Thursday, 10 January 2013

Wee Gamers Interview ... Gregor Hutton

We caught up with this Scottish bloke at GaelCon and found him to be a lovely guy.

He was in fact none other than Gregor Hutton, serial games maker and Con attendee extraordinaire.

We cornered him so he could not escape and then subjected him to the torture of the 13 questions.

At least he didn't run away.

Enjoy. Mwahahahahaha

1 - Mention your name in certain convention circles and we get a smile and 'great lad'...or a wee snigger like they know something, but for those who have not had the pleasure, tell us....who the heck are you ? 

I'm from Scotland and I've been a gamer since the early 1980s. I've written and published a few role-playing games (of which Three Sixteen: Carnage Amongst The Stars is the one you're most likely to have heard of, if at all). I do go to a fair number of conventions in the Europe and America and can be found playing games there, or in the bar. 

2- Artist, writer, gamer.  What is the thing that makes the grey cells tick the most for you in creative terms of the hobby? 

In creative terms I think what makes my grey cells tick the most is trying to come up with satisfying rules and procedures for the interaction of people at the gaming table. 

3- For you, what's the hardest part of the design process? 

The hardest part of the design process is finding the "right" voice for explaining the rules and procedures to the people at the gaming table. 

4- Since it's the hobby industry your not in this for the girls or the money, so what is the reward you take from what you do? 

The satisfaction of having made something that I can play with other gamers. If there is already a game existing that does what I want to do then I don't try and reinvent the wheel. So my games are designed to scratch an itch, for me at least, that no other game currently does. If I finish a game then there is a good amount of satisfaction in that I now have a tool to scratch that itch.

5- Now you are clearly a big convention supporter, dare we ask is there a favourite within your travels, or a home turf if that makes it a safer question? 

Oh, every convention is different and has it good and bad points -- and for most the good points greatly outnumber the bad points. Overall, I think Ropecon in Finland (late July/August) is almost perfect as a gaming con. Conpulsion is the most "Celtic" of the UK cons, and is worth a visit. For a small intimate RPG con I'd recommend Concrete Cow in Milton Keynes and its Italian equivalent Gnoccocon in Reggio Emilia.

6- Do you have a close circle of friends or allies who help you with ideas and testing? How do you feel the refinement of your ideas works in bringing you to say 'it is finished'?

I like to work alone, mostly. I do playtesting with Joe Prince and a few friends -- they're normally very brutal but vital in feeding back what does and doesn't work in a game. I've mailed stuff around the Design Matters crew for input too: Nathan Paoletta (Carry, Annalise) , Kevin Allen Jr (Primitive, Sweet Agatha, Pickets & Blinds), Epidiah Ravachol (Dread, Time & Temp), Tim Koppang (Hero's Banner, Mars Colony). I've got a good handle on when I think something is finished (or as finished as it will ever be) -- basically, when it is at the point that it's fully playable as written and you're down to the personal preference stuff (which people will never agree on). 

7- 3:16 is just one of your irons in the fire, but one that really has some great ideas and visuals in there. How and why did you set about its creation? 

It's the Military SF game that I always wanted to play. No one else wrote it so I had to. It was written in its original form in 24 hours (based on about 20 years of soaking up the genre like a sponge). You can see that 24-hr version online for free. The tone and visuals of the final version were determined by a very distilled view I took of Military SF after about 3 years of trying not to screw up the gem that I had created in 24 hours. 

8- What's on the table for you project wise at present. 

Nothing at the moment -- life has been too busy I'm afraid. 

9- What aspects of the hobby do you enjoy as a player, board games, card games, RPGs? Any favourite titles out there?

Accessibility is big for me. Games that I can play that fit around my life and that of the other players. So I've been playing a lot of quick card and board games recently, and one-shot RPGs when I get the opportunity. I never played CCGs and I don't regret that. I do want to play some small, quick wargames too but haven't had much chance recently. DBA is a particular favourite. Of card games: Cabo is the business. You should all play it.

10- The industry is a hard one to get noticed in, what advice would you offer the budding creators out there.?  

Create something playable and make it as well as you can. Be as creative in presenting your product as you are in designing the rules and procedures. And, believe me, if it's good enough then people will take notice. Oh, and don't blame the world if no one finds your idea interesting or playable. Just move on and design something else, or not. 

11- Where can those keen to meet the man himself expect to see you out and about this year?

I will be at GenCon in the US and at GaelCon in Dublin. I'm also likely to be at IndieCon and possibly Lucca in Italy. I won't be at Spiel this year unfortunately. 

12- Essen, we loved Essen I have to say, how did you find the experience? 

I had a lot of fun. I was working a booth with Eero Tuovinen from Finland and Matt Machell from England last year. We matched a lot of gamers up with games that they'll enjoy and we more than broke even. I liked that a lot. Spiel Messe in Essen is pretty big, right, but owing to the way it is laid out it's quite compartmentalised -- so each hall is manageable but the whole con is huge. You get lost a lot in the building -- well, I did. You could spend all con just playing board games and hardly scratch the surface of what's available. The one down side I'd say is that the coffee wasn't great -- there was one stand that did good coffee but the rest were pretty lame. Anyway, I have friends in the Ruhr from way back so overall it was a great time -- my friend Dario is pretty crazy, in a good way, and just hanging out with him made it much better. It's the people that make any con, right? 

13- Right the fun question-! Your a trooper within your own 3:16 world........tell us your short and bloody life story....

I'm Trooper Normal Heygood, and my Rep is "No Good!". I'm armed with a slug rifle and I like to just shoot the breeze near the back of the stick when we're on patrol. I signed up for the Expeditionary Force along with my best friend. I think his name was Carlo, it's been a long time and you forget the details over time. Anyway, he didn't last long and got invalided out within a year. Back then you could get mustered out, but once we were 18 months in there was no going back home for the rest of us. I don't miss Terra that much, which makes it easier to sleep at night and I sometimes write a letter home. Pro tip: writing a letter every so often keeps you out of psych evaluation class.

Oh, and don't mention any ongoing problems with your family in the letters -- you learn that the hard way. I think the best thing I've done since I got into the Force has been saving the Sarge's life on Throatan 17. A giant Throatan Lizard had Sarge almost all the way into its mouth and I managed to cut her out through the front of that thing. I was in decontamination for two weeks afterwards and Sarge lost an arm, but you can't put a price on that kind of experience. The worst thing is getting put on latrine duty, but since I saved the Sarge on Throatan I get to skip that chore. Sweet. Apart from that I'm a pretty ordinary kind of Trooper -- I like loud music, booze when we're on R&R, and comparing scars with the other R-Zeroes post planet. I'm down on the list to get training with a Flame-Gun and I hope that works out for me.

Are we done? Can I get back to my bunk now?

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