They say “never meet your heroes”, and I have found out why over the years. My heroes mostly are sci-fi and fantasy authors and board game designers. I have never been excited about sports figures, actors or politicians all that much.
I have met 2 or 3 of my favorite authors and went away very disappointed. Not naming names here but it actually turned me away from my attempts at fiction writing.
So when I met my 3 biggest board game designer heroes at Escape Velocity con in DC – I was a bit nervous about it.
However – for once things went better than expected.
Meeting Peter Olotka, Bill Eberle, and Jack Kittredge was really amazing. These guys have created many games over the years, starting in the 70s, but the 2 that changed my life were Cosmic Encounter and Dune.
My old friends all know about playing Cosmic Encounter with me back in the late 80s. We still have some fun stories to tell about sessions of that game from over 30 years ago.
Cosmic Encounter was 20 years or so ahead of its time. The mechanics in that game with the variable player powers and so forth really broke down the doors from the more traditional games that had rigid player structures like Risk, and allowed some real innovation and creativity to follow over the years.
Many, many games have come out over the years that have stood on the shoulders of what Cosmic and Dune set out to do. Odds are if a fantasy or sci-fi game, or even some euro games, has variable player powers or asymmetric play then it owes something to Cosmic or Dune or to a game that was influenced by one of those games – in the same way that a large portion of high fantasy books and games out today owe something to J.R.R. Tolkien.
Meeting these 3 designers, who don’t often meet up at cons these days, was amazing. They couldn’t have been more different personalities, but were all warm and enthusiastic and just a real pleasure to get to know.
I am so glad I went and met them and shared some game time and some stories with them. It changed my whole perception of the “don’t meet your heroes” line.
I want to give Peter, Jack, and Bill my heartfelt thanks for creating something so enduring that has influenced so many people and set me on the path to my current career as a game designer/publisher.
How many games are out there that people are still playing and talking about after 40 years? These guys really achieved something and the upcoming reprint of their masterpiece Dune board game by Gale Force Nine is going to give a whole new generation of people a chance to play something great and see how the masters of game design integrate theme into their gameplay.