This week Stu Bailey tracks down Ed Harrison of Walrus Games for an exclusive interview......
1. This is your first venture into publishing, who are Walrus Games?
Just me, although my brother has been helping a little at cons! Essentially though it’s just me trying to put my imagination into an interactive form. I have wanted to write novels as well so many ideas go around in my head but I love board games and so I thought it would be a nice way to put all these ideas and stories out there in a way that people can play out and live my stories.
2. What inspired you to create Everdark?
It began in my previous job, in 2015, where I worked with all these tools, machinery and toys and my colleague jokingly said ‘Hey let’s make a board game’. So I did, and with all these stories in my head it just started to piece together. It then kind of escalated a bit when I started taking it to places like UKGE back in 2016. I cannot even begin to describe how it was received at UKGE; it was way beyond expectations.
When John Dodd, who helps run the event, came over and said to me that my game was the game he was most excited about it left me a little bit shocked and humbled, which inspired me to put an even greater amount of effort into it. The idea though came about just because I love board games and I wanted to put the skills I have got to use.
3. Can you explain how the game is played and who or what is The Skia!?
It’s a five tiered city with a rotating maze and each player has four actions per turn, including twisting a ring of the maze one space, or moving their piece one space. So you are moving around the city trying to keep an ever encroaching darkness at bay but the paths are aligning and changing all the time; this messes each other’s plans up as you try to get to events around the city. Completing the events wins you victory points but it also keeps the citizens of the city from The Skia; the guardians of the darkness. It can be played as a co-op or a free for all game but in both versions you are still against the board so it’s important not to mess each other up too much. How much do you want to screw over your competitors?! Too much and the darkness will win; it’s a good balance between success for yourself or for your co-op players. In the co-op game you have to build a tiered temple, to succeed. It’s a little like Forbidden Desert in that sense where you try to build the airship back up from all its lost parts.
As for The Skia, I don’t want to give too much away about it as the concept behind them has a much deeper and philosophical lore, but essentially the whole story of Everdark is a story being retold generations after it took place – so certain details to the story have been exaggerated or mistranslated. It’s based around a Greek-esc culture and the story goes that they are banished by the Gods, forever lost in an eternal darkness which is known as the Everdark which is full of pulsating energy; absorbing spirits from people. I guess you could say, “taking their souls”, but I don’t want to give too much away. The Skia just want to put the Everdark back into balance. The city is not supposed to be there so they are just trying to restore it to how it was by restoring balance – unfortunately that involves killing everyone. It’s your job to keep the city light, a gift from the Gods, shining as it is all that is stopping The Skia from plunging the city into Everdark.
4. Other than the rotation of the board what are the other mechanics of the game?
We found during play-testing that the rotation of the board caused people to focus so hard on where they are going next and how it influences others that I didn’t want any other really complicated mechanics. It was originally designed with a timer but that’s now optional after some people said they would prefer to play without it. There is an element of luck with dice rolling and battles; effectively you have the white dice (light) against the black dice (darkness).
Light vs dark sounds a little cliché but you roll both of those dice to try to beat the darkness. Both dice can be modified; the darkness by the events card and the white die by abilities which can be bought from purple crystals which are collected throughout the game and are the game’s currency. There are many different ways to use the currency other than modifying the dice. The easy part of the game is the dice rolling but the hard part is definitely the rotating paths!
5. In the components you refer to ‘models’. Do you mean miniatures?!
Yes. Although my concern is the cost of them, so if I can reach a certain point in Everdark’s Kick Starter funding to pay for them then we can certainly make it a miniature based game. At present it uses wooden pawns to bring the cost down. The funding goal is £16k, but we are looking at the first stretch goal of around £30k – which would allow us include miniatures and cover the machining development cost.
6. Everdark is a game for 2-4 players. Single player games are growing in strength, is there scope to develop a single player version?
Yep. Definitely. It’s very easy but I just need to look at the balance between the events and rounds, but I am keen to look at it. It’s not at the top of my priorities list but I will definitely try to get it done before the game is launched.
7. Everdark has a co-op mode as well as a player v player mode. Do you think it’s important for games to have the option of being co-op?
Not necessarily, it depends on what players want from a game. Everdark originally started off as a free for all game but there were so many people saying that they wanted a co-op game that I ended up thinking ‘why not’? I ended up making the game as modular as possible so you can take things out and add things in so you can easily change it from a free for all game to a co-op game. You can also change the difficulty rating of the co-op game by selecting the cards you want to include.
8. What are your short term and long term goals for the game and The Walrus Games?
Short term goals are to survive June and July! We’ll be going to UKGE, and aim to promote the hell out of it! We want to get a huge fan base of awesome people behind it and I’m aiming to launch the KS by June 17th and hopefully it will be successfully funded by mid-July!
The long term goals are to keep developing; I have so many stories and ideas in my head including a sequel to Everdark already planned out; it may be tile based game combined with an Arkham Horror style, but it will certainly be set in a difficult nightmarish world. But before that I have a new game called Playground Politics which I will be looking to Kickstart in January next year. I know, ambitious!!! The theme is global politics but it’s all based in a school and there are possibilities for a lot of expansions.
Editorial Note: Ed is a hugely passionate and incredibly creative guy. For me the best board games have a back story and Everdark certainly has one. This game will be a huge success, and we will certainly bring you more updates as the campaign begins.