Soren Johnson

Designer Notes 3: Frank Lantz

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In this episode, Soren interviews Frank Lantz, currently Director of the NYU Game Center. Frantz was also the co-founder of Area/Code where he led the design of Drop7. We discuss how to make sure your game gets written up in Boing Boing, why most people who like ARGs have never played one, and how to take advantage of your friend's trip to the hospital in Parking Wars.

 

Games Discussed: The Manhole, Dungeon Master, Mortal Combat, Wipeout, Gearheads, Diner Dash, PacManhattan, Shark Runners, Parking Wars, Drop7

 

https://www.idlethumbs.net/designernotes/episodes/frank-lantz

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Great stuff. I'm looking forward to listening to this on my commute. Thanks Soren!

 

Edit: I think you have a typo in your description (unless calling him Frantz was intentional).

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So weird to find out that he's basically responsible for the endless sea of Diner Dash clones on Flash portals, app stores, etc..

 

Also, it's time for a Gearheads revival, I think.

 

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Frank Lantz has a fascinating and surprisingly influential career, that was a great cast.

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Great and thoughtful interview. I especially liked the questions about his background in gaming, it's interesting he didn't play many games where you could see the choices of a game designer as a young kid (apart from maybe Monopoly). And yet later when he started making digital games professionally, he was very conscious of the difference between those "multimedia experiences" and games where you had decisions and interaction.

 

I hadn't really considered games from an art or "interaction design" standpoint, and it was fascinating to hear about a design company R/GA deciding to get into digital games.

 

Really cool that Frank keeps doing big-concept but tightly focused games rather than AAA-style. I love that people are still exploring those areas of games, and it turns out Frank has been doing it all along! I can't quite put my finger on it, but there seems to be a whole set of assumptions that have built up over the decades about digital games. But he seems to have bypassed these assumptions entirely. It was great to hear some smart discussion about all the possibilities from someone still excited about games, even after a career of exploring them.

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I had never heard of Frank himself before listening to this podcast and assumed I wouldn't be familiar with his games, but the family that hosts the weekly boardgaming session I've attended for many years used to love Gearheads. I hadn't thought about that game in years.

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Frank, I don't know if you read this thread or not, but Gearheads was the first game I bought with my own money. It was at a PC convention in the Netherlands and it was priced just within my range. I liked especially the animations of all the pieces you put on the board.

 

It startled me to suddenly, after years of nothing, hear an in-depth conversation about Gearheads.

 

Oh, the spooky magician is the best.

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That interview was fun, thanks for inviting me Soren. The puzzle game I was trying to remember was Planet Puzzle League, btw. (Which is, in fact, a Panel de Pon variant.)

 

So weird to find out that he's basically responsible for the endless sea of Diner Dash clones on Flash portals, app stores, etc..

 

Actually, to be clear, I had very little to do with Diner Dash. I was at Gamelab when it was being made but wasn't that involved with the project. Eric Zimmerman should get all the credit and/or blame.

 

Thanks for the kind words about Gearheads, always a blast to run into people who played it. I guess an iPad version would be an obvious thing to try. Hm....

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It was really strange to hear such an extended discussion of real life location-based games without either of you mentioning Ingress. That's been wildly succesful. Every city I've visited has been active and even many small villages have had portals (analogous to the islands in Plunder to a certain extent).

 

A wonderful listen otherwise. It's always lovely to hear all the crazy ways people orbit into game design.

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Great interview. I really enjoyed the more unconventional story of Frank's journey into game development.

 

Also: good job on the audio quality!

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In addition to this being a great interview, I've very much enjoyed the conversation that's been happening on twitter recently, and Frank's advocacy for how to think about formalism in games and why it is important.

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Great interview.

I want to buy Drop7 for my Android phone, but I can't find it on Google Play. A web search reveals a bunch of sketchy looking sites claiming to offer the apk for cree.

Any insight Frank?

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Great interview.

I want to buy Drop7 for my Android phone, but I can't find it on Google Play. A web search reveals a bunch of sketchy looking sites claiming to offer the apk for cree.

Any insight Frank?

 

It was not available at the time of your posting but it is here now.

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