This week I got a chance to have an interview with Steve Jackson, of Steve Jackson Games, and seriously him and his team are some of the coolest people that I have come across in the industry, not only did they provide me their time for the interview, but they also dropped me a snippet of a project that they are working on that looks very exciting!
Steve has been in the RPG and tabletop games field since the 70’s, which if you aren’t good at maths, is a long time to be in any industry especially one which often ebbs and flows with public interest and engagement, so I ask Steve how he stays fresh in the industry:
If it ever stops being fun, I’ll quit. So that kind of longevity is self-selecting. I doubt anybody does this for 35 years “because they have to.” I like playing games, and even more than that, I like making them. And I like all kinds of games, including computer games – my regret is that I’ve never been able to get really into that field. Maybe someday!
I don’t know if diversification causes longevity or if it’s the other way around. Certainly the market has changed enough times over the decades that NOT to diversify would have been fatal. One has to experiment, learn, adapt, reinforce success, and pull back on the things that are no longer working.
As for the exciting release news, Steve says that SJG has been licensed by Games Workshop to create Munchkin Warhammer 40,000! It’s already in playtest, and doing well – and they are aiming to do at least one expansion set for it. You can find out more about Munchkin Warhammer 40k at the Munchkin website
Games Workshop have been not just easy to work with, but fun, and we’d love to do more with them. “Chaos” is, of course, a new monster type, and yes, there are Ultramarines! We plan to ship this game in March 2019
As far as other releases, I have been head down in the Fantasy Trip project (which went live on Kickstarter recently) and could not tell you what has been released or announced in the past month. I have run across some enthusiastic anticipation of Green Ronin’s THE EXPANSE project, which is also new on KS. And I continue to be impressed by Paizo’s PATHFINDER and STARFINDER lines.
Making games that work
One of the big issues that I have seen coming out of Kickstarter recently is the trend that people think that they can sell an idea, rather than a product. Kickstarter seems to have done away with the idea of research and development and seems to be acting as more of a venture capital fund for some companies to ‘see what happens’. My personal belief is that a lot of failure comes to KS creators because they fail to manage or research the human mechanics of play. Given that Munchkin has a high degree of ‘take that’ interactions and it has been successful over a long period of time, I thought that I would pose the question to the creator himself – ‘How do you make sure that play isn’t too mean?’
That’s one of the big values of playtesting with varied groups. I love games too much to take things personally, but some people can get very personal indeed about – for instance – the kind of foul compounded betrayal that so often comes up in Munchkin. And I want everyone to have fun. So we do try to design some of the potential “mean” out of games, because some people just take things too seriously, and I don’t want to lose their business OR spoil their day!
Given the success of board games and having a ‘Golden Age’ I posed the question to Steve whether he thought that RPGs are headed the same way. He says that he feels that:
“All the factors that have created the current boardgame explosion apply equally well to RPG material, and RPGs, even more than boardgames, inspire their fans to sit down and create variants and expansions”
What about you, are you a fan of Role playing games and do you see a resurgence in them at the moment? If so, what are some of your favourites to get to the table right now?
Make sure you check out the Steve Jackson Games Kickstarter of The Fantasy Trip which is live now!