Eric, so glad we didn’t scare you away the first time; thanks for coming back!
WHAT?! Oh, sorry. You frightened me there.
So, from the looks of your twitter account @eric_lang you've been doing some serious game design work away from home. Tell us a little bit about where you were and the project(s) you've been working on?
I’ve been in my comfort zone for the year, at all times juggling 2-4 games in various stages of completion. Two of them are currently in post-design, and ready for announcement within the month.
So, in total, how many projects have you had your hands on since we last talked?
Seven, I think? Maybe? It’s hard to keep track. Some games are ongoing developments, others are near-completion, and yet other ongoing games are in publishers’ capable hands but still need attention (like Star Wars LCG and Quarriors).
Via Twitter you’ve given each of your projects their own code name. You said several weeks ago that “Project Phoenix” is heading to production; can you tell us more about the game, who is publishing the game, and when we can expect to see it hit the shelves?
It will be published by Cool Mini or Not, and my producer is the extraordinarily talented David Preti (from Dust Games). They will be announcing it soon. I wish I could tell you more, because this is a game (and original IP) I’ve been working on for a long time.
How often do you leave town to get work done? Do you make the same pilgrimage every year, or do you travel to other places around the world? If so, what's been your favorite place to work so far?
I generally get work done at home, actually, and travel for inspiration or to crunch on administrative or production deadlines, which are easier on-site with publishers.
I love Brazil for the climate, the gamers, and the food. Singapore for the space-age lifestyle, the gamers, and the food. Malaysia for the gamers, the amazing islands, and the food. Minnesota for all my longtime friends, and the food. There’s a general food theme.
Project Phoenix is a game I’ve wanted to do for about five years. It is a hybrid of two genres I really enjoy in gaming (which I sadly can’t talk about until the announcement). The nucleus of the game coalesced while I worked on other games, but crystallized when I met with David Preti in Brazil and pitched the basic concept. He said, “We’re making this game,” immediately, and then asked me for an IP to go with the game. I built the foundation of this world over a weekend, and we worked together to flesh it out (me on world details, he on visual direction).
We’ve also heard that your funding a project through Kickstarter, what can you tell us about that, and when will we see it over on KS?
I actually have four projects, with various publishers, slated for Kickstarter this year. Unfortunately I can’t talk about any of them :(
Since we last spoke with you, Star Wars The Card Game was released; we've enjoyed the base set and are looking forward to the multiplayer expansion. What can you tell us about the multiplayer experience?
Sadly, nothing of substance (NDA, as you’d guess). I can say that multiplayer completes the core vision I had for the game.
The idea of having multiple players team up against a single dark side player is really making me kind of giddy! And it seems that you had this in mind all along. Is there a reason the multiplayer expansion is delayed, or wasn't a part of the base set?
It was part of the game’s DNA from the start, but we realized during development that it would take a significant chunk of the core set’s card pool to execute as fully as we wanted. And we wanted to maximize variety in objective sets for regular play, both because variety is good and this game was experimenting with a new deck-building philosophy, so we wanted to give it breathing room.
It didn’t take long to realize we could easily take the multiplayer component and expand it even further if we made it a deluxe expansion box. Expect some surprises!
The Quartifacts expansion is coming soon, which adds quests—an entirely new play pattern—to the game. Beyond that, they announced the exciting “Light and Dark” expansion that Mike and I finished a few months ago, so it won’t be coming for awhile.
We got the press release from Wizkids about Train Stations. There’s scant information so far, but the description reads like a standard pickup-and-deliver-type train game—but then we noticed it comes with 50 custom dice... Is this some sort of Quarriors/Age Of Steam mashup, or what?!
There are lots of dice, but the game is nothing like Quarriors. It’s more of a risk management game with a ton of player interaction (with mild cooperative elements, even though there is only one winner). I designed this game as an homage to Sid Sackson, one of my favorite designers, and even though it shares no mechanics with his games, my guiding process during design would often be to ask myself, “What would Sid do?”
Are there any other new and exciting projects that you can tell us about?
Absolutely! I am working on two games with my good friend and awesome designer Kevin Wilson, codenamed Tweedledee and Tweedledum. The games are not related; the codenames symbolize something else (shhh). One is a really fun little strategy game that “scratches your OCD itch” and the other is an intense psychological social game dripping with warped theme. Both are based on really cool existing IPs, and will be out later this year.
Last year I finished design on a risky but really compelling game that adds a new twist to a classic genre. I call it Project ZOMG, and have described it as a “youthful power fantasy come to life.” This one will be announced by a major publisher shortly. I can’t wait to talk more about it.
Finally, I started work on another big game for FFG. This one won’t be out for awhile, but the initial design is already mostly done, and I’ve scoped out some crazy ambition. One thing I can say is that I love how FFG is a big game company and still likes to take risks and try new ideas.
Here’s another round of 1-word questions!
Kirk or Picard?
Favorite Star Wars film?
Bill S. Preston esq. or Ted Theodore Logan?
Favorite comic book hero?
Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us!
Thank you! Fun questions as always.
Update: Shortly after we finished this interview with Eric, Cool Mini or Not leaked some info on the Project Phoenix game, which is Kaosball. From Eric's Web site:
"Kaosball is a fantasy sports game based on modern world pop culture. It has a different approach than most sports games, using card play rather than standard miniatures style simulationist rules for resolving conflict. There’s luck and variance, to be sure, but key skills like bluffing and reading your opponent enhance the drama and can turn the tide.
The sport (a 2-4 player cross between rugby and domination-style e-sports) is designed from the ground up to play well as a team management board game focused on special powers and their interactions. It’s bloody and lethal; in fact, kills help your overall score! Four teams come in the core set, but I have already designed over a dozen more.
More details and blog updates to follow over the next few weeks. I have been waiting a very long time to talk about this game!"