Interview: Pat Kapera of Crafty Games, Part 2

Last week I posted the first part of an interview with Pat Kapera of Crafty Games. I was lucky enough to sit in on a game of Spycraft 3.0 and chat in person for about 30 minutes at Tacticon in Denver. 

Here’s the second part of that interview…

Crafty_Games_Logo-WEBQ: You and Alex are the two main forces behind Crafty. How many freelancers work for you?

Dozens. We work with people all over the world. The state of freelance being what it is, you’re constantly moving talent in and out of the company because your very best people only stay in the industry so long before they move on to really big things. I’ve hired guys and gals who’ve gone on to work at Lucasfilm, Weta, and half a dozen video game companies — which is awesome except that I’d love to work with them again and they’re not so available anymore. So you’re constantly recruiting, and that means there’s strength in numbers.

At any given time we’re working with a couple dozen freelancers directly, and there are at least several dozen more waiting in the wings that we can tap as we need them. That, by the way, is still not enough. I feel there are ways that you can make products that elevate them above what they could otherwise be, and part of that involves figuring out the right blend of talent for each release as you dig into it. Not every writer, not every editor, and not every artist is going to click on every product. Styles don’t always mesh. Ideas don’t always mesh.

Mistborn in particular is really hard on writers. There are only so many people who can absorb an existing world with that much detail and get far into that mindset to create new ideas that seamlessly fold into the whole. So despite this huge fleet of people waiting in the wings, the number of them who can work on that particular game is pretty small. That’s why we’re always looking for more people — and so I’ll take this opportunity to plug that anyone who wants to work for us should come and talk to us. We’ve got tons of things in development at any time, some of which we’ve never announced, and you never know… you might be the perfect freelancer for one of those. We might call you up one day to say, “We’re doing this thing and maybe you’d be good fit for it.”

CFG07001-Mistborn_Cover-Sales_PageQ: Art is always a challenge. Do you keep a stable of freelance artists that you keep going back to? Are you constantly looking for new artists?

Both. We got really, really lucky with Ben McSweeney, who’s the closest to a house artist that we’ve got. He did the cover for the Fantasy Craft and Mistborn rulebooks, and he’s done a fantastic cover for the upcoming Alloy of Law follow-up to Mistborn. Ben also did all the interiors for the Mistborn core game and a lot of the interiors for Fantasy Craft. He’s sort of synonymous with a lot of our stuff now. I wish we had six of him, but I hear cloning still illegal, and not quite as reliable as any of us would like, either.

There are certain people we love to work with. Veronica Jones did all the original covers for Classic Spycraft… both the black Shadowforce Archer line, and the silver core game line. I wish we could work with her more. She did the cover for the Adventure Companion for Fantasy Craft, and that was a big hit. She’s done a new cover for Spycraft Third Edition, which we’re going to release as a second version of the book, and that piece is brilliant. It came in and it was so good that we briefly discussed bringing her back for the whole new line. Unfortunately, it’s one of those choices that has to be made for the brand, and having two editions of the game that are this wildly different look that much alike… it would throw people. So we keep looking for work for her, and we’ll keep her as busy as we possibly can — because she’s just that good.

We’ve got a couple dozen other people we rely on pretty frequently. Beyond that [there’s] tons and tons of people whose style is great but we haven’t found fitting work for yet. That’s the real trick with artists. Sometimes you find a guy with a fantastic cartoon style, but you don’t make anything that needs cartoons…

Q: Changing directions a little bit, you just came from Gen Con a few weeks ago. What were the big things at Gen Con that got you excited?

49,000 people. That’s what I’m excited about. 8,000 more people than the year before, which is awesome. A lot more families, which was great for us because of Little Wizards, but great for the industry in general.

Shadowrun 5 hit. It looked beautiful. I didn’t have a chance to check it out in person. Their booth was swamped the entire weekend, so good on them.

The Star Wars stuff hit. That looked pretty cool. They had the beta for the second game, which I guess is their equivalent of The Empire Strikes Back. I didn’t have a chance to look at that very closely either, but I’m sure Jay did a fantastic job with it. They had the new models for X-Wing, which were gorgeous. Those models are so pretty.

What else was there? I didn’t get out onto the floor very much. Makes me sad. That show makes me wish I had a time machine, or a stasis bubble or something.

Oh, the Ascension booth was really cool. They’re doing that cool new digital game, Soul Forge. I love seeing people taking the hobby into the digital arena.

——————————————————————

I have to thank Pat for taking the time to chat with me on two separate days at Tacticon. I had a great time just shooting the breeze about gaming in general and Crafty Games in specific!

There’s more to come for this interview, so stay tuned for part 3 next week!

For more about Crafty Games…

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