7 questions for John Yianni

John Yianni


Once again we are going to England, where the creator of Hive, John Yianni lives. John is a game creator who wears many hats as he is also his own illustrator and editor since he is the “big boss” of his own publishing company: GEN42 Games. John has created games such as, among others: Run Rabbit Run, Army of Frogs and Logan Stones but the most famous of his games is of course Hive with all its extensions.

Hive is an abstract game of strategy where while protecting your queen you need to surrounded the other player’s queen. Hive which was released in 2001 received a lot of awards and is a game that deserves to be in your game library. You can also download the application of Hive on all phones platforms or play it on XBOX 360.

I had the chance to meet John at Spielwarenmesse 2014 in Nuremberg. It was a very pleasant meeting.

Here are 7 questions for John Yianni.

  1. How old were you when you played your first board game and which board game was it ?

« First board game played: Monopoly, aged about 7 years old. »

  1. Why and how did you decide to design a game ?

« As a hobby I used to design games as a young boy and would play with my family and friends, one of these games happened to be a very early prototype of Hive.

So as you can see the idea for Hive is many years old. The idea came from a film I was watching at the time; about two old men who were friends, and they would meet in a park to play Chess. One of them would bring the white pieces and the other the black. 

I had the inspiration then of making a game like Chess that didn’t need a board, just the pieces, and that could be played in a very short time, but still have a lot of depth and strategy, that could be played just about anywhere. That game became Hive. »

3. What are your 3 favourite games ?

« I like a lot of games,  my favourites at them moment are: Galaxy Trucker, Escape and Love Letter. »

4. For you, what is the best combination for a successful game ?

« Simple rules that don’t overpower the game, and the ability to give the player a sense of discovery. »

5. How do you proceed to design a game ?

« Depending on the idea I usually work on the mechanics and design at the same time. For me the look and feel of a game is just as important as the mechanics. Once I get to the point that I’m mostly happy with the mechanics I start to make prototypes and play around with the game by myself until I think that it works well. Then I make a very plush prototype, so good that you would think its a finish game, then I play test with others. I do this because I don’t want the look of the game to get in the way of peoples opinion of how it plays. Once I’m happy with the reactions I’m getting, I start to work on re-writing the rules so that they are understood by anyone reading them (this is not always easy). Then I do the box design, I try to keep a theme going with all my boxes so that if you see it in a shop you will probably know it’s mine. 

Ideas are never a problem for me, I see games in just about everything I look at. The main problem is having the time to work on the many ideas that I have on the go at any one time. 

I have lots of files on my computer with ideas and games at different stages and I keep an ideas book with me so if I get a new idea I just write it down. »

6. What tips could you give to someone who want to design a game ?

« I would say that anyone thinking of designing a game to just go for it. 

Design a game that you would enjoy playing and also enjoy the process of designing it.

Don’t see it as a way to make money, you will probably never make money out of it unless you are very lucky or are willing to put in a lot of work promoting the game.

Play test the game with as many different people as possible and change one thing at a time until you are happy with the game. 

But above all, enjoy the process, have fun, that’s what it’s all about. »

7. Could you give us a small info about your future projects ?

« Working on some new games but currently on one particular dice / abstract game. »

Thank you john to answer my 7 questions. For more information on John Yianni games : http://gen42.com/



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