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An interview with Joe Murphy.

April 7, 2012

Joe Murphy and Malcolm Craig are running multiple sessions of Mobile Frame Zero this weekend at Conpulsion 2012, and hope to be liveblogging much of it.  Joe took a little time out to give me a quick interview.

Darrin – Name?

Joe – Joe Murphy

Darrin – Age?

Joe – 37. That’s a lot of Lego under the bridge.

Darrin – Marital status?

Joe – Happily engaged.

Darrin – Parental status? – do you have kids?

Joe – No kids, but I can tell you what two of their hobbies will be.

Darrin – Who are you?

Joe – I’m a creator, maker, designer, writer, and I edit a bunch too.

Darrin – Occupation?

Joe – Data Analyst

Darrin – How and when did you first become involved in Mechaton/Mobile Frame Zero?

Joe – Late 90s, I was intrigued by some of the other Lego war games that came out at the time, partially because they were an economic use of all that plastic I owned. But I’d never
been a fan of war games – the turn-by-turn waiting for the other guy, the
excessive point balancing, and the lack of customization. It took a lot to persuade
me this wasn’t one of _those_ games.

I don’t play a lot of war games or board games besides some of the class German games like El Grande and Carcasonne. Story games and RPGs are my thing. So when I heard that Vincent had put together some kind of war-game, I was more than intrigued. Following games like Dogs in the Vineyard, I figured he’d do something interesting with war games.

I bought the game early on but didn’t get to play it much til recently. The game also kicked off a renewed interest in Lego, along with the wider AFOL community. And Bricklink too.

Darrin – What have you done since becoming involved in the MFZ community that might
be seen as supporting it?

Joe – I’ve not been as good at documenting my games as I’d like, as photography is key for spreading the game. But I’ve spread the word, thrown in on some rules debates, and coordinated games over the last 5 years or so.

Darrin – What conventions and in what years did you run Mechaton games?

Joe – I’ve facilitated Mechaton at three or four conventions, particularly Conpulsion in Edinburgh. I’ve moved house over the last few years and my Lego collection usually lagged behind each transition, which meant I could never field enough mechs. More recently, though, a better paid job meant I could throw some glitzier designs into cons. Not that the game needs it, but we all like to show off a theme or NPU.

Darrin – What are your plans if any for supporting MFZ in the future?

Joe – Conpulsion 2012 at Easter is going to be a big event – something like 60 mechs in attendance, plus more available for purchase. I’m coordinating with Malcolm Craig, aka mechatonic, akase jed_ptember. Altogether, we’re bringing about 60 frames, so it’s a big event.

I live in Liverpool and I’m hoping to run some MFZero locally. It helps that we have a Lego Store here too.

Darrin – What other Mecha games have you played? Miniature, RPG, video?

Joe – I got into Mekton Zeta back in the day, statted up some designs and wrote some worldbooks. And I’ve noodled around a TransFormers RPG, each iteration of which riffs off a trend in RPGs… so that’s never going to see the light of day.

I love robots and industrial design, so I’ve also written some short RPG ‘poems’ about post-apocalyptic robot tribes.

Darrin – What mecha anime if any are favorites of yours?

Joe – I prefer the goofy end of the scale, so Evangelion in a big way. I’ve never
taken to Gundam (I wouldn’t know where to start). Gasaraki had its moments, and I’ve just started on Ghost in the Shell.

Being in Europe, much of what has influenced me is our media – I’m a massive fan of 2000AD’s ABC Warriors.

Darrin – What is your favorite aspect of Mechaton?

Joe – Ooh, where to start? How about… the way that when play starts, you don’t act, you react. Incoming!

The rationalizing of dice really appeals to my story gamer side – that the game allows you to abstract out the blue dice into armor plating or wielded junk, the green into long limbs or chunky foot treads, the spotting into something as simple as an antenna brick or as complex as satellite over-watch on its own little plate.

I’m very fond of what I call ‘detachments’ – representing those dice through support vehicles, UAVs, or squads of tank-killer marines armed with tin-openers and grenades. It’s cool having a spotlight, but I like the image of those 2 yellow dice coming from the courageous support crew in a circling chopper, radioing in coordinates for the mech.

Darrin – What are you looking forward to the most about the release of MFZ?

Joe – I’ve no doubt the new rules will rock, and I’ve seen a few already. But I’m looking forward to the community that will develop – the photography and art that will follow the rules variations, the campaigns and battles described. I cannot wait till people take the basic frames like the Chub and fork them out into crazier designs. A game isn’t a game till it’s played, and the few hundred new players we’ll get can only be a good thing.

I know these guys are going to have a crazy good time this weekend.  I just wish I could be there to play in one of their games.

Here is a shot of what they are taking with them to the con.

If you want to follow them this weekend, joe is joermurphy on twitter, hashtag #conpulsion and they’re also planing on posting pics to the Flickr communities.

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