Welcome back for the second part of our chat with Liz Spain, talking about her newest game, Incredible Expeditions: Quest for Atlantis.
Read Part One here.
AA: What kind of back story is there for Incredible Expeditions which didn’t make it into the final version?
LS: There’s a whole world of story behind the characters, places and events in the game. Every time the game is played, the elements come together a bit differently and people create their own stories. But I’m sure savvy players will see the connections, which are hinted at in the bits of fiction and the illustrations, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.
AA: What kind of research went into creating the Incredible Expeditions world?
LS: As major inspirations for the theme and world of Incredible Expeditions, I poured over the characters, worlds and events of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and At the Mountains of Madness. I also wanted to capture the excitement and dramatic stories of actual 19th Century expeditions to places like the North Pole. For example, the luxurious greenhouse icebreaker ship in the game was inspired by the ship constructed for the 1893 Fram expedition to the North Pole, which was outfitted with an elegant library complete with padded lounge chairs.
AA: Are there any great artwork pieces which were considered but didn’t make it into this project?
LS: There are a lot of fantastic portraits of steampunks that we simply didn’t have room for. I’m hoping some of them will make their appearance in future games. There are also several artists I wanted to include in the project that just didn’t have room in their schedule.
AA: What makes game play engagement different in this games compared to others?
LS: Generally speaking, games with deep strategy don’t put much emphasis on a having beautiful aesthetics or rich world. Incredible Expeditions bridges the gap between games that create a rich narrative and those that are intellectually challenging.
AA: Are there any plans for expansions?
LS: There’s already two small expansions for the game which we were able to produce through Kickstarter stretch goals. One is entirely Lovecraftian-themed and the other features elements from Arabian Nights’ stories. If the game sells well, I plan to create sequels which explore complementary themes, like time travel.
AA: What were some of the triumphs and tribulations in the whole process?
LS: Finishing the Kickstarter campaign with over $60k in funding was the first great triumph, manufacturing the game is another. I hope to count another triumph when we sell through the first print run of the game.
The biggest tribulation so far has been delays caused by neurological complications of my autoimmune disease. Pre-production was stalled for several months because I couldn’t read a computer screen for more than a few minutes at a time. With careful management and a gigantic new monitor, I was able to get the project back in gear and finish the final version of the game. Being at the helm of such a large, long-term project (over two years now) has brought me a new understanding of how essential it is that I keep my health in check.
AA: How was the whole Kickstarter experience? Was it a mental and emotional rollercoaster?
LS: Running a Kickstarter campaign was an amazing amount of work, but absolutely worth every moment spent. In addition to a year of work on the project in general, I dedicated a full month to preparation before launching our campaign. As soon as the campaign began, we discovered there were still important things we’d missed, like a gameplay video and a print-and-play version of the game. While the money raised enabled us to manufacture Incredible Expeditions much sooner and at better quality, it was really the enthusiasm of our backers that convinced me the game needed to be made.
AA: You’ve run several game sessions for design and beta testing. What are some memorable fan reactions to Incredible Expeditions which you’ve heard?
LS: There’s a lot of different aspects to the game that people tend to like the best. Some like the artwork and theme, some like the tough decisions that have to be made, and some like how flexible the game system is.
But as a game designer, my favorite praise has come from other game designers and game experts. When someone who plays a lot of board games tells me they keep thinking about the game and can’t wait to play again, I know I’m on the right track.
AA: That is quite an achievement! When I get my family and friends to play Incredible Expeditions, what do they need to know?
LS: The role of an expedition leader isn’t an easy one, and the journey will be difficult. Be prepared to rethink your strategy when new situations arise.
We’ll take a break here in our chat with Liz Spain, talking about her newest game, Incredible Expeditions: Quest for Atlantis.
Check back for the conclusion where Liz talks game play and the creative process.