This time I’m joined by the crew from The D6 Generation. This was a fun, if difficult to coordinate, interview.
Tom: Tell us a bit about yourselves and D6G to start off.
(Russ) Well we started the D6 Generation in February of 2008 so we’re coming up on 3 years now. We’ve been very surprised and flattered at how fast our listener base has grown. We were in no way confident that anyone would want to listen to three guys from New Hampshire talk about games.
Prior to the D6G I guess my biggest claim to fame was as founder of DakkaDakka.com, so I guess I’ve always had a desire to share my gaming experiences with others.
(Nicole): Let’s see…I’ve always been a Geek, loved Star Wars and all things sci-fi growing up. I eventually dated a Geek and then married the guy. He introduced me to RPG’s and we even opened a gaming store. Later, he and his buddies started a podcast and I’m fortunate to host my own segment on the show. I’ve enjoyed writing since forever, too so I started a blog in conjunction with the show segement and that’s grown into me writing for several sites and co-hosting the GeekGirlsNetwork podcast in addition to my segment on the D6G.
(Craig): I’ve been gaming since I was about 12, starting with D&D Basic boxed game. I mostly enjoy miniature games and rpgs. I was brought into the D6G after Russ and Raef had already discussed it between themselves and decided to bring me in. It’s been a great ride so far, FAR more successful than we could have ever imagined, and I can’t wait to see where we go next.
Tom: D6G is a unique podcast. Not only are you not concerned about show length, but you have some excellent segments. How did you arrive at this format?
(Russ) It’s funny because in the beginning we were very concerned about length. You’ll notice a couple of the early episodes (1 & 4) are divided into two one hour parts and we tried to keep each episode to an hour. But at some point we decided that format trumped length and so things stayed together and slowly got longer. By Episode 13 we were starting to average 3 hours.
The segments idea was pretty much there from the beginning. We each had our own individual creative bits we wanted to include, and we wanted a show with a dependable format and a bookend feeling so listeners know what to expect. I think you can only get away with a long show like this if it is in bite sized chunks. We do try hard to keep each major segment to no more than an hour.
But really the great advantage of this format is that it is on demand, and the listener can pause, restart, and even fast forward at will. We have a lot of variety, don’t like a topic on this episode? Fast forward to the next segment, you’ll probably enjoy that one. But if you do like a topic, we use the flexibility of this medium to try and give you more depth than you can find in traditional formats.
(Craig): I believe it was Russ’ idea from the beginning to keep things broken up into segments , and then we just started to brainstorm different ideas for segments. From the beginning Rapid Fire, The News, Hollywood Minute, and D’you Ever Notice? were going to be recurring segments. Everything else has developed over time.
Tom: What are you currently playing (rpg and boardgames)?
(Russ) I’m running a Tiefling Warlock in a D&D 4e campaign right now via Fantasy Grounds II. I’ve also devoured the Dresden File’s RPG book and I’m looking forward to finding the time to run a short campaign.
Tom: I play a good amount of Savage Worlds so I’ve been curious about Fantasy Grounds II. It is good to hear that someone using it. I take that as a recommendation. I will be very interested in a segment on the show about Dresden. I love FATE and would like to hear your opinion(s) of it.
I play a lot of different board games and miniature war games. I just finished a 10 month Descent Sea of Blood campaign with a very dedicated crew of guys. Also looking forward to an upcoming RuneWars game with a group of friends that play it fairly regularly so it’s more ‘hard core’ with none of that pesky rules teaching stuff. I guess the new hotness is Castle Ravenloft, Battles of Westeros, and can’t wait to try the new Civilization from FFG.I also play quite a few games with my family. My daughters, ages 6 & 8, love Fish eat Fish and Zooloretto.
Tom: We love Zooloretto in my family.
On the miniature side it’s Warmachine, Malifaux and anything by Spartan Games.
(Craig): Putting together an adventure for Deathwatch, looking forward to Dystopian Wars, playing a lot of Crimson Skies, Hex Hex XL, and actually a bit of Infinite City by AEG.
(Raef):I am currently playing Deathwatch and Descent
Tom: Malifaux – the setting really calls to me. You guys make it tough not to buy/get into minis what with Malifaux, Dystopian Wars, and Gutshot. I could get into Crimson Skies too. Curse you! I am interested in Infinite City too. Maybe drop in something about it in a show?
Tom: What is your ‘go to’ game?
(Russ) Tough question because I play so many. From an RPG view I’d say D&D. I love to stray from time to time and I’ve had flings with many. But what’s the saying? “Dance with the one that brought you?” I think D&D will always be my go to RPG.
Board games are tough… but I’ll try categories…
Co-op: Battlestar Galactica or Shadows over Camelot
Fast, fun, and light: Small World
Tactical Conquest: RuneWars or Starcraft
Something Fun & Different: Galaxy Trucker or Dungeon Lords
(Nicole): I love Battlestar Galactica, really I could play it all the time. And a really old card game called Mille Bornes. I have the one my Mom bought in 1963 for about a dollar!
(Craig): Currently I’d say Hex Hex XL is the go to game when we’ve got some downtime, for me, anyway.
Tom: I just picked up Smallworld and am eager to play. I NEED to buy Descent and BSG. They will fit well with my groups. Mille Bornes! Very cool. You don’t hear that a lot. Props to you for supporting the classics.
Tom: What got you started in gaming?
(Nicole): For me, it was Russ that really got me into gaming. I always enjoyed games of every kind, but he has such a passion for them that it was addictive!
(Russ) My family often had game nights. In addition to the classics (Risk, Monopoly, card games) we also had a lot of cool games with crazy components like Carrier Strike and Yacht Race. I think that’s what got me so passionate about components.
Of course, when I was 12 I discovered AD&D (the original) and the wonder of RPG’s. Played a lot of classic RPG games like Top Secret, Traveller, Star Frontiers, Champions, etc.
(Craig): My grandparents bought me the Basic D&D boxed game when I was 12, and away I went!
(Raef):Dungeon and Dragons
Tom: 12 seems to be a magic age for getting into RPG’s. Several others I’ve talked to say they discovered role playing at 12.
Tom: Do you have a most memorable gaming moment?
(Craig:) Currently, what sticks in my mind was playing HexHex XL with Cody and John from Game On!
(Russ) I’ll mention three because I think they highlight what makes gaming so wonderful:
The first was back in college at a Con. I played in a Paranoid RPG. Crazy game in which all the players have secret agendas which basically involve screwing each other. Although I’d never met anyone in the group, we had a blast. It ended with me rolling out of our party’s APC whilst dropping a grenade on the driver’s seat and closing the door. I ended up killing most of our party but one was waiting for me outside with a shot gun.
The second was at a Warhammer 40k grand tournament in Baltimore. I was playing a gentleman I’d never met before and we some how hit it off instantly. We were screaming battle cries, laughing, and taunting each other throughout the game with little care as to who was winning.
The third was this past summer at GenCon 2010 in which we ran a “Play by Mob” Dresden RPG with nearly 50 participants. It was a wacky activity with signing and silliness that everyone really got into. Listen to Ep 62 of our show to see what I mean.
I mention these because I think one of the greatest things about gaming is how it can bring people together and make instant friends of people who have never met, and likely never would have met.
(Nicole): Playing a game at Raef’s house…oh man I forgot the name…but we had to play a round speaking in monk chant and it was one of the funniest game moment’s ever!
(Raef):Let’s see my most memorable gaming moment was playing a gnome illusionist in my buddy’s finished basement in 7th and 8th grade.
Tom: The important question: what makes a good player? Take all the space you need to fully explain your answer.
(Raef):Someone willing to have fun at the expense of all else.
(Russ) One of our listeners wrote in once when we were debating play styles and said “Try to win, but play for fun.” I love that quote. I think a good player is trying to win with every move, but is also conscious of his opponents and their enjoyment. If they aren’t having fun or are confused, try to figure out why and help. And never try to beat anyone with the rules. Beat them with strategy.
(Nicole): This is an easy question for me. A good player is simply a good sport. Play by the rules. Don’t be nasty when someone makes a mistake. Don’t take advantage of players that don’t know the rules cold. And have fun with your heart and head in the game beginning to end.
(Craig): A good player knows the game, tries their hardest to win, but also takes care that their opponents have fun also. You have to be aware of how your actions, attitudes, etc are affecting the other players. I do not enjoy playing against overly competitive players who only care about the win. Also, VERY important, basic social skills.
Tom: What do you bring to the table?
(Nicole): Usually a can or two of Diet Coke, my iphone to tweet game moments and my winning attitude 😉
(Craig): I like to have fun, so I try to make the people I’m playing with laugh. I’m constantly making jokes and running commentary. Also, my dice rolling sucks, so I’m not really a threat
Tom: What is your favorite system (rpg)? Why?
(Russ) Probably D&D just for nostalgia, and I do like the 4e version quite a bit. But there are so many great systems right now it’s hard to say. When I was younger I think I liked just staying in one system and having a grand adventure with the same party for months or years at a time.
Now I think I prefer short, varied campaigns in different systems. Had a blast with a weekend Rogue Trader event. Enjoyed a couple month Serenity campaign. And I’m looking forward to trying Dresden; I like the fate system concept of co-operative campaign building.
(Craig): Serenity and the Cortex System, because a) LOVE the background and the universe and b) LOVE the story-driven system.
(Raef): Probably DnD due to nostalgia but the d100 systems play a close second. Dark Heresy, etc…
Tom: Important question 2: what makes a great game?
(Russ) For me a game has to execute in all areas to be great: Rules presentation, Mechanics, Graphic Design, Component quality, and theme.
Rules: Should be easy and FUN to read. If you just dropped $60-$100 on a game, you want the rule book to look cool and get you and your friends excited.
Mechanics: Easy to learn, hard to master. Even ‘heavy’ games can be ‘easy to learn’ just look at the difference between a game like Runewars and a game like Android. Both by the same company, both do well in Rules presentation, Graphic Desing, Components, and theme, but Android is way to clunky on the mechanics side.
Graphic Design: The art and components should be more than just bling. They should help you understand, follow, and execute game play.
Component Quality: Components should be good quality that will last under repeated play.
Theme: Theme should be carried through all of the above, even mechanics.
Example? Day’s of Wonder’s Small World is a great game. It nails all of the above flawlessly.
(Nicole): A great game is playable by ANYONE. That means someone who is a hard core gamer that looks for every angle to win and a person who is just in it for fun. If a game is too hard or complex, then a lot of people can’t or won’t play which makes it difficult to break out in a group. If a game is just way to simplistic, the same thing happens in the reverse. It needs to appeal and be playable to a wide audience in order for it to be great. It also needs to have clear, concise rules and a theme that is consistent throughout all elements of the game like board, cards, tokens etc.
(Craig): What Russ calls Rules Transparency: the rules help move the game and theme along, not getting in the way of the fun. They have to be intuitive, but with a depth to present tactical choices and multiple avenues to victory. Elegant: simple, but deep.
(Raef):Great graphic design, nice thick playing pieces, and replayability mixed with fun.
Tom: Name some euro games that you can’t wait to play. Let’s start with…Russ.
(Russ) LoL, contrary to popular belief I do enjoy quite a few euro-games. Here are some euro games I own and regularly bring to game events: Galaxy Trucker, Dungeon Lords, Pillars of the Earth, & Founding Fathers. Another euro game I almost buy every time I see it is Carson City.
Oh, and I play Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne on the X-box and iphone with my kids.
(Raef): Umm I play the ones I want….
(Craig): There is no Euro game I can’t wait to play.
Tom: If you could give Agricola a new theme what would that theme be?
(Russ) I think Agricola’s biggest failing is graphic design, not theme, but if I could re-theme it I think I’d add Mongols. There are few games that can’t be improved by adding a few Mongolians.
(Craig): Garbage collecting . . .
(Raef): Set in space
Tom: Who is your ‘holy grail’ inteview?
(Russ) It’s probably different for each of us, for me it’s Nathan Fillion. I’ve been a fan of his since Firefly, and I know he is a vid-gamer. I’ve no idea how I would tie it into the normal topics we cover on the show, but I’m sure we’d figure something out.
If you give me a time machine I’d love to be able to go back and interview Gygax and/or Arneson. Heck, since we have a time machine throw H.G. Wells on the list too.
(Nicole): Wil Wheaton
(Raef): Had it already. Matt Wilson. So any Matt Wilson interview
(Craig): Any of the bigwigs at Games Workshop, because they won’t give ANYONE an interview.
Tom: Please complete this sentence: My current hot game is…?
(Russ) Civilization by FFG. Literally just picked it up yesterday, can’t wait to play it.
(Nicole): Battlestar Galactica
(Craig): Uncharted Seas, but I’m anticipating that it will become Dystopian Wars in the next day or so.
(Raef): Dystopian Wars
Tom: Man, Dystopian Wars looks really cool. I’m very tempted by it. On another subject, do you play any ‘indie’ rpgs?
(Russ) How indie is indie? I’ve mentioned a few above.
(Craig): I wouldn’t know an indie rpg if it kissed me and threw up in my mouth . . .
Tom: That is an awesome answer!
Tom: Print on Demand – Hype or Tripe?
(Russ) Hype… meaning good! I loved that the Dresden files RPG was available in both PDF and print, and I think as color e-readers become more prevalent (like the nook and iPad) people will come to feel less and less need for a hard cover version. But I think it’s great that even now folks can easily publish their works and get them to folks.
(Craig): I think PoD is a GREAT opportunity for may small and starting designers and folks who are looking for less main-stream ideas. I, however, need super sexy glossy color images etc., so not really for me.
(Raef): It’s a cool thing.
Tom: Who would you like to see interviewed?
(Russ): The folks at Geek Girls Network. Oh and Felicia Day.
(Craig): Again, any of the bigwigs at Games Workshop, because they won’t give ANYONE an interview.
(Raef): Dan Abnett
Tom: What oop game would you like to see reprinted?
(Russ) Dune, the 1979 Avalon Hill version Bring it back and update its components and rules. I’m sure folks are trying and I bet the licensing is a pain. But I’d have a hard time saying no to a reprint of that baby.
(Craig): I would LOVE to see Babylon 5 redone in such a way that my friends would start playing it again.
(Raef):There was this simple tank game for two players when I was a kid don’t know the name of it though.
Tom: I had that too. I think it is called Tank Battle. I would love to see that come back.Where do you see rpgs in 5 years? What changes do you see coming, good and bad?
(Russ) I can’t decide if RPG’s are heading back to boxed sets or sticking with books. They can’t seem to make up their mind. I think we’ll see a lot more pure PDF games perhaps with apps that track everything a player needs. Imagine a game in which everyone’s character sheet was on their smart phone or tablet, and they communicated in real time with the GM’s tablet. That kind of stuff is already on laptops, but in 5 years I can see it hitting phones and other ultra-portable tech. These, of course, will never replace dice, just make it easier to track everything and get secret messages to and from the GM.
If that starts to happen I think we’ll see RPG publishers start to go with more tokens, dice, and tactile components to keep folks buying non-virtual stuff. FFG already experimented with that kind of idea with War Hammer Fantasy Roleplay with limited success. But the new token sets and other bling for D&D 4 seem to be a big hit. We gamers always have and always will like their flashy bits.
(Craig): I see D&D 4 and the FFG WFRP as a dangerous trend towards trying to make RPGs more like boardgames, which I don’t think really serves the purpose of the RPG very well. I think there will always be ‘traditional’ RPGs, and I don’t think this boardgame/videogame trend will be long-lasting.
(Raef):I think they will continue to flourish.
Tom: Any links that you would like the readers to visit?
You can find our podcast at www.TheD6Generation.com and we each also have our own blogs:
Thanks a whole lot for the interview folks. This has been fun eventhough it has taken a while. I really enjoyed getting to know you all better. You had some great and unique answers!!
Please visit The D6G website and subscribe to their podcast via iTunes or your favorite podcatcher.