A one-hour interview with GURPS Line Editor +Sean Punch. In the interview, we cover GURPS' strengths and weaknesses, compare and contrast it a bit to other game systems, muse on the state of the RPG industry, discuss "realism" in games, and much more. At the end, Sean talks a bit about how to write well for GURPS, now that the pipeline seems to be open again.
This is my first video interview ever - not just for this blog. I will be attempting to add useful content to this post over time, including (eventually) a text transcript of the entire thing, since I find it entirely annoying when I have to play a video to get good content. So stay tuned.
Oh, and at the end, Sean throws down a bit of a challenge, which I will gleefully take up when I'm better at this: a panel discussion featuring more than one key player in the GURPS space. As was said about the Six Million Dollar Man, "we have the technology," and there's no reason such a good idea should go to waste.
I provided Sean a list of questions ahead of time, but other than a few moments where I forgot that the interview is not about what I have to say, I mostly let him talk. Here are some notable moments, messages, and themes:
- What is GURPS, in brief?
- Sean eats his own dogfood – Leveraging GURPS strengths into successful campaigns
- Secret to a long-running campaign (not GURPS specific)
- Sean offers his thoughts on GURPS’ weaknesses
- Generic systems can handle anything, right? (Hint: no.)
- Mechanical quirks with the system (3d6, Modifiers, system comfort, point build)
- A few things with “no fair value” in GURPS or any point build system
- Doug tells a short story and forgets the interview isn’t about him; Sean makes lemonade out of lemons
- Strengths and weaknesses of other game systems and where GURPS does well and not-so-well (Doug mentions Pathfinder, GUMSHOE/Trail ofCthulhu, and FATE Core)
- FATE has more embedded complexity than some might think
- FATE is strong in the force (excels for dramatic play)
- Other game systems and drama/mechanics focus
- Doug pimps Impulse Buys and forgets he’s not being interviewed again; Sean comments on GURPS ability to do dramatic play
- Sean talks about the importance of “realism” in today’s gaming industry and Doug butchers “plausible verisimilitude”
- What about that line in Basic about “the most realistic”game?"
- Sean talks about the rule of awesome and how this relates to realism, good game design
- Why does Dungeon Fantasy, with soon-to-be 16 volumes, workso well? Rules, borders, and an end zone! (hat tip to Xander Harris, BtVS)
- Sean talks about the cleric of the god of love, and Doug’s brain hurts as a result:
- Blending hack-and-slash with less combative types
- What other genres does Sean think will have the potential for the same success as DF?
- What are the characteristics of future product lines that might succeed given the “genre reduction” treatment?
- Sean talks about Space Opera
- Boiling it down: which genres work well, and which do not?
- Given the opening of the GURPS pipeline, what message does Sean have for prospective creators and contributors?
- First-timers should follow the wish list:
- Read the style guide, and ensure you stick to it. Not fun, but helps your product make a profit. Bad writing/english is easier to fix than sloppy style! Style might even be more important than deadlines! (style guide links from wish list appended below)
- Write for your audience’s interests, not just for your own
- What kind of Zombie stories does Sean like? But what appears in GURPS Zombies?
- Why is this important for writing in a generic system, especially in writing adventures? How can you make an adventure more generic? Mirror of the Fire Demon is used as an example of a how-to.
- Parting shots?
- Sean closes with thanks, and throws down the gauntlet: a GURPS creator panel discussion!
Again: in case you missed the embedded link, here's a full-text transcript and an MP3 file of this same interview.
- Authors' Guidelines: Editorial Style
- Writing for e23
- WYSIWYG Template for Microsoft Word (a Word template file)
- Formatting Guide: GURPS Fourth Edition (a Word document file)
- Steve Jackson Games Writers' Guidelines: Libel and Obscenity