DUST Studio – an Interview With Paolo Parente

As I’m a big fan of DUST Tactics and DUST Warfare, I reached out to a man who knows DUST better than practically anyone – it’s creator, Paolo Parente.

There has been a lot of news lately about DUST, and sadly not all of it has been positive news. I emailed Mr. Parente some pressing questions that I had about DUST, himself, and the future of the games.

Welcome, Paolo!

Robert Allen: How did you get your start in the gaming industry?  What are some of the companies/properties you have worked on?

PAOLO PARENTE:  l have always been lucky in my career (more than talented…)  l started doing professional Fantasy and Sci-Fi illustration in the early `80s for a good friend of mine who appened to be starting games publications in Italy.  Stratelibri was the name of his company, he asked me to produce illos for the italian edition of various RPG games like Lord of the Rings, Call of Cthulhu and Cyberpunk. The swedish Target Games came after that with Mutant Chronicles, R. Talsorian with Cybergeneration, and then Doomtown, Magic the Gathering.  In 2003 l moved to Paris to work with Rackham on both Confrontation and AT43. plus a few cards for World of Warcraft and a few comic book experiences.  l have been lucky and busy.


RA:  How long have you been developing DUST?

PP: Dust is my dream project, l started developing it some 20 years ago, l wanted to develop a universe where l could combine my passion for Model Kit building and Comic Books and Wargaming.  Fifteen year ago l luckily met my business partner William Yau in Shanghai China and it got real. We decided to develop it first as 1/6 scale action figures that lead into the Comic Book and finally into a miniature wargame: Dust Tactics.



RA:  What is your title and role with DUST Studios?  What does your typical day look like?

PP: l am the designer and creative director at the same time 🙂 plus l do photography and graphic design even painting some prototypes.  Vincent Fontaine our Art Director and Painter normally is in charge of painting and taking pictures, but when he is too busy l an happy to help him.  My typical day at the Factory/Monastery, that is located in the industrial outskirts of Shenzhen China, starts early in the morning with a couple of hours of reading. l then show up at the office at 10 am and work until 10 pm. Two quick meal breaks and a lot of coffee+cigarillo breaks during our long day.

RA:  DUST fans have had kind of a rough couple of years, with the change of distribution from Fantasy Flight Games to Battlefront and now the issues of Battlefront’s Kickstarter fulfillment.  How hard has this been on you, since DUST is so near and dear to you?

PP:  The Babylon Kickstarter has been transformed in a nightmare for us and the backers to whom goes all my sympathy. Why this is happening goes beyond my understanding, l can only elaborate theories but l will never know the truth behind this mess. A successful KS like this should just go smoothly. BF “magic touch” made such a mess of it for no apparent reason. For sure Dust Studio resources and the backers helped BF to solve some imminent financial issues, we should have expected another form of saying thank you than this Total Mess…

Personally l react with anger when l believe l am being mistreated, so for me it`s not been depressive times, but not everybody in the studio reacts in the same way, and they have been suffering a lot. During this very long year (last payed invoice by BF is dated March 2014) Dust has been sustained financially by  our production capacity in manufacturing minis for other parties and William`s and mine personal money. But the decision was made not to let our company end like GF9 or worse Rackham, so we have invested every energy into the Studio and into building it’s future.




RA:  While some of the details are surely still up in the air, what do you see in the future for DUST?

PP:  We will start distributing our product ourselves. A first warehouse will be established in the US right after Gen Con and we are preparing a lot of new stuff. New armies within each faction starting with the Luftwaffe for the Axis, followed by the British/Australian Long Range Desert Group for the Allies and Chinese Army for the SSU, these should lead to the release of the Japanese Navy Landing Forces by the end of next year.




RA:  What’s the status of the Zverograd novel that Andy Chambers has written?

PP:  Andy has written a wonderful first chapter of his Zverograd trilogy, it will be released this year. And he will soon start writing the second part!


RA:  Are we going to see Japan?  An Eastern Front setting?

PP: lf everything goes according to the plans we will see the Japanese around Christmas 2016 together with DUST 1947 the revised Dust rules.



RA:  What about the Vril?

PP: The Vrill will be introduced in 2017, June l would say. unless a miracle happens and we can release a Japan vs Vrill starter set for Christmas 2016.  That would be a dream come true.

RA:  DUST Warfare and its abandonment by Battlefront really bothered a lot of DUST players who preferred Warfare to Tactics.  Do you have plans to pick Warfare back up?
PP:  Dust Studio has not enough energy to take care of warfare as well, we all know that.  Personally l believe that Dust Tactics Battlefield does the same job and even better, Olivier Zamfirescu and l always wanted Warfare to be exactly like Tactics but without the grid. We will license later this year Warfare to one of his most devoted players, he will continue that legacy.




RA:  What sneak peeks can you share with me (and the readers?)
PP:  Luftwaffe+Rocket Troops, Axis Blutkreuz miny army, British LRDG, Chinese Liberation Army, Japanese Navy Landing Forces and a LOT more!
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RA:  Thanks for sharing, Paolo!  I’m definitely looking forward to more DUST!  If you’d like to learn more about DUST Studios and the great Paolo Parente, check them out here:  DUST Studio.  

  • MarcoT

    Cool stuff. I was hoping for some interesting production details as well, and how they work with other kickstarters such as Conan. But again, cool stuff regardless.

  • ‫خالد العتيبي‬‎

    لذيذ و ممتع

  • RexScarlet

    Great game, models are very cool. They really need indoor hallway/room to room rules (maybe even solo play).
    There are great 1/35 scale resin model that are fantastic;
    (even the packaging is awesome)

  • Andrew

    “End up like GF9” I’m confused, what does he mean? Isn’t that company still in business?

    • NewHat

      Isn’t the rumor they are still in business because Battlefield performed a sleazy hostile takeover, due to failures on contract fulfilments.

      • Crusty_Curmudgeon

        I heard BattleFRONT (Battlefield is a Dust Studios game) dragged their feet on honoring GF9 committments after entering into a contract to support them, causing them to be devalued and making them an easy target due to financial stress.

        Basically the same rumor.

        • NewHat

          Sorry yes Battlefront 🙂

    • Ricard Fortun

      GF9 was absorbed by BF and is now the games developing branch of the company. Also they do all the “other” stuff that is not Flames of War

  • OldHat

    Dead game is dead. This went from hopeful to AT-43 in a hurry. Worst decision Paolo made was taking Dust from FFG to Battlefront. Then again, Warfare was starting to outshine Tactics, so we wouldn’t want that. With three versions of Tactics in various boxes, Battlefield in limbo, and Warfare getting fed to a “fan” where it is going to get zero official support, I would not recommend this game in any incarnation to anyone.

    • Crusty_Curmudgeon

      Warfare was fine for it’s day when it was the only game on the grid-less tabletop, but Battlefield has far and away more players now than Warfare ever did.

      It’s understandable the FFG playtest gang would be bitter at the switch from FFG since it cut off their ability to influence the game exclusively. What I don’t see is the bitterness at a “Fan” getting to run Warfare development, since that was EXACTLY THE SAME THING FFG DID. What passed for “development” there was one guy on staff that collected fan input and turned it into published content. I don’t see where that changes, except now that it’s some *other* fan instead of you, er I mean the FFG group.

      • OldHat

        Cute. My involvement with FFG has zero to do with the fact Paolo and BF ruined Dust as a franchise. And you clearly weren’t in the playtesting, because you have zero clue how it went or the length they went to produce the content. My bitterness stems from a creator who hated the game I loved (Warfare) and a toxic community that drove away anyone not a Paolo fanboy.

        And the difference between a fan running the game and FFG using playtesters should be pretty obvious to anyone in how vastly different that is. Warfare was terminal when it went to BF, but died when it went to a “fan”, because now it will get zero “official” support.

        And of course Battlefield has more players – they supported it at the expense of Warfare.

      • CS

        Please. Battlefield has nowhere near the players Warfare did at its height. I have never met a battlefield player (or even tactics v2). I frequent about 5 local game stores in the Baltimore and DC area and attend several major cons. No battlefield and no Tactics. The FFG group was a professional development team. We got paid money to make it. All Battlefront did was guce me some minis. And you complain about how little say people had on Warfare other than the playtesters. How much input do you have on Battlefield, even less.

        And I would hardly call myself a “fan”. Im a professional game designer. Its what people pay me to do.

        • Crusty_Curmudgeon

          LOL… a fan who contributed and had rules published for warfare is mad that a fan is writing rules for warfare?

          I got paid once to paint, but that doesn’t make me Michelangelo.

          • CS

            A fan who wrote Dust Adventures RPG. And im not mad at Gregory for writing/working on Warfare. Especially since he does consult me. More annoyed that trolls like you bash things you have no clue about.

            I would hope people who write these games are fans. My problem is that people are treating this like its fan fiction. Once Gregory has the license it ceases being fan made and becomes official.

          • OldHat

            Just because it is “official”, doesn’t mean it has any support. It isn’t about if it is recognized as legit, but given the Paolo and BF have basically destroyed Warfare, giving it to a fan (even one as capable as Gregory), it doesn’t speak highly for the future of the game. The game is dead.

  • Maelstorm

    To start – I have 2 sets of every Axis and Allied model and have played the game extensively with a great group of friends.
    Its a shame that he only wants to support Tactics (game squares) and Battlefield (game squares expanded). The game squares are a complete turn-off for Warhammer/Warmachine/Infinity players – his target audience! What is he thinking??
    Having three different systems for the same game divided his audience and his decision to pass on Warfare (the most tactical of the bunch) will ultimately kill the game. It’s really sad, as it can be an awesome game with fun models.

    • NewHat

      Warhammer players aren’t jumping ship and he is not trying to emulate those games… Tactics is its own game and it has targeted and changed so many board gamers into Wargamers. There was 2,500 war gamers at Adepticon … There was 49,530 unique attendees/board gamers at Gencon… Board gamers are interested in games that are fast to play and easy to get into. There is plenty of room for Tactics and games like Dead Zone and Rivet Wars. He is hitting both Wargamers and Board gamers. Target Audience is not the issue with the games sustainability.

      • OldHat

        That isn’t his point. There was a wargame for Dust, that being Warfare. But because Paolo didn’t like it and that it eventually outshined his precious Tactics, he crapped on all things Warfare, including its supporters who didn’t go ga-ga for Tactics.

        In the end, there was room for a well-managed Dust. I am certainly one of the people who helped push it (Warfare). Sadly, it is mismanaged to hell. Dust Studios and Battlefront ruined it. Now there isn’t just three games, but many incarnations of Tactics floating around (1, 1.5, and 2, with 3 coming along too), plus the uncertain Battlefield and deader-than-dead Warfare. And I am not even touching the whole Kickstarter fiasco!

        With all that, the game is dead. Players are better off going to X-Wing, Rivet Wars, and other, better supported games.

  • Kijg
  • Steve Painter

    I was hoping to hear that the backers would actually get something. We got tricked by both Dust Studios and Battlefront into helping pay for BF’s debt.

  • Crusty_Curmudgeon

    Paolo, I’m very excited to hear about the plans for LRDG, Chinese and Luftwaffe forces! This sounds like a chance to explore lightly armored troop focused choices and new tactics focused on mobility and speed!

  • narceron

    Love the IP, but yeah, its basically been stabbed from every direction at this point.

    I have two complete armies and most of the models for ze germans, so I’ll be holding on to them. I wonder if they would make passable Astra Militarum?

    • OldHat

      I see a ton of people who Orkify the stuff. So there is that.

  • ted1138

    The Dust models are some of my favourite gaming pieces by far. I have an ever growing collection of Axis forces. But I have no plans to ever play either of the dust tactics or warfare games. I’ve read statements from from both BF and DS about their little squabble, and i don’t really care which side is at fault(both have made big mistakes IMHO). I hope BF can wash their hands of DS without it costing them too much money, and I hope DS can move on and not let any of this affect their business, as I feel they bring something unique and valuable to the hobby, and I’d hate to see that disappear.

  • Ron Shirtz

    Hang in there, Paolo Parente, we’re all looking forward to the future of more Dust products coming online.

    • Steve Painter

      Actually we’re not “all” looking forward to it at all. Many of us are looking forward to the mess between Dust and Battlefront being fixed as soon as possible so we can get either models or money back.

  • I find it very distressing that Paolo so casually discusses moving on and coming out with new items while thousands of us backers have lost hundreds of thousands on the Operation Babylon Kickstarter without so much as a F&%k You Very Much for the cash. I guess it’s a case of “Too bad, so sad, sucks to be us”. It’s disappointing that this company continues to get Marketing and interviews while us investors are being screwed.