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Designer Diary: An Interview with Jay Little


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Posted 22 October 2008 - 04:43 AM

Recently Adolphus Altdorfer, well-known scholar from the Empire's grandest city and pen behind the Altdorf Correspondent leaflets, sat down with Jay Little, the new Senior RPG Developer for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, for a discussion. Adolphus was gracious enough to record the conversation to share with his fellow scholars.
Jay Little
Jay hard at work playtesting new ideas

The Altdorf Correspondent (TAC): Tell the readers a bit about yourself.

Jay Little: I've been an avid gamer for most of my life, and really enjoy the challenges that games provide — they really exercise your mind and creativity. I am also an active game collector. I have well over 650 board games in my collection, ranging from old school Games Workshop classics, some out of print rarities, and a large number of newer Euro and designer-style games. But as much as I enjoy board gaming, roleplaying has always been my true gaming love. My collection of rpgs used to be much larger, but right now hovers around 800 items — which includes different systems, supplements, sourcebooks, modules and accessories.

TAC: How and why did you start playing WFRP?

Jay: I actually got into Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay via Games Workshop's board games. My buddies and I were diehard Talisman and Dungeonquest players when I was younger. In fact, we played so often we literally wore out my first copy of Talisman 2nd edition. At the time, our roleplaying was essentially the D&D red box and a smattering of other games. When I saw a copy of the WFRP 1st Edition rulebook in my local hobby shop, I recognized the art style and setting so I picked it up and thumbed through it — that's when I first fell in love with it.

TAC: What was it that primarily attracted you to WFRP?

Jay: Initially, it was the artwork. The foreboding, eerie work of Wil Rees' “Shadows Over Bogenhafen” and John Blanche's “Hrothyogg's Tower” really grabbed my attention. And I had never played a game that was so dark and gritty. In other games, the player characters were always altruistic heroes who knew they were heroes. In Warhammer, it was immediately engaging to realize that you might just be a humble rat-catcher or pedlar trying to just stay alive — someone who more likely stumbled into a web of intrigue or dangerous encounter rather than a hero actively seeking fame and glory. That sort of mindset made for a very compelling game environment, and it really found traction with our players.

TAC: What does it mean to be a senior developer at FFG? What are your responsibilities?

Jay: In many ways, it's not all that different from being a good GM — just the sense of scale changes a bit. There's a lot of research, preparation and dedication required for both roles. Plus, you have to wear a lot of hats. As a GM, you're managing NPCs, adjudicating rules, developing storylines for your players, and trying to create a memorable experience. As a Senior RPG Developer, I'll be managing and working with freelancers and artists, clarifying and consolidating the rules system, fleshing out concepts that will grow into new, exciting WFRP products and working with Games Workshop to ensure that the roleplaying game lives up to their high standards and properly reflects the Warhammer setting, while also creating the most compelling, enjoyable gameplay experience we can muster.

TAC: What prompted you to apply for the job?

Jay: It was a no-brainer… A chance to work on a great game license like Warhammer and work for a great company like Fantasy Flight games? What's not to love? And the timing could not have been better. When Fantasy Flight first contacted me to discuss the position, I quickly realized it really was the perfect combination of factors.

TAC: What are your strengths as a developer?

Jay: I think my lifelong fanaticism for gaming is a big plus. I have a wide and varied background both playing and developing board games, card games and roleplaying games. With that broad base of experience, I think I do a good job of seeing “big picture” elements and anticipating how proposed rules/content will affect the game experience. I'm also excellent at playing the devil's advocate to really stress test concepts; I have a lot of experience as a rigorous playtester.

TAC: What is your favourite WFRP book?

Jay: That's a tough call. It's probably a tie between Tome of Corruption and Sigmar's Heirs. Both offer a lot of great flavor content to help bring the Old World to life, and both have lots of really neat plot ideas a GM can integrate into their game.

TAC: What is your favourite WFRP fan material?

Jay: Without a doubt it's A Compendious Guide to Old World Coachmen, the career pamphlet by Dave Allen. The Coachman is one of my favorite WFRP careers, and adding the different coaching lines and business elements to this thriving Old World industry adds a lot of depth and realism to the game.

TAC: What are your hopes for the future of WFRP?

Jay: To keep the Old World grim, dark and dangerous — the kind of place you wouldn't want to live, but as a player, you can't wait to visit (again and again). I'd like to really expand the player base and share my personal favorite roleplaying game with even more people around the world. The Warhammer games have some of the most dedicated fans and forumites for any game I've seen, and I'd love to find even more ways to interact with them and get great content into their hands. And of course, work on all those wonderful, secretive things that I can't share yet!

Thank you to Magnus Seter for setting up this interview for the Altdorf Correspondent and allowing Adolphus to spend some time with me.






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