Transforming one of the world’s most complex video games into an equally compelling tabletop game was never going to be an easy feat. And yet when faced with the challenge, Titan Forge and our very own @RixxJavix picked up the proverbial gauntlet, equipped it, and declared: ‘let’s do this!’
Last February, Titan Forge contacted Rixx about a potential collaboration that would bring the EVE board game - War for New Eden - to life. As well as providing guidance and connection to EVE’s community and history, Rixx’s role was to establish the visual look and feel of the project; to provide illustration and design for the game’s contents, such as the cards, packaging, support materials, and whatever else might be needed.
With the Kickstarter project now well underway, we asked our community of EVE Online lovers what they wanted to know about EVE: War for New Eden. Below, you’ll find Rixx’s answers to their questions as well as a couple of our own. We’ve also interspersed some comments from our conversation with Titan Forge CEO Roman Lakomiak at Fanfest 2023.
Just About: Could you tell us more about your role in the project?
Rixx: I’ll give you an example. My very first goal was to design the cards that would accompany the spaceships for the game. We knew each spaceship would have a miniature but we didn’t know which ships we’d use, or how many. So the design of these cards would essentially serve as a focal point to help the team develop the entire game around. Needless to say this was a high priority and getting those cards perfect was most of my early work.
While I don’t have an ‘official’ title, Senior Visual Artist works as well as any. I’m very fortunate to work with a fantastic team at Titan Forge, primarily with my now-good friend Jędrzej Wiliński, who also contributed a significant amount of design and production work, and Roman Lakomiak, the Creative Director at Titan Forge. All very talented people who care a lot about making a great game.
A simple question: what’s the goal?
My personal goal is to create a game that represents EVE Online in board-game form, captures the spirit of what that experience feels like, and is something the EVE community can be proud of. I feel a great deal of responsibility to those goals while creating the game and the artwork. Every time I sit down to create something I am mindful of the long history of the game and the many perspectives of all of the people that play it. Down to the smallest details, locations, graphics, icons - everything needs to be rooted in that experience and translated to board-game form.
I know the team at Titan Forge shares those goals, as well as a second: to create a Kickstarter that reaches as many people as possible to help us deliver a great game. This is the real wonder behind crowdsourcing: that it lets fans rally behind a project like this and in so doing illustrates the appetite for others like it. We’ve all been blown away by the sheer amount of positive support we’ve gotten so far.
“It’s a 4X game with Eurogame elements and a focus on combat that’s well-translated from EVE Online.” Roman Lakomiak, CEO of Titan Forge
Why did you decide to make an EVE board game?
Actually this project came to life because of the tenacity of the team at Titan Forge. They’ve been working towards this goal for a few years now, convincing CCP that they could do it and that the community was ready for a game like this. As we all know, CCP has been much more open to third-party collaborations over the last few years, and this is just another example of that evolution.
My own history stretches back over a decade. No need to get into the details here, but I’ve been a staunch advocate of that type of collaboration for a very, very long time now. So this was really a great example of two different approaches coming together to form a single effort that has resulted in what I believe to be a truly special project.
“We tried to focus on translating EVE Online to the tabletop as closely as possible, while ensuring it worked in board-game form.” Roman Lakomiak
Were you influenced by EVE: The Second Genesis CCG?
We all have a special place in our hearts for the original of course. For years I tried to create interest in additional card-based games in collaboration with CCP, but I was unsuccessful in getting any of those off the ground. But those experiences did prepare me well for tackling this project, and I brought a lot of the thinking that went into those developments into this one. For example, the concept of using the fitting window as the basis for the spaceship cards was a concept I had already worked with on previous developments.
More specifically, we’ve all had a long time to consider what worked about Second Genesis and what worked less successfully, and a lot of those considerations followed us into the development of War for New Eden. Otherwise they don’t share a lot in common, other than both being set within the EVE universe.
How many times did you have ‘writer's block’ about what to do next?
Maybe a million! Seriously though, every time I sat down to create a new piece for a specific card I had to consider not only the context of that card’s art, but also that of the hundreds of others in the game. I tried not to repeat myself, but create something unique for each card that not only fit within the EVE universe, but also communicated the functionality, purpose, and goals of its actions. The further I got into that process the more challenging it became.
On a more general over-reaching level we did have a few moments along the way when things changed significantly during development, especially in the early days when the game was starting to come together. That’s only natural and it was expected, but it did often cause us to rethink our approach and have to go back and update previously completed work. But that is the nature of a development cycle.
Are there any references to EVE's history and culture in the game mechanics or event cards?
As I write this we’re running a community event in which people can submit their own suggestions for event cards based on incidents in EVE’s history. We’ll have a poll on those suggestions, and the winners will get their ideas turned into real cards that will be added to the game. I’m looking forward to seeing what wins and, of course, to illustrating the winners.
More broadly, we tried to capture those types of moments within the context of the game as much as possible. There are gate camping cards, mining fleet cards, Black Ops cards, and others for activities like ganking, scams, spying, intel networks, and other forms of gameplay. But we also didn’t want to call anyone out specifically, and we’re trying to keep the game as future-proof as possible.
On the art side, I tried to work in as many visual references as made sense. I referenced Mark724’s blog ‘EVE Travel’ a lot when referring to special historical monuments, or sites within the game. A lot of thought went into each piece, which nebulae to use as backgrounds, which wrecks or stations, which systems, the colour of things, the types of ships used, everything was considered. This was never a case of just throwing things onto a card for me; I wanted each card to tell a story, to capture something special. I can only hope I was successful.
Games are estimated to take a while. Are there any options to speed things up?
A lot has been made about the length of a game session. From the testing we’ve done and the feedback we’ve got, the average game should last between two and three hours depending on the skill of the players.
Having said that, there are several ways to affect the length of your own session. The easiest is by modifying the win condition. The rules say that a win is triggered when someone collects ten Victory Points, but players can easily cut down the length of a session by saying that, say, eight is enough. On the other hand, if you want a more epic game, consider doubling it to 20 Victory Points.
As we all know, board games come with base rules. But within the context of your friends around the table, many additional modifications are possible. I’m honestly really looking forward to hearing about how people modify their games once they have them. I’m very excited about putting 100 or more spaceship miniatures with combat rules into the hands of EVE players; I think there might be no limit on what happens next.
“We have a lot of new mechanics. Combat systems in these types of games are normally very, very simple. Ours is very, very different. The final battles are epic.” Roman Lakomiak
The game's retail price is set at €136. What factors contributed to this pricing?
Over 100 spaceship miniatures, over 500 cards, custom dice, a fantastic locking board surface, lots of custom tokens, and much more all go into a very large - and heavy - package that represents just the core game, not the expansions and add-ons from Kickstarter. Add those to the sheer amount of development time, energy, and commitment, and the pricing starts to make more sense. We’ve also done our research on the market we’ll be entering, of the prices of similar games, and we feel very confident that we’re being competitive with our pricing based on those qualifiers. In fact, several community members predicted the game would cost twice as much before the KS launched.
Did you consider adding any digital touches to the game?
We did consider it. And there may be future digital elements down the road. For example, we may have a digital 3D print of a dice tower available at some point for backers to download and share. But EVE Online itself is a digital universe, and we wanted to focus on building a solid board game that friends and family could enjoy in person. I still strongly believe there is a place in the world for those.
If this is successful, will you look to dovetail future board game expansions with future EVE Online expansions?
Yes. We have so many ideas for future expansions among other experiences. Given the current level of support, we are excited that some of those may eventually come to fruition. The universe of EVE is so rich; we’ve barely touched on wormhole space, Triglavians, Jovians, or any of dozens of other areas. I believe the support is there and the commitment from Titan Forge is there to make this a very long-term project. Exciting.
“Take the economy, we tried to get to the point where it was complex enough to feel nice and simple enough that players don’t have to understand EVE Online’s mechanics to play it.” Roman Lakomiak
If we lose a ship model, will there be a way to buy replacements?
Excellent question which I have passed along to the folks at Titan Forge. I do not have any information to share on this, but I know it’s a concern, and I expect there to be a way to address it as the timeline progresses.
Are you going to include translations?
That is a surprisingly challenging question and one I’ve been learning more about myself over the last few months. I can tell you the intention is there to try and provide translations. How those happen and which languages will be supported remains to be seen; much of those decisions are in the hands of potential distributors and other factors that are changing on an almost daily basis right now. At the least, I suspect that we will eventually have rule books available in several languages.
Will I be able to ‘bring my Drake’ to the board game?
If you count the Nighthawk or Alligator, then the Drake is already in the game. So yes.
Is there anything else about the game that you’re excited to share?
I literally created hundreds of illustrations for the game over the past year, and I’m still working on it daily. I will admit here, for the first time anywhere, that I did cheat a little and added my character’s portrait to one of the cards. So Rixx is the only actual EVE player that appears on a card in the game. It is the Space Warlord card and that felt like the perfect place to do it. I hope everyone forgives me my vanity, but I think after all the hours and hours of work, I deserved a tiny bit!
I would like to take a moment and shout out all the talented artists and employees at Titan Forge who are working on the game. This project would not have happened without their talent, passion, and tenacity. They deserve the lion’s share of the credit here and I consider myself very fortunate to be working with such a great team of people. It has been an amazing adventure and an incredible opportunity to have been a part of this project with them. I can’t wait to see what we do next.
It’s safe to say that we’re all very excited about War for New Eden too. You can learn more and/or support the game at its Kickstarter page. For more EVE Online interviews, check out our highly recommended community Q&As with CCP Hellmar and the Space Pope.
Some answers and questions have been amended for brevity. You can find the original questions at the bounty post.
Image credit: Bryan Ward, Titan Forge, CCP Games, & photos by author taken at Fanfest 2023.
Note: Some images feature the War for New Eden prototype, not the finished product.