Planet Apocalypse is the most complex and in-depth co-op game I’ve ever designed. If you’re wondering what other co-op games I can take to my credit, let me list a few:
- Arkham Horror – yes, I know you’re thinking “Isn’t that by Richard Launius?” and of course it is. Richard is a terrific designer, and I count him as a friend. When he first wrote Arkham Horror, back in 1987, I had the privilege of being the game’s developer. As such I had to write the final version of the rules, design the monsters, tweak the areas, etc. etc. That’s what developers did back in the day.
- Doom, Doom 2, Quake – yes I know that first person shooters are now famed as competitive duels, but when I worked at id Software, and we developed Doom, Doom 2, and Quake, we designed it as much or more for co-operative games as deathmatch. Try playing these games as a team and you’ll see. I did 20 of the 27 levels in Doom, 17 of the 32 levels in Doom 2, and about a fourth of the levels in Quake. I also was responsible for naming the levels, ordering the levels, figuring out weapon & monster stats etc. Of course, since this were computer games, they were a group effort. The Carmacks & Johns did the amazing work to create the systems and appearance, but it fell on me to turn their art & programming into a game.
- Orcs Must Die: the board game – this was launched by us in a Kickstarter campaign back in 2015. It is a fully co-operative game in which you must survive against hordes of orcs and monsters. It is a much lighter game, strategy-wise, than Planet Apocalypse.
Why doesn’t Planet Apocalypse have a head to head version? After all, even Orcs Must Die and Doom had player-vs-player aspects. Why not Planet Apocalypse? Well, this may be one of my shortest design corners ever. The answer is simple – because by NOT letting a player be the demons, I could have the demons be as terrifying, as extreme, and as over-the-top as I wanted. It’s that simple. The demons in Planet Apocalypse have such striking designs I wanted their reality in play to equal the terror of their appearance. I think I’ve succeeded, and I hope you agree.