Andy Chambers worked for Games Workshop for 14 years, starting out at the bottom and working his way through the ranks of Games Designers until he became known as the 40k Overfiend, responsible for the 41st Millenium as we know it, as well as Battlefleet Gothic. Since then, he has worked with Mongoose Publishing on their much celebrated Starship Troopers line, and now lives in SoCal, USA, working for Blizzard Entertainment.
Swordwind: When and how did you get into the miniatures business?
Andy C: I got into the business back 1990 from writing a White Dwarf article for the Adeptus Titanicus system. I had worked in GW mail order and had friends still in the company - they let me know that Jervis Johnson was on a six month sabbatical and they had these new epic knights that needed rules doing for them. I wrote some rules as i was gaming twice a week at Adeptus Titanicus at the time.
Swordwind: What was your first position/job at Games Workshop?
Andy C: Ummm *thinks back*
I was brought in to write white dwarf articles for Adeptus Titanicus - I think I didn't really have a title.
Swordwind: Do you feel proud having worked on the rules for 40k?
Andy C: Yes I do. 40K really grew into something quite phenomenal and I love all the novels, games and other materials itís generated.
Angron: It's fairly safe to say that the revamp of 40k you were greatly involved in, (third ed), was far removed from the much coveted 2nd ed. Do you at any time look back on second ed rules and wish there were some things you'd left in?
Andy C: Well i was also deeply involved in the 2nd ed revamp too, I think some of the more 'free wheeling' aspects of wargear choices for characters were a lot of fun and I kinda miss those. The psychic system was way overcomplicated but I feel like we neutered that too much. But in terms of core mechanics like losing range mods and so on, the call was exactly right.
Angron: You don't feel that the game system was oversimplified in the transition from 2nd to 3rd?
Andy C: it was changing from a skirmish/roleplay system to a mass battle system going from 2nd to 3rd so there had to be a lot of simplification. I was just happy to see reasonable sized armies you could have a game with within a couple of hours instead of ten models a side and it taking 4 hours.
Swordwind: Why did you leave Games Workshop and do you ever regret doing so?
Andy C: I can't really discuss that Kyle.
Swordwind: Fair enough.
Andy C: I do miss some of my friends there a lot, they were great people to work with.
Swordwind: Did any other companies approach you before Mongoose Publishing?
Andy C: Yeah there were a few, but MGP had the most formed plan.
Angron: Are you impressed with the way MGP has grown in fame, both national and global, in the miniatures market?
Andy C: Yes, they come a long way very fast/ To be fair itís a lot easier to get a miniatures company off the ground these days, especially the publishing side of things - but MGP have worked hard.
Angron: Are there any other miniatures companies you are impressed with?
Swordwind: And what is your favorite miniature?
Andy C: Of all time?
Andy C: oof that is a really tough question - Iíll handle Angís one first! I think Privateer Press is the other company thatís really taken off in recent years and impressed me with their output. Battlefront has also changed the face of historical gaming with Flames of War/ My favourite miniature of all time is probably ... ummm... The plastic Tyranid Carnifex.
Swordwind: A good choice.
Angron: I'm more a fan of the screamer-killer era Carnifex. Haha!
Andy C: I think you're just messing with me Ang!
Angron: Oh, you know I'd never do that!
Andy C: I love what Jes has done with the Tyranid range, he's actually managed to make it cohesive.
Swordwind: This is probably a stupid question but had you read the original novel of Starship Troopers before you were approached by Mongoose?
Andy C: Yes I'd read it a loooooong time ago back in my teens. But I also enjoyed the movie (though its a travesty of the book).
Swordwind: Did you encounter any difficulties while developing the rules for SST?
Andy C: What kind of thing do you mean? Thereís always difficulties.
Swordwind: Was there anything that just wouldnít come together, you know things that just wouldnít work.
Andy C: Ahh right. The toughest part was getting air and ground to integrate in a meaningful and fun fashion. I wanted dropships, fighters etc to be a part of the game because they are prominent in the movie and cgi series. But its always clunky trying to get a turn based system to accommodate both at the same time. The other big sticking point was doing something with the skinny's as there's virtually nothing to go on.
Swordwind: How do you feel about the SST system as a whole?
Andy C: I'm really rather proud of it, I feel like it does a good job of integrating an insanely wide selection of creatures and weapons into a pretty dynamic game.
Swordwind: If you could change any one part of the rules what would it be?
Andy C: Hrrm, not sure on that one -I felt like the army lists needed more work and a better format to be honest.
Swordwind: What is your favorite unit in the game and what is your favorite model?
Andy C: Favourite unit is probably the Marauder suit for its mad utility (Swiss army knife guns) favourite model is probably the Arachnid Warrior as it goes together so well and looks great en masse.
Swordwind: You've been working on the rules for A Game of Thrones, can you shed any more light on that?
Andy C: I did some initial development work on rules and lists for that but since I got contracted by Blizzard I've not really been keeping up with the development too much.
Angron: Without having to go into the games themselves here, what's your title at Blizzard as it stands? (July, 2006)
Andy C: my title at Blizzard is Creative Director.
Angron: How familiar and acknowledging of your previous works are Blizzard?
Andy C: They very much knew of me thanks to my work in 40K over the years, they are big fans of 40K and WFB - you see a lot of painted armies around the place.
Angron: After moving from GW where the co-workers were your contemporaries for what made you 'famous', is it strange meeting new co-workers who already know of you and your work, and are fans of your published articles?
Andy C: Yes, very strange indeed. One of the lead developers there I see a lot still tells me frequently how excited he is to be working with Andy Chambers. On the other hand a lot of people have absolutely no idea who i am, what I've done or what 40K is.
Angron: So it's very much if they're into miniatures, they're starstruck, and if they aren't then they don't know you?
Andy C: Yup thatís about right. It kinda keeps me honest as I'm judged by what I do not my past achievements.
Angron: I suppose that helps a lot. I take it if you had continued to work in the miniatures genre any longer, we may have met Andy's ego? Hehe.
Andy C: My ego is quite well developed thanks!
Angron: Not a worry!
Swordwind: So Blizzard eh? Care to elaborate on what youíre doing for them? (if you can)
Andy C: I work in the field of world and story creation, characterisation and such. So its kinda the same thing as before in many respects, though obviously there's less to do with game mechanics. The big difference is that interactive games are a lot closer to movies in what they emphasise. as compared to say the kind of approach for writing a book or roleplaying universe.
Angron: Do you miss creating game mechanics?
Andy C: A little but I do interact a lot with those who do that work at Blizzard.
Angron: So you're still close to home?
Andy C: kinda yeah, I just get to spour about how it Ďshould' be and leave others to have to work out the practical side of making it happens.
Swordwind: So a "Hey, you know what would be cool? . Well I'm off for a pint, good look with implementing it though!"
Andy C: Yeah something like that!
Angron: Is working there as fun as you'd expected it to be, if you had any expectations at all?
Andy C: Yes, moreso in many respects as there are a lot more facets to the creation side of things -how something moves or sounds as well as how it looks for example.
Angron: Though this may be a long shot; as a writer for the games that Blizzard is making, have you been able to see anything acting out what you write? And if so, what was that like?
Andy C: Only a few bits and pieces so far, but itís quite something to see/hear.
Swordwind: Ok one last question from me, Is it true that Games Workshop sacrifices newborn babies to the dark gods in a secret underground lair in their Nottingham HQ?
Angron: (I'll admit, I kinda condoned it)
Andy C: If thatís true I never got to see it -so itís very secret!
Angron: Any last thing you'd like to say to the readers?
Andy C: Hmm a concluding thought... How about
'Life is best lived in the realms of imagination, as its been proven time and again that the real world disappoints continually.'
So, that's the interview that started it all; Warvault's very first interview, with the legend himself. Now look at us! So, that's that! The first ever Live Chat with a Games Workshop writer. Will it be the last? Well, judging by the success and popularity of this one, you can bet your rear-end it won't be.
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