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Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:52 pm

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Yeah, The Publisher Guy

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A Brief Interview with Kevin Siembieda -- November 13, 2012

The son of a friend had me answer some questions for an interview type school assignment. I thought you might enjoy reading it as well, so here it is.

What did you learn in school that is helpful to your career?

The fundamentals of writing, reading and arithmetic, of course, as well as being introduced to proper grammar and the works of writers I may never have been introduced to otherwise. School also nurtured my love to draw and write, though not as a formal class. My parents, especially my mother, had already instilled in me a deep love for art, creativity and books.

In college, an art school, I learned many fundamentals about drawing, painting and artistic design, as well as a speech class and philosophy class I felt helped me later in life. It helped that I had a very clear idea of what I wanted from a career in art and entertainment, so I took classes that I thought would, and did, help me in the future. Every bit as important, I found college introduced me to all kinds of new ideas and people in and out of the classroom that expanded my world-view.

What do you wish you had learned?

I wish the schools I attended were less political and taught students much more about what they could expect in the real world after school.

Where did you graduate?

I graduated high school from Saint Andrews on the west side of Detroit. I attended the Center for Creative Studies, an art college, in downtown Detroit, full-time for three years. When I couldn’t win a full scholarship, I had to quit school and find work.

What made you want to make games?

An overactive imagination and a love of storytelling. I love stories in all forms, from comic books and novels to film, live theater, role-playing games and videogames – and everything in between.

I just fell into role-playing games (RPGs) and game design. My plan was to become a comic book artist and writer, and maybe try my hand at writing novels. Designing and writing RPGs was supposed to be temporary. Thirty-one years later, I’m still writing and creating games. As it turned out, I love game design, the flexibility of the medium and all aspects of world-building. Being very successful at it, at a young age, didn’t hurt either.

How young were you?

I got involved with role-playing games at age 23 and launched my game company, Palladium Books, when I was 25. It took about five years before the company really took off, but I was doing fairly well after about three years.

What inspired you to make games?

I always enjoyed certain types of games. In my teens I created a couple of simple games, just for fun, with my best friend and long-time creative collaborator, Alex Marciniszyn.

Then, one day after college, I was introduced to what was a new game at the time, the Dungeons and Dragons RPG. I quickly fell in love with the idea of role-playing games, but I didn’t care for many of the rules. So I started creating my own rules and stories for the game I was running. At the same time, I met a number of college and post-graduate guys going to Wayne State University who were also into role-playing games. The next thing I knew, a bunch of us were forming a gaming organization we called the Detroit Gaming Center. We pooled our resources, charged a small admission fee and rented 10,000 square feet of space just off the Wayne State campus on Cass Avenue. This gaming space attracted 100-300 gamers every week, twice that during special events. This introduced me to all types of other game rules, ideas and styles of play and made me all the more excited about gaming.

It turned out I was a popular Game Master (the guy who creates the storyline and runs the game), and I ran 26 gamers every Saturday from 8:00 PM till about 6:00 or 8:00 AM Sunday morning. It was an awesome experience. Anyway, my gaming group and many others at the Gaming Center loved my adventures, stories and game rules and they convinced me to try to market my own, original material. When I couldn’t get an existing game company to hire me or buy my rules for a fair price, I started my own company with a few thousand dollars, a dream and a prayer. It was a lot of hard work but paid off big. In just six or seven years, Palladium was the third largest game company in the pen and paper RPG business.

What are some memorable experiences from your career?

One was being flown in to the Blizzard business campus, the guys who make the World of Warcraft MMO, as well as Starcraft and Diablo. They wanted me to give a panel discussion about game design and world-building. They treated me like a king and I was surprised by how many of the artists, writers and game designers at this massive company were familiar with my work. It was a blast. Everyone at Blizzard was very nice.

Another was being contacted by Jerry Bruckheimer Films and the Walt Disney Company and having them “option” Palladium’s most popular RPG, Rifts®, as a live-action movie. It has been 10 years and they have not yet made the movie, but they continue to hold onto the rights and keep talking about making Rifts® their Star Wars. I just wish they’d do it soon. :)

Of course, there are countless interactions with fans that have been rewarding and joyful experiences that will stay with me always. Palladium gamers are some of the greatest. I have met thousands and thousands of people who enjoy and appreciate my games, characters and stories. It doesn’t get better than that.

What is your favorite part of the job?

That’s a tougher question than it may sound like. I enjoy working with other artists and writers as well as meeting fans at conventions, running gaming events, and many aspects of the job.

However, my most favorite part is writing. I love to unleash my imagination in creating new worlds and new books for people to enjoy. I joke around and say that I suffer from an overactive imagination, but everything gives me new ideas. I truly love the creative parts of my job, with writing at the very top.

Let me add here, that all I have ever wanted to do is create worlds, characters and stories to share with other people. I realized early on, from a friend during my youth, Tom Orzechowski (yes, the comic book letterer), that I wasn’t just an artist or a writer, I was a storyteller. I love to create and tell stories. For me, there is no better way to do that than to create the worlds/settings, characters and tools to do so in the role-playing game medium.

Why? Because not only am I able to present my own ideas, settings, characters and stories, I’m enabling everyone who reads my games and sourcebooks to use my game platform and worlds to create their own unforgettable stories, characters and adventures. It is imagination unleashed unlike any other type of game in existence. How truly awesome is that?

Hope you enjoyed this little interview. Keep those imaginations burning bright and game on.

Kevin Siembieda
Publisher, Writer and Game Designer

© Copyright November 13, 2012 Palladium Books Inc. All rights reserved.

Rifts®, The Rifter®, RECON®, Splicers®, Palladium Books®, Phase World®, The Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game®, Megaverse®, Nightbane®, The Mechanoids®, The Mechanoid Invasion®, Coalition Wars® and After the Bomb® are Registered Trademarks of Palladium Books Inc. Heroes Unlimited™, Beyond the Supernatural, Dead Reign, Warpath, Shemarrian Nation, and other published book titles, names, slogans and likenesses are trademarks of Palladium Books Inc., and Kevin Siembieda.

Robotech® and Robotech® The Shadow Chronicles® are Registered Trademarks of Harmony Gold USA, Inc.

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