Jul 05

The Story of Legendary Creatures: Part One

The Kickstarter campaign for my third tabletop game, Legendary Creatures, will be launching on July 11th!  This Kickstarter represents the culmination of a tremendous amount of work and over a year’s effort by the crew developing this project for Pencil First Games.  We are a very small team, made up primarily of myself as the game designer, Eduardo Baraf as the publisher/developer, Lou Catanzaro art direction/illustration and Sebastian Koziner handling the graphic design duties.  We have been aided by a number of awesome people, such as Ben Shulman, our early graphic designer, and a plethora of play testers and contributors who will be named later!  With the Kickstarter rapidly approaching, I thought it would be a good time to look back at how Legendary Creatures came to be and why I think is going to be awesome!

Although the story of Legendary Creatures begins years ago, when Ed was working in the video game industry, my part of the story begins at Gen Con 2014 and my wife falling in love with an Alien Meeple.  I was preparing for the Kickstarter launch of my first game, Strife: Legacy of the Eternals and playing as many games as I could in my spare time with my wife Heather.  After some time apart while I worked the V3G booth in the exhibit hall, she told me about this awesome guy she met who was promoting his game, Lift Off: Get Me Off This Planet.  He was having a contest where people took pictures of the Alien Meeple in different places at the con and posted them to social media with the winner receiving an Amazon Gift Card.  Well Heather loves cute game components, meeting new people, and taking pictures so she dove in, determined to capture the winning picture and in the process became friends with Ed!

Her winning picture! The Alien Meeple is dangerously close to the falls in the game Niagra! “Bon voyage Monsieur Meeple!” was her caption.

To those who know Heather and I, it will come as no surprise that she brought Ed and I together, as I lovingly refer to her as my PR representative.  She is much better than I at meeting new people and her contagious enthusiasm often leads to positive new relationships with fun people.  Plus, she really likes it when people like her pictures and winning to boot!

After Gen Con was over, she Ed continued to message over Facebook and were apparently cracking each other up with their similar goofy senses of humor!  As the Strife Kickstarter approached she suggested that I reach out to Ed for feedback about the set up of our campaign page.  He was glad to help, and I passed his helpful suggestions to V3G.  In addition, he did a review of Strife and found that he really liked the game!  Like most designers, there is no surer way to my heart than flattery of one of my games, and we became friends.  It works. Trust me.

With Gen Con 2015 on the horizon, Heather made sure that we arranged a dinner, and more importantly a 7 Wonders showdown with Ed.  They had been trash talking each other for months, and it had only intensified after she and I did a guest review of it on his YouTube Channel.  Despite me crushing both of them, Heather claimed victory as she defeated Ed, which was all that mattered to her!  Over a pizza dinner, and the beer she owed him due to losing her bet regarding the final funding level of Strife: Legacy of the Eternals, we discussed our present and future projects.  I was gearing up for the Strife: Shadows and Steam Kickstarter in January of 2016 and he was working on Gem Packed Cards.  The conversation eventually turned to the possibility of a future collaboration and we agreed that is was something in which we might be interested should the right opportunity arise.  Little did I know that the chance to work with Ed would not be as far away as I might have thought.

During, Ed’s time in the video game industry he worked on a number of projects he loved that never made it to market.  Apparently, this is quite common in that industry, but when that company folded all of the hard work and creativity that went into those projects was doomed to purgatory in files likely to never see the light of day in any form.  Ed took the opportunity to purchase the existing IPs and set about bringing these lost projects back, but as tabletop games.  He knew this would be a chance for us to work together and asked me to help him resurrect one of these labors of love!  Ed’s company, Pencil First Games is known for its lighter family games, and he wanted me to create a more strategic, but still accessible game based on the files.  However, those files did more than inspire us to revive a lost world, and instead led to the creation of an all new one full of even more amazing art, fantastic components, and many new Legendary Creatures!

Some of the long board art that made its way to the final project!


I obviously accepted and in December of 2015 excitedly began the process of going through the oceans of material to determine what could be used and what could not be used to create a board game based on the existing IP while providing the sort of game experience Ed wanted.  This was a completely new experience for me, as I had previously created the world of Strife from scratch, and with the help of V3G, molded it in to its final form as we saw fit.  Having an existing framework to work from was a much greater challenge than I thought it would be and just figuring out what direction to go was quite difficult.  Those early days left many strange and bad ideas abandoned and I cannot help but laugh at when I think about them and where the game has wound up.  How different it, and potentially awful, it could have been!


Early forms of creatures that existed and are now Legendary!

Fortunately, Ed’s experience was very helpful during this stage and we worked together to move things in a direction that roughly resembles the game as it now exists.  At this point, the long testing and development process began in earnest in those early months of 2016!  It is amazing how far things have come over the last year and a half.  It is that process that I will cover in the second part of The Story of Legendary Creatures!  However, I think it is important for the creators of games, as well as those who play them to be aware of the how they actually come to be made!  Our team is a small group of passionate people dedicated to making the best game we can and helping Ed bring back to life a project from early in his career, that he loved too much to let disappear forever!

Stay tuned for part two of this story which will cover the design and development process required to bring Legendary Creatures to where it is today!


If you like our story and want to be a part of it, join us on Kickstarter Tuesday July 11th through Thursday August 3rd, and help to make Legendary Creatures a reality!  Thanks for reading, and thanks for your support!



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