Eldritch Horror, Mansions of Madness and Legacy of Dragonholt designer leaves Fantasy Flight Games


15 May 2018
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pic2003932-29815.jpg Eldritch Horror
One more game from Nikki Valens due out from publisher, with first independent project ‘very early in design phase’

The co-designer of Eldritch Horror and Mansions of Madness, and creator of Legacy of Dragonholt, has left Fantasy Flight Games after five years at the publisher.

Nikki Valens’ first project at the studio was working alongside Corey Konieczka on Eldritch Horror, a spiritual successor to Lovecraftian board game Arkham Horror.

“When I found out I would be working on Eldritch Horror as my first project with the company, I was kind of intimidated,” Valens recently told Tabletop Gaming. “I knew it would have a lot of spotlight on it as a sibling game to Arkham. But Corey encouraged me to explore that space in my own way, which meant refining what I saw to be the rough edges and unnecessary complication. My goal was to capture the feeling that players loved about Arkham, but making the system easier to learn and to play.”

She would go on to refine Konieczka’s Mansions of Madness by helming the horror-adventure game’s acclaimed second edition in 2016, as well as co-creating several expansions for both that game and Eldritch Horror.

Outside of the Cthulhu Mythos, Valens worked on 2014 Star Wars card game Empire vs. Rebellion and, most significantly, last year’s co-op adventure game Legacy of Dragonholt, set in the Runebound world of Terrinoth.

A passion project for Valens that she had “been asking to create since [her] first weeks with FFG”, Dragonholt debuted the Oracle narrative gameplay system, blending elements of choose-your-own-adventure stories and RPGs.

“My time playing with roleplaying game systems showed me that you can do a lot with very little,” Valens said. “And although I'm proud of Eldritch and Mansions, they're – in my opinion – very heavy games. The Oracle system is my way of showing that we can create stories and great experiences with very little game mechanics. I've heard feedback from various players that they wish there was a bit more ‘game’ to Dragonholt, but I think I managed to hit the balance just right. Enough structure to drive the system and create player decisions, but little enough that it fades into the background and allows the players to enjoy the experience.”

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Valens announced on Twitter that she would be leaving Fantasy Flight Games, but simply said of her future plans: “We will see where life takes me next.”

The designer confirmed that she is working on new game ideas, suggesting that she could return to working with video games or remain on the tabletop.

“I've been working on a new game, but it's still very early in design phase,” Valens wrote. “I won't say more at this time, but I'll announce what I can when I can.

“I've got tons of cool ideas, but it'll take some time to bring them into the world.”

Before the announcement of her departure, she told Tabletop Gaming: “Recently, my eyes have been opened to the potential that legacy elements have on storytelling, and I'm hoping to play around in that space at some point. I've worked on co-operative games for the most part; a personal choice based on how I like to interact with my friends. But recently a co-worker mentioned he'd like to see my take on a competitive game. So maybe that will happen eventually. And aside from exploring new design space, I'd like to just tell some more great stories.”

Valens’ last design for Fantasy Flight will be a “big release” due out toward the end of this year.

“You'll have to wait until they announce it to find out more,” she said.

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