Mistfall creator Błażej Kubacki on world-building, creativity and the magic of Kickstarter

When the world of Mistfall came to Błażej Kubacki, he had no idea if it was something he could publish; he just knew that this cooperative fantasy game set in a world of legendary heroes and vile monsters was something he liked to play.

After meeting the guys at Warsaw-based NSKN Games at the UK Games Expo, Kubacki set out on a path that would see his Mistfall universe grow to cover three expansions, a miniatures pack and Shadowscape, a brand new game set in the world of Mistfall.

We caught up with Kubacki at this year’s UK Games Expo to talk about the influences behind Mistfall, the appeal of Kickstarter and the different direction he is taking for his next game.

How did you get into game design?
I’ve been a gamer for most of my life. When I was 10 or 11, I played Talisman for the first time and when I first saw it on the table, I thought it was the most awesome thing ever. I’ve played games ever since.

Like many people who love to play games, I started toying with the idea of designing a game and as chance would have it, I met the NSKN Games people at UK Games Expo a few years ago and it turns out they are based in Warsaw like me. We played a few games together and it all led to me showing them a game that I wanted to have published. It was called Mistfall. They liked it. We started working together. And that’s how I became a games designer.

How long was the time between you first having the idea for Mistfall and it landing on shelves via NSKN Games?

It was a couple of years. It might have been quicker but I didn’t know if it was a game I could publish; it was just something I knew I liked to play.

What I wanted with Mistfall was a game that would have a lot to do with classic role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, but with a twist that everything would be deterministic; randomness would only play a part in diversifying the set-up and making the game different every time.

I had the idea and I was coming back to it every few months, and then I had the opportunity to publish it and so I intensified my work on the game. From that point on, it took around a year.

I study Medieval literature mostly, so from enjoying role-playing games as a teenager to Medieval literature, I liked the theme and wanted to put them into a game so thematically, that’s where the idea came from.

Since the original Mistfall, there have been several expansions and follow up games. Did you know you that the Mistfall universe would spread over multiple games?
I was thinking if people liked Mistfall, we could do more. I didn’t think much about that at the start, but during the Kickstarter campaign for Mistfall, people were saying they really liked it. I wrote a series of pieces about the heroes and the villains so we had some text to go alongside the nice artwork.

I thought maybe a few people would read it, but we found that a lot of people were following them and picking up on interconnecting narratives I’d written. That was a nice surprise and I realised people like this world as much I do. That’s one of the reasons why we launched expansions and Shadowscape, a game set in the Mistfall universe, on Kickstarter last year. We’re working on further games set in the Mistfall universe.

How did you find the Kickstarter experience?

Kickstarter is absolutely magical. Some people call it the most brilliant business idea of this century and I think that might be true. It connects the creator with the fan. It allows for games, movies and music to exist that would otherwise have no chance because the biggest companies would not be interested in the profit margins that are small to them but enough for us.

It’s a magical process where you can see your dream come true and because of that, many people think that there is only magic involved. But with Kickstarter, like pretty much anything else, there is no substitute for hard work. When we approached our first Kickstarter, we knew we had to do our research and know what sells well on the platform. You need to show people something they will like and then communicate with them.

The hands on experience of having a project on Kickstarter is incredible because you get to see a community built around your pipe dream. People are talking to you, and to each other, about your project. They are interested in it and want to be a part of it. It’s awesome, but also overwhelming.

Are there other types of game you’d like to develop away from the world and style of Mistfall?
Yes, I’m working on something that is very different to what I’ve designed up to now. I started with Mistfall and I had ideas for games that are heavy on theme and about adventure, but I also took a side step and co-designed an expansion for Simugh, one of our Euro games. It was an interesting experience so now I’m working on something similar.

How do you assess the state of creativity in the games space at the moment?
With tabletop gaming, you get a good idea and suddenly you get other people taking parts of that idea and putting it in their game. Personally, I love this.

After Dominion, we got a lot of deck building games. Some were repetitive and some were not as good as Dominion, but a lot went further and did very interesting things. And with Kickstarter, we’re getting a lot of very creative and very cool stuff. Some of it would likely never have been published without Kickstarter. So it’s a good time for gaming.

Whenever I think we’re running in circles a little bit, I’ll run into a game that does something completely new. Creatively, we’re moving forward and doing new things.




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