To celebrate the launch of Trekking Through History, we're talking to some of the creators behind the game. This is the second article and video in a five-part series of the making of Trekking Through History. This article features the president of Underdog Studios, Nick Bentley.
Nick has been writing about games for years on his own blog, and he plays a big role in figuring out what games we make next here at Underdog. With every game we work on, Nick is there, figuring out how to make it better every step of the way. He's constantly asking questions, pushing the envelope, and encouraging us all to think outside of the box. He makes us all better, and we're happy to have had his influence on Trekking Through History.
Listen to Nick talk about why he's excited about this game, and then read his Q&A below.
How did the idea of this game come about?
It actually started from our last Kickstarter campaign for Trekking the World. During this campaign, we decided to use the pledge manager to learn more about what our customers would like to see us make in terms of future games. We required that each backer tell us which concept out of five was their favorite and why.
So what were the concepts, and did you just know Trekking Through History was it?
The concepts we asked people to vote on included visiting different events in history, exploring the universe, hiking through Europe, hiking Yellowstone, and making a nature documentary. Visiting history was the favorite by far—nearly half of all the votes cast chose it. We analyzed all the reasons people gave us, and the biggest reason is that people are just history lovers. This aligns with our approach as a company to make games people can strongly identify with. We try to make games about subjects that people don’t just like but think of themselves as part of, and history does this for people.
How does it compare to other games out there about history?
You can find a lot of games on history, but we found there’s nothing about the grand sweep of history and the wonder and beauty of human endeavor through time. And this idea resonated with our customers. Not only this, but they also liked this idea of using a time machine to get there.
How did you choose events to feature in the game?
We had a lot of guidelines about what type of events to choose to create a well-rounded game, and one of the constraints we came up with is that we wanted to celebrate great moments in history. We set out to find things that make you proud to be a human. The game has a celebratory, positive quality about it that you don’t see in a lot of games about historical subjects.
What did you do to make sure events were diverse, factual, and good to include overall?
First of all, we took suggestions and ideas from many different people and walks of life, and we did an enormous amount of research. We also hired a historian who is a history teacher in real life to help us research and narrow the list. Then we tried to be mindful to include both events people told us they wanted to see and events that would bring some surprises as well. It wasn’t easy to choose just 108 events throughout all of human history for this game. We had plenty of debates along the way, but we’re happy with where we ended up.
What makes this game unique?
First is the positive buoyant quality about the treatment of history, which I mentioned. And second, it’s a history game that’s also a gateway game. A lot of history games are pretty heavy versions that you’d only play with your gamer friends. This game is designed to also be played with family members. You can share some wondrous things about history with your family, which is important to us as a company.
How does this fit in with the Trekking line of games?
Right now, we have two preexisting trekking games, including Trekking the National Parks and Trekking the World. Trekking Through History is our third Trekking game, and after this, you'll see a Trekking the Cosmos game. While Trekking Through History falls into the Trekking family of games, its game play is actually completely different, which is another reason we're excited about it.
We have another history-related product coming just around the corner. More about that soon!
Read about the interesting process of writing the cards for Trekking Through History here.