BELGIUM 2210: Was Risk 2210 A.D. a though game to produce?
ROB: No, it was a lot of fun. We had enough time to be able to playtest it again and again. It took a lot of time but it wasn't time that felt like work.
BELGIUM 2210: How did you divide the work on the Risk 2210 A.D. game (with Craig Van Ness)?
ROB: Craig and I worked out the basics of the game in 10 minutes (!) and we had a playtest version within a week. Craig was the lead designer so he designed the pieces and managed the work. I did the backstory, the territory names, and the rulebook. Craig spent more time on it, but a lot of that time was meetings and making sure everyone was doing their job.
BELGIUM 2210: How was the playtesting of Risk 2210 A.D. done?
ROB: Mostly people around the office. We had no shortage of playtesters here. We made sure that we played with 2, 3, 4, and 5. Early playtesting is tough as things change so often, sometimes within a game. Cards get rewritten, rules get modified, etc. We also played it with some gamer friends when it was further along to make sure we weren't missing anything by getting a new group in.
BELGIUM 2210: In forums and faqs about Risk 2210 A.D. you posted "It was going to go in the rulebook but it was more important to put the rules to Classic Risk in instead. Don't worry the story will emerge sometime." Isn't it time the story emerges?
ROB: It's a long story but here are the highlights. After World War III, the world changed quite a bit. It was still a violent place and had a lot of demilitarized zones. Three graduate students from small countries (Djibouti, Andorra, and Lesotho) designed Machines of Defense -- robots that could be used by their countries to defend their small borders. Of course, their idea was instantly corrupted by people and the robots changed into Machines of Destruction. Lesotho, Djibouti, and Andorra didn't defend...they attacked. A company called Micorcorp started mass-producing the machines and selling them to all the countries in the world and tensions got higher and higher. All the rich and well-to-do moved to the moon and under water, since MODS weren't capable of operatinng in the vacuum of space or the pressures of the deepsea. Of course, Microcorp addressed this and just released their latest versions of MODs, which can go underwater and into space. Which is where the game starts.
BELGIUM 2210: Do you still get feedback/questions about Risk 2210 A.D. (from players)?
ROB: Not many questions these days. I see feedback here and there on the Internet and it is good to know that the game is still played and is doing well.
Rob Daviau (second from the left) plays StoneAge at Gencon 2003 (used with authorization of Mr Daviau en https://www.hunterandlori.com/)
BELGIUM 2210: Do you play your own games after they are published (and are you good at them :-) )?
ROB: I occasionally play one of my games after it is out, if a friend wants to try it. I'm good at some of them but I am horrible, just horrible, at RISK 2210 AD.
BELGIUM 2210: Expansions were WOTC's work - what was your first reaction?
ROB: I don't have any reaction yet because I haven't seen them. I wasn't involved with them at all.
BELGIUM 2210: Star Wars: Epic Duels was the next collaboration with Craig Van Ness. I suppose that you like working with Craig Van ness. Why is that?
ROB: He sits across the hall from me. That and we design well together. He is amazing at designing mechanics and I am good at editing them. He has an eye for art and sculpting; I can write and do back stories. And we both love games.
BELGIUM 2210: What are you currently working on?
ROB: A whole bunch of stuff I can't talk about. Except Heroscape, which I can talk about. This is our miniatures game that is out this summer (2004). I'll talk about that all day long.
BELGIUM 2210: Were there games that you couldn't produce due to copyright or other reasons?
ROB: Well, there are licenses that we don't have, so we can't do games for them. That's always sad when there's a great license that I want to design a game for.
BELGIUM 2210: What is the game you are most proud of?
ROB: Hmmm...probably Risk 2210 AD and Axis & Allies: Pacific.
BELGIUM 2210: Will you make public appearances later this year (and can people challenge you for a game)?
ROB: I'm usually at GenCon in Indianapolis. Most years I'm working, sometimes I'm there on my own. But I won't play my own games as it is embarassing to lose badly.
BELGIUM 2210: Thank you for your time, Mr. Daviau.
Craig Van Ness
BELGIUM 2210: Where did the idea of "updating" Risk with an new version originate?
CRAIG: A bunch of us were talking about "What's next" for Avalon Hill. I suggested Risk Total War (Risk, with robots, more decision making and more strategy). Everyone agreed this was a solid idea.
BELGIUM 2210: Rob Daviau told us that the basics of the game were very quickly established - where did all the work go into?
CRAIG: Yes. I wanted commanders with command decks and a purchase engine. Rob suggested the moon and underwater cities. He also wanted commanders with distinctive powers and upgrade-able units. Once we had the board roughed out, the decks and commanders defined, and figured out the use of energy (the thing that drove the purchase engine), we got a sample together and started playing. Most of early game design, in my opinion, is understanding variables and how they hypothetically will play out in the game. I tend to do most of my game designing in my head, or through discussions with other game designers. Rob and I designed the initial idea for how the game would work through one of these discussions.
Where did all the work go into? Play testing, critiquing and tweaking. After every play session we talked about what we liked and what we didn't like. For example: One of the early problems with the game was the length of time (it was too long). We talked about different ways to shorten the game, and then implemented the round counter. Also, a considerable amount of time went into designing the card decks. We tried to make sure you could use several different strategies and the decks were balanced and had personality. Play testing, critiquing then tweaking, a constant cycle in solid game design.
BELGIUM 2210: Were there game-mechanics in Risk 2210 A.D. that were very different than the published game but did not work out in play-testing?
CRAIG: Yes, there was a Tactics commander. At first we were using the Tactics Commander's cards to mostly "get extra troops". Players were all purchasing some Tactics cards. We didn't want one deck to have such a dominant role so we spread out his cards throughout the other decks. Upgrade-able mods didn't make it to the final design. We wanted the game to be about what commanders and command cards you purchase. While upgrade-able mods was a solid idea, I think it took away from energy you could be spending on cards and commanders.
BELGIUM 2210: Risk 2210 A.D. is now a few years "old". How do you look back at it?
CRAIG: I'm very proud of Risk 2210. Except for Heroscape, it is the best multi-player game I've co-designed. Actually, comparing Risk 2210 AD to Heroscape is almost unfair considering Heroscape is a Miniatures Game System.
BELGIUM 2210: What do you like most about designing games?
CRAIG: I like the initial discussions. Creation is stimulation. Putting together the early proto-types is fun. There is a little boy in my head (when I'm working on an early prototype) who's saying, "I wanna play, I wanna play, I wanna play." I like improving after every game session. The toughest part is knowing when to stop tweaking.
Craig plays at GenCon 2007 (used with authorization of Jormi).
BELGIUM 2210: You seem to have a tendency for Star Wars games. Is that because you like the SW-universe or is it because they ask you to develop a SW game?
CRAIG: Yes, I like the SW-universe and yes, I was assigned to the Star Wars team to develop games for that license.
BELGIUM 2210: How would you describe your working-relationship with Rob Daviau?
CRAIG: Our relationship is great. We discuss games and game mechanics all the time. I go to his house to play games every Wednesday night. He is solid when it comes to relating a game mechanic to a story and he is always coming up with new ideas and new ways to improve games we are working on. I've always believed that putting personality into a game is very important. This is where Rob really steps up; adding personality, creating the story, and making the mathematical exercise with variables fun. Like me, I think Rob is a guy who lives and breathes games. He has a real passion for games.
BELGIUM 2210: How did you become a game designer?
CRAIG: Hmmm.. I'll give you the short answer. I've always liked games. All types of games; computer games, sports, boardgames, roleplaying games, miniature gaming, card games.... After graduating from college with a BFA in Illustration I started illustrating my own games. I contacted an Inventor's representative and worked with him for about a year and a half. Then I heard about a job opening at Hasbro/Milton Bradley and immediately applied. I'm in my tenth year at Hasbro. Life is good. I have the privilege of working with and for 2 great guys: Mike Gray (designed Shogun, Fortress America, and many other games) and Stephen Baker (Heroquest, Battlemasters, and many other games). I've learned and continue to learn a ton about games and game mechanics from these guys.
BELGIUM 2210: What game are you most proud of?
CRAIG: Risk 2210 and Queen's Gambit.
BELGIUM 2210: Do you like playing your own games after they are published?
CRAIG: Yes. We play our games and we try to play as many new games as we can.
Hey, I have a Risk 2210 variant you guys might want to try. We played it several times. It's called Blind Risk 2210. It's best played with 7. One guy is the game master. The other 6 players divide into 3 teams of 2. You need 3 copies of the Risk 2210. When we played, I was the Game Master. In my basement, I set up three tables and hung some sheets up in between them so the teams couldn't see each others' tables. Then we used the territory cards for random starting territories. All players place their starting armies. The interesting twist is, none of the teams know where the other teams are. Once a team attacks a territory, then both teams know its contents.
See also: Blind Risk 2210 A.D.
BELGIUM 2210: Can you tell us something about Heroscape?
CRAIG: Heroscape is a Miniature Game System for the mass market and the gamer market. Myself, Rob and Stephen Baker designed it. Search Heroscape on Google.com, you can find out all about it
Let me just say, Heroscape is easy to learn, fun to play. It's a WOW game. It comes with a considerable amount of terrain tiles and nicely painted and sculpted miniatures. You can build whatever you want and immediately play on it. It's a construction set and a game. I can't wait for it to come out.
BELGIUM 2210: Thank you for your time, Mr. Van Ness.