So what is the man who churns out 1,000s of pages of game material every year (and I’m not exaggerating – even other game designers mention Steve’s prolific writing ability) like? Studious and focused. Steve has a definitive vision for the products he loves and doesn’t mind rolling up his sleeves and making things happen. The most striking example of this is the founding of DOJ by Steve and Darren Watts to purchase the rights to the various Hero System Properties, rescuing the properties from the somewhat misunderstood and poorly received Fuzion system era (Steve personally felt that the original Fuzion system had promise, but there were numerous changes over the development of the rules that diverged from what fans loved about the system).
Just talking with the Steve, you have to respect the man’s approach to his job. He works to understand what his fan base really wants and then works to deliver it – no matter how many pages it requires. When asked how he manages to churn out so much content, Steve chuckles, “I have no life. I sit around and write.” That said, Steve acknowledges that there is an industry trend towards larger and larger RPG books, something he attributes to the increasing maturity of the industry and gamers just looking to get more value out of their gaming materials.
With regards to Hero in particular, Steve is fairly humble about the continued success of the line, “There’s just something about the system that appeals to a certain type of gamer.” And clearly, the release of the sixth edition of the Hero System rules has been a complete and total success, selling out in numerous venues and the Character Creation Guide hitting #10 on RPG Countdown. And follow-up books have been no different, “The Advanced Player’s Guide has been a huge seller.” (not to mention hitting #3 on RPG Countdown) For those who have been with the Hero system for a while, I did ask if we would see as return of the Ultimate series. No luck – that content will continue to be incorporated into the core rulebooks as appropriate.
The purchase of Indie Press Revolution was one of those things that I had to ask Steve about (it’s kind of why they let met have a press badge at these things…). I decided to be blunt about it: People have said that Hero isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think story games – how does the purchase of IPR fit in? Steve was equally blunt in his response, “I think they’re wrong.” Steve is quick to point out that DOJ has been handling distribution for IPR for a year and a half already. That said, he’s got a solid sense of humor about the critics: “Every indie game needs hit points!” To be clear, Steve feels that the fit with IPR is a good one that expands DOJ’s reach and provides IPR with solid management and accounting. Even better, it improves the ability of IPR games to get into brick and mortar stores that might not have looked seriously at their titles in the past.
So what’s next for Mr. Long and Hero Games? The big releases at Origins were Champions Universe (which provides the long awaited who’s who for the popular Champions setting) and the Hero Bestiary (an absolutely massive tome covering every beasty you ever imagined and a few you probably didn’t at just under 500 pages). The new version of Fantasy Hero will be released at Gencon and the Equipment Guide, Grimoire, Champions Beyond and three (!!!) Champions villains books will release before the end of the year (I’m not kidding when I say Steve is probably the most productive man in the industry). And it just gets better from there; next year will see the re-release of Mythic Hero, Time Traveller Hero and Star Hero. If you thought the sixth edition of the Hero System was good, Steve and DOJ are just getting started.
Where will the interview itself be posted?