Working With Looney Labs

If you don’t see your question answered among these, please email us at:
FAQ@looneylabs.com

Q: Can I join your demo team and help playtest new games?

A: We no longer have an organized demo program, but we do keep an internal database of fans/friends who are interested in hearing from us about any playtesting and/or demo opportunities that may become available when the Looneys are traveling nearby where they live. You can add yourself to this database by taking our Looney Labs Volunteer Survey.

Looney Labs Volunteer Survey

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Q: Do you have a Fan Club?

A: Sort of. Here’s the official page that talks about that: http://www.looneylabs.com/fan-club

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Q: I’d like to make something with a Looney Labs logo or one of your game logos. I’m a big fan, and I want to promote you all, but is that okay with you?

A: If you only plan to make a single copy, or a few to gift to friends, then you can legally use our images without breaking copyright law. Those images are freely available on our website. We can’t officially sanction such a thing or send you the direct link to the images for silly legal reasons regarding protecting our copyrights, but we love to see what our fans produce, so please post finished pictures to the FaceBook fan pages!

If you plan to make large quantities of this item and/or sell it, we officially do not give permission for you to do that. Sorry. It’s a matter of protecting our brand and intellectual property. If we allowed all our fans to make and sell products with our logos and such on them, it would be very difficult to control the quality of the products, and people would not be able to tell what was actually a Looney Labs product vs. what was not. Also, we don’t make any of that profit for our twenty years of developing our brands.

So, we cannot give permission for any Looney Labs images to be added to any items for sale/mass produced product, nor can we give permission to mention Looney Labs or our products in any way that makes it sound like we were involved or condone such a product.

I hope this makes sense. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us. And again, please do post pictures to the fan club if you end up making a personal-use version of something!

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Q: I’m an illustrator. How do I submit my work for your consideration?

A: Well, we don’t really have a good way for you to do that. Keep in mind that we only put out maybe 3-4 games per year, and we already have a handful of illustrators and designers that we know we like to work with (freelancers, primarily, though we have an in-house graphics person to help put things together), so we’re not really looking for new artists. That said, we get lots of people who just send us a form email to thelab@looneylabs.com, usually with a link to their portfolio online so we can get some sense of what their work looks like.

Unfortunately, what happens to all of those emails is that they get dumped in a box where most never get looked at. We save them anyway, on the off-chance that we might be looking for a slightly different look one of these days, and then maybe we’ll glance through them… a surprising number have a style that is simply not compatible with the Looney Labs “feel,” but then again, most of these are clearly form-letters, and people just send them out in vast quantities without doing a lot of research on who they’re sending to. Probably as close as most came to vetting recipients was “This is a game company. I make illustrations that are good for, or have even been used in games before.”

Ways we find artists, from most common method, to least:
people we know
people directly recommended to us
people we’ve met
searches on the internet for images that we can connect to the artist
lastly, illustration sample books and the emails we get

For example, for Get the MacGuffin, we are using the work of Alex Bradley, who is a long-time friend who is an artist, though previously he had only done video work for us. We found a new artist for the Star Trek series by looking at various fan art and comics, and finding someone whose style we liked. For another upcoming game, we have Derek Ring doing the art and design, who we’ve been working with for years and years. For Anatomy Fluxx we actually looked online for clip-art that fit the style we wanted, and then managed to contact the specific artist… who’s in eastern Europe, of all places. That’s very unusual.

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Q: Can I make copies of my home-brewed Fluxx deck to give free to my friends? Or to sell as a fundraiser for my excellent cause? Can I license the Fluxx engine from you to make a version for my special-interest community?

A: Short answer, NO.

Here at Looney Labs, we do always try to encourage creativity, and we love hearing stories about the fun our fans have had by putting their own twists on our games. Fluxx in particular lends itself to customization, and we make blank Fluxx cards available for those who want to add their own cards into one of our games.

We’re all in favor of house rules and homemade cards, and we love it when people adapt our ever-changing game to suit their own tastes. And just as we’ve had fun creating entire Fluxx decks in many different flavors, so too have countless others, on every subject you can imagine.

However, it’s one thing to make your own Fluxx deck, for you to use and even play with your family and friends. We happily encourage that. But when you ask if you can start duplicating your deck and distributing copies — basically publishing it, even if the print run is very small — then we have a problem. This is not ok. Even if you are distributing it for free – this is not ok.

(If you represent a publisher seeking to license the rights to Fluxx, our answer will almost certainly be no, but feel free to ask. The only license grants we offer are for foreign-language translations of our own designs.)

Looney Labs is the exclusive publisher of games that use the Fluxx engine, for which privilege we pay royalties to designer Andrew Looney. Fluxx is our most important brand, and it is simply not in the best interests of Looney Labs to permit competing entities to distribute copies of a game based on Fluxx (no matter how small the production run nor how unique the theme) to others in the marketplace.

• It is ok to post/share a written card list and photos of a few sample cards
• It is NOT ok to post a PDF (or any digital file) of your card designs online
• It is NOT ok to send a friend your files, or to print an extra copy to give to them
• It is NOT ok to pay a printer to make you one nice copy for yourself
• It is NOT ok to send digital files to anyone – not a friend, not a print-on-demand printer

If you are a teacher, and want to design Fluxx games in your classroom, go for it. It is a wonderful creative exercise. But make sure your students understand these rules about not publishing the design online, and no, it is NOT ok to make a small print run so each student gets a copy.

Again, one-of-a-kind Fluxx decks are fine, we encourage anyone who feels creative to try their hand at making one. In legal terms, that’s “Fair Use.” You can make your own deck and play it with anyone you like. But you may not make copies. Sorry, we simply cannot condone that.

We realize this answer will be disappointing for would-be Fluxx designers, but unfortunately we’ve concluded that this is the best policy for us. We hope you can understand our reasoning. Thanks!

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Q: Can I pay Looney Labs to make me a bunch of custom promo cards for my fabulous event (like my wedding)?

A: Unfortunately, producing custom one-off cards is not a business we’d like to get into. That said, many people have used Fluxx (or one of our other games) to propose marriage, or enhance their wedding or other event. Most of these have simply been hand drawn or otherwise created by the involved parties themselves. We have done hand-drawn cards once for a wedding proposal (with Nanofictionary, in this case), but note that these were really not appreciably better than what you might created yourself or get a local friend to do: we simply used blanxx (or blanks) and drew on them with a fine-tip sharpie.

Sorry it’s simply not feasible for us to make custom promo cards a part of our business model!

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Q: I’ve designed a great new version of Fluxx! Can I get Looney Labs to publish it?

A: If you think your deck idea is so good we might want to publish it ourselves, you are welcome to submit it to us. But please understand that we will need for you to grant Looney Labs permission to use your ideas for free before we can even look at them.

Andy already has more unpublished Fluxx decks designed than we have in print, and chances are very good that he’s already thought of whatever it is you’ve come up with. Given this, we can’t risk opening ourselves up to claims that we stole ideas from you if we subsequently publish something that seems similar to an idea you suggested.

You are always welcomed to make one copy for yourself. But just one:
See: Can I make copies of my home-brewed Fluxx deck…

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Q: Is Looney Labs hiring? Can I get an internship with you guys?

A: While you’ll see mention of interns in the distant past, Looney Labs no longer offers internships. Working with someone that untried and tested is more work than many people realize. It’s usually not in our budget to hire a new person, and when we do, we want someone who has a proven track record and evidence of what they can bring to the company.

If you’re wishing you could do an unpaid internship, please understand that there are rules around these things, to prevent companies from abusing free labor. They usually involve making sure the person working for free is getting some benefit, like defined skills or credit for school, and working that out is a giant hassle, so there’s still a significant cost for the “free” labor even though it’s not directly monetary.

Regarding hiring for existing positions, we are just not a very big company: only around nine people, and we don’t see a lot of turnover. As for hiring for new positions, we often have to figure out what the position is before we start looking, because we’re constantly making this all up, reinventing our employee structure as we go along. It’s a big effort… not to mention seeing whether we can afford to add a person to payroll.

When we do need to hire someone, we will mention it in all the regular places: social media, the top of our website, etc. Keep in mind, though, that we don’t take any applications ourselves. We always refer people to the hiring agency we use. Don’t be that person who can’t read directions, and sends us your resume directly!

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Q: I have an idea for a game, and I was wondering whether Looney Labs could make it for me.

A: No.

1) If you’re looking for someone to print your game so that you can sell it, then you are looking to self-publish, and the kind of company you need is a printer. Looney Labs is a publisher. If you’re looking for info on printers, check out:
How can I get my game printed? What printers does Looney Labs use?

2) If you have an idea for a game, and you’re looking for a publisher, understand that publishing is a lot of work, involving a lot more than just an idea and a printer: it takes immense amounts of coordination: design, testing, sourcing materials, sales, and of course marketing efforts to get consumers to want to buy your game, not to mention convincing stores to even make it available to the consumer. This is my favorite essay on that topic.

3) Looney Labs does not accept outside game submissions. We are formed primarily for the purpose of publishing the works of Andy Looney, our sole game designer.

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Q: If you don’t accept game submissions, why do you have a game submission form online? Do I have to fill this out just to suggest a Fluxx version?

The form you have seems completely unfair towards designers, as if you’re trying to discourage submissions at all.

A: Technically, we do not accept outside submissions, so we DO intend to discourage them. For whole games, that’s totally true. For just suggestions for some idea of a Fluxx version you’d like to see us make, frankly, we get people all the time that just write us a two-line email hoping we’ll make a Fluxx themed on something they’re into:

“Hey! OMG, you should make Princes Bride Fluxx!” or “My Little Pony Fluxx” or “Dumb and Dumber Fluxx” (yes, these are all suggestions we have gotten, in many cases more than once). We don’t make all of those people who send us a two line email go sign that form, especially after they’ve already sent their idea. The casual nature of the suggestion indicates they don’t expect it to be anything other than that: a suggestion or even a request.

But if someone says “Hey, I designed a full deck of Big Bang Theory Fluxx” and I want to show it to you… well, we really don’t want to see their ideas unless they are giving them to us with no expectations. Essentially, we aim to keep actual game design in-house, and having someone show us their idea taints that and opens up a can of worms. For example, we might have similar ideas ourselves already, and if we did end up making a deck with this theme, the submitter might feel we stole their ideas. Another issue is that, much as we might want to give credit where credit is due, it’s very hard to keep track of random suggestions: sometimes emails get lost, and we don’t want to make promises we might not be able to keep, or set unrealistic expectations.

So why do we have the form at all? It’s for fans who are just dying to show us their full version of something, out of sheer enthusiasm, not because they’re trying to make money by selling us their idea.

If you just want to say: hey, you should do “Blah Blah” Fluxx, then I wouldn’t worry about the legalese – but if you have a bunch of specific game dynamic suggestions, then we want you to understand that we don’t compensate you for those, and it’s not really practical for us to even guarantee credit.

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