Interview – White Wolf Publishing

White Wolf Publishing is best know for its World of Darkness line of RPGs. The following interview was answered by four people:

Bill Bridges - Long-time White Wolf developer, most notably Werewolf, Mage, and Promethean

Matt Milberger – Long-time White Wolf art director, everything across the board

Eddy Webb – Alternative products developer, breaking us into new fields bravely and boldly

Rich Thomas – White Wolf’s creative director for many years

Starting off with a more personal question, White Wolf Publishing has been around since 1991 and, in 2006, merged with CCP Games. What keeps you going? What keeps you enthusiastic about working in the RPG industry?

Bill Bridges: Always a new opportunity and a host of challenges to keep the mind honed and the imagination pumped.

Matt Milberger: I’ve been with WW since 1994 as an intern, and full time since ’95, and what keeps me going is seeing all the cool stuff we do on a day to day basis. When I first started, it was the surprise of what’s in the box from the freelancer, to what are the cool sketches I am going to see from the artists I have contracted as an art director, to seeing what the artists produce on (unannounced project). Art is what drew me to the industry and its keeps me coming back.

Eddy Webb: The RPG industry is in an exciting place at the moment. A lot of things we’ve been wanting to try as a company for years we’re now in a better place to make a reality, both due to updates in technology and in having a strong technological resource in our coworkers from CCP.

Rich Thomas: I’m not even going to say when I got into the RPG industry, but there’s something amazing about it that hasn’t changed in all those years. There’s no other business that not only brings out and rewards creativity in the creators but in the fans as well in the same way. Knowing that the game you’ve devoted your excellence to is going to evoke a similar response in the GMs and players is pretty heady stuff.

In 2005, Vampire: The Requiem (Best Interior Art and Best Supplement; Silver Winner for Best Interior Art; Gold Winner for Best Supplement), World of Darkness Ghost Stories (Best Interior Art), Werewolf: The Forsaken (Best Production Values), World of Darkness Core Book (Best Writing and Best Game; Silver Winner for Best Writing, Silver Winner for Best Game), and Danse de La Mort parts 1-8 (Best Free Product or Web Enhancement and Best Electronic Product) were nominated. You were also up for Best Publisher.

In 2006, Pendragon Fifth Edition (Best Cover Art), VII (Best Cover Art, Best Writing, Best Adversary/Monster Product), Mage: The Awakening (Best Writing; Gold Winner), Mage: The Awakening Demo (Best Free Product or Web Enhancement; Silver Winner) and Return to the Tomb of Five Corners (Best Free Product or Web Enhancement) were nominated.

In 2007, Ptolus – City by the Spire (Best Cartography, Best Setting, Best Production Values, and Best Product; Gold Winner for Best Cartography, Best Setting, Best Production Values, and Best Product), Promethean: Storyteller Screen (Best Aid or Accessory), and Scion: Hero (Best Game; Gold Winner) were all nominated.

In 2008, Scion: God (Best Cover Art; Silver Winner), Changeling: The Lost (Best Production Values, Best Interior Art, Best Writing; Product of the Year; Gold Winner in all), City of Brass Box Set (Best Setting and Best d20/d20 OGL Product), Art of EVE (Best Regalia), Changeling: Fearmaker’s Promise (Best Electronic Book; Silver Winner), Changeling Quickstart (Best Free Product), Monte Cook’s World of Darkness (Best d20/d20 OGL Product; Silver Winner), and Best Publisher (Silver Winner) were nominated.

In 2009, Scion: Ragnarok (Best Cover Art, Best Supplement, and Product of the Year), Hunter Horror Recognition Guide (Best Writing and Best Aid or Accessory), Hunter: The VigilThe Rose Bride’s Plight (Best Rules, Best Supplement, and Product of the Year), (Best Adventure), Night Horrors: Grim Fears (Best Monster or Adversary), Art of Exalted (Best Regalia; Silver Winner), Hunter: Deadly Prey (Best Regalia), Collection of Horrors:  Razor Kids (Best Electronic Book; Gold Winner), Hunter: The Vigil Quickstart: The Hunt (Best Free Product) were nominated.

In 2010, Goblin Markets (Best Setting) and Geist: The Sin-Eaters (Product of the Year) were nominated.

What did you think of the ENnies when you found out that you were nominated?

BB: I love ‘em! How can I not love medals and statues? It’s an honor to be recognized for hard work and keen imagination.

MM: Wow! 2005 was a phenomenal year for WW, and one I had almost forgotten about. It was great to see the fans respond so positively to the new looks of the WoD and its supplements. It was a great reward to all the hours and revisions we did on all those books, from visual presentation to the writing. Following that up with the positive reactions to Scion in ’07 and ’08 was amazing, as we weren’t sure how the fans would react to this new type of product we launched. Ultimately, being nominated by the fans is a good feeling as that’s who we’re making these books and games for.

EW: For Collection of Horrors, Hunter Quickstart, and Goblin Markets, I was flattered to see some of the projects I worked on get the recognition that we had previously only had anecdotally. The awards were a great confirmation, something we could point to that was more concrete than “we hear people like it.”

RT: Always cool.

Did your nomination affect short-term sales? How about long-term sales?

MM: The nominations and awards definitely increased our sales specifically at Gen Con, due to the awards being held then and there.

RT: Seems like the ENnies are an exclamation point after our fans have expressed their excitement on the various forums (fori?), so the big sales for that specific product have already happened. But the continuing buzz that the ENnies are a part of help convince folks to check out the next thing we do.

When/if you do get to game, do you normally play in a WW setting or do you try other settings/systems?

MM: I am just starting up a D&D 4e campaign with my daughter, who is 8. Other than that, I find most of my gaming to be on consoles.

EW: A little of both. I play a lot of World of Darkness LARP, and once in a while I’ll play or run in other WW games, but I always try to check out other games as well. It’s good to see what other people are doing, as well as just getting out of your own head for a while.

RT: No ongoing WW chronicle, but a few one shots over the last couple of years. Some computer games, and some MMOs, but a weekly D&D4 campaign and a couple of on-going but sporadic D&D games including one I’m DMing with my three kids.

I know that you’re releasing both New Wave Requiem and Block by Bloody Block in hardcover for the first time this year; why those two books specifically?

EW: Those were both books originally intended for a joint PDF and digital print release. I think they’re a good spread of what’s possible – a heavy mechanical toolkit book, as well as a heavy flavor background book. Plus, they’re both just great books that we think fans will really enjoy in whatever format they want to purchase it in.

RT: What Eddy said. Plus we really wanted to see how New Wave looked all printed out. Very pretty.

So what else do you have in the pipe? Anything you can talk about?

EW: We have a lot in the pipe for the following year, and released our schedule for the next twelve months at Gen Con this year. Books like Mage Noir (another 20th century historical book in the vein of New Wave Requiem) and not one but two Vampire: the Requiem novels are things fans seem to have been excited about, as well as serializing larger releases like the Forsaken Chronicler’s Guide and the Autochthonia book for Exalted.

RT: Again, Eddy has the facts on what we’ve announced so far. To some extent, we’re still examining the incredibly positive response we got from the fans in New Orleans for Grand Masquerade and looking at how that informs the sorts of products we’ll be releasing. We’re continuing our transition to electronic publishing, with Print on Demand as a reliable way for fans to get printed copies, which is the schedule Eddy is referring to, but that only covers into the Summer and we think there’ll be other cool projects ready before then.

MM: Well, there was that little announcement we made in New Orleans…. [Editor’s Note: WW and CCP Games announced the “World of Darkness” MMORPG, which is slated for release sometime after 2012.]

Now that we’ve been around for almost a decade, what do the ENnies mean to you both personally and professionally?

BB: Hey, it’s a tradition now, right? Anything that lasts that long in this industry has become a staple. I long ago stopped paying attention to those, ahem, “other” awards. I think the Ennies are a more important indicator of the gaming audience’s opinions.

MM: As the ENnies have expanded their coverage of categories over the years, they have truly become the fan/people choice awards.

EW: I think it’s the most valid series of awards the RPG industry has currently. However, in my experience it’s primarily an end note of congratulations on a product, rather than the start of any new recognition.

RT: Having witnessed the early years when Monte Cook got a hernia carrying all his medals for d20 stuff, I like how the awards now recognize all of the RPG biz.

If someone who had never heard of the ENnie Awards walked up to you today and asked, “So what are these ‘ENnies’ you keep talking about,” how would you answer them?

BB: They’re accolades given to game makers by the most important quorum: gamers.

MM: The ENnies are the voice of the fans who get to recognize the efforts of the people who make the games they play and enjoy. It’s like the MTV Movie awards.

EW: The ENnies are an award given to products and publishers as recognition from their fans for the work done in the previous year.

RT: Who are you and why are you listening in on my ENnie conversations?

Thank you to everyone at White Wolf for answering my questions. For more information, you can visit them at http://www.white-wolf.com.

3 Responses to “Interview – White Wolf Publishing”

  1. PneumaPilot says:

    I think it’s sad that the developers don’t play their own games that much. Of course, if they did, they might be a lot more gung-ho about releasing new stuff for them.

  2. Nosferajew says:

    @PneumaPilot – If they did, we’d probably actually see less. Speaking as a writer, free time away from one’s project is essential. It helps maintain perspective on the work and helps avoid burnout. Not to mention that as writers working in the RPG industry it can absolutely never hurt to look at what other companies are doing. Some of the best ideas are sparked by examining other works.

  3. PneumaPilot says:

    I’m pretty sure it’s not possible to see less…the presses have stopped (with the obvious exception of Danse Macabre, which I think is awesome). I just really miss the days of having new books to look forward to, and I hate that the lull seems to be because of an MMO of all things.

    White Wolf is awesome. They have made some truly awesome things. They deserve even more ENnies than they have received. But they need to keep making some more awesome stuff.