Greetings delvers! While we prepare for your next Tunnels & Trolls adventure in Gull (spoiler alert: some of you may know it very well!), we’re excited to introduce another member of the team with this week’s Developer Spotlight. Greg Buron is the co-founder of MetaArcade and the head of Software Development – but he also helped create some of the most popular adventures we released.
A game developer by day, Greg runs a blog called Cranky Old Gamer and can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. He is also the co-host of the Man Dolly Variety Show Podcast, available everywhere fine podcast episodes are sold.
Who are you and what do you do? Tell us a little about yourself!
My name is Greg, and I’m the head of Software Development and co-founder of MetaArcade. My day-to-day activities involve plotting the course for our development efforts across Tunnels & Trolls Adventures and the Adventure Creator, as well as defining strategy for the company’s future with my co-founding partners. On a personal level, I love spending time with my family, making great BBQ (low and slow mind you), and I’m big into tabletop wargaming.
What’s your background in gaming? How did you get started and how did you develop your skills over the years?
I’m a lifetime gamer. When I was in Jr. High and High School I played all kinds of role-playing games. I also was into computers from a very young age. When I was in elementary school my family had an Apple IIe and I would literally spend hours programming games. I remember hacking games like Eamon and MUDs to learn how they worked. As technology advanced, I kept on pursuing that deep personal passion of computer game development. Later on, as I got into graduate school and professional life, I developed computer games as a hobby. If you want to get into the video games industry, my biggest piece of advice is to make games in your spare time. You’ll learn so much and you’ll have a portfolio to show.
Do you have a favorite game genre or franchise? Why does this top your list?
I have a few. On the digital side, one game that I have the fondest memories of is Wizardry on my Apple IIe and later on my Macintosh Classic. Building characters and exploring dungeons was a favorite pastime of mine. I’ve also sunk ridiculous amounts of time into games like Pax Imperia (a 4X game), Diablo, Starcraft, Half-Life (and various mods, particularly Day of Defeat), and a score of others. Nowadays I spend a lot of time playing Terraria with my kids and passing on my love of play to them. On the tabletop side, I play a lot of wargames like Warhammer, Frostgrave, and many others.
If you were stuck on a desert island with a SINGLE game, which would you choose? Why?
Right now I am big into Elder Sign. I am a big fan of the Cthulhu mythos, and the puzzle-solving and the combinatorics of victory conditions I find quite fun. If I got to pick two (I know, I know…) I would bring Terraria. So much worldbuilding!
What got you into Tunnels & Trolls? Did you play any other RPG’s or tabletop games?
I played a lot of D&D and Role Master as a teenager. I played T&T several times as well. Our gaming group in college was into Gamma World, Star Frontiers, Traveller, Role Master, D&D, Palladium, Top Secret, and many more – I couldn’t possibly list all of them here! We then had a huge Battle Tech phase, which we played for years, which slowly converted me from a role-playing game enthusiast to a table-top wargamer.
How did you get started in the gaming industry, and what led you to join MetaArcade?
Funnily enough, I started my professional life in biotech. I was working at a lab in cancer research and decided to go back and pursue my love of computing and programming. I got my Master’s degree in Computer Science and worked in several jobs where I got great experience in all aspects of Software Development, eventually ending up at Wizards of the Coast. One day, I was called up by my co-founding partners and asked if I wanted to build a game that spoke to the roots of my love of computer gaming – and I was hooked!
What do you do at MetaArcade? How does your typical day at work look like?
I am the Head of Development at MetaArcade. I spend a lot of time defining the scope of what we’re building next, aligning the work of our very small development team with our short and long-term objectives, and working with my Production and Content Creation partners to make sure the things we build resonate with our players and provide value to them. As is normal in a start-up, I also have the privilege and the honor to wear a couple of additional hats, including Product Owner of a couple of initiatives, and so that has been a lot of fun. There is lots of cool stuff going on at MetaArcade, so stay tuned for more news!
What is your favorite Tunnels & Trolls adventure thus far? What makes it your favorite?
I have to say Buffalo Castle, as I have a personal connection to that one. I did the original remastering and programming of that adventure for the MetaArcade platform, working out the logic for navigating a dungeon-crawling style adventure while trying to stay as true as possible to the original roots of the adventure. I had an immense amount of fun working on that adventure, and I hope the community enjoys it as much as I do.
What are you looking forward to the most when players begin creating and sharing their own adventures?
I’ve been involved in the development of Adventure Creator from the first days; when I was at PAX South last year, we demoed it for the first time – and the look on people’s faces when they created and played their own content right there on the show floor was quite a sight to behold! I’m in awe of the passion and the imagination that everyone is going to bring to the Adventure Creator and I literally cannot wait to see what they come up with. We are of course constantly improving the adventure creation tools, and aiming to make them as powerful as possible while still keeping them accessible to everyone who wants to write compelling stories.
If you had one lesson to bestow unto players looking forward to creating their own adventures, what would you tell them?
Less is more. Keep things simple. The narrative is the power, not the complexity of the mechanics you come up with. I’m going to remember your characters and the situations you make more than anything else.
What are your hobbies outside of gaming? What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love to barbecue (like low and slow - smoked pork, brisket, ribs, etc). I like making delicious things that give people the meat sweats. I also like to paint, and play board games with my family. Right now we’re really loving King of Tokyo.
Most important of all: what superpower would you have and why?
Uh… Flying. Is there any other choice? 😊
THIS WEEKS NEW TRIVIA CONTEST
This week we have another question about our newest adventure, Sewers of Oblivion.
The Question: In Sewers of Oblivion, you meet Leo Felis. What does Leo invites you to?
Post your answer in the comments section below or on the MetaArcade or Tunnels & Trolls Facebook Pages. I (Steve) will choose an answer at random from the correct answers, contact the winner and mail you a free signed copy of Grimtina’s Guard, plus a free signed comic. (If you already have Grimtina’s solo I’ll send you a different T&T item)
Note: you must live within the continental US so we can ship it to you. The deadline for posting your answer is Monday April 9nd, 12pm pacific time.
Last week’s Trivia answer
The question was: In Sewers of Oblivion, what is the name of the dragon you confront in the sewers? The correct answer is “Marsimbar.”
Our Trivia Contest winner is Joe Wright who was chosen at random from the correct answers. We’ll send Joe a signed copy the Grimtina’s Guard solo!
That’s all this week. So back to the sewers with you and look for Leo. More to come next week!