Future Pastimes is creative consultant Peter Olotka and database and application designer, developer and creative consultant Bill Eberle, who have worked on Cosmic Encounter projects since 1972; and social media strategist and digital artist, Greg Olotka, who was the lead producer for Cosmic Encounter Online.

Peter and Bill are two of the designers of the original Cosmic Encounter game. Greg is Peter’s son who has been involved with the game since he was ten years old.

Designer's Diary - by Bill Eberle & Peter Olotka
The early 1970s Cosmic boxes proclaimed Cosmic Encounter to be A Quantum Leap in Games".
Along the way we dropped that tag line. But now, here we are, close to a half a century later, and looking back, we see that it was true. Cosmic Encounter was the first board game that was different every time you played because everybody was playing a different alien with a unique power to break the rules. After Cosmic Encounter board game rules were no longer confined to a rule book; they had escaped onto cards and other game elements. Cosmic Encounter inspired other game designers and changed the world of board gaming forever.

All of the currently published games by the Cosmic Encounter designers are now collected together for the first time. If you enjoy Cosmic Encounter, chances are you will also enjoy the other award winning games from the same design team that Fantasy Flight has updated and improved with their attention to detail, elegant production and excellent rules.

HOAX A Game of Secret Identities is based on the original Eon Products game HOAX ,The Game of Imposters. When we designed HOAX we were poking fun at the lengthy rules that accompanied role playing games. Why not make a simple role play game where you survived by your wits by just pretending to be other characters in the game?  Hoax can end in a heartbeat or take 20 raucous minutes. The most often heard words at the end of a HOAX game are “Let’s play again!”

TWILIGHT IMPERIUM, REX was created by using our “simultaneous dial based battle system” which we created for an unpublished game called Tribute in the Dune board game we created for Avalon Hill. We think of the “wheel” as one of our best game interaction ideas. The interesting thing about Dune, now published as REX, is that by blending the wheel interaction with an expansion of our variable powers ideas from Cosmic for each of the six player characters, we created another highly replayable game.

GEARWORLD: The Borderlands was the game we called “Borderlands, a game of the barbaric future.” Our goal was to make a better game of Diplomacy. We wanted a gaming experience with little or no luck and a simple set of rules, eliminating the finicky process of writing down orders. In Gearworld, luck is constrained to to one aspect of play - determining the occurrence of game phases. Everything else in the game is pure strategy with “no excuses.” Key game design innovations at the time were having territories spawn unique resources that could be combined and swapped to create items needed to win the game and a game setup where players take turns placing resource markers into territories and then take turns selecting territories to make each game different.

COSMIC ENCOUNTER was reimagined by Fantasy Flight’s designer Kevin Wilson in 2008. His standardization and display of the game phases became an important improvement for the logical glue that held everything together and allowed the game to expand to 165 aliens. Thank you Kevin!
Interesting fact, among the 50 aliens FFG chose for the basic game of Cosmic Encounter were two aliens, Mite and Tripler, invented for the now defunct Cosmic Encounter Online flash game.

When we first designed Cosmic Encounter in the early seventies, we played the pre-published prototypes with only six aliens for several years. Plant, Machine. Virus, Diplomat, Mind, Crystal. We didn’t know there were any other aliens. When we formed Eon Products and published the first edition in 1977, the game had 15 aliens. By the time we got out of the production business Cosmic had 9 Expansion Sets and 75 aliens. Cosmic Encounter had so many features in a game that had never been done before that it didn’t fit into anyone’s idea of a game. It wasn't really a board game (no board). It wasn't just a card game, it had all kinds of pieces and parts. Not a dice game. No dice. It wasn’t a role playing game because there were no roll playing guides and charts. Nevertheless, the alien identities changed how players played and how they felt about themselves and other players. Players enjoyed “being” specific kinds of aliens. The tongue in cheek alien identities enhanced the social gaming experience. Playing Cosmic Encounter was and is fun and funny. Cosmic Encounter changed the world of board gaming forever.

Want to know the whole Cosmic Encounter story?
Read  the most definitive article ever written about Cosmic Encounter including archival photos and insider designer commentary. 

Foundation Gaming: Encountering the Cosmos
Posted by HaiKulture {avid gamer}