Dream Pod 9

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Dream Pod 9 (DP9) is a Montreal-based Canadian game publisher. Its most notable products are Heavy Gear, Jovian Chronicles, Tribe 8, and Gear Krieg, as well as the Silhouette role-playing game system.

History[edit]

Ianus[edit]

In 1987, Montreal-based Ianus Publications was licensed by Harmony Gold to publish Protoculture Addicts,[1]:271 a quarterly magazine dedicated to the Robotech TV series.[2] In 1989, Ianus relinquished the Robotech license[2] so that they could turn Protoculture Addicts, into a bi-monthly magazine with an industry-wide focus; it became the first large mainstream anime and manga magazine in North America.[3] In 1991, Ianus began publishing the mecha-inspired Mecha Press.[4]

The following year, Ianus and R. Talsorian Games (RTG) struck a deal to develop a series of products set in an alternate reality based on RTG's successful game Cyberpunk 2020.[5] The Ianus design team working on this project became known in-house as Dream Pod 9,[1]:271 and within three years had produced 15 various rulebooks and adventure modules.

In 1993 the Dream Pod 9 design team then created Jovian Chronicles, a new setting for RTG's Mekton II roleplaying game.[5] In 1993, the same design team was hired by Palladium Books to work on supplementary deck plans of the Macross II roleplaying game.[5] The design team, under license from RTG, also created the comedy sf game Star Riders using the rules system from RTG's Teenagers from Outer Space roleplaying game. This also resulted in a three-part comic book anthology in Dark Horse Presents.[2]

In 1994, the Dream Pod 9 team developed a card game called Heavy Gear Fighter, their first in-house project, and started to develop a game called Project A-ko: The Roleplaying Game based on the anime movie Project A-ko, as well as a roleplaying game system.[5]

Dream Pod 9[edit]

In 1995, the Dream Pod 9 team released the first edition of Heavy Gear,[6] their first roleplaying and combat game that used the design team's roleplaying game system called "Silhouette",[5] and started using a "Dream Pod 9" logo to identify their work.[1] In December 1995, after experiencing strong growth in both the magazine business and the games division, Ianus decided to split into two ventures: Protoculture, which continued to publish Protoculture Addicts; and a fully independent game publisher, Dream Pod 9, which would design and market miniatures and gaming books.[1]:271–272 Mecha (giant robots) would be the focus of Dream Pod 9.

Silhouette game system[edit]

The Silhouette game system was developed by Dream Pod 9 specifically to work with both its mecha-based miniatures combat games and roleplaying adventures.[2][7][8] As Moby Games summarized it: "This new addition in the world of giant robots (mecha) gaming not only introduced realistic warfare game mechanics to the hobby, but gave North Americans what they have been waiting for since they were introduced to the world of mecha warfare in the early eighties: a story that is both vivid and entertaining, and designs which are made by North Americans for North Americans."[2]

Rick Swan wrote, in Dragon #244 (1998), "I do, however, like the system, one of the smartest set of universal rules this side of the GURPS* game. Called Silhouette, the system uses 6-sideddice to generate quick and sensible results. All skills are rated from a low of 0 (little or no aptitude) to 5 (superhuman aptitude). Actions are assigned thresholds of difficulty, ranging from 1 (effortless) to 12 (near-impossible). When a PC attempts an action, the gamemaster assigns a threshold and determines the relevant skill. The player rolls a number of dice equal to the skill level. The results are not added together. Instead, the highest number rolled on an individual die is considered the outcome (if a player rolls two dice and gets a 2 and a 5, the outcome is 5). Every additional 6 adds 1 to the total (if he gets two 6s, the outcome is 7). If all of the dice show Is, the PC suffers a critical mishap. Actions with higher thresholds, then, become increasingly difficult to achieve. PCs with low skill levels are more likely to fumble then their high-level counterparts. It’s a clever, elegant system, a snap to learn and adjudicate. Character creation is equally smooth, involving the purchase of attributes (Agility, Build, Perception) and skills (Acrobatics, Law, Stealth) from a pool of character points. Simple formulas are used to compute secondary traits (Strength, Stamina, Health). Creating a PC from scratch takes half an hour, tops".[9]

RPGGeek wrote that "the system is based upon rolling multiple d6s and the results exaggerate the effect either way. A big success roll results in highly positive effects, a bad roll means you suffer more damage for example. There were three editions of the system, with Dream Pod 9 bringing out a Silhouette Core rules book to enable all their games to be run from one system".[8] In 2003, Dream Pod 9 released a conversion guide from the Silhouette game system to the d20 Open Gaming License.[7]

Heavy Gear[edit]

In 1996, Dream Pod 9 partnered with Activision to create a Heavy Gear computer game,[5] and the following year, Heavy Gear: The New Breed became Activision's first property to sell over a million copies.[10] At the height of Dream Pod 9's popularity in the late 1990s, despite having a staff of only nine writers, Heavy Gear was reportedly the fourth-most popular roleplaying game in the U.S.[11]

In 1997, Dream Pod 9 released the second edition rules for Heavy Gear, again using the Silhouette game system.[6]

In 1998, Dream Pod 9 released their next major property, Jovian Chronicles, a rewrite of the setting they had created for the Mekton II RPG in 1993, now adapted to their own Silhouette game system.[1]:272 The company then published the swords-and-sorcery post-apocalyptic Tribe 8 (1998), and then its fourth role-playing game Gear Krieg (2001), an alternate-history game set during World War II.[1]:273

In 1999, Dream Pod 9 licensed Heavy Gear to Sony Pictures, which resulted in a 40-episode 3D-animated series that had world-wide syndication.[5] In 2002, Heavy Gear: The Animated Series was nominated for a Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing in Television Animation.[12]

Decline[edit]

In 1999, Activision's Heavy Gear II: Black Talon was commercially unsuccessful, selling less than 30,000 copies by the end of the year; Activision chose not to develop a third title.[13]

By 2001, sales of Dream Pod 9's Silhouette-based games also declined as the d20 system became popular throughout the role-playing game industry. Dream Pod 9 responded by releasing a third edition of the Heavy Gear roleplaying game in 1993 that had been converted to the d20 system under the Open Game License (OGL). Since this edition could not include game system rules under the terms of the OGL, players had to purchase the Players Handbook for the third edition of D&D in order to play the game. For players who still wanted to use the Silhouette rules system, Dream Pod 9 also published the Silhouette CORE Rulebook (SilCORE), which contained the Silhouette rules system; conversely, it also explained how to convert previous editions of their games that used the Silhouette system to d20 rules.[7] Regardless of which system players wanted to use, they still had to purchase two books in order to play the third edition of Heavy Gear. Sales of both products were low,[5] and in 2004 the company ended its role-playing game production to concentrate on their miniatures combat games.[1]:273

The company then created Dream Pod Entertainment, which was intended to extend the company to movies and television, including work on the 2004 film Eternal with Caroline Néron and the 2007 film 300,[14] and used this movie industry money to help fund production of Heavy Gear Blitz!, a mecha miniatures game,[1]:273 which was nominated for a 2007 Origins Award in the category of "Miniatures Game or Expansion of the Year".[15][16] Dream Pod 9 was nominated for two ENnie Awards, "Best Miniature Product" and "Best Electronic Book", in 2008.[17]

In 2008, Dream Pod 9 licensed the rights to Heavy Gear to Steve Jackson Games, which wanted to create a fourth edition Heavy Gear roleplaying game based on the GURPS rule system; ultimately Steve Jackson Games decided to shelve the project, and in 2010 relinquished their rights to the game.[5]

After that decision, when an interviewer asked Dream Pod 9 company president Robert Dubois which of the three versions of Heavy Gear players should use, he replied, "The second edition of the Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game is the best version of the RPG and has the most support in material."[5] In the same interview, Dubois also revealed that the design team was working on a fourth edition that would be a revision of the second edition, not as a roleplaying game but as a combat game compatible with the miniatures game Heavy Gear Blitz!; to date, it has not been published.[1]:273

In 2012, Dream Pod 9 announced a five-year partnership with Stompy Bot Productions (now BlocPlay Entertainment) to commercialize Heavy Gear;[18] in 2017, the two companies renewed the partnership for a further five years, with plans to include sponsorship of eSports tournamaents.[19]

In 2013, Dream Pod 9 was nominated for an Origins Award in the category of "Best Miniatures Rules" for Heavy Gear Blitz! Perfect Storm: The NuCoal Field Guide.[20][21]

In 2015, Heavy Gear Blitz! Tabletop Wargaming - Living Rulebook was released for free on DrivethruRPG as a PDF.[22] In the following year, Heavy Gear Blitz! Tabletop Wargaming - Quick Start Rulebook was also released on DrivethruRPG.[23] Both of these rulebooks were last updated on February 23, 2018.[22][23]

In 2016, Beta Playtest Rules for a new edition of Jovian Chronicles, called Jovian Wars, were released for free on DrivethruRPG as a PDF. These rules were last updated on February 14, 2018.[24]

Kickstarter[edit]

Between 2014 and 2018, Dream Pod 9 launched six Kickstarter campaigns - five campaigns were successfully funded. All of the campaigns focused on raising funds to create new miniatures for either Heavy Gear or Jovian Wars.[25]

Campaign Goal (CAD) Date Backers Amount Raised (CAD)
Heavy Gear Blitz -War for Terra Nova- Miniatures Starter Set 27,000 11/22/2014 1,015 150,406
Jovian Wars - Resin Spaceship Miniatures 9,000 03/19/2017 143 25,090
Heavy Gear Blitz! Plastic Peace River, NuCoal & Utopia Minis 50,000 12/05/2017 - 01/06/2018 232 30,180
Heavy Gear Blitz! Utopia Armed Forces Plastic Miniatures 30,000 01/16/2018 - 02/03/2018 192 30,516
Heavy Gear Blitz! Peace River & NuCoal Plastic Miniatures 25,000 04/25/2018 - 05/26/2018 243 40,912
Jovian Wars Venus Forces Kickstarter 4,000 11/05/2018 - 12/03/2018 57 8,708

Properties[edit]

The company is best known for a set of universes on which role-playing games, wargames, scale models and miniatures have been based:

A few other less well-known settings for use in various publications include CORE Command, a space opera universe set millennia in the future.[26]

Reviews[edit]

In the February 1998 edition of Dragon (Issue 244), Rick Swan reviewed two of Dream Pod 9's game settings, Heavy Gear and Jovian Chronicles. Swan praised the high production values of both settings, saying, "Both are beautiful games, into which a lot of effort has been invested". He also thought the Silhouette game system rules used in both was "a clever, elegant system, a snap to learn and adjudicate" and "the smartest set of universal rules this side of the GURPS game." But overall he found Dream Pod 9's work "lifeless" and focussed more on giant robots than roleplaying, saying their work "aims more at players interested in hardware than human beings."[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Dream Pod 9 Inc". Moby Games. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
  3. ^ Anne Cooper-Chen (2010). Cartoon Cultures: The Globalization of Japanese Popular Media. Peter Lang. p. 135. ISBN 978-1-4331-0368-1. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  4. ^ "History's Strongest Disciple: Mecha Press #8". Colony Drop. 23 August 2009. Retrieved 2019-07-14.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Gear Most Heavy — The Dream Pod 9 Interview". Robot Viking. 2010-07-28. Archived from the original on 2013-04-14. Retrieved 2019-07-16.
  6. ^ a b c Tringham, Neal (2014). Science Fiction Video Games. CRC Press. p. 279. ISBN 9781482203899.
  7. ^ a b c "Dream Pod 9 goes OGL". ICv2. 2003-03-09. Retrieved 2019-07-17. The new book will contain rules in the Silhouette system as well as stats and rules conversion to the OGL.
  8. ^ a b "Silhouette | System | RPGGeek". rpggeek.com. Retrieved 2019-07-18.
  9. ^ a b Swan, Rick (February 1998). "Roleplaying Reviews: To the Stars!". Dragon. TSR, Inc. (244): 101–104.
  10. ^ Prémont, Charles (2009-08-19). "Dream Pod 9 : du jeu de rôle aux jeux vidéo et à la télévision". Liem Multimedia. Retrieved 2019-07-16. En 1997, Activision en faisait un premier jeu vidéo qui s’est vendu à plus d’un million d’exemplaires.
  11. ^ "NG Alphas: Heavy Gear". Next Generation. Imagine Media (31): 100–101. July 1997.
  12. ^ Crump, William (2016). Encyclopedia of New Year's Holidays Worldwide. McFarland. p. 102. ISBN 9781476607481.
  13. ^ Staff (April 2000). "PC Gamer Editors' Choice Winners: Does Quality Matter?". PC Gamer US. 7 (4): 33.
  14. ^ Prémont, Charles (2009-08-13). "Dream Pod Entertainment offre des services à l'industrie du cinéma". Lien Multimedia. Retrieved 2019-07-17. Avec ses cascadeurs, la coordination d’effets spéciaux et le traitement d’images par ordinateurs, Dream Pod entertainment a participé à de nombreux tournages ici et en Russie. 'Nous avons été du tournage de six films en Russie où je coordonnais les équipes d’effets spéciaux que nous faisions venir du Québec,' explique Robert Dubois. 'Nous avons aussi participé au film Éternel avec Caroline Néron et 300 de Zack Snyder en fournissant différents cascadeurs. Le secret pour être en mesure de passer du jeu de rôle au jeu vidéo au cinéma : avoir du plaisir.'"
  15. ^ "Origins Finalists Announced". ICv2. 2007-04-29. Retrieved 2019-07-18.
  16. ^ "'Heavy Gear Blitz': Dream Pod Revitalizes Core Brand". ICv2. May 10, 2007. Retrieved 2019-07-18.
  17. ^ "2008 Noms and Winners". ENnie Awards. 2010-08-24. Retrieved 2019-07-18.
  18. ^ Conditt, Jessica (2012-08-02). "Heavy Gear returns with a mech full of new platform possibilities". EnGadget. Retrieved 2019-07-17. Stompy Bot Productions and Dream Pod 9 have now licensed a new Heavy Gear game for the modern era, as a PC, console and mobile installment.
  19. ^ "Dream Pod 9, Inc. Renews Heavy Gear License with Stompy Bot; Heavy Gear Assault Prepares for eSports Campaign" (Press release). Saint John, New Brunswick: Newsfile. 2017-06-09. Retrieved 2019-07-17.
  20. ^ "GAMA | The 39th Annual Origins Awards". Retrieved 2019-07-18.
  21. ^ "Origins Nominations Announced". icv2.com. April 4, 2013. Retrieved 2019-07-18.
  22. ^ a b "Heavy Gear Blitz! Tabletop Wargaming - Living Rulebook - Dream Pod 9 | Heavy Gear | DriveThruRPG.com". www.drivethrurpg.com. Retrieved 2019-07-18.
  23. ^ a b "Heavy Gear Blitz! Tabletop Wargaming - Quick Start Rulebook - Dream Pod 9 | Heavy Gear | DriveThruRPG.com". www.drivethrurpg.com. Retrieved 2019-07-18.
  24. ^ "Jovian Wars - Beta Playtest Rules Package Ver1.2 - Dream Pod 9 | Jovian Chronicles | DriveThruRPG.com". www.drivethrurpg.com. Retrieved 2019-07-18.
  25. ^ "Dream Pod 9 - Tabletop Analytics". www.tabletopanalytics.com. Retrieved 2019-07-18.
  26. ^ a b Wiegel, Kurt (June 4, 2009). "Game Geeks #103 Jovian Chronicles & Core Command". YouTube. Game Geeks © PugKnows Productions. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  27. ^ Green, Paul (2017). Encyclopedia of Weird War Stories: Supernatural and Science Fiction Elements in Novels, Pulps, Comics, Film, Television, Games and Other Media. McFarland. p. 76. ISBN 9781476628745.

External links[edit]