Friday, August 27, 2010

Interview with Third Eye Games CEO Eloy Lasanta

As you may have noticed, I have spent the better part of the last week reviewing every last product in the Apocalypse Prevention Inc. game line.  This came about when Eloy Lasanta, known on RPG boards as Oni, or First Oni, asked me if I would be interested in reviewing wither Apocalypse Prevention Inc. or Wu Xing.  Now, I had most of the API books already, thanks to the Haiti Relief bundle offered at DriveThruRPG earlier this year, and so I agreed to review the entire API line.  After some discussion, I decided to make a week of it, which I have.  To cap that week off, here is an interview conducted with Third Eye Games CEO Eloy Lasanta, conducted via e-mail:

TB: First off, thanks for taking the time to do this interview.  It seems that Third Eye Games' profile has ben raising significantly since GenCon, and deservedly so...but for those who don't know, introduce us to Eloy Lasanta and Third Eye Games.


EL: Well, Third Eye Games is essentially my brain child. I'm a one man army that writes, edits, does art direction and layout as well for our games. I started with Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. at then end of 2008 which was a setting i wanted to write for a long time (corporate monster hunters) and it has taken off quite successfully, which has led to a handful of sourcebooks and digital downloads for the game as well. I'm a writer, but i'm also a single father. My two beautiful kids are what pushes me to continue with my goals for Third Eye Games. I really enjoyed GenCon and, for me, its a con to go out and talk to the fans. I met a lot of new fans this year, so that could be the reason behind the boost in prestige.


TB: Apocalypse Prevention Inc was the first game released by Third Eye Games...was it also your first professional work on an RPG?


EL: Well, i wrote for a fanzine for the oWoD called Ex Libris Nocturnis for years, working as an editor/writer of articles and other fun mechanics and setting info. That was a blast, but i got bored with all the work for free. So, i started looking for professional work and my very first job was to Co-Author a book with VajraEnterprises.com called KidWorld. The process showed me how to create a game from start to finish, which was instrumental to the creation of Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. In a "Oh wait, i can do that!" kind of way. I also did some work for Witch-Hunter: The Invisible World, which was nothing but a great and cordial experience. Taught me a thing or two on how to conduct myself with freelancers.


TB: API has been described, and this has stuck with me, as "Joss Whedon's Men in Black".  On some level, it also makes me think of something like "SyFy Original Movie: The Game", and I mean that in good way.  How hard do you find it to inject the necessary camp and humor in the game without going overboard with it?


EL: I honestly feel honored to be compared to such a great writer. While I haven't seen The Game, Joss Whedon and his various works were a huge influence on my writing in general, but Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. specifically. It also taught me how to balance the different aspects of that kind of story together. It's all about having a healthy bit of action, drama AND comedy. How you keep it from going completely overboard is to make sure the characters are grounded in reality, no matter how crazy, magical and supernatural things get in the story. Without firm characterization the agents become characitures of what they are supposed to be. It is a horror game after all. The characters have to have something to lose and they have to have ideals that can be tested and they must have fears. Then you can inject humor to throw them off guard before you start to really scare them.


TB: My initial exposure to API was through the Haiti Relief Bundle.  While I know the desired effect of participation was to help out with the horrible situation in Haiti, did you also notice a spike in interest in API there, or did it fail to have a noticeable impact on API's and Third Eye Games' profile?


EL: Contributing to the Haiti Bundle was the least I could do to try to help with disaster relief. I think there was an initial spike in interest, as it put the game into thousands of hands, which is great. But there were hundreds of games in the pack (a lot of others being awesome as well) and API got glossed over by a few just by being buried. I haven't had the chance to check out all the games myself yet either. lol. I'd participate again in a heart beat though and would remind people that Haiti Bundle supporters already have some of the API books.


TB: Third Eye Games recently announced that API is getting "Savaged"...that is, it will be converted to Savage Worlds (my favorite in print system, actually).  Has work officially begun on that?  Can you tell us anything about the format for Savage API?  Will it be a single release?  Dual stat books?  Will Savage API "replace" the Dynamic Gaming System?


EL: The Savage Worlds Edition of Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. is officially "under construction" as of a few months ago. We're working hard to balance the fun fast and furious nature of SW with the feel of the original API. It will be a single book release with everything from the original corebook, plus a few other things from some of the sourcebooks. Savage Worlds will not be replacing the Dynamic Gaming System. I am a huge fan of Savage Worlds, but there is a reason why I created my own system. Ha!


TB: We have the Loch Codex out, as well as Canada and Europe sourcebooks. The Spectrals Codex was announced as being on the way, and I can't wait. Will we see more Codices?  What about more Worldwide books?


EL: Oh yeah! We plan on going all around the world to delve into the company's goings-on. Work has begun on API Worldwide: South America which should be a grand ole time! There are also the Taylari and Burner Codices under way, as well as a sourcebook about some of the Illegal races, but the release schedule hasn't been finalized on those books quite yet. There's also Volume 1 of the API Anthology series that should be out pretty soon. Lots of things to come for API indeed.


TB: I have to ask, just curious: Were you pulling for, or at least expecting, a Hilary Clinton win in 2008? (Note: To those who have not read API, it's a relevant question).


EL: Actually, i'm not very political. I just thought that would interesting.


TB: I'm a big Spectrals fan, but one thing I love about every race I've read about so far is that not only are they unique (even with races that otherwise have some overlap, like Wolf People and Wendigos), but they are *playable*, so *huge* congratulations on that.  Which API race is your personal favorite?


EL: Thanks for that! I've tried hard to balance the races out as much as possible and to NOT have a power creep with each new book. My motto is, "Sourcebooks should simply give more "options", not more "power"." I have a lot of favorites as far as races go. I think my biggest fave are the Burners (especially since i have a bunch of additional info developed for their sourcebook). Their background and attitude resonates with a lot of people, including myself. I've been happy with all the burner-love i've seen from the fans.


PS: My second favorite are probably the Linx (from Demon Codex: Lochs). They were interesting in concept and to write-up. Their drawback of being servants is also really fun to run in a game.

TB: You mentioned the API Anthology...what can you tell us about that?

EL: Sure thing! It's an awesome series of short stories that gives fans a glimpse of the world of Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. from the perspective of its inhabitants. We have 3EG headliners, like Brennan Bishop and Darren Pearce, as well as industry favorites like Clint Black and Rucht Lilavivat, all contributing to expanding this already lively world.


TB: Wu Xing is your most recent RPG release, and I hope to be reviewing it here soon.  Tell everyone a bit about what Wu Xing is, please.


EL: Sure! Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade is a game of rival ninja clans that must work together in spite of centuries of blood feuds with each other. The reason is that the Emperor has called for the head of every ninja after his family was killed in the crossfire. It's has the feeling of a mix of Ninja Scroll/Basilisk with Naruto in a war torn world similar to Avatar: The Last Airbender.


TB: Wu Xing seems to be a huge hit, judging by anecdotal evidence on various sites and message boards.  Obviously, that must feel pretty good!  What does the future hold for further Wu Xing releases?


EL: Yes, i've loved the response the fans have had to Wu Xing. It's a completely different game than API, but it's easily accessible because it still uses the same core rules. That makes exposure for one act as exposure for both, which is a pleasant surprise for me. We've already been working on the first and second sourcebooks for Wu Xing. First is Wu Xing: The Firebrands, focusing on the fire aspected clans, the Blazing Dancers and Virtuous Body Gardeners. The second is Wu Xing: The Land of Seed and Blossom, giving a ton of info on the nation to the southeast of where the core of the Ninja Crusade is occurring.


TB: Lastly, I noticed on the Third Eye Games website that you've mentioned "other" game settings.  Anything you can give us here?  Even a hint?


EL: Hmmmm. I don't want to reveal anything too soon, since the next setting isn't due for about a year. Gotta keep "some" secrets, right?

That concludes the interview as well as API Week.  If you haven't checked the game out yet, I *HIGHLY* recommend it.  It has quickly shot to the top of my list in the modern action/horror genre for managing to neither take itself too seriously or be a bad parody of its inspirations.  As well, I have just begun cracking into Wu Xing, and I look forward to bringing that review to you as well!