As recent generations have seen their R&R time dominated by the ever-increasing presence of screens, many may be surprised to learn that we are living in the golden age of table-top board gaming. Perhaps the most prominent feature of this era is the rise of independent game developers, who are able to bring their ideas and stories to life, even in a competitive market. After 11 years of tireless work, and the assistance of countless individuals, Iowa City’s Jon Lonngren is preparing to launch his indie company’s first title: Fallen Land.
The post-apocalyptic pulp-fiction game is set to be the first release from Fallen Dominion Studios, the company co-founded by Lonngren and his business partner, Sean Cahill, in 2005. “Our goal was to create a game that provided a unique game experience, with new material to explore every time you played,” Lonngren said at a recent playtest session.
The latest leg of their development journey has seen collaboration with artists and play-testers from around the area. They also took the game to Gamicon, the annual gaming convention in downtown Iowa City. The hardest part about ramping up to release? Invoking Stephen King and William Faulkner, Lonngren said, “Killing your darlings.”
The game itself features an amazing amount of original storytelling content, complete with comical references and occasionally groan-worthy puns that distract (slightly) from the bleak world in which you’re adventuring. The competitive game presents a number of paths to success, and, while the complexity of choices provides an excellent puzzle for the hardcore gamer, the mechanics are delightfully accessible. While I would consider the game easy enough for groups with less experience with complex tactics and strategy, as it is competitive, the challenge will increase with your group’s strategic and tactical skill.
Thematically, the game gives flavors from throughout the country, but definitely includes shout-outs for Iowa (and Iowa City) natives. While you’re juggling assault rifles and med kits across a nuclear wasteland as the Coalition of the Black Angel from Iowa City, you can sit back and enjoy the bleak story instead of being bogged down by excessive rules.
The next major stop for Fallen Dominion Studios will be GenCon 2016, Aug. 4–7 in Indianapolis, where they’ve secured a booth and will be handing out promotional swag for interested gamers. In conjunction with their appearance, Lonngren and company will be launching a Kickstarter to fund the production and release of Fallen Land that will run from July 21 to Sep. 4. Additional information will be posted on their Facebook page and at their website.
In the future, Fallen Dominion Studios will likely have expansions, cooperative options and other offerings for their gaming audience, but for now all focus is on their first release. As a final piece of advice, Lonngren said to anyone struggling with reaching the goal of their creative endeavors: “Just go home and listen to ACDC’s ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top.’ That is truly inspirational.”