Designer of many games over the last 35 years. I have done roleplaying games, board games, and digital games. I worked on the Call of Cthulhu RPG, Cthulhu Wars, the original Arkham Horror, and lots of video games, including Civilization, Doom, Quake, Halo Wars, and the entire Age of Empires series. I currently work for Petersen Entertainment. Our website is


edit: Hey all, I have to go now. It was fun, and this won't be the last time!

Comments: 837 • Responses: 121  • Date: 

TrubbishTreecko183 karma

Where do you start when you design new factions for play? Is it a top down approach or bottom up approach?

SandyPetersen155 karma

I start with figuring out what I think that faction should have, logically. For instance, Black Goat needed to be able to spam out monsters. Tcho-Tchos needed to be able to mess positively with other factions. Then once I have the core concepts down, I try to balance these ideas with the theme I've already decreed.

TrubbishTreecko49 karma

Has there ever been a time when the essence of a faction idea just didn't turn out like you hope? Or is there always something that you can do to make any idea work?

SandyPetersen62 karma

Sure. but usually I can find something to help out. I originally was trying to make the human faction for Onslaught Two the degenerate people of Kn'Yan, but it wasn't working. Then I switched them out for Tcho-Tchos and the ideas just flowed.

joelschlosberg142 karma

Which movies capture Lovecraft the best?

SandyPetersen203 karma

Stuart Gordon's are pretty great, also the films released by HPLHS (Call of Cthulhu, Whisperer in Darkness). Some others with a lovecraft feel include Absentia, AM 1200. Mostly indies - Hollywood is too corporate to make a good Lovecraft film.

void225896 karma

I have always thought that The Thing and In the Mouth of Madness by John Carpenter were the best Mythos themed movies, albeit that of course neither is technically set in the Mythos.

SandyPetersen174 karma

They are absolutely solid Mythos movies. Really I regard Alien as Mythos as well - we go into space and find horror. Also Event Horizon.

VyRe4017 karma

Evil Dead?

SandyPetersen83 karma

Love Evil Dead. Saw it in the theaters with Lynn Willis when it first was available. Plus it spawned the career of the greatest actor the world has even known - Bruce Campbell.

joelschlosberg19 karma

There is no question that the HPLHS films are in a different league. But they don't have the commercial pressures of most movies.

Have you seen Cast a Deadly Spell? It was able to go a bit under the radar as a late-'90s HBO movie.

SandyPetersen14 karma

Yes I saw it. It was cool but didn't really feel that Lovecraftian. Still a nice homage.

Akabander22 karma

"Dagon" (2001) was pretty darn great, even though it's actually a version of "Shadow Over Innsmouth" (the town is even called Imboca).

SandyPetersen30 karma

I'm not sure I would add the modifier "even though" The fact it's a version of "Shadow" is what makes it great.

Zwiffle102 karma

Would you ever consider returning to make more PC games? If so, what would you do for a spiritual successor to Quake?

SandyPetersen107 karma

It is possible I guess, but seems highly unlikely. Working for 2 years on a project with a team of 50 guys is not as attractive as it used to be.

padremaronno8989 karma

Would your opinion change if the team was made of 50 girls?

SandyPetersen174 karma

I'll have you know I am a happily married man. Also, while I hope this doesn't sound sexist (and is not meant that way), for whatever reason female game programmers are scarce, so the team would probably be art- and design- top-heavy.

spirittttt91 karma

Spirit from here, the bestestest Quake website in the world.

Next year is Quake's 20th birthday, will you let me interview about it? Would really love to throw some in-depth questions at you. :)

SandyPetersen122 karma

Sure why not. Not during the AMA though - get in touch with me later, and I'll be happy to chat via Skype or whatever.

goofball_jones84 karma

Sandy, BIG FAN here of Call of Cthulhu. My friends and I played it from the very first edition. We always thought it was such a great gaming system, with all actions based on percentages, instead of the oft-used D20 system.

  1. How did you feel when CoC went to a D20 system for a while there?

  2. Why do you think there's never been a good translation into film from any of the Mythos stories? Do we think Guillermo del Toro can save us if he ever get's his At the Mountains of Madness project off the ground?

SandyPetersen109 karma

1) well ... I didn't play it.

2) Lovecraft's stories are notoriously hard to translate into film. He has stories that span across space & time, or that mostly take place as correspondence, or that have invisible monsters. It's a challenge and I think only the best directors are up to it. But they are mostly shackled by Hollywood's endemic idiocy.

SchinzonOfRemus62 karma

Thank you for your amazing work. I'm a huge fan of AoE and Civ series. My question is: has there ever been a talk in the developer team of Age of Empires about releasing AoE 4 even some time in a distant future?

SandyPetersen139 karma

Microsoft in their wisdom fired ALL our asses back in 2009. So the developer team scattered to the winds. The biggest chunk spun off as Robot Entertainment, who do Orcs Must Die and Hero Academy.

joelschlosberg59 karma

Early first-person shooters from Doom on often had a horrific, Lovecraftian atmosphere; even the monsters in the more action-comedic Duke Nukem had a discernible Lovecraftian quality. But at some point, this stopped being associated with the FPS genre. Which modern video games are most successful at recapturing that tone?

SandyPetersen133 karma

Doom had a horrific feel at least in part because I was part of the project. In fact, I designed 20 out of Doom's 27 levels.

It seems to me that modern video shooters are focused on military more than horror. Not saying anything's wrong with that.

Pch66658 karma

Fuck you Carl Sanford! You're always mugging me and stealing my items!...or that's what me and my friends always say whenever we play Arkham Horror. What made you choose yourself as the biggest dick in the game?

SandyPetersen84 karma

My best friend from childhood wrote me into his scenario. I guess that is how he perceives me.


wyvernsrose18 karma

Omg is Sandy a loot hog?

SandyPetersen40 karma

First loot. Then discussion.

ScreamingGerman44 karma

Hi Sandy! Loved your levels in Doom and enjoyed reading through Masters of Doom. What was your favourite memory of working at id?

SandyPetersen139 karma

Listening to John Carmack, who at the time had no comprehension of how humans interact, try to praise someone.

wyvernsrose42 karma

Sandy, Bruces question which has burned him all week since your resume was dug up is this... How have you coasted under the radar on so many projects, for so many decades? He was aware of barely a fraction of the work you were involved in.

SandyPetersen99 karma

Because video game companies, steeped in evil, do not put the creators' names prominently on the box cover. They want you to think that the game was developed by a formless corporation, instead of real people.

orangestegosaurus59 karma

Unless you're Sid Meier apparently.

SandyPetersen87 karma

Sid Meier got his name on MicroProse games because he (A) owned part of the company and (B) convinced the Powers of Darkness that his name on the game would sell more copies.

Omnobo40 karma

Do you plan on adding more expansions to Cthulhu Wars? How big is your imaged version of the game (with all expansions)?

SandyPetersen34 karma

Besides the two dozen we already have? Heck, we're doing a Kickstarter campaign right now with all of them available.

I do not envision a third wave of expansions, but I guess anything is possible.

solid-one-love11 karma

We're missing the Lumley creations that don't suck, like the Chthonians, though. Any chance of them?

SandyPetersen14 karma

If I ever get a reply from Lumley, sure. We failed this time around. Might have been our fault (we may have had a bad address).

Graudnov38 karma

Arkham Horror made me love cooperative games, so thank you for that. Are there any cooperative Cthulhu games in Petersen Games' future?

SandyPetersen36 karma


Graudnov21 karma

Just point me to the Kickstarter!!! Take my money!!!

SandyPetersen36 karma

join our mailing list! You'll get all sorts of Petersen Games spam including notes on upcoming stuff.

NormanKnight35 karma

Hey Sandy!

What motivates the giant stone guardians of the Plateau of Statues in the Wastes of Glorantha? Descriptions suggest they're capricious. And can you tell us gloranthophiles about their origin?

SandyPetersen31 karma

I thought they were just inanimate statues. Relics of the Gods Age, built by ancient civilizations.

overcomebyfumes28 karma

Hi Sandy! Long time fan!

Two quick questions, although I reserve the right to ask more later.

1). Do you have any plans to update your famous Field Guides to Cthulhu Monsters?

2). Can we see a Cthulhu Wars playtest video involving all eight factions, Azathoth, all the independent Great Old Ones, the High Priests, the Dreamlands creatures - all the bells and whistles at once, basically.


SandyPetersen33 karma

1) Up to Chaosium. 2) please god no.

Sakerio26 karma

Hi Sandy! What was your contribution to Civ.? I only recently knew you had a connection to a game I been playing for years.

SandyPetersen35 karma

The most obvious connection is that I created the Elvises, Tax Collectors and Scientists. But of course Bruce Shelley and Sid Meier did most of the work. I did lots of testing and made suggestions. So I was part of the team.

liquidbicycle26 karma

Hi, huge fan of your work in Doom. Bought Doom when it came out. Here are some Doom related questions:

  1. What was your process like for designing levels in Doom? (eg. where did you start, what were your goals, etc.)
  2. What is your favorite memory from working at id software while designing Doom?

SandyPetersen69 karma

1) I started with a sketch on paper, and then some kind of "theme". Exploding barrels, or traps, or my new house's blueprints. I always focused on the single-player experience. Not that I disliked multi- but the other designers were very focused on that and I felt they were letting single-player slide a bit.

2) I loved it most when I'd try some weird experimental thing. Then John Carmack would berate me for stretching the engine too far. Then Romero, McGee, and Green would do a bunch of levels imitating it, because they liked it. Then John Carmack would change the engine. One good example was when I did a whole outdoors level, set in a city. Then everyone else had to make one.

bionicbadger24 karma

what is your favorite food with tentacles?

SandyPetersen27 karma

Chinese-style Jellyfish salad.

RelevantMovieQuote1922 karma

Back in the late 80s (maybe early 90s), you ran a Call of Cthulhu session for myself and some friends at ICON at Stony Brook. Just wanted to let you know that all these years later, it remains the most excellent gaming memory I have over many years of gaming. I still have my autographed Call of Cthulhu player's guide to this day. Thank you!

My question: What's your favorite movie to come out in the last 10 years?

SandyPetersen17 karma

Whisperer in Darkness

izzyman11122 karma

As someone who played doom a ton, what is your favorite part about game designing? And how hard is it to design a game?

SandyPetersen34 karma

The most fun is seeing stuff I do appear in reality, and then play my own material.

It depends on the game, obviously. It's harder when designing a game I don't feel a strong connection to, easier when I love the topic.

cwolfcommander21 karma

What say you of the infamous Old Man Henderson? The crazy player who won Call of Cthulu?

SandyPetersen33 karma

He won Trail of Cthulhu, not Call of Cthulhu.

I'd like to see him try it in MY game.

Jaerin21 karma

If there were three things you could do differently in the first Cthulhu Wars Kickstarter what would they be?

SandyPetersen35 karma

1) make sure I owned more than 50% of the company. 2) charge shipping post-campaign 3) have my stretch goals figured out before the day I announced them

Jaerin26 karma

Wow you don't own 50% of the company named after you?

SandyPetersen52 karma

I do NOW.

Jaerin10 karma

Can you tell us about what happened? As a DVM supporter I absolutely love everything so far!!

SandyPetersen28 karma

I bought out my partners. They profited well, and are still getting royalties, but no say in how things go. I am satisfied.

icemantis9917 karma

If you had to devote yourself to the worship of one Elder God or Old One, what would you worship and why?

SandyPetersen27 karma

Cthulhu, who is the founder of my home's feast.

magnaprawn14 karma

Thanks for all your past work. Is there any Cthulhu literature you are currently reading and recommend?

SandyPetersen26 karma

Actually I have been going back to the source - HPL himself. Just re-read Thing on the Doorstep, which proved creepier than I remembered.

billyfred4213 karma

Who ran some of your best campaigns to play in? What are some good tactics to use to help the players scare themselves?

SandyPetersen42 karma

The tragedy of being Sandy is that when I walk into the room, everyone wants me to run the RPG. I rarely get to play instead of gamemaster. So all my best RPG moments were with me as GM (the credit still goes to the players).

Some good tricks are to 1) let the bad things slowly make themselves more and more visible. "Shock" surprises only work in movies. 2) make sure the bad guy is malign. As soon as the players find out that the Yithian or Mi-Go is really not so bad, all horror vanishes. 3) try to avoid game jargon. Instead of saying "take 2 pts damage" say "your shoulder is sliced open". 4) place the setting where your players could reasonably imagine themselves to be. Instead of a lost Incan ruin in 1922, put them in Brooklyn in 2015.

brianpi13 karma

Hi Sandy,

Huge fan here of your work for RuneQuest and CoC, and really looking forward to Cthulhu Wars! Thanks for stopping by - come visit us at /r/runequest and /r/glorantha.

Some questions for you (sorry for geeking out here):

  • What's the future of RuneQuest now that it's going back home to Glorantha?
  • What makes Cthulhu Wars awesome?
  • How different will the Gods War game be from its base game?
  • Will you be involved in any future supplements for RQ?
  • Would you rather fight 100 Durulz-sized horses or 1 horse-sized Durulz?
  • And most importantly: will there ever be a Duck Pak?

Thanks so much for your wonderful work - it's inspired me as a GM and player.

SandyPetersen13 karma

holy crap. In response 1) rosy 2) my great genius 3) Not sure what the "base game" is you're referring to, but it feels pretty different from Cthulhu Wars 4) not yet determined 5) any number or size of ducks are not a threat to me 6) I sure hope not

KnowledgeRuinsFun13 karma

Hi Sandy! Would like to start out by saying that I bought Cthulhu Wars during the summer after seeing a physical copy in front of me, and I love it! Now I just want all the expansions!

Two questions:

  1. As Cthulhu Wars (along with most other board games) are produced in China, how much information do you have about the situation of the factory workers that produce your products? Labor Law violations, child labor, etc, is this something one can avoid? How much focus is on this (if any) in the general board game community? (I found some information that Hasbro/Mattel don't have the best records on this, but don't want to assume that this then automatically also includes people like Fantasy Flight or you guys.)

  2. The way I understood it, the price for shipping to Europe included VAT. Is this only for EU countries, or do you guys handle the VAT also for European countries not part of the EU?

SandyPetersen23 karma

1) We have actually visited and inspected the Chinese factories on multiple occasions, so if they have children or political prisoners on the production line, they must have secret rooms on the scale of a Bond supervillain.

2) I think it depends on the country. Everyone has their own laws and rules. We just try to thread our way through the labyrinth.

KnowledgeRuinsFun12 karma

We have actually visited and inspected the Chinese factories on multiple occasions, so if they have children or political prisoners on the production line, they must have secret rooms on the scale of a Bond supervillain.

Thank you for that image. Do you know if this is standard in the board game industry? I would like to believe that my board gaming hobby does not in general include too much child labor, but this may be wishful thinking.

SandyPetersen21 karma

The board game industry is too miniscule, and has to work too closely, with our manufacturers, to have this really be an issue. Fantasy Flight, for example, basically owns its own Chinese factory and as such the factory follows USA rules.

You have to be huge and faceless with many layers of corporate structure to get your hands on child labor. Even the biggest game company only has maybe 2-3 levels between the lowliest testers and the CEO. Which means the CEO is personally involved with manufacturing.

Coribelle11 karma

How do you create interesting /engaging representations of Lovecraft's creations without sacrificing the terror that's so tied to their incomprehensibility?

SandyPetersen17 karma

It's hard. I spend much of my waking hours devoted to this, so it's a hard topic to summarize in a reddit AMA. But I will say that one trick I use is to think of some part of the imagery that is new and unique, but which will cause users to go "Oh yeah, that makes sense". For example, Yog-Sothoth being a mass of bladders & roots instead of just soap bubbles. There are still the famous "spheres" but they are nasty and creepy instead of laughable.

thaoworra11 karma

Who are some of the authors contributing to the Cthulhu Mythos you feel are deeply underappreciated?

SandyPetersen20 karma

Frank Belknap Long is my poster child for unappreciated Mythos author.

Dashutri11 karma

Sandy, I can honestly say that Cthulhu Wars is my favorite tabletop game in a while. Honestly didn't know you worked on Doom and Quake. On to questions: 1: Can you go poke Guillermo Del Toro in the head and tell him he needs to focus on the In the Mountains of Madness movie? [And you kinda need to be a creative consultant for that... just sayin..] 2: Is there any possibility we can get another FPS Cthulhu game like Dark Corners of the Earth? Loved the game, but it was on an extremely dated engine, and I believe using one of the newer CryEngine or UT4 sets would truly be a treat to play. 3: What is your current favorite Lovecraftian-based movie?

SandyPetersen11 karma

1) before Mountains of Madness got canned, I actually got an offer from a video game company to work as consultant on the game for Mountains. Alas for lost opportunities.

2) Not from me. I'm not planning further digital games.

SandyPetersen11 karma

3) Oh yea forgot the third question. My current fave is probably AM 1200. only about 50 minutes long but a doozie.

doublemintben10 karma

Hello Sandy, thanks for doing an AMA! I'm part of a small Indie Game Dev group. We're in the process of making our first game. We even decided to try to give kickstarter and greenlight a try.

My questions to you are:

1) when did you know you wanted to be in the gaming industry

2) how did you make your way into the field

3) Is there any wisdom you could bestow upon my group?

Thank you in advance!

SandyPetersen21 karma

1 and 2) I backed into the gaming industry by accident, never really planning such a career, or even knowing it was an option.

3) Remember that a failed Kickstarter campaign is a gift straight from Heaven. You now know NOT to follow up on that project, and it saves you a lot of money. I launched four successful campaigns, four failures, and one semi-failure. I value the wisdom from both.

icemantis9910 karma

Hey Sandy! long time BGG-er, low level Redditor. What is your favorite non-explicitly Lovecraft Lovecraftian film? movies like The Thing, The Mist, The Cabin In The Woods, Event Horizon, etc, all explore some of the same themes - madness, horror, alien creatures, and the insignificance and weakness of humanity, without being mystical or explicitly derived from lovecraft's works. Do you have a favorite?

SandyPetersen11 karma

I don't really have a favorite since I watch so many. Some top picks are Inferno, by Dario Argento; or The Beyond by Lucio Fulci. Both seem pretty Lovecraftian to me, with stuff behind the veil affecting hapless humans. Also they are HPL-style pessimistic. Oh yeah, Caltiki the Immortal Monster by Mario Bava

ADozenDone9 karma

What is your opinion of David Kushner's Masters of Doom? Do you believe it was accurate for the most part?

EDIT: typo

SandyPetersen12 karma

It was accurate for the most part, though it certainly whitewashed us in certain ways.

krankes_hirn9 karma

Hi, Sandy! Long time CoC Keeper here.

Who is your favorite non-Lovecraftian/non-mythos writer?

SandyPetersen12 karma

Jane Austen

void22588 karma

I would have thought that, starting out with your first self-published game, you would want to make something that was maximally accessible, sold tons of units, and got your name out into stores. Why did you choose to make the first game from your new studio so expensive and premium instead? Weren't you worried that the game would instead give your studio a reputation for making inaccessibly expensive and elaborate products?

SandyPetersen19 karma

One of my rules for design is to only work on games that I want to play. Also, I honestly thought Cthulhu Wars would be my last-ever game, so I really wanted to blow it out of the water.

Finally, I feel that I have created a new type of game here - the "premium game" which combines great components with excellent gameplay. I don't think every game should cost $200, but just as you might own an expensive work of art, or eat at a fine restaurant once in a while, I think such games can have a place in a library.

lohengrinning5 karma

I absolutely understand the concept of a premium game, and Cthulhu Wars definitely applies. Every piece of the game is dripping with quality and loving design, and playing it creates great experiences.

That said...I like it so much I wish more people could experience it. Would you ever consider it possible to release a more accessible version for those that can't afford the price tag? Say replacing the minis with cardboard portraits?

I say this not as a criticism of the game but in favor of it. More people would be able to experience it and maybe buy the full version if they had the chance to see the mechanics.

SandyPetersen7 karma

I hear that a lot.

orangestegosaurus7 karma

What started your love of Lovecraft? Also, (besides Cthulhu Wars) what has been your favorite project to work on?

SandyPetersen12 karma

At the age of 8, I found a book in my Dad's storage titled "The Dunwich Horror & Others" by H. P. Lovecraft. All else stemmed from that.

My favorite project besides Cthulhu Wars was probably Hyperspeed way back in 1992.

kylamct7 karma

What makes an an asymmetrical and/or two-player game successful?

SandyPetersen10 karma

Asymmetrical - balancing the factions properly.

Two-Player - ensuring that the players are making interesting decisions that matter.

blokeski7 karma

Hey Sandy. Long time fan here. My question is this: when Chaosium finally finish the long running clusterfuck that is the 7E Kickstarter will they do another one (BtMoM, Masks)? Also did you pledge for the Delta Green Kickstarter?

SandyPetersen7 karma

The reason I was instrumental in bringing off the coup at Chaosium that dethroned the old management was because of the 7E Kickstarter. So if the new guys don't pull it off I will be seriously peeved.

I did not pledge for the Delta Green Kickstarter. I make it a habit not to back things that exist as dilutions of my original material.

fromthetrunk6 karma

Which author/setting, besides Lovecraft, should have his own rpg game?

SandyPetersen7 karma

Jack Vance's Tschai -Planet of Adventure.

mtoninja6 karma

Growing up when asked if I could meet any celebrity who would it be I always gave your name, mainly because I loved AOE2 so much and enjoyed your wisdom on balancing. When I saw CW and you at the helm I was confident that it would be balanced despite the asymmetry and was so happy when it was.

I recently head that there was another balance patch that was in the works for AOC (1.0d) but the team got pulled and it never happened. Do you know if there is any truth to the rumor?

SandyPetersen5 karma

Wow I'm flattered. Thank YOU.

The original team for the Age games is no more, and I have no spies among the current one. Alas.

Atv096 karma

How do you feel Nick Swardson did playing you in Grandma's Boy?

SandyPetersen4 karma

You have stumped me, Sir.

Voxu6 karma

I personally don't enjoy the gaming culture, but I did once watch a short documentary on the environment inside a developing studio office (Blizzard in particular).

My question is: Do the employees in gaming firms interact the same way they're portrayed?

(for example, late night development sessions that are like miniature parties, snackbars with a whole range of goodies, unlimited beer after 8, etc.)

SandyPetersen6 karma

Every company has a different personality. id Software was nothing like Ensemble Studios which in turn wasn't like MicroProse software.

Late night development sessions are a lot more like a bunch of crabapples in their offices typing furiously. But yeah, there are snackbars and breaks in which everyone is chatting before going back to work. Most offices I've been in restrict the beer to post-5 pm on Friday.

oven_chips6 karma

Do you have trouble sleeping at night knowing that you put Barrels 'o Fun into Doom 2?

But seriously, you made some of my favourite maps in the Doom series (Tower of Babel, Downtown) and I just want to say thanks for that. :)

SandyPetersen14 karma

Well that's my "exploding barrels" theme room. It was super fun to think up. Took a long time to plan the barrels just right though, with lots of testing.

Thanks for liking Downtown - that was the level that then everyone had to copy because they loved the style. Also all the buildings in it were based on the design of the office bulding that id was in at the time. Looked like Satan's Rubix Cube.

joelschlosberg6 karma

What Lovecraft parody makes you laugh the most? (Mine is a T-shirt, created by a local con in the early '00s, with a Cthulhu-themed spoof of the iPod called "cephaloPod".)

SandyPetersen9 karma

Not sure if it's a parody but HPLHS's Shoggoth on the Roof and their Christmas Albums are great favorites around my house.

GBJI6 karma

I asked you that question when I met you at the Games Developer Conference something like 15 years ago: Will there ever be a Gloranthan version of the Age Of Empire series ?

I understand now that this will never happen, but has there ever been plans to make such a game ? When Age of mythologies was announced, that was clearly what I was wishing for !

SandyPetersen6 karma

I was never able to convince the team that Glorantha was a worthwhile license to follow up on for a franchise that typically sold millions of copies.

GISP6 karma

What games do you play?

SandyPetersen5 karma

I have a collection of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of games. So ... among my most recent ones I've played (that I didn't design) include Monster Mansion, Terra Mystica, Tiny Epic Kingdoms, and Monster-Torte.

r00t16 karma

Do you like super nintendo RPGs? Which ones are your favorite and why?

SandyPetersen5 karma

i LOVE them. My faves are, sadly, the Zelda series. I know some people don't count them as RPGs.

joelschlosberg6 karma

What podcasts do you listen to? Do they include Robert M. Price's The Lovecraft Geek?

SandyPetersen7 karma

emphatically not.

SketchDr5 karma

Hey Sandy, any news on Dicenstein that you can share with us?

I met Chris while he was living in Colorado last year and he was one of my favorite customers at my hookah lounge. I was really excited when he got fully funded on Kickstarter and I can't wait to see the finished game.

SandyPetersen4 karma

Final dice art is still being done. Then off to the printers!

joelschlosberg5 karma

What is the most Lovecraftian video game before Doom? (Not counting the ones you worked on!)

SandyPetersen6 karma

Dungeon Master

LT3Dave5 karma

Hey Sandy, I met you at Essen this year (I was the skinny disabled guy, accompanied by a short female and towering German beard covered man) and I just wanted to say thank you for a fantastic chat, it was great to meet the person behind one of my gaming groups favourite games, and to get to see some of the expansion goodies :) We ended up helping you try to convince a guy to buy a copy of the game with his girlfriend? Do you remember if he came back and picked up a copy? :D

I just wanted to ask about the Nameless Cults pledge level? What was the reason for not including any EU levels of that pledge? Was it a logistical choice, or made on total EU sales of the base game or something? I know that the EU levels were added later, I was just wondering about the reason behind skipping this level :)

Currently to get everything I'm pledging at the $700 EU Mysteries Level with the intention of selling off the copy of the base game to recoup my losses. I'm just wondering why an EU Cults wasn't included?

Also, do you know if I back at the Euro Pnakotic level and add on some expansions, will they be shipped separately from the US or from the EU with the base game?

I'm so happy to see that the Onslaught Two KS is a huge success, and I hope that you have many more :)

SandyPetersen5 karma

There is no EU level of the Nameless Cults pledge since it all ships from China - so there isn't a USA level either. The EU pledges are only for those including the core game, because we have one warehouse in the USA and one in Europe, so you want to ensure your game ships from the right warehouse. But the Chinese stuff doesn't matter.

Kippel5 karma

How do you feel about 'Shadows of Yog-Sothoth' in retrospect? Would you have done it differently today?

SandyPetersen5 karma

I am still proud of it, as one of the first-ever attempts at a campaign in all RPGdom.

I would of course have done it differently today. For one thing, I'd probably have had the Silver Twilight Lodge figure more prominently throughout as ongoing baddies.

mortavius25255 karma

Hello Sandy,

I only recently got my base copy of CW, but have fallen in love with the game and backed to get all the expansions on the kickstarter.

My question is, do you think you'll ever make any new factions for the game after the Tcho-tchos? Or has the game reached it's limit for that sort of thing?

SandyPetersen7 karma

I will never say die, but I will also say that I have tried to unleash all the stops for the current Kickstarter campaign. I am holding nothing back.

corzaftw5 karma

What's it like having the kind of name you'd expect to hear on a comedy about news agencies?

SandyPetersen13 karma

Being named "Sandy" was the bane of my existence in grade school. I am okay with it now, but it did make one of my rules for naming my OWN kids that their names had to absolutely not be unisex.

corzaftw5 karma

Oh cool! And thank you for actually replying and not assuming I was trying to troll.

What's it like having your name attributed to a legend like Doom?

SandyPetersen16 karma

We made t-shirts that had a picture of DOOM on the front, and said "Wrote It" on the back, and wore them to GDC. It was awesome.

Then I made other shirts that said, "My Dad Wrote It" and "My Son Wrote It" and gave them to family. Also awesome.


What divorce-avoiding techniques do you recommend about breaking the news to my wife if I end up backing the "all expansions" tier of the current Kickstarter? :-)

SandyPetersen16 karma

work on her for about a week, cooking dinner, driving her places, handing out footrubs. Then when she is feeling lovingly towards you, drop the bomb of how you'd really like to invest in Cthulhu Wars Onslaught Two, and ask HER how much you can spend. If she says less than the top tier, go in at whatever and then keep it up for the next few weeks, getting her to let you keep upping it till you hit the top.

solid-one-love5 karma

Hi, Sandy. Fan for thirty-plus years here.

With the monstrous (ha) success of Cthulhu Wars, is there any thought to leveraging that into a second attempt at the Cthulhu World Combat videogame?

And: what was your reasoning behind using the lesser-known elder sign icon from Lovecraft's letters rather than Derleth's much more recognizable pentagram-with flaming-eye?

SandyPetersen11 karma

1) I learned my lesson with Cthulhu World Combat in 2012

2) I wanted to differentiate my elder sign from the more commonly-seen one, and also like it more because it seems less like the conventional occult.

ManyAngled4 karma

With regards to the Cthulhu Wars Onslaught 2 kickstarter, pledge levels ($600 and up) that say '... all applicable stretch goals' -- does that really, honest and for true mean all of them? There's been an avalanche of stretch goals lately, and I want to be sure I don't miss a single one. Thanks.

SandyPetersen3 karma

yes it means all the stretch goals. The only exceptions would be stretch goals tied to a particular expansion (for example, the custom art for the Tcho-Tcho cultists).

Stranglebat4 karma

Hi Sandy, thanks for the ama. Cthulu Wars is looking amazing.

What lovecraft tabletop game other than Cthulu Wars would you recommend to round out a collection?

SandyPetersen3 karma

I really like the Call of Cthulhu card game from Fantasy Flight.

The_Fat_Buddha4 karma

First off, love your work and glad I was able to back your first Cthulhu Wars campaign. I also just started a new CoC campaign, so thanks for that system as well. Now some questions:

1) I've heard rumblings of a skirmish game you're developing. Is it mythos based (to get more use out of the awesome Cthulhu Wars minis) or are there any other details to share?

2) Any plans to revisit Cthulhu World Combat, design another video game, or maybe a digital version of Cthulhu Wars?

3) Any further stretch goals for Onslaught 2 you have planned but won't share unless we hit an insanely high funding amount?


SandyPetersen5 karma

1) it is mythos based. 2) Nope. Learned my lesson. I'd be happy to license someone else doing it though. 3) yes.

Sakerio4 karma

Will Petersen Games continue to use the ks model or eventually move away from that to direct sales or something different?

SandyPetersen5 karma

Kickstarter has been highly successful for us. If we move away from it, it will probably be because Kickstarter changed, not us.

Beef_dastardly4 karma

Do you think people will actually have a room in their house dedicated to a vr setup? Like a treadmill with a thousand wires taking up the bulk of their game room, you've gotta spend like 15 minutes latching on a pressure sensing body suit. Full surround sound.

I still can't see VR as the future of gaming.

What are your thoughts on this?

Is this gaming setup going to be common? And if so... how will it be available to anyone that isn't wealthy?

SandyPetersen7 karma

Some people will. I tried out the unit from Valve and it blew me away.

I don't think it will be common - but maybe it will start appearing in some new equivalent to video arcades.

Sakerio4 karma

Would you say that Cthulhu Wars is a family friendly game? What is the "recommended" age group?

SandyPetersen4 karma

Because of federal laws about games, we were required to list Cthulhu Wars as age 14+, but kids younger than that can and do play it. Heck my not-yet-1-year-old granddaughter was having a ball with the Cthulhu figure last night. There's a picture of her doing so on the latest update.

amatriain4 karma

Would you say CW is more appealing for casual players who just want to play with awesome minis, or for dedicated and competitive boardgame fans who want to spend entire evenings pitting their skills against each other?

SandyPetersen3 karma

I like to think it works for both. A competitive fan would be able to play 2-3 games of Cthulhu Wars in an evening since it's so quick moving.

Mutt12234 karma

Bengals or Texans?

SandyPetersen3 karma

I assume this is a sports question. Alas, if Death ever comes to face me on Trivial Pursuit, he'll get me on Sport. My dad tried hard to inoculate me with a love of basketball & football, but it never took.

Mutt12233 karma

I have never won a game of Trivial Pursuit. I'm not an idiot or anything (at least not all the time) I just have terrible luck when it comes to rolling dice.

Seriously, when I play Craps everyone either pulls their bets or bets against me when it's my roll so I always end up passing to the next person.

SandyPetersen4 karma

as a professional know-it-all I usually ace everything except sports and currently-popular movies. For instance, the only thing I've ever seen with Shia LeBouef is the cannibal thing.

Vhalantru4 karma

How do you feel is the best way to use the independents? Play with all of them? Select a few before the game to be available? Perhaps even draft them? How many do you like to have available?

Second question: I should just get the complete lack shouldn't I?

Oh sorry, and a third: the plastic tokens I am not quite sold on, do you think you'll have some examples or early design images up before the pledge manager?

Thanks you Sandy! You are awesome.

SandyPetersen5 karma

1) I usually pick out 4-5 before the game starts and then we play with only those. A drafting solution might work.

2) ask your banker.

3) Probably. I admit that I myself am happy with the cardboard versions.

Decency4 karma

What do you think of the rise of esports, which games like Quake played a big part in starting? Did you ever think about the players who could and would push mechanics to their absolute limits, when designing?

SandyPetersen4 karma

I thought that esports were hilarious and loved it.

I knew that our own efforts would be surpassed by players - for one thing, their level editors were WAY better than ours. Ours weren't even finished until the game was done.

mobro_40004 karma

Do you foresee the various additional (non core box) Cthulhu Wars factions being fairly readily available commercially? Is your intent that I will be able to go to a Peterson Games or other website and order these?

SandyPetersen5 karma

My crystal ball is cloudy, but our hope is yes they will available at our website and Amazon at a minimum.

piesseji3 karma

I've always wanted to ask you this question, for almost 20 years now.

What's your favorite level you designed in Quake? Do you have any interesting anecdotes to share about the development? I remember reading that you influenced the monster designs for Quake to make them more Lovecraftian.

SandyPetersen5 karma

My favorite quake level was the one that was basically an underground city. Sorry can't recall the name now (it's been 20 years).

I think a favorite story about Quake was John Romero said the game would be out in 6 months. Adrian Carmack made a poster with this as a quote and put on his wall, so Romero couldn't ever forget he'd said it, poor sap. I did indeed influence the monsters for Quake. I showed my Field Guide to the artists for ideas, and named the monsters after Lovecraft things. That's why Chthon is based on a Gug, for instance.

Corowork3 karma

Hey Sandy,

  1. If you could go back and change something about Arkham Horror, why would it be the inconsistent wording? (I play it at least monthly, I love the game but this is always a mildly infuriating matter).

  2. Which CoC edition is your favorite? Which modules do you recommend to be run as a campaign?

SandyPetersen6 karma

1) to clarify, I was the main developer of the original Chaosium edition of Arkham Horror. Fantasy Flight's version owes only its ancestry to my version. I didn't smith a single word of their text.

2) The fourth, because it has a picture of me on the back cover. I like Orient Express, Mountains of Madness, and Shadows of Yog-Sothoth a lot.

Metatron583 karma

Hey Sandy

Thanks for doing this AMA

Love the game, looking forward to getting my stuff i'm pledged for in the second kickstarter!

My question is regarding the Cthulhu Wars Game. One of my friends brought up an interesting point about combat in the game. During a combat result we determined who the winner was but the losing side had scored pain results and thus still had to apply those to the wining team. His argument was that why would the winning side retreat in that situation due to pain results since they did win the combat?

SandyPetersen10 karma

Because their units are in terrible, agonizing pain?

Your friend's question is kind of like asking, "Why did the Americans take losses during the Battle of the Bulge? Didn't they WIN the battle?"

DontGiveaFuckistan3 karma

When will be able to eat the bad guys for a food source?

SandyPetersen6 karma

Good guys don't eat bad guys. Bad guys eat good guys.

undyingfish3 karma

As someone who has not been keeping as up with the CWO2 comments and discussion, what is going on with the storage solution? I know it was originally supposed to be done before O2, then got pushed back but someone said you had multiple interested partners... Then there was a survey that made it sound like that had all fallen through? I'm spending 600 on this game and there just feel like no reasonable way to transport this to game nights- yet I know this is one of those games most people probably won't buy, and I want to give them a chance to play it. I just don't want to juggle some 20 boxes back and forth to the car.

SandyPetersen3 karma

At this time we have decided that folks are better off getting their own storage solutions. For one thing, there are millions of possible combinations of Cthulhu Wars and its expansions.

Baragei3 karma

Hi, Sandy.

On a scale of 2d6+6, how fun, or how scary, is it to be an official part of Chaosium again?
And are you going to write more CoC/RQ-stuff?

SandyPetersen6 karma

1) 19 2) On it. Watch for the upcoming "Tales of Sandy" (working title) for CoC.

Slug_DC3 karma

Hey thanks for signing my copy of Cthulhu Wars at GenCon this year and thanks in general for what is just a really fun game. :)

My question: As far as board games go, what is the most common design/rules mistake you see designers making or that you often see come out of play testing? Do you have any "I can't believe we didn't catch that in testing.." things from any of your games that didn't present until the gaming public got ahold of the finished product?

Thanks again.

SandyPetersen7 karma

first, there are so many design mistakes that can be made it's hard to single out one. A good choice might be "forcing the players to earn the right to have fun". I think it's much better to let them have fun right out of the gate, instead of needing to kill squirrels or whatever before they're cool.

Second, yes of course we missed stuff. Those first 10,000 "testers" in the field do a much more thorough job than the company can do on its own. In Cthulhu Wars I was appalled to learn that the text for the Screaming Dead spellbook implied that you HAVE to take that second action, instead of it being optional.

chaosmosis3 karma

Are there any especially good or innovative ideas you've had that you've never been able to get approved to make part of an actual game? If you suddenly had an absurd amount of resources to make a new game happen, what would you do?

SandyPetersen6 karma

well this is the whole reason I founded Petersen Games - to do Cthulhu Wars, a game that would never have existed if I had to rely on an outside publisher.

joelschlosberg3 karma

What is your favorite Jabootu review?

SandyPetersen3 karma

Probably Ken's long-ass review in which he compares ALL the Jaws movies from first to last. It is really insightful.

EdgeofCosmos3 karma

Hey Sandy.

Gods, I've spent so many phenomenal hours of my pre-teens and on playing Call of Cthulhu. Thank you for those experiences!

Do you still play Call of Cthulhu? And if so, which house rules do you apply (if any)?

SandyPetersen14 karma

I play CoC yes indeed. Since I am in the position of being the game's designer, the game as it stands is pretty much already my "house rules."

joelschlosberg2 karma

Is there any level designer software you would recommend?

SandyPetersen2 karma

I am not familiar with the current stuff. Last time I checked Unreal had a terrific engine.


How do you, as a woman and contributor to the Doom franchise, feel about the recent push to classify Doom as a violence fetish simulator by certain infamous parties within the gaming media culture?

SandyPetersen6 karma

Well. I'm actually not so much a woman. I just have a unisex first name. I think that "violence fetish simulator" says more about the cretins who would create such a label than the game.

Look - you've played Doom I assume. Did you do so drooling over the corpses? Or were you laughing and gloating and cursing as you blasted your friends or the monsters? It's FUN not "violence simulation".

necroscopev2 karma

I funded at the Pnakotic Manuscripts because I missed the orignal KS and have always been kicking myself, but i want to add on one expansion (that is all I have the money for), which one do you think I should add that would be the most fun for a group of new players?

SandyPetersen5 karma

Probably a faction expansion. Choose the one that suits your group's style.

djkuula1 karma

Why are you running the Onslaught 2 campaign before delivering the gear still owed from the original campaign? I am hesitant to spend more money on expansions when I haven't had a chance to try the expansions I already ordered, and I'm sure that I'm not the only one.

SandyPetersen5 karma

we had been told by our manufacturer & shipper that the stuff WOULD have been delivered before we launched Onslaught Two, then got blindsided by last-minute delays. It was too late to cancel the campaign.

Leprechaun_Dick-2 karma

Sandy, why no cool unique stretch goals for Wars 2? Just recoloring of old pieces (goos, gates). Kinda weak.

SandyPetersen5 karma

Pfui. We released 7 new expansions for Onslaught Two. Also the stretch goals include new rules which many people like. Even the original campaign didn't include new sculpts for free as stretch goals.

spicypepperoni-3 karma

How big is Cthulhu's penis?

SandyPetersen17 karma

Cthulhu reproduces by fission, not sex. As a shape-shifter, however, he can turn his whole body into a giant dick joke.