Interview: Martin Ericsson (White Wolf’s Lead Storyteller)

(Versão em Português aqui)

The Cronistas das Trevas team proudly presents an exclusive interview with White Wolf’s Lead Storyteller Martin Ericsson. Here we glimpse a bit more into mr. Ericsson’s plans for the World of Darkness and the future of White Wolf itself.


Martin Ericsson, o Tzimisce e Lead Storyteller da White Wolf.

Martin Ericsson: First: What is White Wolf as a company? What are we doing right now? We’re a storytelling licensing company operating in any and all media formats. We own and develop some of the most mature and elaborate story-worlds in existence, notably our beloved World of Darkness and Exalted. Right now we are updating the World of Darkness setting and rules for a new century and for many forms of expression, including TV and computer games.

Creatively we’re hard at work developing the metaplot and new look for WoD. 12 years have passed. Our world as well as the dark one hidden just out of sight has changed fundamentally. Is Theo Bell and Victoria Ash still alive? What role does the Sabbat play in the war in the Middle East? Where are the Garou as the icecaps melt? How do vampires hide among us in an age of omnipresent surveillance and totalitarian military-industrial government?  

On the business and project front we’re looking far and wide to find the best collaborators who would love to create daring works set in this contemporary World of Darkness. We’re not primarily a games publisher or developer, we’re world builders and brand champions and work with licensees who can under our guidence deliver great products based on our universe under. For instance we work very closely with computer games studios and publishers to create thoughtful and mature digital interpretations of the World of Darkness. We make sure their plot, tone, themes and characters match our evil plans for other products and create a tightly woven metaplot tapestry crossing products, media and even game lines. Our sister company Paradox Interactive is a great partner for developing and publishing digital games with but we are not bound to any specific partners by default so based on what a game would need we would make sure to work with the right developer and publisher. Same thing in regards to potential TV-series where we would love to create it with a kick-ass script-writer / creative or studio and  then get it broadcasted it on HBO or Netflix. Same thing with everything really, work with the best talent that makes the World of Darkness justice.

Publishing

1- Are the plans to sell the books on physical retailers still valid, both for WoD and CofD?

ME: Right now we work with Onyx Path and By Night Studios in producing tabletop books. We don’t dictate how or where these books are sold, that’s up to our licensees, even if we have some opinions. Going forward we would love to have a broader distribution and you can see our first attempts at this as we create digital editions of the classic back-catalogue for sale on Amazon and such. And whenever it makes sense for our customers as well as good business we would love working with partners with a flair for physical distribution.

2- Does White Wolf have any crowdfunding plans for its WoD games (analog and digital ones)?

ME: We don’t have any active plans for those, but our licenses may. Notably both Onyx Path and BNS are very good at running kick starters.

3- Are there any plans to release new (original) content to WoD, say, a new game line (another major supernatural splat or a minor one such as Ghouls)?

ME: Yes.

4- On the interview, you mentioned that you like the suspense around new publications. Does that mean you intend to abandon the Open Development process for future WoD books?

ME: Open dev is a method Onyx Path likes to use for their reissues of nostalgia products. It’s absolutely great for that.

5- Are there any plans to make use of OPP’s writers on WoD projects, given that many have a long-standing record of contribution towards making the cWoD keep on going strong?

ME: When looking for writers we simply look for stellar quality of innovation, design and writing. There are really amazing writers who worked on WW products in the past but we also want to work with new talented writers. Whoever we think is best of the product and the story in the end.

CofD

6- According to the clarifications made to the Imagonem interview, can we expect any CofD support other than keeping OPP writing the books? Transmedia might not be the right path for CofD but, are there not other plans for it?

ME: The main reason for separating the two WoD brands was to avoid brand confusion. Right now OPP has full care of CofD and instructions to keep it as a sandbox tabletop RPG brand, but hey, things may change in the future.

7- Does White Wolf intend on translating (or selling translation rights) the CofD to other languages?

ME: We’re open to licensing to any partner that wants to do that, yes.

Opinion

8- How do you assess the current RPG “scene”, nowadays? [Feel free to comment on market, brands, whatever aspects you wish]

ME: There is a whole new audience coming into tabletop RPG’s right now. Adults that have never played (or not played in a long time) but see the tabletop experience as social, exciting and more genuine experiences that for instance computer games. They have no or very few preconceived ideas about what a TPRG should be like but seem to gravitate towards games that feel ”not geeky”. I think we have the perfect setting for them as long as we introduce it carefully and don’t overwhelm them with complex rules and huge settings.

9- Does White Wolf or Paradox (whoever is responsible for this) plan to invest on marketing campaigns for both (WoD and CofD) lines?

ME: White Wolf is the owner of  the brands so we already do some marketing efforts like sponsoring the Grand Masquerade in New Orleans and other things. And naturally a licensee partner would market the ir products on when released. But if you means specifically the line of books we currently work a lot with extending the availability and ease of use of them.

10- Are you taking any kind of lesson or elements from CofD and using it to WoD’s benefit?

ME: Personally I love a lot of the CofD, but I’m very careful not to mix the settings any more than they are already mixed. That being said Damnation City (for Requiem) is one of the best Vampire: The Masquerade supplements ever written. But as I’m careful to point out CofD was a reboot from principles comparable to the Sci-Fy incarnation of Battlestar Galactica, WoD is a direct continuation of the classic WoD metaplot, set after more than a decade of silence and radical change. Kinda like the Doctor Who relaunch if you want a comparison.  

11- What do you make of Brazil in the tabletop and digital gaming scene, and how does it stand on the current White Wolf plans?

ME: Brazil always comes up in our meetings and plan 🙂 The whole of south America is a very interesting market where we need to do a lot better in the future and all the emails we get from fans as well as potential business partners from the region really affirms that goal.

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Digital Games

12- Can we expect MMO games or only single-player/local-multiplayer ones?

ME: We work in all genres that are appropriate. We’re concerned mostly with finding partners that meet our exceptionally high standards of quality. What we approve simply depends on the pitches we receive and how well those ideas match with our grand plans. Sometimes we ask for specific pitches but we do get a lot of great pitches and ideas sent to us as well.

13- How does White Wolf see this not-so-recent trend in which many Online Multiplayer games are free but offer customization/faster advancement through microtransactions? Can we expect MTs in the upcoming digital games?

ME: Free to play is one of the biggest economical drivers on the computer games market today, with those games making as much or more than the traditional AAA boxed games. Again, it depends on the quality and design of said micro transaction based games. I see no real difference in quality between the two revenue models anymore.

14- Will the fanbase get a chance to contribute to the creation of the upcoming digital games?

ME: We’re methodically and consciously creating a dark world where our players are participants. We believe in opening digital games up for used-generated content, mods, active storytelling and to maybe even allow player choices to directly affect the metaplot and what characters live or die!

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To all you WoD and CofD fans reading this interview, we would very much like to hear your thoughts on this. Leave us a comment below or reach us through our Facebook Page!

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