 product line: Mad Libs: the game; the next version of Fluxx, which will be Firefly Fluxx; and the comprehensive pyramid set of my dreams, called Pyramid Arcade.

Take us through your average day at work with Looney Labs.

The day begins at 10 am with a short all-hands meeting in which everyone says a few words about what they plan to work on today.

We currently have about eight full-time employees, and we hold these meetings in the Big Room, where we have a couple of couches and a coffee table arrangement for more casual meetings and as a simulated living room setting for game testing.

We also have a conference room with a gigantic table and regular chairs, which is where our weekly staff meeting and other regular meetings are held. We all have our own offices, which is where we actually work when we aren’t in a meeting.

Once a week we also have a company lunch and playtest session, in which everyone gets to spend some time actually playtesting our latest projects (or classics they haven’t had a chance to learn).

Occasionally on evenings we arrange playtesting events and invite people in to serve as focus groups; some will play in the conference room, some at the lounge area, and some at extra tables we can set up in the middle of the Big Room.

There’s also a table in the kitchen we can use if the gaming crowd is particularly big. But for really big playtest sessions we book time in our local municipal center, Davis Hall (We’re doing a Mad Libs playtest on October 17th!). In between all that, we do the actual work of inventing, producing, and selling our games!

Fluxx seems to have adapted well to a variety of themes, could you tell us whether you have a wish list you’d like to see under the Fluxx brand? I for one am very excited for the Firefly Fluxx next year! How do the new versions of Fluxx come about – are you approached by license holders, for instance?

I have a notebook filled with design ideas for unpublished Fluxxes, several of which are for licenses we’re hoping to get someday. Sometimes license-holders approach us, sometimes we go asking, but always I have to love the idea for us to decide to make it.

What does the future hold for Looney Labs, is there anything you can tell us?

Well I think the stuff I’ve already mentioned pretty well covers it. Our other plans are still secret!

Thanks Andy, a very interesting interview.

Check out the other articles in 2onboard’s Interview with a Designer series:

Jordan Goddard of Collapse Cards

Boss Monster’s Chris and Johnny O’Neal

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