Legends Untold: Q&A with Kevin Young

Legends Untold Box Art

Legends Untold Box Art

This week I reached out to Kevin Young to talk about his upcoming game, Legends Untold. I noticed this game when it was an active Kickstarter and I was so close to backing but I had at that point never played a card orientated adventure game.

I have been following it ever since and will be getting a copy for sure. I recently played the Lord of The Rings Card Game and thoroughly enjoyed it. Legends Untold plays in an hour and is for between 1-4 players - although up to eight players can play with two boxes.

Below you will see the chat I had with Kevin and find more information out about him and the game.

Hi Kevin thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Can you tell me a bit more about yourself and how you got into making Legends Untold?

Like many gamers I love to play RPGs, board games and card games as much as possible but with a young family I just don't have much time to game nowadays.  In my very limited gaming time I want to play games that let me escape the real world and go off on an adventure in a world of excitement and wonder that is sufficiently realistic that the suspension of disbelief barrier is overcome quickly.

I want to play games solo or cooperatively. I hate spending downtime waiting on my turn and dislike spending a lot of time on game set up. I couldn't find a product out there that ticked those boxes for me, after several sessions playing existing games my gaming buddies said to me "why not go off and make it then Kev?"

I knew I couldn't do it on my own because to make something of value I believe you need rigorous challenge and commonality of vision. I asked Hugh Ducker (the Inspiring Games Design Director) to become involved because Hugh and I look at things in a different way and that is really important. We started off with a prototype called R0 (R Zero short for RPG Lite) and iterated and play tested R0 to death over two years.

We then reached the stage where we were ready to take it to Wyvern's Lair at the UKGE in 2016 where we pitched the game and got a very positive response.  A few months later I remember sitting with Hugh over a coffee and saying "I'm a bit worried that despite all our time and energy this isn't going to fund on Kickstarter".  To which Hugh quite rightly replied "only one way to find that out then Kev".  

Can you tell me about Legends Untold, how it plays, the story and what influences you had during development?

Our influences are Choose your Own Adventure books, RPGs, board games, card games and video games. I appreciate that is really vague but it probably sums it up - on any given adventure you may be experiencing influences that include:  The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, Red Box D&D, Shadowrun, Blood Bowl, Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness, Oblivion, 2000AD and a bucketload of Dragonlance Art and music tastes we shall refrain from mentioning.

Legends Untold is a beast, it is a huge beast of a game that is constantly growing. On most nights I am on dad duty feeding the baby and afterwards I will find a piece of paper and jot down what is in my head for future use. What we are trying to do is create a world that players will help build and can escape to as they wish.  A game where they can build a hero and explore that world over and over again.

How the game plays is really up to the player. You can play it Lonewolf (one player one Hero), multi handed (one Player several Heroes) or cooperatively.  It is up to you if you wish to play a one off pre-set adventure for a quick game or to follow the Cinematic Campaign which has a legacy style impact on progress.  You can also create your very own adventures (Home Brews) and share them with others to play.

Some people will want to add a GM to the game and play it as an RPG - which the game is absolutely designed to do. In fact we had a lot of fun at the end of the Kickstarter Campaign running a choose your own adventure style game (a full RPG was out of the question owing to technology) for 3,000 odd backers which was mad and great fun!

Some people will want to use the game assets in Sandbox mode where you do not need any kind of given Scenario, you just head off into the Caves, Sewers or wherever and play for a while until you have had your fill of Adventure for the session.

You used Kickstarter as the platform to fund this game did that bring any difficulties and did they out weight the benefits?

The only disadvantage to using Kickstarter was our own lack of experience launching a game there.  We had backed games for sure but it is absolutely not the same as launching a game.  You are stepping into the unknown in terms of rewards, early bird pledges, how the update system works etc. It all seems straightforward in hindsight but at the time when Backers are asking questions it can seem a bit hectic!

Our coping strategy was just to be 100% honest at all times, we were completely upfront that this was our debut game and our first time using Kickstarter.  We knew we would make mistakes, we humbly apologised and rectified them every time.  For us there was no other downside, people talk about the costs but I don't understand this. You are being given access to an amazing platform to market your game globally to like minded individuals, it is totally appropriate that Kickstarter receive a fee in return. 

You only required £12,000 to fund and made just shy of £130k what do you put this success down to?

I think it was when we offered free Haribo with every purchase...

Hmmm, the Backers would definitely answer this better than I can but from the many supportive messages we have received I would put it down to three things:
1 - There are a lot more people out there than we thought who have a real desire to play an in depth RPG like adventure game but have neither the time or players to do it using RPG books.  They want that experience but brought to them with extreme convenience.

2 - Our price point was appropriate. Our Stretch Goals had sufficient legs in them to help us give the component quality that the Backers deserved and after that it was all about content. Buying the Caves Set alone gives the players a game which is so much bigger than we originally envisioned.  Using just the Scenarios we provide in the Caves set alone you are getting 22-33 hour’s worth of content for less than £25. This is before you get into the infinite replay value and sandbox mode features.  For me as a gamer passing the Latte test is a big deal (how much does my game experience work out per session).  I am really happy we have crammed a massive gaming experience into the game for the Backers.

3 -  The world, this was the bit we weren't sure about.  I always wanted to build a game with pseudo historic cultures mixed with fantasy tropes set to our own vision.  To start with we just focused on the mechanics but as the campaign progressed people wanted to know more and more about the world we were building.  I think when we delivered a document called the Inspiring Games Vision Document that was when people sat back and said 'woah, this is huge'.  So many people have messaged us wanting to know more about the lore of the world, future releases and plans for the game.  It is a privilege to make content for the Backers, it really is.

With the UK Games expo fast approaching how do you plan to make more people aware of Legends Untold during the run up and the event itself?

We are running a campaign called the Mask of Newcomers on the Inspiring Games Facebook page.  The Newcomers have conquered the lands of our reluctant heroes and have turned the world upside down in a way similar to Saxon England after the Norman Conquest. We are slowly going to reveal more about the Newcomers in the run up to the Expo so that people can see more about this mysterious civilisation.

One question I have been dying to ask is in relation to a comment I read on Kickstarter. It said that this game was the first of a whole world you had mapped out does that mean we will see expansions and new game mechanics added in the future?

Legends is a big game in a small box.  It's also an ambition and a dream to launch a whole world for gamers to explore which we build together with our customers. In the Kickstarter Campaign we used our Social Goals to let the backers decide on some of the cards, to suggest ideas for Foes and even new cities. We want to deliver new content which customers can use to enjoy a new experience with their existing Heros and also to supplement all of the existing content they have already.  So as we are putting the finishing touches to the Novice Rank sets (Caves and Sewers) just now we are already mapping out the Apprentice and Journeyman Rank sets.

OK I am a man who hates to tempt fate, those that know me well know that is how I operate so 'IF' we are fortunate enough to successfully fund another Kickstarter for Legends then the Apprentice Rank will include some exciting things. I can't reveal it all as we need to keep play-testing it but a few things that I can reveal:

  • More Occupations and further ways to customise your Hero and a whole set of new environments to adventure in.
  • Several concepts we want to deliver upon like Hostile Encounters (NPCs you can interact with that may turn hostile and fight you).
  • Our take on the Un-dead.
  • Perhaps the opportunity to play a non Human Hero.

We also want to launch our Origins Series of games which are games in their own right that help to explain some of the history of the Legends World.  The first of these titles is Lord of the Horde, set centuries before the Newcomer conquest and focusing on the titanic struggle between the tribes of the Orakhee and the Brethren. We will be bringing Lord of the Horde to the Expo.

Does the massive growth of the first game affect the others you have planned in anyway?

Yes, absolutely.  There is no doubt that it has given us some confidence to pursue our dream but it has also shown us how many things need to be done when you launch a game with loads of content.

We had hoped to be bringing Legends and three other titles from our release schedule with us to the Expo. We have had to reduce that considerably to make sure that Legends is absolutely as good as we can get it.  The Backers have told us to take our time and stick to the vision so that is what we are doing.  We have so much more to show on Legends and indeed the portfolio of other titles in development we have but we have simply had to adjust our plans to make sure that our customers receive the best quality product we can produce.  That said we want people to know that we are working in other genres, we have plans to release games in many other genres in addition to Fantasy. 

Finally is there anything you want to say to potential buyers that are reading this?

Simply that we've spent years on the Legends project because we want it to tick so many boxes for us: Play it Solo or coop, with a GM or without, as a board game or an RPG, Legends is set in an optional immersive campaign world that can be played in bite sized chunks with only 5 minute set up time.

If any of this sounds of interest to you please head over to our stand where we will be offering drive through demos and drop in drop out games for the whole convention. This will be the first major convention that the finished product is shown at so please come and give it a go.

Let the adventure unfold, let your legend be told... (ahem cue the fantasy music please maestro.)

Final Thoughts

To summarise, this game was a dream that others liked the idea of. It grew and grew and is still growing now. We have been given some exclusive info on the future of this game and let me be honest the game sounds amazing!

So, backers will be getting a game that has more expansions planned so the game will carry on evolving, this can only mean great things as each time an expansion is launched the game mechanics can be tweaked or new ones added.

I for one will be spending many hours telling people about the stories I create while playing this game and its great that it comes with free Haribo’s….(disclosure - it doesn’t really).