It took a while before a trio of Belgian game designers Sébastien Dujardin, Alain Orban and Xavier Georges published Black Angel. Officially announced in 2017, the game was released in October 2019 at Essen, with the second print to be available for a wider audience sometime in 2020 (and for those of you who may have missed it, Crowd Games is going to release its Russian version). And since Black Angel is expected to have a stopover in Russia, then why not talk about it for a bit with its authors, we thought.
So here is a small conversation that we had with Sébastien Dujardin, who some of you may also know for his other games — Deus and Solenia. We touched a little on topics such as perfectionism, inspiration and the future of Black Angel and Deus.
Good day Mr. Dujardin. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. First off, tell us about yourself – what you do, what your interests are.
Hello! I’m Sébastien Dujardin, a Belgian author/publisher for 10 years now. I am 41 years old. I am married and a father of two young girls. I like games, history, and travelling.
How did your interest in board games begin? What titles had the largest impact on you at that time?
I have always loved to play, but like many, I only played «classic» games during my childhood. I started playing «more seriously» in 2005 with my wife. We started with Carcassone and Catan.
Are board games popular in Belgium?
More and more, but it’s still a small market in Belgium.
What gave you the idea of trying yourself in board game design? What was your first completed board game you are satisfied with as its creator?
I am an engineer by training and I have always been passionate about mechanics. It was therefore natural that I began to invent game mechanics. My first published game that I created together with Alain and Xavier was Troyes, and we are very proud of it!
In addition to game development, you also manage a publishing company Pearl Games. Why have you decided to establish it? How difficult is it to juggle work in two areas?
I had just lost my job when we finished developing Troyes. So I decided to try my hand in publishing, and this is how, with the support of my family and Alain and Xavier, Pearl Games was born. I am a very demanding person, and like to juggle between the 2 functions.
Your latest game is Black Angel released in late 2019. First of all, I would like to congratulate you of the fact. The game’s release was preceded by a prolonged and arduous development period. Can you tell us what sort of difficulties you had to overcome while working on Black Angel?
These are mainly difficulties due to our perfectionism of always wanting to make the game better. We tried to ensure we produced a game of high quality, both in mechanics and in the components.
It is inevitable that Black Angel is compared to the already mentioned Troyes. At a first glance it may seem that Black Angel continues ideas of the latter and employs similar mechanics. I assume those board game enthusiasts who appreciate Troyes would be interested to know what differences Black Angel possesses to stand on its own on their game shelves.
The two games are very different. They do use some of the same central mechanics with the dice that you can buy from the neighbor, as well as a fight against pests, but they are really 2 different games!
Black Angel is distinctive for its unusual setting and original graphic design. Who came up with the story of the Black Angel? What served as the inspiration for the setting?
It was the three of us – me, Alain and Xavier – who created the story of the Black Angel. The SF universe inspired us all, and Ian O’Toole knew how to make the whole sublime!!
Do you think you managed to implement all the ideas you had for Black Angel? Or are there ideas that were left unrealized?
No, we had a lot of other ideas that were put aside, or left on hold for future expansion.
On a side note, where do you get ideas during game development? Do you think them up or take inspiration from other games?
Since this is a game that was created with three people, many ideas came up during our multiple test sessions. For my other projects, many ideas come to me during moments of relaxation, sports, or when I drive my car.
What do you think of the initial reception the game received?
The welcome it received this summer at Gencon was exceptional! And the first print was quickly sold out. Now we hope the second print will continue to sell as well!
Do you plan to support Black Angel any further via expansions? Or can the game be confidently called as complete?
There may be expansions and/or scenarios released for the game, but only if it continues to sell well.
Among my personal favorites is one of your other games, Deus. It’s a wonderful game based on creating card chains, however there’s not much interaction between players taking place, regretfully for some. Is there any future for this game? Do you plan to release an expansion or two for it sometime?
Actually I am busy working on a new version of Deus. The plan for it to have scenarios, being an evolving game. I really hope I would be able to develop it completely!
What new announcements can we expect from Sébastien Dujardin and Pearl Games? Do you have any ideas for what your next project is going to be?
Right now we have in work Troyes Dice, a roll-and-write version of Troyes, une extension de Solenia, and the already mentioned Deus Evolution. And we also have 2 other games in development.
Given your workload do you have a chance to play board games for leisure? Could you name some of your favorite games and say a few words on why you like them? Are there any games that disappointed you?
Yes, we play every night with my wife, and I also play a lot with my older daughter! We play all kinds of games, and we enjoy a lot of those, from the lightest to the most complicated. I think I’m not going to name my favorite games or those I don’t like as I wouldn’t want to offend my colleagues.
And this is all I have. Thank you so much for your replies, Mr. Dujardin. All that’s left is to wish you new ideas and more inspiration!
Thank you very much!!