Wednesday, January 24, 2007

10 Questions Gareth Michael Skarka

This week we have Gareth Michael Skarka of Adamant Entertainment in to answer our 10 questions. Adamant Entertainment focuses on Pulp, Victorian and Superhero sourcebooks.

Shortly after this interview Gareth announced that he was taking a break from publishing because he had been diagnosed with skin cancer. Our thoughts are with Gareth and his family during this time and we hope for a speedy recovery so Gareth can get back to doing what he does best: making great games.

1. What do you see as the next big thing in gaming?

Sadly, I don't think there will be another"next big thing" in gaming....at least not "gaming" as we would recongize it. There has been a steady move further and furthertowards the mainstream of toys and games in the past few "Big Thing"cycles -- collectable cards leading to collectable figures, etc. Ithink that the next "big thing" is likely to turn out to be, inessence, a "small thing" in the overall toy and game market, ratherthan gaming-industry specific.

2. RPGNow and Drivethru recently merged. What do you think this meansfor the PDF market?

Overall, not too much, to be honest. The sites which have the most sales will still have the most sales, and smaller sites will occasionally sprout up. Some publishers will get all dramatic and claim that the sky is falling, while others will shrug and continue to produce and sell product. In the long run, it's the publishers, not the sales sites, that drive the success or failure of the PDF market. The sales sites are an incredibly important part of it, obviously, but realistically, if the largest sites disappeared entirely, one or more of the remaining sites would then take up the slack, and become the *new* largest sites. The most important thing, above everything else, are the products. As long as there is still product being released, and still demand among consumers, everything else is just details.

3. Related to question #1, where do you see PDFs specifically headedin the next year.

I expect the trend of rising sales to continue, as more and more consumers become used to the idea of digital content as entertainment media. Right now, most of our target market has grown to accept digital media in music (the proliferation of the iPod helped this immeasurably). Now, that same portability is starting to bleed into video. Broadcast networks are offering online streaming of TV shows, downloads through iTunes, etc. People are getting used to the idea of receiving their entertainment as a download. This helps the acceptability of PDF....although, in my opinion, to really take off, PDFs need to fully exploit their digital nature, and be more than just downloadable print content. It'll happen eventually.

4. Now look further into the future. Where do you see PDFs five years from now?

I expect that downloadable content will become a sizable segment of overall RPG sales -- possibly representing as high as half of all sales, if not more. This depends on several things: The accessability of a portable reader of some kind (similar to Sony's new eBook reader, but perhaps simply functionality added to a second or third generation of Apple's recently-announced iPhone -- adding "digital book reader" to the already-present functions of phone, internet browser, mp3 and video player), the strength of RPG sales in print, and whether or not PDF publishers make the effort to expand PDFs beyond merely being downloadable versions of books.

5. How did you get into the RPG business? What was your first job inthe industry?

I started working at a retailer in 1988....thenworking for a distributor. Then I started designing RPGs andself-published in 1993 ("Periphery" by Epitaph Studios). Since then,I've been freelancing for various publishers, both as a designer andas a business consultant. I started Adamant Entertainment initiallyas a design house in 2001. After we designed "Skull & Bones" forGreen Ronin, I launched it as a PDF publishing operation in 2003. Running Adamant has been my full-time occupation since 2004.

6. If you were just starting out today and were ready to try and breakinto the RPG business, what would be your first step?

To tell the truth, I would advise anyonethinking about it to think again -- most people who get into thisbusiness aren't really prepared (or interested, really) in gettinginto the business....they're just looking to be published. We really have far too many people who want to get in just as a hobby ora lark. Very few who are serious about making a professional attemptat it....and most don't honestly look at their motivations. Forpeople who just want to see their work published, I'd recommendsending product proposals to publishers who are open for submissions. Freelancing for established publishers, and learning the ropes thatway.

7. What was the first RPG you ever played?

My first RPG was TOP SECRET (the first editionby Merle Rasmussen, not the later "S.I." edition). I've been a Bondfan from childhood, and my friends gave me a copy of the game for my12th birthday. 6 months later, my family gave me a copy of the D&DBasic Set for Christmas.

8. What are you playing right now?

Currently, I'm a player in a 7th Sea campaign,and now that the new year has started, I'm getting reading to startGMing a Mutants & Masterminds campaign.

9. If you couldsnag any licensed property for an RPG, what would it be?

That's a tough one. I have three "HolyGrail" game licenses, and it would be very difficult to choose betweenthem: Doctor Who, James Bond and Buckaroo Banzai.

10. What's coming up for you? Sell me something damnit!

The two biggest things we've got coming up: We're finally going to be releasing MARS -- our swords-and-science RPGof planetary romance, designed by Lizard (who did "Iron Lords ofJupiter" in Polyhedron magazine). It will be a stand-alone rulebook,based on the d20 Modern system, and will be released in PDF, softcoverand limited edition hardcover. Later in the year, we'll be branching out from RPGs when we release anew quarterly magazine of pulp fiction, THRILLING TALES (yes, based onour acclaimed d20 pulp line). We're still ironing out details, butthe magazine will be featuring not only tales of original charactersin the pulp genre, but also new stories featuring classic longout-of-print pulp heroes and possibly a few high-profile licensedcharacters as well.


Thanks again Gareth. Check in next week when Mike Mearls and Preston Dubose will stop by to answer 10 questions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

11th Question: Does Skarka's spacebar not work?

Unless "inessence" "andself" are "HolyGrail" are cool Internet terms I don't know.

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