Certifiable Studios is made up of four of the most…interesting individuals in board game design (one of their number habitually never wears trousers…I’m not sure why). Last year they put out one of the finest, most hilarious, most enjoyable Kickstarter campaigns I have ever seen or been a part of with Endangered Orphans of Condyle Cove (EO). It smashed through their humble goal of $4,097, made a laughing stock of each and every one of their Stretch Goals and then they even went on to invent Anti-Stretch Goals (personally I’m most looking forward to my Mississippi Air). So, while Endangered Orphans makes its way across the ocean to my eagerly awaiting hands Team Certifiable have brought us Who Goes There? to coax our bank/credit cards from our wallets.
Who Goes There? (WGT) Is a co-op game for 3 to 6 players based upon the Retro Hugo Awarding winning novella of the same name by John Campbell (you may be more familiar John Carpenter’s The Thing which is also based on the novella). In this game, players must survive the arctic winter to escape on the helicopters at the end of the game, but, by the end of the game not everyone will be who they started out as, paranoia will run rampant through this game as you trade items and food to better prepare yourselves for another arctic night, but you never know when you might pick up an infection from the Thing.
Jesse, from the team, was kind enough to spare me some time to answer some questions about the game and campaign.
From EO to Who Goes There? You have moved from an original concept to an IP, so I guess the first question is, what was so appealing about Campbell’s work that inspired that move?
Simply put, I loved it! It’s interesting, though, because I loved the movie first (all three of them, actually). When Carpenter was asked to make The Thing, his response was how much he loved the original movie (1951) when he was younger. It wasn’t until he later found out it was first a book. Although he was planning on doing a remake of the original movie, he enjoyed the book so much that he wanted to create that. After hearing this, I figured the book must be something special, and I fell in love with it as well.
What new challenges did you face bringing this thing to life?
After reading “Who Goes There?” a few times, it seemed like the obvious next step was making a game with the same feel. But I just knew there would be a tonne of obstacles before we could even think about doing a WGT? titled tabletop game because of licensing and rights issues.
Rick said we won’t know until we try, so he went after it. Next thing I know, we’re all shooting up high-fives! Boy, that Rick, he sure can surprise us by sometimes getting something right.
What were the key features you simply knew you had to have in this game?
I think some of the most identifiable factors we just had to utilise first and foremost was the shapeshifter factor. Without that, we really wouldn’t relate to the book at all.
Then there is the tension with the all-male crew. No privacy, no women, no escape and no trust…that’s just asking for trouble. And of course, you can’t have WGT? without McReady. This is another hats off moment to Carpenter. He REALLY captured his character by casting Kurt Russell. Nailed it!
It was odd because when working on WGT?, I felt compelled to bring in elements from the movie because I think if it weren’t for that, a lot of us wouldn’t know about the book. But at the same time, you must honour the book, because without that…we wouldn’t have the movie
We believe there are 3 things that make this game fun and a bit unique.
Our favourite one is that when you start out, EVERYONE is human. There are no traitors among the team, no secret missions, and no objective that make you want to beat your teammate at achieving. It’s a true co-op game. As the game goes on, players must start taking risks out in the cold. They do this to gain bonuses that they ABSOLUTELY NEED at the end of the game. The problem is this is where the highest risk of exposure and becoming infected is. Then there is the factor of becoming the Thing. Unlike a lot of other spy/paranoia games, once infected, your objective does not change. Your number one goal is blending in (like the movie and book). This is actually harder than it sounds, especially when you have a few Vulnerable cards in front of you.
And finally, another fun and unique element is that if you suspect someone of being the Thing…keep it to yourself!!! Most games, everyone starts spouting off to each other, “I think it’s him!!! I’m TELLING YOU IT’S HIM!!!” But in this game, you want to keep quiet and act as though everything is fine. If the Thing pretends to be human, you pretend to believe he’s human. If the Thing thinks he’s safe, there is no need for him to attack. Let the rounds wind down…then BAM, kill him or leave him behind! I’ve seen many games end in pure chaos. Humans killing humans, Things killing Things (to cover his tracks), the innocent getting left behind…it’s one big lovable party!
Cute and cuddly mixed with dangerous and cunning
From the Bogeyman to the Thing, your games have this dark, horror theme/setting and a wonderful juxtaposition with Jesse’s incredible art – is this an intentional motif that we can expect from Certifiable Studios in the future?
Anthony (one of the other creators at Certifiable) and myself have always been fans of that juxtaposition. Cute and cuddly mixed with dangerous and cunning just felt right.
So, after creating a game where helpless orphans get picked off by their bogeyman, the natural next step was clearly freezing, burning, mauling, shooting, stabbing and infecting a group of scientists, right?
There is a certain fun to these things when wrapped in the right artwork. If you make the art too serious, you lose a lot of the theme. Things become too one-sided and not as much fun. So, we try to keep the darker themes in a light-hearted atmosphere. It keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously.
Do you have plans/designs/inclinations regarding miniatures for the game – it’s been mentioned a few times in the comments section…?
hmmm, have people mentioned minis? That’s weird I don’t remember seeing anyone say minis…EVERY FIVE SECONDS!
Yes, we do plan on having minis. They are actually pretty spot on to the art. Anthony has started designing them and if you like the art, you will love the minis.
I think that most backers/gamers will enjoy moving a McReady character out in the cold WAY more than a cardboard punchout head. So that’s what we are all really shooting for!
Please tell me you have some Anti-Stretch Goals (or Goats, or Goads) lined up and a finale, end of campaign song?
If Rick gets his way (which he rarely does…just ask him) there might be a goat or two (maybe even a Sugar Pony) somewhere in our future!
Lord, help us!
Who Goes There? Is live now on Kickstarter and will end on August 8th at 11 pm (BST), every copy of the game will also come with an e-book copy of the novella. It’s over 200% funded at the time of writing and I have little doubt that this game will make a great addition to anyone’s collection, so I thoroughly recommend you check it out, and make sure you watch the brilliant video at the top of the campaign page.