Welcome to another installment of Fandible Interviews! Today I have an interview with Filamena Young of Machine Age Productions – which should be a familiar name around these parts by now after we’ve played Maschine Zeit and interviewed David Young, the other half of the primary Machine Age Productions crew, back in December. Filamena and David have been busy since last we heard from Machine Age: we’re in the final few days of their Kickstarter campaign for Apotheosis Drive X, a Fate based Mecha RPG.Â
1) In your own words, what is Apotheosis Drive X about?
Humanity. Easy, right? A game about giant robots is really about humanity, naturally? Okay. That needs a little more, doesnâ€™t it? So in ADX you are playing the pilots and support crew that manage and use these huge robot war machines in a time in Earthâ€™s future history just on the brink of war. Is war inevitable? Can you force peace with a gun in your hand? What is the point of piloting a machine of war except to advance war? How does war escalate, and how far will the technology of killing go before someone finds a way to create real peace? During character creation, youâ€™re asked, â€˜why is humanity worth saving?â€™ and your characterâ€™s answer is a big part of ADX.
2) What will fans of Mecha stories get out of ADX?
Giant robots? Thatâ€™s weak. Okay, so it depends on why you come to Giant Robots. If you want hit boxes and thousands of points of damage, than maybe you wonâ€™t get much out of ADX. But if you like sweeping sixty enemy robots off the map with one shot, we gotcha covered. If you like dramatic robot damage, we make use of Fateâ€™s system to give you awesome descriptive battle damage like â€˜one glowing eye left.â€™ Or â€˜torn off leg.â€™ Whatâ€™s more, Fate lets us do macro level robot combat, and micro level interpersonal drama at the same time. Do you know an enemy pilot to be a teenage boy fighting against his will? Then why not psych him out instead of shooting him down! ADX can do that. Do you want to hop out of your robot and stick thermite bombs to the other robots legs? Yep. You can do that. (We had it happen in playtesting.) Additionally, we use troupe style play, so youâ€™ll have your pilots, but if you want, you may also play a number of support characters, so the scenes between combats can be intense and varied, which is one of my favorite things in the Mecha genre. The drama. 😀
3) I’ve never watched/read a mecha/anime/manga! What will I get out of this game?
Ultimately, these are war stories. We follow some of the tropes of the Mecha genre, but thereâ€™s no required reading/watching to play the games. If you have a rough handle on the idea that war sucks, but sometimes people find it necessary, youâ€™re good to get started playing ADX. Â This is really war drama, itâ€™s just that robots are a little more fun than tanks.
4) ADX is built around Fate Core. What were the design challenges and benefits of working with an established system?
You know, with a lot of other systems Iâ€™d have a good list of design problems for you? But Fate is so ideally suited to â€˜doing your own thingâ€™ that itâ€™s been great to work with. Easily in my top three game systems to mess around with. (And I like messing around with lots of systems.) Seriously, everyone reading this should mess with Fate some time. Â I think the biggest advantage to using Fate has been its versatility. As I said above, weâ€™ve really gotten a chance to do the dramatic side of giant robots blowing each other up. Â Fate combat goes really fast, and because it runs on narrative cues, (called aspects in the game.) You get really great visuals. Every action is on the table. Every consequence of those actions is easy to create on the fly with the system.
5) What makes ADX and FATE a good combination?
Well, ADX should be very visual, in my mind. Weâ€™re actually borrowing some limited mini rules from one of Fred Hicks blog posts and modifying it to suit our system. You donâ€™t need minis to play, but that visual angle, either with three dozen little robots on a zones map, or a dozen index cards with things like â€˜on fireâ€™ and â€˜bombed out mountain sideâ€™ or â€˜shifting sandsâ€™ really makes the scenes very dramatic. When we were discussing how to do ADX, we were watching a lot of Gundam and so on. While watching, we found ourselves very easily describing the combat and dramatic interpersonal scenes in terms of Fate. It was an easy fit.
6) This is possibly like asking you to pick a favorite child, but what supplemental setting has you the most excited?
It would be easier to tell you which is my favorite child. I want to run Princess Drive for my kids when theyâ€™re older. I am COMPLETELY enamored with Vimanakatha, though, and cannot wait to read it. Theyâ€™re all really cool, but those two directly sing to me.
(Editor’s Note: Filamena just named the two settings that I’m most excited about!)
7) What drives you to create games?
I make games because I want to play them. Itâ€™s really that selfish. I keep finding myself saying â€˜this is cool, but isnâ€™t quite what I want to do.â€™ Or â€˜I love this setting, why hasnâ€™t anyone used this in a game?â€™ My answer to those questions is always, â€˜I could do this.â€™ And I do it, really, so I can play it.
8) Can we get a glimpse of what Machine Age Productions has coming up after ADX?
Weâ€™ve got a couple of things weâ€™re discussing. Weâ€™ve always got more Micro Games brewing, (Iâ€™m working on something that takes one player in a group and shows him or her the frustration of being the princess-to-be-rescued.) As for a big release, Iâ€™ve gotten the frame work down for a procedural style crime drama, think like your Law and Order show with police and lawyers and CSI types. The main difference being that Iâ€™m going to put it in a fantasy setting. If it works out, it should be a blast.
9) Anything else you’d like to add?
These were great questions, and I wanted to thank you for giving me a chance to talk about this game I love so much! The art is going to be amazing, and if you get a chance, you should check it out at our Kickstarter.Â Â No pressure to back, but if you like what you see, and know fans of drama, war stories, and humanity, you should let them know weâ€™re out there!
No, thank you Filamena! Apotheosis Drive X’s Kickstarter runs for three more days and is less than $1000 from unlocking new stretch goals for even more supplemental settings. And at $15,500 we’llÂ all get a brand new free setting written by Filamena herself. So check it out, back if you can, and share if you’re excited about this newest edition to the library of Fate games.
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