The Walking Dead: The Prison - Board Game will have an MSRP of $49.99, and backers of the game will not only be the first to receive the game before it is in stores, but they will also have the opportunity to purchase the game at a lower price and have access to Kickstarter exclusive game components and rule sets.
In order to bring you more information on the Kickstarter campaign, I had the chance to sit down with Keith Tralins and Matt Wong for the below interview.
Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: The Walking Dead is a property known throughout the world and through various entertainment mediums. What inspired you to adapt the story and its characters into the board game medium?
Keith Tralins: Actually, the story itself! It’s such a strong, well-written piece, one can’t help but read it and place themselves in the shoes of Rick, or Michonne, or Andrea. You imagine how you would survive, who’d you take with you, how you’d avoid being bitten when everyone else around you is having their brains eaten for lunch. We’d have conversations about that: what’s in your go-bag? How would you defend your house? How would you get out of the city? And, it just lent itself to creating a game, where you could actually feel like you’ve entered that world. I think that accessibility is such a huge part of The Walking Dead’s success.
BD: How would you describe the creative process for game developers MegaGigaOmniCorp and Top8Magic, from the initial approach of series creator Robert Kirkman for the rights to the story through the development of the game itself?
KT: We actually developed the game first, on spec. We wanted to have a great idea that allowed players to experience the story, so we focused on that, hoping that by demonstrating our understanding and passion for the story itself, getting the rights wouldn’t be too difficult. And, it worked! We went in with this map of North Georgia, laid it out on the table, and just started playing it. It really tells the story from the beginning and builds to this race for safety. The Skybound team got it right away, and we were off. The narrative approach, which is fairly top-down, works for us. Understanding the mythology of a story allows us to express what we want the player to experience and feel, and then we set about crafting rules that pay that off. There’s a bit of an art to it, but after 4 or 5 big titles, it’s become our style: faithful translation of a strong narrative into the gaming space.
BD: What can you tell us about the individuals who make up the game’s creative team?
KT: We’re split between two coasts. I (Keith Tralins) handle a lot of the flavor and narrative, I’m a bit of the self-appointed “protector of the brand.” Of course, Matt and Brian think of themselves the same way, so we tend to stay true to the spirit of a game pretty easily. I have it easy, I get to design top-down.
Matt Wong: Brian (a.k.a. BDM) and I are based in NY and have years of experience in the game business (online and offline). BDM and I officially met when I was playing Magic: The Gathering in the NY area. (Unofficially, I met BDM at a Manhattan comic book store.) We stayed in touch throughout the years, became friends, and eventually started working together. We actually met Keith when he lived in NY and he played in the local Magic tournaments.
KT: I believe back in the day I beat you in a Mox tournament!
BD: Do you feel that this game would be appropriate for players above a certain age, and how would you describe the difficulty of game play?
KT: Not under 13, that’s for sure. This game is a lot bloodier than the first one, much more tactical. There is a lot of contact with zombies. Difficulty is easy to moderate, especially easy if you’ve played the first game. It shares a lot of the same DNA, so if you’re familiar with the first game, you’ll be very comfortable with this one.
BD: Like many independent creators, you initiated a crowdfunding campaign for the project through Kickstarter. What encouraged you to use this specific fundraising method?
KT: There was a lot of encouragement! When we first talked about it, we almost dismissed it out-of-hand. This was The Walking Dead, and we all love Kickstarter – especially Matt, how many projects have you backed?
MW: Over 270 . . . And, counting
KT: But, we had some cool experiences we had seen on Kickstarter in our heads. We loved the idea of being able to get more into the game, and have some cool exclusives, and let people get extra dice. We wanted diehard fans to get it first and save some money. And then, we looked at the economics. Manufacturing and shipping costs had gone up since the first game, and the economy has been playing havoc with retail. And, the more we looked at it, the more we realized Kickstarter would not only give great value to our players, but also give us the greatest chance for success.
BD: For our readers who may be interested in donating to The Walking Dead: The Prison - Board Game, are there any specific donation perks that may pique our readers’ interest?
KT: We’re about to start announcing some Kickstarter exclusives – we have some cool stuff coming, we’re revealing an incredible new Follower (well, two of them) on Friday – but right now, my favorites are the custom Starting Characters we’re offering as add-ons. We created four templates, and you can either get your name put on one of them – or all of them – or you can get your name and picture on them. It actually gets you into the game, right next to Rick, Glenn and Michonne. It’s awesome, especially when you win with only the help of Otis and Sophia!
BD: Being that we focus on all things “geek” at Fanboy Comics, would you care to geek out with us about your favorite games?
KT: Yes. Yes, I do care to. Every chance I get. I’ve got a regular D&D game, which I call “The” Hollywood game, which is made up of working writers and actors. It’s unbelievably creative and fulfilling; our DM recently mashed up our campaign with paper wars and Cards Against Humanity. My favorite game of all time is Talisman, though. And, I still get sucked into the vortex that is . . . Magic: The Gathering.
MW: I still play Magic with a local group of NYC gamers which is usually hosted by Jon Finkel, one of the most famous Magic players ever. I am still a D&D enthusiast that loves buying and reading all the sourcebooks but never have the time to play. I have been really enjoying Numenera and can’t wait for The Strange. Digitally, I am an FTL addict and love turn-based strategy games.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell our listeners who want to learn more about The Walking Dead: The Prison?
KT: Come and check us out! If you’ve never backed a Kickstarter, this is a great way to get introduced to it, and you’re sure to find other projects, too, that also need your help. The Kickstarter may be found here. You can also get more information at our Facebook page. And, of course, thank you for your support!
Be sure to visit The Walking Dead: The Prison Kickstarter page, and don't forget to check out the backer rewards, which include official dice bags, a copy of the game, the chance to attend the game's launch party at Comikaze Expo in Los Angeles, and the opportunity to have a zombie card in the game named after you! The Kickstarter campaign will close on Wednesday, April 2, 2014, so be sure to donate soon!