Interview with Brian Engard (part 1 of 5)
1. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live in Pennsylvania with my wife and my two dogs, and my day job is as a QA Analyst for a major e-commerce website. I got my start as a freelancer several years ago; when I signed on to write a psionics supplement for the d20 System version of Bulldogs! for Brennan Taylor. I had done a few small two- or three-page PDFs, but that was my first full-length work. Fast forward to a year and change ago; when Brennan was looking for freelancers to work on the FATE-based version of Bulldogs!, I jumped at the opportunity. He gave me the change to co-author it with him, and I jumped at that, too. It wasn't long after Bulldogs! came out when I was asked to work on other FATE projects, including The Demolished Ones.
2. What attracted you as a designer to this project?
Dark City has always been one of my favorite movies, and it's one of the major influences on this project. When Steve asked me to work on a FATE project with noir elements and amnesiac characters trying to figure out who they were while they were being hunted down by the police, it immediately started giving me all sorts of ideas.
3. Why do you think Kickstarter projects are expanding?
I think a lot of it has to do with brand recognition at this point. A few indie RPGs got funded on Kickstarter, and now “Kickstarter” has become a bit of a buzzword in the industry. When Bulldogs! started on Kickstarter, I had never heard of it and had no idea what it was. Now it seems like I can't go a day without reading about a new Kickstarter project on Twitter. And that's another element of its success: word of mouth via social media. It's easier than ever to get your stuff out in front of people these days. With all the awesome projects out there, though, it can be hard to be noticed. That's the challenge.
4. Could you please sum up "The Demolished Ones" in a sentence or three?
Imagine that you woke up in a room, with a group of complete strangers, and there was a corpse in the center of the room. Imagine you had no idea who you were, where you were, or who the forces arrayed against you were. Now imagine that the entire world is against you, that you are being hunted by the police, private investigators, and horrors born from the depths of the human soul. That's The Demolished Ones.
5. Could you please sum up the FATE rpg system in a sentence or three?
FATE is a system that emphasizes role-playing, character development, and player agency. Players are given some narrative control, while at the same time the GM is given mechanics that make it easy to encourage players to play their characters faithfully. FATE is all about rewarding good role-play, and creating a compelling narrative as a group.
6. How did you feel, when you discovered someone has signed up for the
Kickstarter Project? For the Potentially Corrupt Subject Level?
Surprised and gratified. It was absolutely awesome that someone was willing to pay so much for a product that I'm working on, sight unseen. It was also very motivating; if someone is willing to pony up that kind of cash for this game, I'd better make sure it's as good as it can possibly be!
7. Could you list some of your major influences in your initial thoughts on “The Demolished Ones”?
I've already mentioned Dark City, which is a big one. The movie Memento covers issues of discovering your own identity while trying to solve a greater mystery, which is apt. I'm a big fan of HP Lovecraft's works and the mythos they create, and I want some of the elements of The Demolished Ones to have a similar feel. A PC game called Amnesia: The Dark Descent is also a big influence, for similar reasons to the above; it tackles themes of discovering your identity in a world that is overtly hostile to you. You discover horrors that can drive you insane, both in the world and in your own self-discovery.
8. What are the strengths of “The Demolished Ones” using the FATE rpg system?
FATE offers a lot of mechanical elements that facilitate an amnesia-based game. First of all, every FATE game I've read covers rules for making your character on the fly; in a game about amnesiacs, you simply make that the default assumption. Aspects are great mechanical analogs for memories, and skills can easily be tied to memories, as well. The system also encourages lots of intra-party role—playing and even conflict, both of which are things that I want to see in The Demolished Ones. Finally, it's a robust and versatile enough system that it can handle just about all of the situations that might come up in a Demolished Ones game.
9. Can you tell me about your experience so far of working with Rite Publishing Vs. Other publishers you have worked with?
Rite has been great to work with so far. I've had far more creative input than I usually do on freelance jobs; not only am I the lead designer, but I also get to write up art orders and see them fulfilled, and I have input into things like how the Kickstarter is run and what the video looks like. In addition, Steve Russell has been really easy to work with. He's almost always available to me if I need to bounce ideas off of him, and if I throw an idea at him that doesn't quite work for the project, he gives me solid reasons why rather than just shutting me down. It makes the prospect of having the responsibility of being the lead designer on a project that much less daunting and more manageable.
10. Can you tell me how you felt when you first saw the preview art by the lead artist on the project Hugo Solis?
It knocked my socks off. Hugo is an extremely talented artist, and he was able to really nail the look and feel I wanted from the art orders I gave him. Once I saw the finished works, I immediately made them my desktop wallpaper. I want that picture of Mr. Tock (the guy in the top hat) on a tee shirt now.
Part 2 coming tomorrow, Find out more about The Demolished Ones HERE