Triple Ace Games Interview

By on June 24, 2008
Go Play Espionage!

1. Firstly, congratulations on setting up Triple Ace Games, but what made you decide to strike out, away from PEG?

Paul “Wiggy” Wade-Williams (W): Thanks, Dave. I’d also like to say thanks on behalf of everyone at TAG for taking the time to interview us.

Well, I’d like to say it was the lure of more money, but this is the RPG industry (laughs). It was a complex situation. At the end of the day, my leaving PEG’s employment gave me chance to get projects close to my heart out in print (like Necropolis 2350) and try new ideas.

Shane still has a stack of products I wrote, so my name will live on with PEG a little long, anyway. And I’ll be around on the forums, of course, drumming up business for TAG.

Robin Elliot (R): Hi Dave and thanks for taking an interest in Triple Ace Games!

Leaving PEG was a difficult decision for me especially after I had invested so much into re-designing the look of Savage Worlds, but the opportunity to build something new with Dave and Wiggy was a chance I could not miss out on.

Dave Blewer (D): Hi Dave,

I think for me it was just “time”. I have worked in one form and another for Pinnacle for several years now. The release of Sundered Skies had also raised my profile just a tad. So, I took advantage of the reorganisation of Pinnacle to try something independent. The fact that Wiggy, Rob, and I work so well together helped make the decision an easy one.

2. You’ve been a prolific writer and producer of material, is that likely to change now that you’re your own boss?

W: Not so much my own boss as one of three equal partners. Rob Elliott and Dave Blewer put up the hard cash we needed to get going (I supplied a ton of material and two IPs) and we’re all in this together. Technically, I hold the same position I did at PEG and nothing more.

As for writing, I’ll have to write even more now! I’m still writing as a full-time job, so it’s important to get the products out to the fans so I can make a living. Our production team are all ex-Pinnacle, and the fans know our names and quality of our work, so we hope that’s a boon.

R: Wiggy is a prolific writer indeed and I find it exciting to work with someone who continually turns in such great work! What’s really great is I get to design the final product from Wiggy’s or Dave’s writing and hopefully add the cool touches that help sell a product. We are also lucky to have the chance to work with some top artists and create a really professional looking product.

D: Can I disagree there? Wiggy is being far too modest. We all have an equal say in the direction and goals of TAG. He is in no way just a source of words for us. Now get back to work Wiggy!

3. What are we likely to see from Triple Ace Games in the future?

W: Lots would be the honest answer. We own the IP to Sundered Skies, Necropolis, and my fantasy setting, and we intend to support these with Companions, figure flats, and adventures. In fact, the Sundered Skies PDF setting, Player’s Guide, and figure flats are already for sale at www.tripleacegames.com.

We also fully own the Necropolis IP, as well. Necropolis 2350 (that’s the new title, folks) has gone to Studio 2 and hopefully in the shops for September sometime. Coming in the same month will be a range of figure flats.

We’ve also got a line of PDF pulp adventures called Daring Tales of Adventure in production. The first issue should be out soon, with regular issues to follow. Although fans can use their own characters, we’ve created four pre-generated heroes, around whom the adventures are based, with all the advancement from 20 to 100 XP mapped out. This makes them great for pick up games or convention play, as all the GM has to do is read the adventure before play begins. He’ll know the characters are a perfect match.

We’re also supporting our lines with a lot of freebies from our website. These help fans learn something about the setting before they buy, and for those who purchase the products they’re a way of saying thanks for their support. Necropolis, for instance, has something like 32 pages of free material already written. That isn’t one product, mind you. I think it’s something like ten smaller files covering a variety of topics.

R: I can only echo Wiggy’s statement, we are going to get a lot done! Something we think the SW fans deserve. Expect to see more as the weeks develop – we can’t be too detailed in what’s happening in 2009 but we are planning something big!

D: One of the things which really excites me about this opportunity is the chance to expand on the world and themes of Sundered Skies. Beyond the Companion, I have a series of PDF (for now) scenarios planned which will explore the aims and motivations of the various cabals and secret societies in the Skies.

4. PDFs are considered by some to be the future for small companies, will Triple Ace Games’ print releases be accompanied by supporting PDFs?

W: That’s certainly the plan. Obviously we’ll be producing player guides and figure flats for our settings, as well as PDF copies of the printed books. Our Companions and adventures will all be PDF, at least initially. As with any new venture, what we can do boils down to money. If the fans like our products and support us through purchases, we’ll have more resources to look at print runs. But just to clarify, we do intend to produce regular print books as well as publish PDFs.

R: A healthy mix of both ebooks and print books is my motto. With our print partners in the States we continue to bring the setting hardbacks to the fans and support them with regular ebook releases.

5. Necropolis has been your baby, are you excited about seeing it in print – and updated? What should we be looking for in the Necropolis Update 2351-55?

W: Well, I actually have a full-colour, hardcover copy of the original file on my shelf, but yes, seeing it released as a full print run through Studio 2 with brand new art and a cool new layout is very exciting. It’s not so much updated as cleaned. I spoke to a few of the hardcore Necropolis fans from the PEG forum in private, trawled through the Q&As for errata, and had three or four folk read the text for errors. It won’t be error free (we’re all human), but hopefully a lot of the bugs are gone without introducing new ones.

Necropolis was always written with an expanding timeline in mind. As the name implies, the 2351-55 Update starts that process with new gear, vehicles, necromantic technology, monsters, and setting rules, more adventures, and expanded background material. The gear is all dated, so the GM can drip feed it into his campaign as time progresses.

The Third Reformation Church also makes a startling announcement in 2351. Although many readers might not initially think it’s anything “wow,” it has pretty serious repercussions for the future timeline and demonstrates that all is not well on Salus. If the fates allow, I’m hoping to get two more print books out for Necropolis over the next few years, as well as more adventures and add-ons.

I’m hoping the forthcoming adventures will help dispel myths that Necropolis is purely a military setting and can’t handle any other type of play. The war, and thus the military aspect, is very important, which is why the main setting book focuses on it. But that’s not the be all and end all of the game by any stretch of the imagination.

R: The latest version of Necropolis is something I have enjoyed working on. It’s a strong product and deserves a new look and the sci-fi illustrations we have for the book are amazing! Make sure you check out our site and download the desktop wallpaper for your workstation – you may not get too much work done though!

6. Now that you’re a publisher in your own right, are we likely to see you on the convention circuit, even if only in the UK to begin with?

W: The biggest thing stopping me attending is the cost of travel. I’m up on Shetland (where we have a thriving gaming community), so to get anywhere I need to hop on a plane to Aberdeen or Edinburgh. Then you’ve got travel to wherever the con is being held. I’m hoping try and get to one convention a year, though, but that’ll start next year. Of course, there’s always the chance I’ll be invited to attend as a guest.

That said, Rob and Dave will be hitting the convention circuit with a stand, and Shane McLean has volunteered to help demo our products at conventions as well. TAG will definitely have a presence at UK cons.

R: Expect us at many conventions across the UK. Something I feel is very important to the fans is to get out there and talk to them and find out what they like and what they want to see. TAG is committed to listening to the fans and getting them what they need.

D: I love going to cons. I enjoy meeting the fans and hearing what they have done with our settings. Expect to see me next at CONcrete Cow in Milton Keynes which is late September.

7. Will Triple Ace Games be open to submissions from interested parties and, if so, what sort of things would interest you?

W: Right now we need to focus on establishing our lines and showing the fans we mean business. Initially we’re only looking for folk who want to write the equivalent of PEG’s One Sheets, and then only for our current lines. This isn’t a paying gig, but it does serve a very important purpose – we get to see your raw writing ability. I’d consider it a vital step on the learning curve for budding writers.

Fans are welcome to post their ideas on our forum, of course. Posters retain their copyright. We may even like an idea and want to use it ourselves. And larger fan projects are welcome. Jeffrey Womack has already written us some Necropolis material, which we’ll be hosting on our website later in the year when the book is out.

That said, we’re always open to possibilities. The worst we’ll say to a proposal is, “No thanks.”

R: There will be information about how folk can get involved. Watch www.tripleacegames.com for information on that soon.

D: I am going to stick my neck out here and ask people to send me their One Sheet Proposals. In a way I hope that I come to regret doing so (laughs).

8. You’ve hinted at a fantasy line. Are you willing (and able) to let slip any more information?

W: Able, yes. Willing, not really, I’m afraid. The first books are written, but they haven’t even been edited yet. Again, we hope to make this into a supported line, with further print books, PDF books, and adventures, but right now it’s all in the early stages.

R: When we are closer to release then you will find out about it—all I can say is you won’t be disappointed by this!

D: I am very excited about this project… Uhm, that’s all I am allowed to say however :)

9. As someone who has worked his way through the different layers of the “industry”, do you have any hints or tips for others who are keen to do the same?

W: Be bold – RPG companies won’t come to you. Accept criticism – most RPG companies have been around a while and they know their stuff. Always write to the best of your ability, always keep lines of communication open, and always, always meet deadlines. If you plan to write purely for the money, you’re writing for the wrong reason. Finally, accept the fact that your idea might not be the Next Big Thing or might need big changes to make it marketable.

R: Don’t – find a paying gig! If you still find the allure of the games industry too attractive then well, get involved – hanging around the edges is not going to get you noticed. Also meet deadlines – here is nothing more disappointing when an artist/writer flakes on me. Be prepared for hard work with little recognition!

D: Well I can only agree with the other two here but will add, don’t do it for the money, don’t do it for the kudos, do it because you want/have too. The accepting criticism point is a very good one.

10. And finally… will the secret of the colour code in Pirates of the Spanish Main ever be revealed?

W: To misquote Father Jack (from the Father Ted TV series, for your overseas readers), That would be a Pinnacle matter. Believe it or not, I don’t even know the answer to the colour code!

R: Bribes can be forwarded to…….

D: There’s a colour code?

About Dave McAlister

Dave has been roleplaying for over 30 years, having played and/or run most mainstream systems with the espionage genre being an early favourite. So much so that, in 1999, he started Modus Operandi. That same year he joined the Sarbreenar "Living" campaign team as their plotline controller before moving across to the Living Spycraft campaign team (as UK Regional Branch Director) in 2003. 2003 also saw the birth of UK Role Players as well as Dave's first (and, so far, only) freelance appointment (co-writing World Militaries and consulting on both US Militaries and Battlegrounds, all for Spycraft). Since then, Dave has concentrated on supporting the UK gaming scene. He has organised and run several small, one-day, events and was the RPG Area Manager for Gen Con UK in 2004. He is currently the webmaster for Conception as well as, of course, UK Role Players. His current favourite systems are Savage Worlds and Cinematic Unisystem. He blogs at dave.mcalister.org.uk.

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