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PARANOIA XP Press Release
Internet Technologies Revolutionize Roleplaying Game Development

New York/Austin/Swindon -- Aug 5, 2004

Mongoose Publishing Ltd. and the creators of Paranoia XP announced today that the new version of the classic tabletop roleplaying game had "gone gold," and would be released in time for GenCon 2004.

To a large degree, the game was developed on the Web, in public. Fans of the game contributed enthusiastically via blog, wiki, and online forum. They wrote text, debated rules, proofread, ran statistical analyses, and even wrote a computer simulator to test the game's paper-and-pencil rules.

"Online collaboration made this edition of Paranoia the best yet," said Allen Varney, the designer of Paranoia XP. "We borrowed the tools and methods of open-source software development for a paper game, and it worked brilliantly. I plan to create future games the same way, and other designers should consider it too."


Paranoia is a roleplaying game set in a darkly humorous future. A well-meaning but deranged Computer desperately protects the citizens of Alpha Complex, a vast underground city, from all sorts of real and imagined enemies. Players take the role of Troubleshooters, The Computer's elite agents, their job to search out and destroy the enemies of The Computer. Each player character is, however, secretly a traitor... In short, Paranoia is a light-hearted game of terror, death, bureaucracy, mad scientists, mutants, dangerous weapons, insane robots, and technological satire that encourages players to lie, cheat, and backstab each other at every turn.

The original version of Paranoia, designed by Dan Gelber, Greg Costikyan, and Eric Goldberg, pioneered in 1984, and was an instant hit, going on to sell more than 150,000 copies worldwide.


The popularity of the original game was in part due to society's fear of nuclear war with the Soviet Union, and uneasiness about the new desktop computers that were starting to revolutionize working life.

Happily, today those fears are obsolete. Instead, we have terrorism, spam, viruses, trojans, malware, distributed denial of service attacks, the RIAA, cyberwarfare, identify theft, the Patriot Act, terrifying new diseases, the threat of environmental catastrophe, the grey goo scenario, and weapons of mass destruction.

In other words, Paranoia is more relevant than ever before, and Paranoia XP updates the world of Alpha Complex for all these terrors and more.


In order to involve Paranoia's community of fans, the designers decided from the start to discuss the new version's development via a blog (, and to invite comments, suggestions, and contributions from anyone who wished to participate. Naturally, there was a potential legal issue; there was no easy way to compensate people for their contributions, and nobody wanted to deal with the potential bookkeeping involved. The solution: a virtual inversion of the Creative Commons license. Posters were explicitly advised that anything they contributed might be used in the game, without any compensation whatsoever, and that although the creators would try to credit people whose material was used, it might slip their minds in the hurly burly of meeting deadlines. The legal "boilerplate", in a take-off of a popular Web meme, even said "All Your Rights Are Belong to Us."

The fan community quickly found it wanted to debate, discuss, and contribute in a more free-ranging format--and luckily, a pre-existing fan site, Paranoia Live ( agreed to host a forum for public comment and discussion. Varney soon discovered the utility and importance of posting and participating in the forum. "There were so many good ideas worth taking... and the enthusiasm and support of the community really kept me going in meeting a pretty brutal deadline," said Varney.

To publicize the game, Varney started a wiki at Framed as a "Lexicon" game -- in which players contribute one entry per turn to an alphabetic research report on a fictitious topic -- the wiki traced the history of "the Toothpaste Disaster," a wide-ranging Alpha Complex calamity. Varney recruited almost two dozen players, in hopes of finding writers for upcoming Paranoia support products.

"The project succeeded beyond my wildest hopes. The Lexicon game produced the largest stable of talented writers Paranoia has ever enjoyed." Varney has informally organized the best Lexicon writers as the "Traitor Recycling Studio," to collaborate on the next few Paranoia supplements using -- yes -- a wiki.

"We stumbled into this," said Greg Costikyan, one of the original game's designers. "I wanted to incorporate a blog from the start, but the community's response, and Allen's embrace of them, was both startling and exciting. I think Allen is onto something here--at least for artforms that are collaborative in nature, such as games and possibly film, there's a lot to be said for tapping the collective talents of the fan base, as filtered by a professional."


Mongoose Publishing Ltd. ( of Swindon, Wilts., is one of a new breed of hobby game publishers, producing roleplaying and miniatures games for the adventure gaming market. Among its fine roleplaying products are Conan, Judge Dredd, Babylon 5, and Macho Women With Guns.

"We had... no clue what we were getting into," said an exhausted-sounding Alexander Fennell, director of Mongoose. "But the bloody thing is finally at the printers... ahh, I mean, ahh, only a traitor could fail to find this new edition of Paranoia hilarious, spiffy, and well worth your money. Paranoia is fun. Other games are not fun. Buy Paranoia."

Paranoia XP will premiere on August 19th at GenCon (, the world's largest convention for game players and enthusiasts, held annually in Indianapolis with more than 20,000 attendees.

"When the first edition of Paranoia debuted at GenCon in 1984, it was more than just the hit of the show," said Eric Goldberg, a designer of the original game and, with Greg Costikyan, the owner of the Paranoia property. "Players were first startled and then delighted when they realized the game turned the reigning Dungeons & Dragons paradigm inside-out: instead of deadly serious co-operation, players are encouraged to find ever more entertaining ways of getting the other guy before he gets you. Our game designer peers, in addition to bestowing several awards upon the game, gleefully co-opted the edgier, more humorous tone, which in turn spawned a new generation of role-playing games."

"Paranoia XP is both the 20th anniversary edition of the groundbreaking Paranoia game and a new edition for the 21st Century," Goldberg continued, "We hope that the incorporation of Internet technologies will prove every bit as revolutionary as the original game was... ah, rather, Paranoia was perfect. Paranoia XP is even more perfect. The Computer says so, and The Computer is Our Friend!"


Failure to be happy is treason. Treason is punishable by summary execution. Have a nice day!

For more information and/or disinformation, interviews, drivel, or just for the hell of it, feel free to contact:

Greg Costikyan: gcostikyan (at) nyc (dot) rr (dot) com

Eric Goldberg egoldberg (at) ungames (dot) com


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Paranoia Copyright 1983, 1987, 2004 by Eric Goldberg & Greg Costikyan. Paranoia is a trademark of Eric Goldberg and Greg Costikyan. All rights reserved. Mongoose Publishing Ltd., Authorized User.

Thursday 05 August 2004 - 11:53:49
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