Going on an Expedition

Expedition is one of my absolute favourite games at the moment and its regularly played by me and my boyfriend and whoever else we can wrangle. It’s picked it up while volunteering at UKGE (an experience I have still to write about) and constantly post about it on my page. Todd Medema was kind enough to talk to me about Expedition and the new expansion pack to be released on Kickstarter later this month. It’s called the Horror and it looks awesome.


Hi Todd! Can you tell me a little about Expedition?

Expedition is a fast and lightweight roleplaying game that uses a companion app to speed up gameplay and eliminate the need for large, expensive rulebooks.


Who is this game for?

Because of its lightweight nature, we’ve found it’s enjoyed by a tremendous variety of players: everyone from families, to casual gamers looking to try their first RPG, to hard core gamer groups looking for a filler when one of their members can’t make it.


What were your influences in making Expedition?

We’re avid board gamers, so there are a lot of influences here. We of course started by playing Dungeons and Dragons, but found it lacking in many ways – it was expensive to get started, took at minimum several hours to play, and required hours of setup and preparation. As we explored ways we could solve these, we found inspiration from many other games: the way Munchkin dramatically simplifies combat, the timer-based, intense rounds of XCOM, the community-content driven nature of many of today’s video games. We even found inspiration from Cards Against Humanity – that’s where we got the idea to make Expedition open source!


The format of it being both a card game and app is really new to me. How did this come about?

The idea first came to us when playing XCOM: The Board Game, which has an app that mainly serves as a timer. We knew we wanted to make Expedition a card-based game to keep it compact and affordable, and when we saw what XCOM did with the app, we realized we could do so much more with an app in an RPG setting. Both of us have software engineering backgrounds, and we thought to ourselves “If we could find a way to allow anyone to ‘program’ their own quests, the app could become the storyteller – with an infinite library of quests and no preparation required!”

Of course, it’s been a long road since that initial idea and where we are today. To actually build an app that allows anyone to write their own quests, we not only had to code a cross-platform mobile app… we also had to build our own Quest Definition Language from scratch, and build an entire web quest development environment, which is now available on our website. And, of course, all of this is open source, which means that the community can continue to maintain and improve the code even if we both perished in a stray fireball.


Will the app come out for Windows phones at any point?

While we’d love to make special versions of the app for every platform, we’re only a two-man team, and time spent building more native apps means less time spent building new quests and features. It’s a difficulty trade-off to make, and hopefully one day we’ll be able to grow Expedition enough to bring on a third team member and support more platforms natively 🙂 Until then, the web app is available on all devices with a modern browser (if you encounter a bug, please let us know!)


Aside from Expedition, what’s your favourite game to play?

Right now, I’m really into the video game Darkest Dungeon. I started playing it as research for our upcoming expansion pack, The Horror, but have since gotten hooked. It’s like XCOM, but medieval fantasy. I also love Offworld Trading Company, which is an economic real-time strategy game by the lead designer of Civilization 4. It’s such a simple concept – build a business (on Mars) and make money buying and selling goods – but it’s executed so well.


What makes a good game?

Different people have different preferences – but for me personally, I think a great game should be simple to learn, have a lot of depth, and introduce something new. I used to have more patience for overly-complicated games, but there’s just so many other interesting – and important – things to do in life that it’s hard to justify spending an hour or more learning a new game… especially when there are so many other great games out there that spent that little bit of extra time polishing their introductory / learning experience. That being said, simplicity doesn’t have to mean childish – a great game for me is one with lots of emergent mechanics. Consider the board game Go: you can write the entirety of the rules on a single notecard, and yet people can spend their entire lives discovering new strategies! And finally, I think games should bring something new to the table. That’s just how we grow and improve as an industry – constantly experimenting with mechanics, interactions and strategies. If everyone just made re-themed versions of Monopoly, we would never have gotten to where we are today!


Expedition seems to be a more community-driven game than others. How important is this and how can people further support your game?

So true! The ability for players to create their own custom quests and cards has been a big driver of community engagement, allowing fans to make their own mark on the game. We like to think of it as the only board game on your shelf that keeps improving itself. But that’s only possible because of the awesome community – and we’re going to keep doing everything we can to grow and support you as community members 🙂

There are a few things that you can do to further support the game. First, sharing it with your friends and on social media is a huge help – Expedition grows by word of mouth. Second, rating the game on BoardGameGeek and Amazon helps other players discover it. Third – and most importantly right now – is to consider backing and sharing the expansion pack on Kickstarter on launch day (August 17th) by going to our Kickstarter. If a Kickstarter raises its funding goal in the first day, Kickstarter ranks it higher in their search results, which provides a huge boost to publicity for the rest of the campaign.


If you want to find out more about Expedition and what Todd is up to, head over to his Facebook page.


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