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An interview with Fantasy Flight about their new video games studio

From cardboard to software

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Fantasy Flight are a behemoth in the board gaming world. If you’ve ever dipped a toe into the cardboard realm, then there’s a high chance you’ll have played something that they’ve been involved with. From Twilight Imperium through to Arkham Horror, Cosmic Encounter and Android: Netrunner, as well as miniatures games such as Star Wars: Armada and X-Wing, Fantasy Flight have a fairly comprehensive handle on tabletop gaming. While they’ve released digital versions of their games in the past, those releases have mostly either been companion apps, or conversions of existing games onto tablets.

Last week, they announced that they’re launching Fantasy Flight Interactive: a new studio that’s solely dedicated to video games. It’s headed up by Tim Gerritsen, the ex-Irrational studio director and Human Head CEO who’s worked on Bioshock: Infinite, Rune and the 2006 version of Prey. I spoke to him about the make up of the new team, what kind of games the studio is hoping to create, and when we’ll see the first fruit of their labours.

RPS: Have you hired a whole new team for the interactive studio, or is it made up of existing members of Fantasy Flight Games?

Tim: My team is mostly new employees, though I did bring in one person from Asmodee North America, Charlie Bates, to be my Associate Producer. My decision to hire Charlie really had nothing to do with his employment at ANA, but rather his skill set matching what I needed at my own studio.

That said, our first game project was initially designed by the Fantasy Flight Games’ internal digital and creative teams before we took over the development and we continue to collaborate with them closely (we’re constantly in contact every day). As we continue to grow and strive on our own, we’d be fools not to recognize the talent and capabilities at that studio, and we simply couldn’t fulfill our goal of bringing Fantasy Flight Games to life in the digital realm without including the FFG development teams. Fantasy Flight Interactive has from the get go and will continue to coordinate and collaborate with Fantasy Flight Games on all of our video game projects.

As a new studio, we also have the full support of our parent company, Asmodee North America and Asmodee Digital, who will publish our titles globally.

RPS: What will set the games that come out of the new studio apart from existing video games?

Tim: Our focus is on creating great game experiences that combine the best design aspects of both table top and video game experiences. I have always been a table top game player. When I was very small, my mom would take me to the library and they had a program where you could check out board games, and I got hooked.

I cut my teeth in video games during the height of the arcade boom and even then sought to recreate video games through my role playing and board game experiences. In middle school and high school, we couldn’t afford video game systems at home, so I’d go over to my friends houses and play some amazing game experiences. My only option was to replicate those experiences as table top games if I wanted to explore them on my own.

Later I was able to get my own game systems and enjoy computer and video games first hand, but I’ve always straddled the line between table top and video game play. In fact, when I finished my degree, my goal was to get into table top games, but I graduated during a table top game crash in 1992 and fell into video games in what began as a side journey that lasted 25 years so far.

As a studio, Fantasy Flight Interactive is made up of gamers who love both video and board games. Our goal is to make the kind of games we want to play ourselves. Whether or not that results in setting ourselves apart from existing video games is really not something we’re concerned about. Making great games that fans will want to play with us is.

RPS: Can you tell me which of Fantasy Flight’s properties you’re focussing on first?

Tim: Not at this time.

RPS: When can we expect to see the first game come out of the new studio?

Tim: Very soon, actually. We will make an announcement before the end of the year as to our first game and it will be released early in 2018.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

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Matt Cox

Staff Writer

Matt is the founding member of RPS's youth contingent. He's played more games of Dota than you've had hot dinners.

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