Interview with Filamena Young

First off, let me thank you for taking the time to be interviewed for Fumbl. I truly appreciate you taking the time to talk with us, especially with your busy schedule.

No problem at all. Without dialogue and contact to the outside world, game designers can turn into very grumpy cave dwellers very quickly.

Could you please tell us about yourself: age, hobbies outside gaming, so on?

Age? Ouch. Well, I’m just over 30. Steven King says you can’t accomplish anything serious as a writer before that, so I’ll take it as a good thing. My hobbies include chasing my two kids around, erm, between that and writing, I have no time for much of anything else. I like the occasional video games. Minecraft and the Sims. That sort of thing.

Who have you worked for, what games have you worked on?

So I worked on supplements for Vampire, Werewolf, Hunter and Mage for the New World of Darkness Line for White Wolf. I did a little bit of work on Blood in Feraldyn for Green Ronin. I worked on the High School Yearbook for Margret Weis’s Smallville, and a lot of small stuff here and there, plus the three games my company has put out in the last few years.

How did you initially get into playing RPGs?

About a hundred years ago, when I was young, my parents got me an NES and the first Final Fantasy game. I was hooked, my friend and I spent hours playing it to completion with a Nintendo Power as our guide. Later, my dad gave me a friends old (incomplete) box set of AD&D. It didn’t have all the dice. That didn’t stop me. I GMed for some friends and it was love at first roll. Soon after, I was in highschool playing games probably more than I spent doing school work. (Whoops. Don’t do that, kids in school.)

What was the first gaming system you played in? Can you remember anything about your First Character? 

As a player, I started with AD&D. I played a pacifistic priestess of a fertility goddess. You can imagine, AD&D was not kind to the roleplaying leaning-type, but my group loved it, and we adapted things to fit that style quickly. It got very political and social very quickly.

Do you get to play in a campaign, how often do you play? When you do, what system do you normally play?

I haven’t played a real campaign since the Carter Administration. The closest I get are some longer running World of Darkness chat-style games. It’s a very strange animal and I don’t have much time for even that these days. There’s just too many games to try and too many games I want to make. I miss the five-year long games of my youth, but I know I couldn’t go back even if I wanted to.

What is your favourite character you have played, could you tell us something about them?

It would probably be easier for me to tell you which was my favorite child. When I first met my husband, I had a Requiem character. She was a horror writer, and didn’t have much patience for the sillier sort of vampire she met. It could get snarky, but ultimately, she ended her story heading off to seek vampire-nirvana. A lot of fun.

Do you have any funny gaming moments?  At least a year or two back, we played a semi regular Hunter game. My husband was running it, and all the players were ladies. We did a lot of clever things to handle monsters from a distance, none of us were front-line sort of killers. Ultimately, we decided that there was almost no monster that couldn’t be handled most easily than by hitting them with a truck. The mental hoops we jumped through to get all manner of evil monster into situations where we could hit them with a truck were hilarious. I highly recommend it to any monster-slayer out there. It’s my weapon of choice now.

Do you have any gaming superstitions? (Personally I won’t use a Dice in a game until its rolled 1000 times!)

I don’t think so. I do pay attention to a sort of, mmm… Feng Shui at the gaming table. Sometimes if players are sitting in the wrong place, you know, it’s just not going to flow as well. But that might be practical too. Put the mousey, quieter players nearer to the GM, the loud attention cravers further. That sort of thing.

How did you get started with Flatpack? Where did your inspiration come from?

I wanted a game I’d feel happy about my daughters playing when they’re old enough. I also looked at the sorts of things I wanted to do in a game, and rather than wait for someone else to do it, I did it myself.

Why should we play it? Does it bring anything new to our gaming?

I wanted to focus on non-violent conflict resolution, community building, and borrow back aspects from video games I thought were cool. My character advancement system, for example, is drawn from video game Achievements. You do X, your character is now a little bit better at Y. People seem to be really digging that.

Considering all of the items you’ve published throughout the years, what is the one thing you’re most proud of?

Aww, that’s not fair. I really really enjoyed writing fiction for Amaranthine, our second game, but there’s something about doing all of the development and writing for Flatpack that’s very exciting.

What’s a typical day in the life of Filamena in terms of preparing her own role playing campaign?

Prepare? I’ve heard of it. I don’t know that I’ve ever actually done it. I’ll sometimes write down some clues or plot hooks and NPC notes on index cards, but by and large, I’m a by-the-seat-of-my-skirt sort.

What’s the secret to being a good writer?

Sit down and do it. You can always fix it later. Talking about the processes, reading about it, that’s all cool, but a lot of people let that get in the way. Theory is only good if you apply it to practice. I’d rather be polished through practice than study. JD Salinger types only confuse me.

What do you think of the changes the way the RPG industry is currently changing, and heading towards more digital products?

Yay! More games is better than fewer. More games that break the same molds over and over. That’s the way to go.

What kind of new goodies are coming out from Machine Age Productions?

Aside from the million books I’ll be doing for Flatpack to go along with the Kickstarter, (three, at this point) We’re doing series three of Guestbook pretty much as we speak. Next up, and hopefully for Gencon of this year, David’s designing what he calls a ‘progressive post-fantasy’ game. I’m not sure how he’s going to unpack that statement yet, but he came up with calling Flatpack an ‘Optimistic Apocalyptic’ game, so I’m ready for the fun. I believe the scientific method will be a big part of the system. Also, archeology. Really. It’s gonna be cool.

What’s next for you?

Rumor has it I’ll be working on something that Margret Weis is rolling out now. (Its okay to be a little jealous.) I’m also likely going to be doing a game hack for Evil Hat’s Don’t Rest Your Head book of hacks. After that, it’ll be rushing to complete stuff for Gencon, and having a third kid in May. (Woo!) So basically, I have to type in my sleep to get it all done. But it’ll be worth it.

Do you have any other parting words for all of the gamers out there?

Yeah. We can make gaming better, safer, and bigger with room for all sorts of games and players. We can be welcoming and increase our numbers and make sure the industry thrives. There’s room for everyone, if we just make room.

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