Saturday, September 10, 2016

Interview time (Someone was nice enough to talk to us)

Happy Saturday afternoon Game Fans, we're dropping off a couple of quick hits and things for the weekend, so let's get started with the first of firsts.  We recently sent a short questionnaire to Tyler Carpenter (, the GM for the wildly fun and entertaining Death from Above show on Twitch Tv's Hyper RPG channel ( It's a weekly show on every Friday and you can catch past episodes as a subscriber or you can visit their youtube channel to catch up on past episodes. 

If you've been reading this blog much, you know how much I really like the fine folks at Hyper RPG and their partners at Harebrained Schemes.  They consistently make some of the most entertaining analog and digital content I find on the internet, and there's a reason they are always in my top channels/streams/vids that I watch every week.  So I put together a series of questions for Tyler which he was kind enough to reply before their show last night. 

Without Further Ado, Here's our first interview with a gaming industry grown up. 

General Battletech questions
What got you involved with the Battletech and/or Shadowrun franchises?

When I was 9 or 10, all my friends and I went to the "big city" with the mind to go to the gaming store there - we grew up in a small town and you had to drive about an hour to an hour and a half to find a stop light. They all got AD&D players handbooks, and I thought, "We probably don't need *5* PHBs. What's this box with the giant robot on it?" So I bought Battletech. I bought Shadowrun a bit later because the logo had a skull on it, and because I loved Neuromancer.

Were you a FASA player, did you join during the Fanpro days, or did you come to the party late during the Catalyst Game Labs era?

Yep, Fasa from the old days. Kept playing Shadowrun through to CGL's stewardship of the license, but I stopped playing Battletech around 1995-1996 or so, due to a greater interest in Shadowrun (and players who wanted Warhammer 40k for their wargame fix.)

What is your role in the development of the Battletech game that’s coming out some time next year?

I'm a game designer, and I'm primarily working as the lorekeeper, the guy creating/balancing mech gear, and also being in charge of terrain and map creation.

What’s your favorite Battlemech, and why?  What’s your least favorite, and why?

The TDR-5SE Thunderbolt. It's the Eridani Light Horse variant that adds some jump jets. I love it cuz it can engage at any range, packs a hell of a punch, but maintains good mobility. Plus it looks awesome as hell. Least favorite is probably the Charger. Who the hell builds an assault mech and puts 5 medium lasers on it? Pretty much anything else is a better bet.
Editor's Note, The Charger model he's referring to is misidentified.  It actually only mounts 5 small lasers.  We do apologize to any mechwarriors who were having delusions of adequacy for the ability to hit a target at more than three hexes away. 
What’s your favorite era of Battletech?

The 3025-3050 era, to be sure. I don't like what Clan tech did to game balance - specifically what it did to heat management.

What’s your favorite State in Battletech?  What’s your least favorite?

The Free Worlds League, with the Capellans being a close second. Dysfunctional democracy is my thing. Least favorite is Kurita, because the one-size-fits-all brush that most supplements used ("They are all space samurai!") makes me uncomfortable.

If you were going to introduce the Battletech Universe to a new player, what would be the starting point you would use?

I dunno. Probabaly the question, "Do you like giant robots that blow the hell out of each other? And do you like game of thrones?" It depends on the person, mostly.

Death from Above questions
When did you make the decision to do permanent death on Death from Above, and why did you make that decision?

Honestly, that was part of Zac and Jordan's pitch to me. It was pretty much the starting point for our discussion.

How long did it take for you to put together the basis of the Death from Above campaign (live on twitch tv on Friday nights)?

About a week. The basic idea was "I want mercenaries, spies, the periphery, treachery, and a bunch of explosions."

You have had a wonderful array of Op/For Mechwarriors for the show, did you write the characters out before you had actors, or did you have ideas of who would go well together?

Little each, primarily. People like Bronze, Nate, and Claudia just kinda stepped into pre-existing roles. Others, like Lauren, I made a character *for*.

What’s the funniest thing that the fans haven’t seen or heard behind the scenes?

Mostly how much Mitch gets excited for shit before you see it on the show. He is an intense little man!

Media Questions
What other live streaming media do you follow? 

Almost none, honestly - the only people whose stuff I watch are either other HyperRPG folks, or friends like Winterminute. I'm just bad at watching Twitch - I prefer to be doing things instead of watching things.

Would you have imagined the popularity of tabletop gaming leading to the multitude of live streaming channels and programming?

Hell no. I was honestly very shocked that there was ANY viewership for it.

Other Games
What’s your favorite board game?  

I don't have one. In terms of things I've played more than any other, Carcassone is way up there. So is Ticket to Ride. But for style, I *love* Tokaido. It's all about having a nice trip!

What’s your favorite role-playing game?

Shadowrun takes first place, since it's a giant lovely sandwich of all the things I like. Tribe 8 is another strong contender, simply because it's so unique - post apocalyptic shamanism in a mad max world. Also body horror.

What was your first video game system?

I was the uncool kid who had parents who wanted him to learn programming rather than play games. ;) 
Our last question was cut off due to an overly awesome sense of having someone return our request to answer some questions, but it boiled down to "What system did you use to put together the characters for Death From Above?" 
In terms of the character creation process for DFA, if you mean STATS? About 10 minutes, cuz I just pulled out my copy of TriStat DX and used one of the standard options. If you meant who the characters ARE, it was about a week of back and forth with the players, hammering out what roles everybody would fill.

We should have probably clarified this question a little better.  We would love to know how the characters were put together for fans who want to try this system to get into Battletech without trying to use the A Time of War rules for its RPG. 

We're sure we can think of other questions and ideas that we'd like to explore and hope that this interview feature becomes a little more frequent in the future. 

Big Thanks to Tyler for taking the time out of his busy day to answer our questions, and we hope this helps some new readers cross platform Battletech.  It's a big universe and it's full of interesting options to interact and consume it.  Look around and see what you can find that you like for it.

Big Links

Hyper RPG can be found at on twitter on twitch tv on facebook on youtube on the plain old internet

Harebrained Schemes can be found at for mothership one on twitter on facebook is the home site of the new game Tyler's working on that releases next year

Battletech can be found all over creation, but here's our best avenues is mothership one for battletech and has a ton of interactions to catch them on facebook

Tyler himself can be found on Twitter at

Our favorite part of the interview is reading his responses and having heard him talk enough on stream to hear his voice coming through with all the inflections and good natured fun.  Thanks again for giving some new guys a bit of your precious time.

Game On, Game Fans, and we hope to see you all again very soon. 

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