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A picture of Rick Priestley

Rick Priestley

Game designer

in designer, game, windows

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Rick Priestley and I'm best known as the creator and designer of various table top wargames published by Games Workshop, notably the Warhammer series as well as The Lord of The Rings Strategy Battle Game. These days I work on occasional gaming projects with some of my ex-Games Workshop comrades at Warlord Games for whom I wrote the Black Powder and Hail Caesar games, and Lucid Eye for whom I designed The Red Book of the Elf King game. I also write magazine articles for wargaming magazines such as Wargames Illustrated and Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy.

What hardware do you use?

A lot of what I do is old fashioned hands-on crafting with models, cards, paper and pencil, but when it comes to getting words down I currently use a desktop PC that I had built for me. The most important thing is the keyboard - it has to be a decent size, plain, and white so I can see it! I print out a lot of paper because I can't read comfortably on a screen - just a straight-forward Canon PIXMA handles printing, photocopying and scanning. The only other hardware I use routinely is my digital SLR - an old Nikon D90 with a zoom lens - which is plenty good enough for the sort of book and magazine work I do. I have a good sized light box - part of the Amazon Basics range - four free standing lights and a tripod.

And what software?

I've used Microsoft Word ever since the Games Workshop Studio went over to Macintosh computers in the early 90's - before that we used Amstrads running LocoScript - and before that I had a Rank Xerox 860 - and I should add before that a manual typewriter. I treat Word as a pure word processing package because for much of my working life type-setting was a separate business, and layout and graphic design separate again. That meant that you had to write the header priorities into the text like this, Movement (H2), because you had no control over the fonts or text sizes once text was re-inputted into the Linotronic photo-typesetter. I've always found that dealing with pure text helps provide focus - single column 'galley' text - dividing each chapter or section into a separate file to make it easier to work with. I cover photos and diagrams with a note (e.g. insert diagram 23 here) and I generally do all the diagrams separately using pen and paper.

If I have a need to put something into a finished format I'll use Adobe InDesign and Photoshop. Generally, I only do that for free download supplements via my website This Gaming Life which I put together using WordPress. I struggle a bit with WordPress because it's designed for blogging and I'm more used to publishing software - the only other website I've ever created was with Microsoft FrontPage, so it was a bit of a leap. The key thing about WordPress is that it supports PDF downloads of things like supplementary rules, errata, and army lists.

I do a lot of work via e-mail and use Outlook as my e-mail client. If I need to send big files I use a service like WeSendit rather than risk the confusion that reigns in the world of DropBox and Google Docs. A few people I work with send me documents via Google Docs. I rarely notice.

What would be your dream setup?

I think I have it already. I'll replace my camera one day with a modern Nikon equivalent like the D7500. I've become used to the Nikon. For what I do the important thing is having a decent sizes tabletop to play games on and somewhere to put it. I was lucky to get hold of a barn next to my home which I've had converted into a games and crafting room. After that - you need those tabletop armies - what makes a successful photograph of a wargame isn't really the camera so much as the models and terrain. My dream would be to have ranks of superbly painted forces of all the ages, and beautifully modelled terrain to go with those armies. None of that really matters in the end though - getting together with your friends to play games is what counts - and all the more so when you're creating new games and hot-housing ideas. Alas, many of my friends live a little too far away - so I'll have to add a Star Trek Transporter to my dream setup. Is that allowed?