[editor’s note – as will the previous interviews in this series, I have tried to clean up the translation to make the interview read better – Dale]
Here I am with the 3rd interview in my series “The Art of Design”. After Colovini (German Style) and Angiolino (Italian Style), today I am here with Angelo Porazzi, a good representative of American Style and one of the greatest Italian self-publishers. Actually, as you will discover during the interview, Angelo is really something more than a simple self-publishers and “The Art of Design” really make sense talking about his production. Angelo is also a good friend and the 1st designer I have interviewed in my old BGN series “Cosa Bolle in Pentola?” Since Angelo is also a professional illustrator, he told us about the signature of his games: “[I] think is given mostly from my illustrations, from my artwork” and also Angelo says he like “simple, interactive, games that may put together a family, a classroom, a group of friends in a funny and intelligent way”.
Dear Angelo, here I am with an interview about your designing style. I would like to talk with you about it looking through the list of your published games. From Warangel, one of my favorite games ever, published in 1996, to the upcoming Assist are more than 14 years of production.
In the gamers community you developed your reputation with Warangel, a light-wargame with endless races. But there is a game, in your production, you are particularly proud of? Why?
Dear Liga, thank you not only for this but also for the first interview to an Italian Game Designer you did with me on the old BoardGameNews site, beginning a long series of interviews where you asked me and many other Italian designers about our games: hopefully that series can be linked here.
Now you ask me if I am particularly proud of some of my games. I can say that I LOVE illustrating and creating ALL of my games: when I start designing a new game, I feel it like a “hobby” that after can become a “work”. So I am proud and happy that a hobby (something I love to do) can be appreciated and can become a work.
The nice thing is that the first edition of Warangel was published by the Italian Publisher named “Hobby & Work”! They appreciated my first home made game, published and distributed it on all Italian territory on 1996, starting my career as designer.
In 2000, I started as self-producer – producing the first boxed edition of Warangel which received 4 awards in 4 different Italian Cons, including the “Best Italian Game” of Lucca Comics & Games, our biggest one. Plus the Hasbro distribution of the Warangel Card Game, and the School Line published by Cartiere Pigna.
So Warangel is the best known and most awarded game, and the one where I worked together with gamers more than any other game, doing over 120 different races and maps suggested by gamers themselves. You, Liga, won the Italian Tournament of Warangel in ModCon 2005, the Con that now becomed PLAY: The Games Festival [www.play-modena.it]; from 2008 I work for Ludica the Festival of Games in Milano where now the Warangel Tournament is held, so this is a game that have a long story “with” the gamers, all over the world.
Through the Internet I have been contacted by great gamers from any country of the planet to simply request my games. These games were received at their home and the response was enthusiastic: they helped me a lot in translations, improving my work year after year.
The idea itself of “Create YOUR Warangel” is from gamers and it is so appreciated by gamers.
You see it in the last video interview that Derk did about Create YOUR Warangel in Essen 2010 BGG booth; they gifted me the Football Jersey of BGG with my number of Quarterback 14 and the nickname WARANGELO on the back. So this game has such a long story and interaction with gamers that has no matches with my other games.
I am proud and happy of it because it is now just like the gamers request it: they can choose their favourite races, premounted on professional wooden blocks of Spielmaterial, the Maps they wish, inspired to real sectors on Earth. So they can recreate the battle of Spartans vs Persians on map of Thermophylae or create a Fantasy Battle with many races with Eagles, Pachyderms, invading Egyptians on Nile Valley Map.
I am so happy about the quality of the game now in 2011. The definition of the illustrations on Reference Sheets and of Rulebook is lightyears better than past editions, and this is thanks to the help of gamers. Year after year they helped me a lot in improving and make Warangel what is now: a game that “grooves” together with gamers.
You read of my Quarterback experience: I also love my second game PEACEBOWL that here in Italy was realized in collaboration of FIAF (Federazione Italiana American Football) and the NFLI (National Football League Italia): I am really proud of these two logos on the back of that box.
I also played on the Italian Ultimate Frisbee National Team and participated in the World Championship in Leuven, Belgium in 1988. Ultimate Frisbee is a great sport I love the same as American Football. So, on 2008 (exactly 20 years after), I designed a boardgame dedicated to this sport too: ULTIMATE.
It was and is requested by gamers from any part of Earth, and this shows how much this sport is loved worldwide.
This is maybe the thing of which I am most proud: to be contacted thanks to my games from people living in so different towns of this world. That those gamers simply write, contact, order and receive the games they like at their home, becoming in many case very good friends. I am proud of “this way”.
I’m always impressed how games are really part of Angelo’s life and, on the other side, how Angelo’s life enter into his games.
Angelo, you designed most of your games alone and also self-published almost all of your games. Why is that? Do you think we can ever see a Porazzi game published by another publisher?
Sure: my first game itself was a published game :)
PiFroG, which I self-produced some years ago, is now published by the Spanish company NestorGames, just to make another example. In my experience there is no problem in realizing a game from A to Z because I born as an Illustrator: so, to me, it is a real pleasure to illustrate and design and produce my games from idea to the printed box.
If some publisher or distributors see my games and like them, they are welcome: no problem at all co-working :)
If some author or publisher like my illustrations, then I am happy to co-work also as illustrator: see the illustrations for Vicious Fishes, the first published game of Tom Vasel, as an example.
That is why in Italy Area Autoproduzione is grooving year after year co-working with Lucca Games, Ludica Milano, PLAY Modena…, in 2010 it was in about 30 different Luding Cons, also at my booth in Essen Fair where it was a real “International Arera Autoproduzione”. In next Ludica Milano we will have authors from Holland, from France…
Area Autoproduzione means “Self-Production Area” and it is an idea to group together all authors that love making their games and wish to share experiences and communication. Of course a man can be a self-producer, a published author, an illustrator, and enjoy all of these way to live: I am like that:)
You self-published a lot of different games: different in themes and mechanic. Do you think there is something common in your designs? I think designing games is an art: what is Angelo Porazzi’s sign?
I perfectly agree: desiging a game is an Art for me too.
The “sign” in my games think is given mostly from my illustrations, from my artwork.
I think gamers appreciate either my “classic” painted artwork that I use in Warangel Illustrations or the “cartoonist” style I use in TATATA!, LovePigs, Vicious Fishes or other games.
Nate Hayden, an US designer, met me at Essen on 2010 and got Warangel: this is what he writes on BGG Angelo’s Fan Page: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/fans/person/231 “There is no greater fantasy artist in gaming today than Angelo. It would be hard to convince me otherwise. Looking at every race and action shot in Warangel is mind blowing. His style is pure to me, and driven by the world he’s created. Akin to early D&D work like D.A.T. and others. When they were making a world BY HAND. Angelo’s Warangel is a world.”
I do not like speak on my own sign or style, it is up to the gamers to decide; that is why I like to read words like these coming from gamers. If some other people like my “way to do”, illustrations and games, I am glad.
About games I like create simple, interactive, games that may put together a family, a classroom, a group of friends in a funny and intelligent way.
The “sign” could also be the fact that I love to accept all invitations to sit down,explain, and play my games with the gamers in so many fairs: many people like this way. Thanks to the many fans on BGG and the many other gamers that write me their compliments: I’m glad you appreciate :)
So Angelo style/sign is “Angelo Illustrations and Angelo endless enthusiasm”
Maybe also my PhotoReports are “a sign” of my way to create and communicate games :) I started in 2000 collecting on my website all the reports of all the many cons grooving in these last ten years. Many people, like you Liga, write me that they read them just the day after each Con, to know people, new authors, new occasion to meet and play.
Another one is the fact i do not explain games:) I just sit and play with interested gamers: they just learn by playing. My experience teaches me that this is the best way to involve a family without annoying them: just play with people:)
Angelo, I know that many of the now famous Italian designers have had you as mentor and master in the beginning: all the artist are use to have a Master! Who is your Master? The person teach you most about games and designing games?
My Master in the gaming world is Marco Donadoni. He is one of the most prolific Game Designers in Italy but, first of all, he is a man that have no fear to share knowledge and create communication.
This is the way I like to follow.
You know me well: I have no fear to introduce people, create contacts, and share knowledge. Maybe that is why so many authors and fairs ask to invite me: I like to co-work with everyone who shows interest with pleasure :)
After Warangel you designed only light and easy games. Is that the kind of game which you prefer?
Games reflect periods of my life: Warangel was born before I was a dad so it reflects what I was in that period.
It evolved together with me: seeing the illustrations of the first fighting races and the difference in colours and “hope” of the last ones you get the point of the message inside the game. In this long path of my life that walks together with my designer work, I become dad 1, 2 and 3 times, so now my former playing group is composed by my three daughters.
And I am invited in so many gaming Cons that are grooving in number of visitors composed not by the few hard gamers, but from a big number of “dads with children”, families, couple of fiances, teachers with pupils… that wish to have simply, funny, interactive games.
The last game of 2011 is ASSIST realized together with my “Master” Donadoni. I love that game and I am really proud to produce a game co-designing it with my Master, co-working with Cartamundi, Spielmaterial, Area Autoproduzione. On the cards of this sort of “Words – Poker” CardGame are printed many illustrations I realized for the gaming world through these first 14 years.
A long road enlightened by so many good encounters: with a great “Master”, and so many gamers, communicators, good friends like Andrea Ligabue:)
You are actually an “American” designer, both in the mechanics and in theme. How much the theme influence your design and how much the mechanics?
The theme is the starting point, then good, easy, funny, interactive mechanics to realize a game you can learn and play, enjoy in few time. In many cases the Illustrations were the starting point.
On the book published by Rose and Poison for the Ten Years of Warangel in 1996, the cover is the first Illustration I realized for Warangel: it is dated 1986. The first illustrations were born 10 years before first edition of the game!
Please tell us about your designing process, taking one or two of your game as example. Where the ideas come from, how long was the design process, how was the play-test…
Ideas come from illutrations that came in my mind and I just realize them: this is the case of Warangel. In the case of Sports games, such as PeaceBowl or Ultimate, ideas come to me from my “dedication” to ” these two sports hat I love and still play-coach. The design process can take years, with the playtest time. I do not have any hurry in realizing new games.
For example I have dozens of games I realized in my youth and I still playtest, to realize, publish them at the right moment, let say after 10 years like LovePigs or Ultimate… after 20 years:)
In a world where publishers and designers rush to be ready for the next Essen release is really nice to meet someone with this approach.
To conclude the interview, I would like to ask you if there is a game from another designer you really would like to have designed yourself and, finally, if you have to describe Angelo with just 3 Angelo Porazzi games, which games?
The games I love from other designers: many! My All Time Stars are: Zargo’s Lords, King and Things, Space Crusade, BloodBowl… The classics: Poker, Go, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit… Among the last years I appreciate X Bugs, Aye Dark Overlord, many games from friends of Area Autoproduzione, Vicious Fishes and the last SdJ Dixit: really cool.
To answer your last question I would say Warangel, PeaceBowl and the 2011 game together with Donadoni: Assist. Thanks you Liga for this new interview and thanks to all friends who arrived here: if you are interested in any of these arguments, my games, Area Autoproduzione, visit Italian Luding Fairs… Just write me at firstname.lastname@example.org , you will be welcome!
Thank you Angelo. See you at PLAY: The Games Festival in “your” Area Autoproduzione