Friday, 17 May 2013

Gamebook Friday: JG goes to Librogame's Land

A couple of weeks ago I posted a link to an interview I did with Italian gamebook website Librogame's Land.

Today, as promised, I'm posting my original English answers...


1)    You are best known as a Fighting Fantasy gamebook writer - the last of them, so far. Why did you decide to write a Path to Victory gamebook?

a)      Because I was asked by Black Library.
b)      Because I love writing gamebooks.
c)       And because I love the worlds of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000.

2)    What’s the difference between writing a Fighting Fantasy gamebook and a Path to Victory one?

Not that much really. Obviously there is a different combat system and they are set within different worlds, but other than that I go about planning and writing them in exactly the same way. That said, Path to Victory books have death paragraphs rather like Gamebook Adventures following a battle, whereas Fighting Fantasy adventures do not.

3)    Tell us something about the creation of your Path to Victory gamebooks, Herald of Oblivion and Shadows Over Sylvania! Is there one of the two that you prefer?

I’m proud of both of them (I’m proud of everything I’ve had published) but I have to say that I do prefer Shadows Over Sylvania.

When I was commissioned to write Herald of Oblivion, I was told to set it on a space hulk, featuring Imperial Fists Space Marines, and to include Dark Eldar, Necrons, Orks and Tyranids. Although I created the game’s narrative, clearly quite a lot had already been dictated by Black Library.

Shadows Over Sylvania was the total opposite. I had already been asked to work up a proposal for a Khemri-set Warhammer Path to Victory gamebook, but then the Vampire Counts Warhammer Armies book was released. I read it from cover to cover and an idea for a completely different adventure formed, the unique selling point being that the reader would play the part of a vampire for themselves. The rest, as they say, is history…

4)    In both books, the atmosphere is simply fascinating. It takes the reader into a charming world, even if they (just like myself) have no knowledge of Warhammer/Warhammer 40K. What inspired you in their creation? How much freedom did you have in their setting?

The settings are so richly developed already that you just have to tap into that and you’re there. As long as you stay true to the Warhammer worlds, there is a fair amount of freedom.

For example, I came up with the Seven in Shadows Over Sylvania and was allowed to set the story in a previously not widely explored historical period.

5)    Personally, I found Warhammer combat rules a bit complicated for a gamebook. The combat is slower than ideal, especially when you have to face multiple opponents. Would you make any changes to the rules, if you could?

The simple answer is I can’t, so I wouldn’t. Games Workshop are first and foremost a games developer and so the games side of the Path to Victory gamebooks has to be worked on in house.

6)    What do you see in the future of this series? It being available only from Black Library’s website may limit its distribution. Do you think there’s a chance it may become available from other online shops, so to make it more accessible to worldwide fans (and a little cheaper, maybe!)?

I’ve heard talk of the books possibly being released exclusively in Games Workshop stores but I believe Black Library are holding back on making any decisions, with regards to the series in general, until they’ve been able to review their sales figures.

7)    Last, but not least: what about your future in Path to Victory? Are you going to deliver a sequel to your previous books, following Herald of Oblivions’s steps in the universe, or maybe having us explore some more of the Old World? Or something entirely new? If so, which setting would you choose?

Personally, I’ve already got another two pitches in with the editors – the Khemri/Tomb Kings one and another 40K adventure – and have ideas for several more. Quite simply, if they ask me to write more, I will.

There was talk of Herald of Oblivion being the first in a trilogy, but with other writers writing the subsequent adventures. If you’ve read the book yourself, you may well be able to guess where the sequel would take place…


8)    Your last Fighting Fantasy gamebook, Night of the Necromancer, came out in 2010, and since then the only new book published in the series was Blood of the Zombies, by Ian Livingstone (2012). Do you think the series has finally come to an end, or will it have a future? And if so, will you have a role in it, giving us more exciting Fighting Fantasy adventures?

I wouldn’t be surprised if the future of Fighting Fantasy lies in digital formats. Inkle are producing a new Sorcery! App, while Tin Man Games are bringing out four classic FF titles this year alone.

As with the Path to Victory series, if I was asked to write another Fighting Fantasy gamebook I would jump at the chance.

The brand is far from done. After all, I’ve got my own history of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks coming out later this year.

9)    Some of your old FF books (Spellbreaker and Curse of the Mummy) have never been officially published in Italy, but they have been translated (totally non-profit) by fans. How do you consider these initiatives? Do you think they could help keep alive the memory of some of the most relevant pieces of interactive fiction, and enhance their diffusion?

That’s a tricky one. If it creates a demand for more books which leads to new books being published and paid for, then all to the good. But I know that app producers suffer from people pirating their gamebooks which makes it increasingly unlikely more new content will be produced, considering the current economic climate.

10)    Temple of the Spider God was your first digital gamebook, and it received astonishing reviews! Is there any difference between writing a paper gamebook and a digital one?

Not really, except that the apps undergo rigorous testing, which can’t be a bad thing.

Thank you very much, may your Wounds score never come to 0!

Thank you. And may your Stamina never fail!

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