Thursday, January 1, 2015

KURIPOT GAMER: Interviewing the PhilGamer Jay Anyong

Manigong bagong taon sa lahaaat! Para sa first post, we go English muna ;)

My 19 year old brain still can't
comprehend this, but I will soon ;)
A few weeks back (at this point, I can refer to it as 'last year' already. haha), I bought Jay Anyong's (of Life & Times of Philippine Gamer) Star Frontiers: Alpha Dawn & Knight Hawks and Castle Falkenstein. He was nice enough to let go of it for a really low price (because I'm kuripot and poor and all that) and I interviewed him because he's really cool. Hahaha.

This MILF isn't mine, but I got something like this.
Will post about it soon.
We talked about cool stuff in a really fancy coffee shop (added that experience to my 'Things I Never Though I'll Do') and he spewed some badass words about game design. Here's the what of what we talked about, in all its badass glory. Enjoy.

Kuripot Gamer: You’re known as the guy behind the Life & Times of the Philippine Gamer, which has a pretty considerable following. Everyone knows you as Jay, but that’s it, just Jay?

PhilGamer: Yep. Just Jay.

KG: When did you start gaming?

PG: My gaming career officially started with Star Frontiers, I picked that up when I was nine. If you notice the box it says… I think, from age 13 and up. And at that age I thought you had to wait until I was 13 to start playing! So, I read the rules, kept reading them until I finally figured out what they actually meant. I tried to get my brother into it, didn’t quite work out. He didn’t end up GM’ing for me, I ended up GM’ing for my older brother instead.  (Smiling in nostalgia) And I’ve lost the notes, my old box used to have the notes, it was horrible! They were very very simple adventures. That was my first experience with it. When I finally regularly started GM’ing was already in college. That’s when I started running Legend of the Five Rings 1st edition, back then. Then a friend got me hooked on Mage: the Ascension 2nd Edition.

KG: Since you have a really long and broad gaming experience what’s your most memorable gaming experience?

PG: My most memorable gaming… in a good way or a bad way?

KG: Just think of the funkiest ones, things you won’t probably do in real life- given that we don’t the stuff we do in games in real life, what’s too far out even in games?

PG: The weirdest thing a character I’ve ever played has ever done would probably be… in a game of Exalted. I was playing what was essentially a mashup of the Scorpion King, the Rock, the Scorpion King and Moses. So the idea was basically I was a former slave that broke free and now wants to destroy slavery.

KG: And is jacked as hell. Haha.

PG: And is jacked as hell, and is Polynesian. And one of the things that I had to do was to get this giant tortoise sea god to help me out. So I jump into the water, start swimming, meet the sea god and realize: I can’t talk underwater. So I can’t negotiate! Instead, I looked at my skills, okay, so I have perform. So I negotiated through interpretative swimming. And it worked! I rolled phenomenally high, the GM allowed me. If you allow yourself a mental image of the Rock twirling underwater… that’s probably the weirdest thing I’ve done.

KG: Wow! Actually that’s not even weird, that’s cool!  So let’s go to your gaming endeavors, because you also design games right? Let’s talk about Badass, how did you come up with Badass?

PG: Badass was a product of boredom and a chatroom. I was actually talking with Michael Wolf, Stargazer. He had a small chatroom where few bloggers were talking on. And in a fit of boredom we started talking: ‘hey why don’t we come up with something that plays on badass action movie tropes of the 80s and 90s’. Like Jean Paul van Damme, Michael Dudikoff, the really badass, legit B-movies, action movies. It’s really about how do you make a game that runs a b-action movie and it started off with just random banter and I started taking notes. And started building, and after like about, 2-3 weeks of refinement, I finally said OK this is probably as good as it gets and then I asked Michael for a favor and he went ahead laid it out and posted on his Stargazer Games blog.

KG: And then it boomed. Everybody loved it. It’s really fun; I mean c’mon, a game that encourages you to do what GMs hope you won’t do.

PG: The idea is you have to be stupidly brave as possible because the moment you start slowing down and think things through you get penalized. And that’s really the dynamic I want to do, these guys are really too stupid to stop so they’ll just keep powering through every scene, every action. Everything they do will probably be over the top, just building off one ordeal until it becomes absurd.

KG: There’s this guy in Pathfinder FB page, he asked ‘what do I need to do, what character do I need to build so I can use a person as my weapon? I’m going to hit a person with another person’.  And I think there’s no question, you can definitely do that in badass.

PG:  The thing is you’re not supposed to think too much about the physics of it, as long as you’re ready to do it, it sounds cool, the GM will let you do it. The only problem I had with the original Badass which I hope to rectify since I’m working on a second edition of the game is to finally include the missing contacts rules. ‘Cause I kept mentioning about contact rules in the initial draft, and I’d forgotten it by the time we published it so I was like ‘where’s the contact rules?!’

KG: You talked about the future of Badass, what’s in the future of Badass?

PG: Future of Badass right now is really just a refinement of the original Badass, I don’t really want to make it more complicated because it’s already simple to begin with, I just want to make sure to include all the missing rules from the first one and add a bunch of Flavas. The new edition of Badass is basically called, right now, it’s called Son of Badass, SOB for short. And I’m still on the thought of whether releasing it for free or if I’ll be charging for a minimal fee once I have it laid out. The initial manuscript is already in the lay out with Dax Tee who is the illustrator for the first badass.

KG: For the first edition of Badass, everyone’s saying ‘why is this free?’ It’s specially laid out, the game is really good, everyone was willing to pay for Badass. So I guess SOB deserves that. Also, you’re making another game right?

PG: Right

KG: Cool, so tell me about it.

PG: FightClass is still currently in pre-production, I have the initial manuscript ready, most of the rules are there, there’s only one subsystem that I’m still wrestling with right now. The artwork for it has already been commissioned and I have a couple of proofs for cover image already. Fight Class is all about rival schools. If you’re familiar with old video games, you have bunch of schools competing against one another in any absurd possible contest they can think of. So it doesn’t have to be all punchy-punchy stuff, you can technically have a Zoolander-style dance off or something or style walk. It can be a cook off, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s extreme and horrendously melodramatic competition between two students of different or similar skillsets. And that’s essentially what Fight Class is about.

KG: Fight Class is anime-inspired, yes?

PG: Yes

KG: With that who’s your target market in mind?

PG: Basically my target for this is one is if Badass is for the 80s action guy, we’re looking at the 90s-2000s action guys. We’re talking about the ones which grew up with anime, the ones who are used to the standard tropes of Dragonball Z, like this is not my final form, it all makes sense for that particular demographic. So we’re looking at that as the staging point for Fight Class. I’m hoping it’s separate enough from Badass that it’ll not sound like old hack but it’ll be interesting enough to get people trying.

KG: About the system for Fight Class, will it have the same system with Badass or are you making a new one?

PG: For Fight Class, it’ll be slightly different. It will be as simple as I can make it. It will still, from my last draft at least- again this isn’t final yet, it’ll still be using d6s because I want to make it as accessible as possible. And for this one you’ll have the option to create your own skills. You define your student, you define what club they came from, what skills those clubs give you. So it’s really about customizing the student body of the school you’re representing and what that school is popular for. I have seven different schools stated out already. Each one with a different focus on what they can do, so you have something like the Overman Institute, which is for the physical oriented guys, you have a slightly emo, Edgar Allan Poe-inspired Victorian type,  you have another school full of mad scientists, martial artist, so on and so forth. So basically, I try to grab as many stereotypes as possible and I have them smash up against each other.

KG: That’s a really fun concept, right now we live in a world of multiculturalism and there are subcultures within cultures, also countercultures.  It’s really fun if you have a game that can make them meet. I mean, I’m a martial artist. The idea of having schools fight is already appealing to me.

PG: It’s really an excuse to play a bad Kung Fu movie, my school is better than your school, let’s face off somewhere, doing whatever thing.

KG: I’m excited for this game, and I guess everyone reading this will also be excited. But what about your blog, what do you have in store for 2015?

PG: More frequent posting, haha. I haven’t been blogging as often as I used to. Back when I had more time for it, I was able to blog at least once a day for weekdays. I’m hoping to get back up to three posts a week. I’ll still have the usual, I’ll still have the standard reviews, I’ll still be doing the Let’s Study series which a lot of people seem to like, and I might be branching to more game design articles, eventually. Once I have more time to sit down and think through about what’s going on in my head.

So that's what we can expect for the PhilGamer blog for 2015. 2015 seems to be a good year for the local gaming community, with continuous traffic and people itching for a convention. Hopefully it works :D Stay updated, and stay astig.

P.S. Jay gave me some game designing advice after the interview, which I really think is insightful. Here's what he had to say:

"I feel like building games isn’t something that’s reserved to an elite few. RPGs are technically let’s pretend. Just adding a little bit of structure. It’s really thinking about ‘why this certain rules exist’ and if you go back to Badass, you have the entire concept of your badass points being both your fuel for doing Badass things as well as your hit points to make sure you stay in the fight. So what that does do is basically it encourages you to gain more badass points, do more badass things, you get tougher, you get stronger, you can pull off more things. Likewise if you start slowing down, you get deducted Badass points and you’re so much less able. So how does that change play? How does that influence the player to take action, so these are things would probably be interesting to think about."

I look like I wait tables in a fancy European restaurant.
Ha! At least it's a fancy restaurant