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Norman "nbperp" Barth Interview (Part I)
The Le (07/30/2009)
 Page:  1  2  3 

Related: Jason "Brother Magneto" Mical Interview
Related: John Byrne Interview
Related: Seth Johnson Interview (Part I)
Goto Comments

The Le: Did you arbitrate any other lines of games while working with Wizkids?

Norman
: Not while working for WizKids. Years before Heroclix (or even WizKids) I was involved with Marvel and the OverPower CCG. I don't recall what my title was for them specifically, but the roles I filled – handling an online presence, answering rules questions, facilitating tournaments, etc. - were very similar to what I did for Heroclix.

The Le: Were you privy to any special information about future sets at the time? For example, did they sneak a list of dials to you a month before a set was released?

Norman: It depended on the set. Timing wise, when I was brought onboard, SuperNova was already released and I think Origin was already as good as done. I was sent a spreadsheet with the Origin figures and feat/BFC cards a bit before the release and I had an opportunity to discuss them with the game designer, Seth Johnson.

After Origin, the plan was for Legion/Avengers to be next. I knew none of that. All that I knew was that WK had big plans for Heroclix, that things were going to be shaken up a bit, and that they were going to bring me “in the loop” as soon as they could.

At the NY ComicCon that year, I had a bit of fear as one of the WK designers that was there asked me what I thought about the idea of bringing Character Cards from Horrorclix into Heroclix. Bear in mind that I knew nothing about Legion or what was coming. I told him that as a cool thing to go along with the figure, it might be kind of cool – give some character back story, have some nice graphics for the character, etc. But from a game play perspective, how would it be relevant? “Oh, you'll see...” was all he would say in response.

A few weeks later at Wizard World LA, Mark Tuttle and Seth Johnson sat down with me to show me “the pitch”. This was the same Powerpoint presentation they had given to Bill Rock and other newsy types just a week or so before. I learned about Character Cards, Special Powers, the change from REV to CUR and so on.

I got to see the Avengers and Legion sets shortly before production went ahead (including the Legion Rulebook). In fact, I was an integral part of the review process for every set except Secret Invasion from that point on. SI had some special contracts with Marvel and since my name wasn't on the “list” I wasn't allowed to see certain figures (i.e., the Skrulls) prior to the sets release. But Justice League, M&M, Crisis, Arkham, and even Hammer of Thor were all sent to me long before the final copy was sent overseas for printing.


The Le: What two characters do you really like from the Marvel library, DC library, and Indy Library?


Norman:
Marvel - Spider-Man and Hulk. Story-wise, I've always loved just how their lives are filled with this self-generating conflict.

DC - Superman and Batman. Superman was my first comic and has always been a consistent ideal. Batman is just Batman. From a comic book perspective, he was the first #1 I ever bought (Batman and the Outsiders, with the cover of him quitting the Justice League). From a mainstream perspective, everyone knows him and how much butt he can whoop.

Indy - DNAgents - Mark Evanier should be put in charge of one company or another's line. He has a brilliant story-telling capability and can weave threads for years without you even realizing what's coming up. He can do funny, romance, adventure, science, etc. I've reread both DNAgents many times. Sin City - Miller is another one whose work I love. The grim/gritty of Sin City is just incredible story-wise and artistically.

...See PART II now...


 Page:  1  2  3 

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Your Comments:
Nice read. It's always interesting to hear from people that are "behind the scenes". Looking forward to part II: "I need closure on that anecdote!"

Posted by: WhoaDirty on 8/1/2009 7:00:29 PM
Nice to hear Norman's thought process. Ditto about the difference between Magic and Heroclix. Both game styles have their own elegance if done properly. Magic has been refined by a very talented group of people at Wizards, but Heroclix has taken many steps back. Refining a Heroclix type game is unmapped territory, but I have a few ideas.

Posted by: lunar on 8/1/2009 9:47:58 AM
OverPower is the best CCG ever. I really miss just being able to throw down with my friends anywhere and kick their butts and run local torunaments. :)

Posted by: Azrael0626 on 7/31/2009 5:37:51 PM
My best recollection of how OverPower died is this: OP was owned by Fleer/Skybox when Marvel was starting to go bankrupt. So selling the card company(s) started happening. The VP of Marvel Interactive saw potential in the game, so he pulled it from F/S over to Marvel Interactive. He was able to save one guy's job from F/S.

As for me, at the time all this was happening, I was helping with some web site stuff, keeping the record of who played against whom and the database that determined people's scores, and so on. When MI took over, they asked me to stay on board, help as I was, and help with other tasks as they came up.

The MI branch of the house saw a LOT of potential in OP. Remember the MegaPower online sale? That was a test run to see how online sales of cards would go, selling direct to the customer. The plan was that they would radically change the CCG business plan. Build small/easy sets to collect (like Mission Control) and then offer an additional 10-40 cards as exclusive online purchases. The profit potential, especially after the MegaPower numbers started coming in was staggering. The OP team was psyched.

But...

At the same time, a new X-Men movie was coming out. From what I understand, Marvel was offered a licensing deal to develop an X-Men CCG, but only if it meant an exclusive license for Marvel CCGs. Well, despite the numbers showing that the OP method would be better in the long run, the business suits decided at the time to go for the guaranteed money that a contract/license offered them. And thus, OP died.

Posted by: NBPerp on 7/30/2009 8:15:53 PM
A wonderful interview so far; can't wait for Part Deux a demain! As for me, I never got into the Heroic CCG like VS and Overpower. I dabbled in Magic a while, then I discovered HeroClix. After that, it was all over, kids! (less than)heh(greater than)

Posted by: muskielodge on 7/30/2009 7:29:58 PM
Great interview!

I bought a bunch of Overpower cards back then. But I never had anyone to play with and eventually got rid of them.

Posted by: flakbait on 7/30/2009 5:14:57 PM
AHHHH! Great read. I can't wait for part II.

Posted by: wintremute on 7/30/2009 12:41:56 PM
great interview, I used to play overpower myself. Don't have them anymore either. I'm not really a card guy though, I just liked marvel. Clix was more my kind of game. Glad too see it's back.

Posted by: thetigerking83 on 7/30/2009 11:58:28 AM
The Spirit: This has been corrected. Thank you for the catch. We'll just refer to it as "Norm's First Mistake". LOL.

Posted by: The Le on 7/30/2009 10:56:06 AM
Might want to change that first paragraph slightly. The first set was Infinity Challenge, not Infinity Gauntlet. Nice interview.

Posted by: TheSpirit on 7/30/2009 10:51:24 AM
I was on HCRealms and saw your post and link to this. Had to check it out! Norm got me into Judging and going to CONs and I remember being really thrilled when he became RA.
There are two things I've observed about Norm over the years that I think made him a perfect choice for RA -
1. He has a very logical mind and typically will make decisions based on facts rather than emotions.
2. He may be the most ethical person I've ever met. Seriously. I've seen him in situations where the "easy" thing to do could even be rationalized as the "right" thing to do and would clearly benefit him to go ahead and do it. Instead he has chosen to do the "right" thing.
I really appreciate the help he has been to me in keeping Heroclix alive and fun in my little corner of Maryland and when I saw you had an interview with him I had to check it out.
Cool site btw, I'll be coming here a lot now!

Posted by: Tom Price on 7/30/2009 10:38:49 AM
Insider information and insight is always cool.
Thanks to Le and Norm.
Can't wait till tomorrow!

Posted by: incredibile on 7/30/2009 10:27:37 AM
I see an OverPower card!!!

heh Norm is a great dude with a lot of passion for the comic industry and their games. Can't wait for my kids to leave me alone for 5 minutes so I can read the article! ;-)

Posted by: SpaceGhost on 7/30/2009 10:17:33 AM
If I remember correctly one of two things happened with Overpower.

The game was not selling well and the card company dropped the game.

and/or

Either the comic license was not renewed or the license was dropped.

I am sorry, but it has been a couple of years since Norm talked about it to me.

Posted by: phantalien on 7/30/2009 10:00:30 AM
excellent interview. keep the past insights coming.

thanks le.

Posted by: psycho69 on 7/30/2009 9:49:16 AM
Interesting interview and really long answers from nbperp. I hope Part II is as good as Part I and even offers more inside details on Heroclix in the past :)

Posted by: triforce13 on 7/30/2009 9:40:21 AM
I wish we could have The LE do a follow-up after learning a little more about the history of Overpower and how it's end (and Norms involvement around the same time) correlates to what happened with Overpower...

Touch of death I say!!

Posted by: lestiff416 on 7/30/2009 9:29:18 AM
Overpower! I played that all the time and I still have all my cards. It was the first collectible game I ever played.

Posted by: srsjuiceman on 7/30/2009 6:49:56 AM