A bit over a week ago, I was joined by David Kenzer of Kenzer and Company. In fact, I was originally joined by Jolly Blackburn and Steve Johansson as well, but after nearly 90 minutes of great conversation, I had the horrifying discovery that I had 90 minutes of video . . . and no audio whatsoever.

Fortunately, David had the time and grace to do it again. We covered some of the same, and a lot of different topics the second time around, though Jolly and Steve were unavailable.

It was a good chat, and we covered topics ranging from the history and product portfolio of Kenzer and Company, to the production and design of Hackmaster, to the current Kickstarter for Aces and Eights Reloaded.

A transcript was added to the post May 21, 2017.

MP3 File – Kenzer and Company Interview

Text Transcript

Douglas Cole: Good evening and welcome to Gaming Ballistics’ Firing Squad.

I am joined today by David Kenzer of Kenzer and Company. We may have some other people join a little later.

This is a special event for me because David has agreed to join after we already recorded this yesterday, and we got 90 minutes of great video and 0 minutes of audio. So there is a whole lot of animated conversation, but it is literally animated with no voices.

Kenzer and Company was gracious enough to do this a second time . . . so thanks for joining me again! 

David Kenzer: [chuckles] Hi everybody and thanks for having me a second time. I don’t think . . . I know for sure Jolly is not coming, and Steve is probably not going to be able to make it either, it doesn’t look like today. Maybe I’m the only forgiving one of the group.

DC: Which is entirely fair, batting .333 is pretty good in the major leagues, and I’ll take it where I can get it.

So what I wanted to do for people who aren’t as familiar with the history of Kenzer and Company: Maybe you could briefly lay out some of the highlights: when the company started, first product, the breadth of the portfolio. I knew of Kenzer from Hackmaster and Knights of the Dinner Table, and not much necessary more than that.

But as I dug in and we conversed yesterday, you have a very broad, dynamic, interesting product portfolio. So why don’t you walk through a little of the history of the company, so people know where you are coming from as we talk about the kickstarter you’re currently running, and some of the other games you’ve done. Continue reading “GB’s Firing Squad welcomes Kenzer and Company”

A lot of my “index pages” have gone the way of the dodo since my migration from Blogger to WordPress, and while I take time to fix that, I wanted to offer up something as a reminder and a bit of a throwback.

I have conducted quite a few interviews, some recently, some a while ago, with SJG staff and freelancers. Since the upcoming Dungeon Fantasy RPG (Powered by GURPS) game has passed some big hurdles and is headed off to print, perhaps in time for GenCon.

So with that, here are some interviews, in reverse date order. Some special things about them is that each of them has a text transcript – you can read them, listen to them (MP3), and/or watch them. For the most recent ones, I use post-production to try and do a bit of value add, showing products and images relevant to the conversation. But, without further ado, here’s the list of interviews with SJG folks and freelancers on The Firing Squad. (The PK/Hunter one wasn’t mine; it was a transcript with which I was gifted).

I’ve updated the older posts so the text flows better, but at the cost of losing some of the graphics. Trust me – it’s better this way.
Continue reading “Steve Jackson Games – Interviews on The Firing Squad”

The Firing Squad welcomes Sean Punch

I had the opportunity to sit down once again with GURPS Line Editor Sean Punch for a 90-minute interview concerning the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Boxed Set.

The Kickstarter is ongoing – and to back the Kickstarter is to vote for more physically printed GURPS products.

The interview is fairly clear, though Sean and I both talk fast, and there will be some interruptions in the flow.

This is the first Firing Squad video in over a year . . . sorry for making you wait so long!

If you don’t have time for the full 90-minute show (but you should make time for it, because Sean’s an engaging speaker and I mostly just shut up and listen), at least listen to this seven minute long pitch about the DF boxed set, and what’s in it for you, and why it matters to the future of GURPS.

Seven Minute Summary

 

And for those with more time on your hands, here’s the full video:

 

Full 90-minute Interview

As always, as soon as I can make it happen, there will be an MP3 file and a transcript available.

Hey, and why not? Here’s the first interview I ever did, and also my first with Sean.

 

When I heard that there was going to be a big SJG project, and given that I have a certain amount of contact with Sean and the SJG team thanks to being an author for them, as well as doing the fairly well-received GURPSDay compilations, I volunteered to conduct a series of interviews with the SJG team.

+Phil Reed is a busy guy. CEOs are like that, in my experience. While I usually try and do interviews on The Firing Squad, which allows me to dig deeper and probe with follow-ups, that simply wasn’t going to happen.

Phil graciously answered a few questions on the Dungeon Fantasy Boxed Set via email. I’ll be following up in a more content-driven conversation – on video – with Sean next week (though it’ll take a bit to get through my post-production, and then transcription, though the vid will go up before the transcript is ready).

My questions are in bold. His answers are in plain text. Continue reading “Dungeon Fantasy Boxed Set – Q&A with Phil Reed”

Thursday is GURPSDay, and much like Christmas time, I was gifted with the transcript that someone did of the conversation between Hunter Shelburne and +Rev. Pee Kitty (PK Levine, Jason Levine) regarding the GURPS worked-example series After the End.

For an absolutely shameless set of plugs, if you want some comprehensive reviews of each volume, check out After the End 1: Wastelanders (review) and After the End 2: The New World (review) that I did previously.

But what was the interview, you ask? It was part of SJGamesLive.

(I should note that these transcripts, whether it be this one or those on The Firing Squad, are pretty intense piece of work. As an example, the AtE transcript is just shy of 10,000 words long. That’d be about a 12-page Pyramid article, which is on the longer side of things. So there’s a lot of content here.) Continue reading “Transcript: Hunter and PK talk After the End”

This was far too long in coming, but in January, the Firing Squad welcomed +Brian Engard, and we discussed game design, self-publishing, and how to broaden the gaming market, among other topics. It’s about a 90-minute interview.

I interacted with Brian first as a contact about the interview with +Steve Jackson, only to discover that Brian has a ton of notches on his belt, from design work with +Leonard Balsera on Fate Core, as well as Spirit of the Century and Shadow of the Century, and Strange Tales of the Century.

He’s also self-published a very different kind of game, called Becoming, which is part improv theater, part RPG, and likely different than anything that you’ve seen before.

Give a listen!

MP3 Audio File

Text Transcript

Douglas Cole (Gaming Ballistic): Good evening and welcome to Gaming Ballistic’s Firing Squad. Tonight we are joined by Brian Engard. Game designer and marketing guy for Steve Jackson Games. Brian, welcome.

Brian Engard (Steve Jackson Games): Hi. How’s it going?

Douglas: Good. Thank you for joining me. One of the reasons why I jumped in and wanted to chat with you is because I saw your Daily Illuminator, where you talk a little about yourself and your games. I didn’t really put all the pieces together until I went and got my copy of Fate, and “Ha! There you are.” I know that Leonard was very much involved. Tell me a little bit about Fate, Shadow of the Century, Spirit of the Century, and what’s your history with Fate, Evil Hat, and Spirit of the Century? Continue reading “The Firing Squad welcomes Brian Engard”

The Firing Squad is not out of business – I’ve just been busy. Plus, I raised my standards.

I really liked the visual impact of the images I added to Steve Jackson‘s and Hans-Christian Vortisch‘s interviews. So I decided to keep doing them.

But it adds overhead. I can estimate as I work through +Brian Engard‘s interview – which was 90 minutes long – that I will spend about 7 hours in post processing of the video alone for every hour of conversation.

Additional time above and beyond what +Christopher R. Rice spends in the preliminary transcription will be spent adjusting the text – as a result of 14 years of trans-pacific conference calls with coworkers with variably accented English, I have a ridiculously good ear for this. I’d guess about 3 hours of editing for every hour of conversation (again, above and beyond the 3-10 days for the raw transcription, and it’s usually closer to 3 than not).

So to get it right takes time. The only thing I could think of to speed time to viewing would be to do a rough-cut video where I remove any long pauses, bathroom breaks, or other interruptions. Then include the text transcription and post-production video as time allows. My predisposition is obviously to release the post-production video first with an MP3 file, and either at the same time or shortly thereafter throw down the full text transcript.

But I’m interested in opinions and thoughts.

I do have something like four confirmed candidates for interviews in the works. All are published authors for GURPS and other works.

I’m always interested in suggestions as well, and would be simply thrilled to hear from someone in WotC with whom I could chat about D&D 5, because I’ve been enjoying the hell out of it and would love to speak about the present and future of the game, as well as design choices, etc.

In any case, if you are wondering what’s this Firing Squad thing . . . well, take a peek.

For various reasons this took a bit. Holidays, dead computers, oh my.

But the text transcript of my interview with +Hans-Christian Vortisch is now available. 

It was a fun interview for me to do, and we covered a lot of good ground. 

If you haven’t seen it, heard it, or watched it: now’s your chance!

Happy New Year, and happy GURPS-Day.

I was asked recently how I do my interviews. I answered this a while back from a logistics point of view, but I was asked a bit about the tech and tools, since the interviews go fairly well and people were curious.

First, check out the logistics part. There’s some important stuff there.

The Hardware

I use a Microsoft Lifecam Studio HD as my webcam. In truth, I recently updated drivers on my system, and now it still will capture video, but I can no longer control the camera zoom. This seems to be an issue MS has been told about but won’t/can’t/hasn’t fixed yet. It’s annoying but not crippling just yet. I’m considering upgrading, but I really don’t want to. Logitech stuff works flawlessly for me, so if I go, I’ll go that way unless research shows there’s a much better option. Continue reading “Firing Squad: Tech Talk”

Earlier this week I sat down with +Hans-Christian Vortisch , who has made a solid game writing presence being the go-to guy about firearms, especially makes, models, and usage.

We talk about his history in gaming and how he came to write about games, as well as an awful lot about firearms, both using them and modeling their use in RPGs.

Hans’ name has come up in many of the interviews I’ve done on the Firing Squad, and always in a way that gives a nod to his vast erudition regarding the subject.

I have been personally involved in playtesting two of his works, as Lead Playtester for High Tech (with +Shawn Fisher ) and Tactical Shooting.  Both experiences were positive and a heck of a lot of fun.

We speak for about 75 minutes and could easily have gone longer (I woke up at 5am to interview him – he’s 7 hours ahead of Minneapolis time). If the video looks a bit jerky at times, we experienced some communications lag, so I chopped out some weird silences.

So if you have a bit more than an hour to spare on this Thanksgiving Day, in between football and a tryptophan coma, give a listen!

MP3 File Audio Only (click to download)

Text Transcript

Douglas Cole (Gaming Ballistic): Good morning and welcome to Gaming Ballistic’s Firing Squad. I am joined today by Hans-Christian Vortisch. Author of GURPS High-Tech and GURPS Tactical Shooting, as well as several supplements for Call of Cthulhu.

The interesting thing about this particular interview except for maybe my recent interview with Steve Jackson himself, your name came actually came up in every single interview that I’ve done. Especially with the Steve Jackson Games staff. You’re kind of legendary so to speak for your breadth and depth of experience and knowledge writing about firearms in role-playing games.

Before we get really into it, I’d like to ask you a couple of questions about how you got into both role-playing games, and your personal interest in firearms.

Hans-Christian Vortisch (RPG Author, Epic Bearder, and General Badass): I really started playing in the early 1980s with a German game called Das Schwarze Auge. It’s pretty much like Dungeons & Dragons. Standard fantasy, pretty simple mechanics and all that.

Then we played everything that was available: Dungeons and Dragons, Traveller, Shadowrun, Star Frontiers, The Morrow Project, Twilight: 2000, Ninjas & Superspies, Rolemaster, MERP . . . everything. Star Wars; the original, the first edition.

And somehow I always gravitated to those games that featured firearms – they were more fun to me. Call of Cthulhu, Traveller, Star Frontiers, stuff like that.

It was just more fun to me, because I liked the fantasy genre and we played a lot of Middle-Earth Role Playing game . . . but somehow the modern or sci-fi settings were more interesting to me.

Well, I liked those most and started reading up on stuff. Somehow, I’ve got a vast collections of books. [both laugh] It just happened that way.

I didn’t really shoot when I was young – that was interesting. I had an air rifle and toy guns and stuff like that, of course, but I didn’t really get into the practical side of it until I was much, much older actually.

I always applied this sort of academic process to the whole thing. I always researched everything diligently without actually having … I hadn’t shot a machinegun or anything like that when I started working on this. But I read up on it. How it’s done. How people do things like that. It’s not just the technical specs, but everything. Continue reading “Gaming Ballistic’s Firing Squad welcomes Hans-Christian Vortisch”