Brieger Development and the Studio Model

It’s been a pretty wild ride in boardgame development since I’ve left Apple. I’ve been thinking hard about what’s next for me and for my business, and wanted to share some of that with you.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, I focus on development of titles for small and medium size publishers, refining games from the prototype form into the final product. Often, that includes working with the original designer of the game, IP holders, graphic designers, and whole host of freelancers alongside a rigorous playtesting program.

As my workload has grown, I’ve hit a limit in the number of hours I can give each week. I love all the games I work on — and wanted to be able to do more games this year without sacrificing any quality or the relentless focus on playtesting that’s built my portfolio.

The Studio Model

When you look at how creative work is done in other industries, you’ll find studios and design agencies are the default model. The current hobby boardgame industry runs primarily by licensing designs from independent designers, similar to the book industry, with only larger companies having employees who can solely focus on design and development.

As the boardgame industry grows there are a significant number of publishers who are expanding their catalogues, but don’t yet need multiple full-time employees handling development. One of the hardest things as a publisher is that your time and attention is limited — which can put a cap on executing creative work. Hiring an external development studio helps free up that time to focus on their core business. All of that is to say: this is a model that works, and demand is currently pretty good.

As I grew my workload over the past 2 years of freelancing, I was reaching a similar attention cap. The solution — bring on talented colleagues who can help with workload and get projects done in collaboration with the partnerships I’ve already developed. I started last fall with 2 contractors, and am pleased to announce that Brieger Development is expanding to 5 members to start 2020.

Meet the Team

John Brieger, Michael Dunsmore, Brenna Noonan, John Velgus, Chris Solis

John Brieger – Developer & Studio Head

John Brieger is a game developer based in Sunnyvale, CA with a background in qualitative research. His recent clients and licensees include Tasty Minstrel Games, Indie Boards and Cards, Deepwater Games, Thunderworks Games, and many more. He also writes the boardgame advice column #PlaytestingTipOfTheDay on Twitter.

Chris Solis – Producer and Project Management

A tabletop games producer with credits including Exceed Shovel Knight, Exceed Dead Cells, Temporal Odyssey, and more, Chris is a former UX Researcher with 2K Games and game producer with Level 99 Games. Chris enjoys bringing worlds to life through games.

Brenna Noonan – Developer

A lifelong gamer, Brenna Noonan has been developing, producing, and marketing board games since 2017. Her credits include Everdell and its expansions, A War of Whispers, Anomaly, and Archmage: Ascendant, among others. Brenna loves games that have a strong storytelling or narrative element, and that encourage the player to make significant choices. She can often be found poring over RPG books and tweaking her Magic decks.

John Velgus – Developer and Editor

John Velgus is a game designer and developer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Recent clients include Indie Boards and Cards, BARD Games, Underdog Games, Perplext, and Zobmondo!! He enjoys games of all kinds and is serious about fun.

Michael Dunsmore – Developer

Michael Dunsmore is a game designer and developer who has worked with Smirk and Dagger Games, Alley Cat Games,, Crafty Games and more. A former professional ballet dancer he brings his creativity and knowledge of entertainment to create games that connect people through interesting player interactions. He is the co-designer of We Need To Talk a 2019 release by Smirk and Laughter Games.


What’s Next — A Sneak Peak at 2020

I’m tremendously excited to be bringing on team members with new skill sets for 2020. Expanding our scope of services means we can offer clients access to new ways of making great games. We are planning on 16 titles for this calendar year, with 7 wrapping in the first quarter.

Planned 2020 Releases and Kickstarters:
Folded Wishes – B&B Games Studios
Chrono Corsairs – Tasty Minstrel Games
The Lost Worlds of Josh Kirby – Bard Games
Long Shot: The Dice Game – Perplext
Trekking the World – Underdog Games
Floor Plan – Deepwater Games
Roll Player: Fiends and Familiars – Thunderworks Games
Loot of Lima –
The Refuge: Terror from the Deep – B&B Games Studios
Roll Player Adventures – Thunderworks Games
7 Summits – Deepwater Games
Catastrophe – The Original Sasquatch
Tabriz – Crafty Games

+many more unannounced titles
(and probably a few we haven’t even been hired for yet)

See more of our work on our website

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