Chapter Four

Assembling the Team

‘The best laid plans…’

The carefully laid out timescale for 7TV: Pulp went awry almost immediately. With Edge Hill University Press running two projects simultaneously, and 7TV: Pulp being out of phase as a result of its planned two-year development cycle, it was important that the Scenes from the Revolution project take priority in terms of advertising for and recruiting student interns. This delayed advertising for members of the Pulp design team until the middle of October 2017, with a closing date of the 27th. Interviews would take place on Wednesday 8th November, four days after the Crisis 2017 wargames show in Antwerp. Fortunately, the slightly later start didn’t derail the overall timeframe for the game’s development.

‘Calling All Units…’

From the beginning, Karl and Peter wanted to give applicants as authentic an experience of application and interview as possible. The recruitment advert went out on the university VLE inviting students ‘interested in worldbuilding, digital and tabletop games design and development, cinema serials, genre films, and pulp fiction’ to apply. It went on to explain ‘The aim is to produce an alpha version of the game by 30th June 2018 for summer playtesting. The boxed edition of the game is scheduled for publication in June 2019 and will follow the format of 7TV 2nd edition.’ Successful applicants would ‘be expected to become familiar with pulp cinema serials and the 7TV ruleset.’ Karl and Peter emphasised that:

‘This is an excellent opportunity for students to gain genuine game design, research, writing and development experience in a commercial context. Edge Hill University Press and Crooked Dice Game Design Studio are looking for highly motivated, well-organised applicants who can fit their design and development role around their undergraduate studies. All levels (Undergraduates and Postgraduates) are eligible to apply.’

Applicants were required to submit a CV and a letter of application, detailing their interest in:

  • miniatures wargaming;
  • pulp fiction and film;
  • narrative games design and playtesting;
  • copyright and archival research;
  • processes of adaptation;
  • worldbuilding;
  • game playtesting;
  • working in the games industry.

Only one question remained. Would anyone apply…?

Building a Cast

Slowly, by ones and twos, the applications came in from a range of undergraduates and postgraduates whose interests in, and experience of, wargaming, cinema serials and pulp fiction varied widely. Callum France, Jake Litherland and Liam Kelly were seasoned Warhammer 40K players; Liam was also an experienced games demonstrator; Jai Brough, Jack Bye and Steven Kenny were habitual tabletop roleplayers; Lucy Ellis and Fran McMahon were interested in digital games design and worldbuilding; Jamie Wilkinson and David Fitzgerald were curious to learn more about wargaming and games development; and Bill Bulloch was a huge fan of pulp, spy-fi, science fiction and fantasy.

Importantly, Bill and Steven had actually seen some of the serials that would be adapted for 7TV: Pulp, an advantage they had over most of the other applicants, who were born sixty years after the serials had ceased production.  However, all of the students were either veterans of Peter’s game design modules or still studying games design as part of their undergraduate degree, and were familiar with many of the conventions of game design.

Karl was keen to be involved at all stages of the project and agreed to join Peter in shortlisting and interviewing the applicants. A ripple of anxiety went through those students shortlisted when they learned the owner of Crooked Dice would be on the interview panel. Knowing this, Karl and Peter tried to ensure the interviews were formal but relaxed and encouraging. As Jake recalls:

‘I remember being incredibly nervous before my interview; it was one of the first interviews I had ever had, and certainly the first where the head of the company I was applying to would be present! Thankfully, once I sat down and began responding to questions about wargames and game design, areas I have been invested in since childhood and my early teenage years, everything seemed to go quite well. I recall the interview ended with an excited discussion about some of our favourite aspects of wargaming, from game systems we liked, particular rules that we thought were fun, our favoured miniatures, etc., and left me incredibly excited to get working on producing our own!’

Steven’s experience was similar:

‘I remember feeling excited and a little nervous as it was the first interview I’d had in a long time!  Hearing about the project and the plans for it was great and I knew that it was a great professional opportunity for me.’

Unbeknown to the interviewees, Karl had returned from Crisis really unwell and was feeling much worse than most of them:

‘I was ill…but determined to make a good impression! I think I was just as nervous as the applicants! I remember being greatly impressed with the questions raised – and the commitment of the students to support the project on top of their core work.’

For Karl and Peter, the interview and selection process had to be a valuable learning experience. The interview questions were serious and searching, but also encouraging and intended to elicit the best responses from the candidates. Fran McMahon’s experience on graduating from Edge Hill in 2018 reflects the importance of undergraduate experiences like these:

‘My interview with Peter and Karl even now shows its uses when applying it to my interviews for positions in the publishing industry. Since my role with 7TV Pulp I have had various interviews in the industry and, from my experience with Peter and Karl, I was able to apply the lessons I learnt from the interview into professional experiences that led firstly to an internship in Content Management, and then later a role as an Editorial Assistant. For that I am ever grateful.’

The Dream Team

At the end of a very long day, fifteen students were appointed to the design team. In the first month, four withdrew for various reasons, leaving eleven students to develop the essential framework and foundation of a game worthy of the Crooked Dice Game Design Studio brand.

In seven months.

On top of their studies.

It was going to be quite a thrilling adventure…

See ‘A Beginning is a Very Delicate Time or, Adapting Pulp for 7TV‘, Chapter Five of the 7TV: Pulp Design Blog