Words by David C. Obenour
Welcome to a world of creatures, cryptids, and conspiracies. A world where even the single biggest flat out truth is one that is being hid from you. You got it. The world is flat. And Bigfoot is real too. Everyone else has been turning their eyes for generations. You are different though. You are a Truthseeker who’s dedicated to discovering what’s underneath what “they” allow us to see.
Inspired by the celebrated The Last Podcast on the Left – and designed by Goliath Games’ Daryl Andrew with help from its hosts – The Real Truth tackles the more family-friendly (less slashers and more shadows) conspiracies. It’s time to follow your investigations across (what do you mean, around?) the world.
Off Shelf: What is your own experience with The Last Podcast on the Left? What do you like about it as a listener?
Daryl Andrews: Before working on the game, I was not familiar with The Last Podcast on the Left; however, ever since I have become a fan! For the last two years I have been deep diving into the show. I’m a little worried my internet search history has caught the governments attention. [laughs] Not only are they hilarious, but I love the amount of research they do on subjects.
OS: Turning the podcast into a board game, what were some elements that you knew you’d want to include for players?
DA: Early in the creation of the game, I had the chance to chat and brainstorm with Ben, Marcus, and Henry. We wanted the game to be easy for players to jump into it without spending tons of time learning the game. But we also wanted the game to celebrate good strategy.
OS: What were some elements that you knew you’d want to include for fans, old and new?
DA: We knew from the start we needed the game to celebrate a variety of conspiracies from old and new episodes. I don’t remember who suggested it, but I really enjoyed how many of the cards in the game include QR codes that link back to episodes.
OS: Outside of that first conversation, how involved was The Last Podcast… team? Were you able to work back and forth on the game? Did they have things they wanted included?
DA: Thankfully Ben, Henry, and Marcus were involved with the game at each step and they were actively involved at different stages. Marcus is the biggest strategy gamer of the group, and was really helpful with game play suggestions, but the entire group really cared about the game, helping the most when it came to content and shaping the tone on the cards.
OS: Dealing with intricate conspiracies, the paranormal, and hidden horrors, were there elements you’d hoped to include that didn’t end up fitting into the final game?
DA: As most people know, Last Podcast on the Left covers some pretty controversial topics, and not all those made the cut when it comes time to make a family friendly game available for sale in the mass market. Also, Last Podcast… has so much amazing content its impossible to include it all in the game.
OS: For the many paths to victory, The Real Truth is a fairly straight forward game. Was that how you always envisioned it? What do you like about making this a lighter game?
DA: The hope for the game was to make it approachable but with, like you said, multiple paths to victory. During design and playtesting we made sure to keep a mix of new gamers and experienced gamers, with the goal that good strategy is rewarded, but everyone has fun.
OS: A really unique, split apart and flattened 3D Earth, what was your inspiration behind making the board like you did?
DA: It really came from my own deep dive into flat earth research. I loved seeing all the different flat earth maps. We all thought it was funny that board gamers play on flat earths all the time. One day while looking at an eight sided die (“D8”), I got the idea that if you flattened a D8 you would get this cool 4 diamond flat shape that kind of looked like many of the flat earth maps.
OS: Not that it has to have a “real world” parallel, but I was wondering if you could talk about alignment. Is that supposed to represent anything? Is it a good vs bad / order driven vs chaotic?
DA: So many debates about what we should call the alignment track. At times it was different versions of order vs chaos, but even those terms didn’t really capture completely what we were going for. We didn’t want one side of the track to seem more good or better than the other. At the end of the day it was more about being in frequency or similar sync, with others at the right timing.
OS: Do you have your own favorite hidden truth or conspiracy theory that you learned about working on this game?
DA: Over the last couple years I have really enjoyed researching cryptids around the world. Chupacabra is a personal favourite. Another legendary creature I really enjoy, and found within North America is Blucifer from the Denver airport. That and I have always really enjoyed conspiracy theories like the moon landing was faked, or politicians are Lizard People.
OS: Misinformation and censorship are very much part of our everyday lives in 2022. The magnitude is obviously different but the themes are the same. Have your own feelings on conspiracy theories changed over the recent years?
DA: I think as I get older, I might be more open minded to conspiracies but also less stressed to be right. I think I’m just more of a curious person, who enjoys the journey.