RPG Industry Professional Interview: Tim Huckelbery
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Tim has been in the gaming industry since the early 90's, moving from one of the first Games Workshop Outriders to later working for the company for over a dozen years. An avid science fiction enthusiast, has a physics degree from MIT and served for ten years in USAF Space Command. After freelancing for several years on the Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay lines, he is now an RPG Producer at Fantasy Flight Games where he oversees the Dark Heresy and Black Crusade lines including the upcoming Dark Heresy Second Edition. His parents are still wondering when he will get a real job.

Tim is also a member of the RPG Geek community:
Tim Huckelbery
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1. RPG Designer: Tim Huckelbery
Board Game: Euchre
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Any other gamers in your family? How did you get into the hobby?

Not so much. We did play lots of family games though, especially card games like Euchre as my folks are both from the midwest.

College was really where I got into gaming. We had Zork running on the school computers, and I got to playtest some of the early Infocom games there too (to really date myself). I got into tabletop games there too, like Illuminati and of course D&D.

After graduation, there were many of us in our USAF squadron who played a lot of board games, especially Axis & Allies and Risk. We also did a lot of Paranoia (1st Edition), which was fun as we had huge hulking IBM mainframes as part of our job. Some of the contractors (who also played) would cut out images of “The Computer” to put on top of the terminals.

We discovered Talisman and The Fury of Dracula, and then started looking for more stuff by this neat little company called Games Workshop. It was while I was in Space Command that I wrote my first professional RPGs really, developing and running space operations training and evaluation simulations. This was really fun stuff, mixing computerized inputs via telemetry & video displays, other people playing NPCs, physical stimuli (like a “suspicious object” located in the room), and lots of GM roleplaying to act as all the other people the crew would talk to on the other side of the headsets.

I got strongly into miniatures gaming with Space Hulk way back in the late 80’s, then all the other GW miniatures games. I was one of the first Outriders, and liked it so much that I later joined GW in Convention Support. I spent around 13 years with then doing all sorts of jobs, and while there started working as a freelance writer for the new Dark Heresy line in 2006. This continued when GW licensed that and other games to Fantasy Flight Games. After several more years more freelancing for all the 40k Roleplay lines, I then came over to FFG just over 3 years ago. I’ve been working mostly Dark Heresy and Black Crusade since then, with some smatterings across other games including Star Wars. I’ve also done some stuff in a few of the board games, writing flavor text and whatnot.
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2. RPG Item: Rocketship Empires 1936 [Average Rating:7.88 Unranked]
RPG Item: Rocketship Empires 1936
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Did any of your previous jobs or education help you become a game designer?

I spent a lot of my military career in training and evaluation work, where we created realistic simulations and scenarios to test the operations crews, or huge events where the entire base or several bases played out the test over several days. So I learned all about managing stimuli and expected responses, how to deal when a group deviates from a script, and other bits that have been very useful in rpg development. These were interesting as they were purely diceless too—you either did the task correctly, or you didn't; the scenario monitors would then have to judge what the outcome was to be. Was the satellite fixed properly? Will the rocket get into space today? No blaming bad dice rolls for your character dying here.

Education-wise, my physics degree has been really handy at times! There is nothing like a strong science background to create great pseudo-science weapons and gizmos, or doing reality checks to ensure the science is correct and consistent for the setting.
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3. RPG Item: Dark Heresy [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:155]
RPG Item: Dark Heresy
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Microbadge: Ultimate Image UploaderMicrobadge: Ultimate ReviewerMicrobadge: 2020 Ultimate SupporterMicrobadge: Ultimate RPG Uploader - This user has 500+ entries and is in the RPG Geek Hall of Fame!Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.
What was the first project you worked on? What was that like?

The original Dark Heresy actually. I had been the US Brand Manager for Black Library while at Games Workshop, so I had some good contacts with GW’s publishing wing. When I’d mentioned to Marc Gascoigne (then head of Black Library—hi Marco!) that it would be cool to do the proverbial “in-universe” armoury book, he mentioned they were working an actual 40K RPG, and would I be interested in writing the armoury chapter? That’s how it started really—nothing beats good timing and insider connections!

It was really fun and exciting. Everyone had been waiting for a 40k roleplay game since the original Rogue Trader came out, and we were all quite thrilled to be working on it. I didn’t have a real scope for what was needed, so I wound up writing up armoury items covering everything from digital weapons to macro-cannons and Titans. So much was left over that I was using bits from those manuscripts in other books for years to come!

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4. RPG: Dark Heresy (2nd Edition) [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:134]
RPG: Dark Heresy (1st Edition)
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Microbadge: Ultimate Image UploaderMicrobadge: Ultimate ReviewerMicrobadge: 2020 Ultimate SupporterMicrobadge: Ultimate RPG Uploader - This user has 500+ entries and is in the RPG Geek Hall of Fame!Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.
What’s the most recent project you’ve worked on and what’s great about it?

Dark Heresy 2nd Edition. It’s been a real pleasure and honor to work on upgrading the original game, and creating an entire new location for it to boot. Working with Andy Hoare in bringing the Askellon Sector to life has been great fun, and we can’t wait to show it off to everyone. The other really fantastic thing about the new edition is the art and the way our ace graphic designer, Taylor Ingvarsson, has melded it all into the book so that it really looks like something out of the grim darkness of the 41st Millennium. We really tried to capture the madness of the game setting, especially the hugely inspirational art of John Blanche, and I think we got it.
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5. RPG: Call of Cthulhu (2nd - 6th Edition) [Average Rating:8.17 Overall Rank:2]
RPG: Call of Cthulhu (2nd - 6th Edition)
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What games influenced you?

Paranoia (1st Edition), Call of Cthulhu, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1st Edition) mostly. I really love a good mix of horror, insanity, sci-fi, and black humor. All of these were great inspirations for Dark Heresy and Black Crusade, my favorite settings to work in.
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6. Board Game: Warhammer 40,000: Battle for Macragge [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:4885] [Average Rating:6.62 Unranked]
Board Game: Warhammer 40,000: Battle for Macragge
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Microbadge: Ultimate Image UploaderMicrobadge: Ultimate ReviewerMicrobadge: 2020 Ultimate SupporterMicrobadge: Ultimate RPG Uploader - This user has 500+ entries and is in the RPG Geek Hall of Fame!Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.
What are you playing right now or most recently?

Right now I’m doing more board and miniatures games, taking a bit of a breather. We’re getting into the new edition of the 40k miniatures game here; I’ve got my Necrons on my desk and ready to rumble. One thing I really like about working here is because there are so many different types of games we do, when there are playtest games happening there is always something new to try!

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7. Board Game Designer: Jason Little
Board Game Designer: Jason Little
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Microbadge: Ultimate Image UploaderMicrobadge: Ultimate ReviewerMicrobadge: 2020 Ultimate SupporterMicrobadge: Ultimate RPG Uploader - This user has 500+ entries and is in the RPG Geek Hall of Fame!Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.
Who is one of your favorite RPG Designers?

Just one? If I have to pick one right now, I’ll go with Jay Little. His work on WFRP and now with the Star Wars RPG is really inspirational.
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8. RPG Item: Paranoia [Average Rating:7.56 Overall Rank:197]
RPG Item: Paranoia
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Microbadge: Ultimate Image UploaderMicrobadge: Ultimate ReviewerMicrobadge: 2020 Ultimate SupporterMicrobadge: Ultimate RPG Uploader - This user has 500+ entries and is in the RPG Geek Hall of Fame!Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.
What RPG do you wish you had designed?

Paranoia. I absolutely love the game, and once our old Space Command group started playing it was really hard to play another other roleplay game. It’s fun and definitely doesn’t take itself seriously, which is also rare for science-fiction. For me, it also answered that important question at the heart of all rpg’s, namely “why in the heck are our characters doing such insanely dangerous things for reasons that seem insane?” The answer being, of course, that to do otherwise is even more insanely dangerous, and the person giving the directions is utterly insane.
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9. Board Game: Illuminati [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:2918]
Board Game: Illuminati
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Microbadge: Ultimate Image UploaderMicrobadge: Ultimate ReviewerMicrobadge: 2020 Ultimate SupporterMicrobadge: Ultimate RPG Uploader - This user has 500+ entries and is in the RPG Geek Hall of Fame!Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.
What non-RPG (either card, board, or video) games do you play?

Illuminati is still one of my all time favorite games. Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game is dead brilliant fun; I’ve never had a game that didn’t come down to the wire. Talisman, and Relic as well now. I actually really enjoy Euchre, Spades, and other “normal” card games too. We’ve been playing the new Firefly board game a lot here as well. Warhammer 40,000 miniatures game of course. Probably lots of others I’m blanking on at the moment.
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10. RPG Item: Damnation Decade [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:4178]
RPG Item: Damnation Decade
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Microbadge: Ultimate Image UploaderMicrobadge: Ultimate ReviewerMicrobadge: 2020 Ultimate SupporterMicrobadge: Ultimate RPG Uploader - This user has 500+ entries and is in the RPG Geek Hall of Fame!Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.
If you had to point someone to an overlooked RPG product, what would that be?

Damnation Decade. I'm very much a child of the 70's and love how much this book shares my fond memories of those years; everything about it captures the essence of 70’s pop culture perfectly. It's great fun to read as well, which for me is as important as it being a fun game. I buy a lot of rpg books that I fully expect to never play, purely as it looks like a fun book to read. I love how all of the various sub-plots and sections offer small bits of the overall story. I can pull it down off the shelf and just enjoy reading the backstory while humming some Bowie. Outstanding stuff!
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11. RPG Item: The Rotten Apple: Manhattan [Average Rating:4.75 Unranked]
RPG Item: The Rotten Apple: Manhattan
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Microbadge: Ultimate Image UploaderMicrobadge: Ultimate ReviewerMicrobadge: 2020 Ultimate SupporterMicrobadge: Ultimate RPG Uploader - This user has 500+ entries and is in the RPG Geek Hall of Fame!Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level VI -  Is six any more shiny? ... Well, it's one shinier isn't it? ... Okay, why don't you just make five a bit more shiny and then that would be the most shiny? ... Because these go to six.
*Bonus Question* What are you drinking right now?

I had a really good day at work today, with some outstanding news, so I’m treating myself to a nice Manhattan. Two cherries
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