Colin McComb é um cara fora de série.
1- could you talk a little about you, your gaming history and how did you end up un TSR?
I started gaming when I was about 10 years old. My brother played D&D at a friend’s house, came home and raved about it, and shortly after that my mom showed up with an armful of D&D and AD&D stuff. We were instantly hooked, bought every new TSR product that came out, and had a blast.
I helped start a D&D club in school, played on the weekends, made up campaigns, and one day discovered that people got paid for designing games. I thought that would be the coolest job in the world, but I never thought I’d actually get a shot at it.
I stopped playing for a couple years in high school, but started up again in college, falling in with a group of like-minded friends (aka other nerds), and we spent most every weekend running one sort of game or another. (One of them was such a gamer that he owns his own game store - The Wizard’s Chest - in Denver now)
As my graduation date loomed, I wrote a letter to TSR to see if they were looking for any designs. I had the marvelous good luck to submit my letter just as a position had opened, and TSR sent me a writing test, and then invited me to Lake Geneva for an in-person writing test. I knocked out a test for them, interviewed with Jim Ward, and went home loaded down with Dark Sun stuff. I didn’t think I had a shot, but I got a call a few weeks later from Carole Hubbard, director of HR, telling me that my job was waiting when I graduated.
2- How about your works? The CBoElves was my favorite race/class book, and just now, i got Thunder Rift (i didnt knew it was yours). Can you tell us a little about your TSR past (in particular, the making of Dragon Montain and Thunder Rift).
My first project was a Dragonlance book - I didn’t know anything about Taladas at the time, and I’d been hoping to get onto the Forgotten Realms team, but I had a cover by Brom waiting for me. That was enough to get me excited about the project, and the team I was working with was fantastic.
My second project was “Islands of Terror”, a Ravenloft project, and then I believe it was the Complete Book of Elves (you can see my “apology” for it on YouTube!).
Dragon Mountain was a difficult project for me, and I have to give tremendous credit to my editor, Thomas Reid, for his assistance. It was the largest project I had been assigned to that point, and the sheer magnitude of it was daunting. Thomas helped enormously with design and maps of the mountain - it would have been a very different project without his input. We had a lot of fun making it, and we’re still very proud of the work and the public response to it.
Thunder Rift was originally intended to be a supplement to the big beginner boxes that TSR periodically produced to lure in new customers - a complete campaign setting in 32 pages! I was extraordinarily proud of the map I turned over to our cartography team - the legendary Dave Sutherland/Diesel/Dennis Kaufman team - and I was looking forward to their feedback.
You can imagine my chagrin when they pointed to the southern part of the map and said, “You know rivers don’t actually work like that, right?”
That was an important lesson to me to start getting at least a basic understanding of geography and geology (as well as hydrology) when world-building, and I’ll always be grateful that they didn’t make more fun of me as they delivered my education.
For the rest of the project - I wrote it quickly, discussing points with some of the other designers who would be working in the area. Many of the NPCs are based on TSR employees at the time, and I invite you to figure out who was who (in case I haven’t spilled the beans somewhere else on the internet!).
I have to admit that I was very surprised to discover how popular Thunder Rift is. I honestly never thought it would gain such a foothold in people’s imaginations, campaigns, and experiences, but I am overjoyed to discover I was wrong.
3- What do you think about gaming online? Is it enough to have online chat and video to have a great gaming experince?
I’ve only done it a few times (playtesting the Numenera setting, for instance). It’s certainly entertaining with the right GM, but I feel that it is missing some of the personal touch that makes gaming so entertaining.
It’s harder to read the people around you, and they’ve got their own distractions in their particular environments that are different from the distractions in yours. It’s a cool connection, but it needs a little something extra to recreate the true feeling of connectivity.
4- What about miniatures, music and "extra resources"? Do you use/used any?
I generally don’t use miniatures unless I’m engaged in a tactical game. When I’m playing a more story-based game, I generally find it easier to just a whiteboard, gaming paper, or similar dry-erase solution and draw the environment and situation freehand. I’ve always wanted to use music and other audio-visual resources, but the truth is that I tend to be more of a seat-of-the-pants GM, and I focus more on delivering the experience with my words and voice alone. Come to think of it, that’s probably part of what led me into game design in the first place...
5-What is the hardest thing, when talking about weriting RPG material?
One of the hard parts about talking about RPG writing is reminding newer writers that they are generally creating something generally perceived as a largely disposable product. We can pour our hearts and souls into our projects but our customers don't see the late nights and long hours. They see only the final work, and they do not have the same attachment to it that we do.
At the same time, as professionals we shouldn't fall into the cynical trap of churning out garbage assuming that our customers don't care. That's also a mistake. The trick lies in finding the balance between keeping yourself passionate for the work, but not so much so that you're deeply invested in every piece of feedback from every customer.
I'll let you know if I ever find that balance.
6-Could you tell us a little about your current works?
Sure thing! I’m currently the creative lead for inXile’s Torment: Tides of Numenera, the spiritual and thematic successor to an earlier project: Planescape: Torment.
By the time we release this game, I’ll have been focusing on it for four years. We’ve released some of it to our backers in an open beta earlier this year to great feedback, and have just run more demos for Gamescom.
It’s really gratifying to see the results so far.
In addition, I have my own company, 3lb Games, and we’re working on a number of different videogame projects for mobile, PC, and VR.
Finally, once I have a free moment, I plan to continue my Oathbreaker series.
All the best,