Interview: Justin Gary of Gary Games

Last month Gary Games announced a new expansion for Ascension called Immortal Heroes. It is designed to be used as either a 2-player standalone game or as an expansion to the Storm of Souls set that was released earlier this year. Immortal Heroes will come with 164 cards and 30 honor tokens and be available for around $30.

As part of the buildup to the expansion’s release this summer, I had the opportunity to ask Justin Gary, the company’s CEO, a few questions:

Glimm: How did you get into game design and what drove you to start Gary Games?

Justin: I have always had a passion for games and grew up playing and designing games as a kid.  I started Gary Games because I wanted the freedom to create my own properties (like Ascension) and because I am fortunate to know a lot of talented people who wanted the same thing and were willing to come along for the ride.

Glimm: How important do you feel Ascension’s storyline is to the game?

Justin: I am a huge fan of the Ascension story (though I am biased, of course) and I feel the unique look and story arc really resonate with some players.  In particular, being able to have story based events like our Godslayer tournament at last year’s Gen Con, where players can actually become a part of our world, is really excited.  For other players, though, story matters a lot less – it depends on your personality.  Stay tuned for more info on the Ascension universe and more mediums through which we can tell our story.

Glimm: Where do you see the storyline going after Immortal Heroes?

Justin: Not telling. 🙂

Glimm: Would you like to see Ascension’s setting and storyline get expanded in other products such as novels or other game types?

Justin: Absolutely!  We are already working on a few ideas for this.  Hopefully I’ll have more to say late this year.

Glimm: Which Ascension faction is your favorite and why?

Justin: This is a tough one, but personally, I’d have to say it’s the mechana faction.  I love the idea of building a giant machine and powering it up to crush my opposition.  In addition, the flavor and look of the mechana faction is a unique variation on the steam-punk style that I’ve been a fan of for years.  That being said, I love all the factions and enjoy switching strategies between each.

Glimm: What new card, or cards, in Immortal Heroes are you most excited about?

Justin: The new Soul Gem cards are a really fun addition to the game, creating some interesting strategic decisions and exciting “jackpot” moments.  There are a lot of really great and interesting cards, including new events, ongoing trophies, and more that we will spoil in the months leading up to the release of Immortal Heroes.

Glimm: How do you think digital versions of card and board games, such as Ascension’s iOS app, are impacting the game market and game design?

Justin: These are a great thing for the game market!  Entirely new audiences can now experience the kind of gaming we grew up with, and I love the fact that games are now so convenient and portable.   Some of my new designs take into account things like the size of the iPhone screen and the need to play in small time increments, but for the most part, digital versions of games are just expanding the realm of possibility for traditional gaming.

Glimm: Other than Ascension, which games have you been playing recently? Are there any upcoming board or card games that you’re especially excited about?

Justin: I still play a fair amount of Magic, Citadels, and Race for the Galaxy and am mostly excited about seeing more great games come to mobile platforms so I can play them more often (other than Ascension, I currently play a lot of Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne on my iPad)

Glimm: Are there any plans for Gary Games to expand its product line to other games?

Justin: Yes – absolutely!  We work on a lot of games in partnership with other companies (e.g. Redakai and the new Street League game coming out in June), but expect an announcement about our newest game late this summer.

By Scott Boehmer

A game enthusiast and software engineer.

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