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INTERVIEW: James Norbury, head writer at Brutal Games talks to FTN

September 2nd, 2012 by Chris Comments

We were lucky enough to quickly catch up with Mr James Norbury, the head writer at Brutal Games and designer of Corporation, the futuristic espionage RPG. He generously had time to answer some questions for us before donning his Agent attire and swooping off Neo style through the window…

FTN: Why this setting for Corporation? And what were the biggest influences?

JN: I wrote loads of settings for different RPGs but I never really fleshed any of them out. When it came to doing so I had to make a decision which I though had the most potential for stories, character development and expansion. Corporation seemed to have everything I needed to explore almost all forms of science fiction, from gritty street level dealings and urban warfare, to toppling Megacorps and searching for alien civilisations.

FTN: How long did it take to initially develop? (Inception to first print?)

JN: About 10 years, it took ages to refine the setting and the system. Some of the original ideas were fairly insane, such as a group of miniature people who were responsible for where things were located in the world, and another group who were made of stone. There was much more fantasy in the setting which was mostly ejected during the design process. It also took a long time to learn some technical skills such as learn how to lay things out for printing and to get the art right.

FTN: What groups did you use for the initial play testing?

JN: It was very small, myself, Ruth (my wife), Iain and Al. (Close friends) Some other people joined in for the odd game but it was mostly just them. We did a lot of testing though, most days for months, if not years. We never outsource testing, perhaps we should but we have a very clear idea of what we want so don’t feel it’s necessary.

FTN: The artwork is superb and is highly stylised, has this shaped the feel of the game or have you always had a clear idea of how you perceive the world of Corporation?

JN: Thank you. Yes, the world of Corporation has always been very clear in my head, a cross between The Matrix, Bladerunner, Total Recall and Fifth Element (+ a few others). The art benefits so much from being in colour, I would really like to get a colour edition of the book available for purchase.

FTN: What are the future plans for the Corporation universe?

JN: Well, as stated above, I would like to get all books available in colour. We are also trying to get them available via print on demand through Drivethru RPG. Our biggest project at the moment is perhaps our partnership with Chronicle City who will be printing and distributing our books from now on. Obviously we’ll also be producing more supplements too. The Cult of Machina book is something I am looking forward to.

FTN: What is currently in print?

JN: Corporation Core Rules

FTN: The Eastern Bank (A location supplement)

Machines of War (Equipment guide)

The Mind Unbound (Comoros Faction Guide)

The Dragon Awoken (Ai-Jinn Faction Guide)

Cities of Gold (E.I. Faction Guide – PDF only at the moment but it should be in hardcopy print soon)

Incorporation Vol. 1 (Compilation Book)

Gate 22 (Part 1 of a three part mission)

Please sum up Corporation in three short sentences. (It doesn’t have to be promotional; it could be personal, emotional etc…)

FTN: It’s a sandbox where you can live out all your hard sci-fi fantasies.

JN: It’s a violent, brutal, and serious, it can also be a funny game.

It’s got a huge part of my soul bound to it with 12 inch long rusted nails.

FTN: As a successful RPG designer, what else do you play? Other RPG’s MTG, Board / War games etc…..

JN: Like many gamers, I don’t get to play nearly as much as I would like to due to the constraints of peoples lives. This limits how much I can play so most of the time I need to play Corporation to test it. However, other games I enjoy are Dungeons and Dragons (2nd or 3rd Edition), Mage / Vampire (Old / 3rd Edition), Board games (especially dungeon based board games) and computer games (I have an Xbox which I play on loads, it gives me constant inspiration).

FTN: I would like to offer you a very big thank you for giving us your time to answer these questions. Is there anything else you would like to say before we let you go?

JN: I would like to offer my thanks to all the players – you people are great and your enthusiasm and kind words are what makes me keep writing when it all goes to ****.

Well there you have it, I do play Corporation and it is very, very good… but I would never tell James that… we must keep the designers on their toes.

Have any of our followers played it? If so what do you think? I know Brutal Games appreciate all feedback they receive, so let us know below….

Let us know your thoughts below, @NerdFollowing on Twitter or on Facebook

Chris, known as the ‘Reverend’ to colleagues and friends, was born a Nerd and just grew bigger. He spent most of his informative years in a wheelchair so the natural thing to do was to roll dice! He has been a UK equivalent to a Bounty Hunter working in enforcement, he has never blown up a Space Station but he actually does have bionic feet….it all started with Star Wars and Retro computer games and then it just got silly.