Game Dev Story Story

I had planned on spending a plane flight yesterday reading Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants and Dan Abnett’s Triumff. Instead, shortly after takeoff, I decided to give Game Dev Story a try. In the end, there’s not a ton of game to it, but it’s a blast to play through an alternate history of recent game development and create genres that never were (such as my experiments in the “Romance Puzzler” genre.)

One of the things I love most in the game is naming the finished projects from my studio. There’s a limit of 14 characters, but I still try to have some fun. Here are the first 30 games I made:

Fallout: New Vegas, Fable III, and Rock Band 3 are all in my near future….but I bet I’ll spend a few minutes every day helping my studio keep going.

15 Games in 15 Minutes

A post instigated by Jeff Grubb, who said:

This meme has been bouncing around the net, and I thought I would give it a shot. Originally it was for computer games, but it’s jumping the species membrane and gone viral.

The rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen games you’ve played that will always stick with you. List the first 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.

Okay, here goes:

1) Deus Ex
2) AD&D
3) DC Heroes RPG
4) Talisman
5) Grand Theft Auto 3
6) Burnout: Paradise
7) Star Wars RPG
8) Cyborg
9) Axis & Allies
10) Guitar Hero
11) SSX Tricky
12) HeroClix
13) Civilization
14) City of Heroes
15) Carcassonne

Runners-up for the list: Unreal Tournament, the MAD Magazine board game, Wizardry, Creature Venture, Illuminati, Castle Falkenstein, 221B Baker Street, and A Mind Forever Voyaging.

I’d love to hear your lists.

Booklife: On Writing and Gaming

The more games I play, the more I come to understand how a great game’s mechanics and metaphor work together to generate really satisfying experiences for players. In turn, that’s helped me hone my instincts as a writer, understanding how structure and setting work together to create great stories…

Along with a number of other contributors to Green Ronin’s FAMILY GAMES: THE 100 BEST, I was interviewed by one of the editors for Jeff Vandermeer’s great site Booklife who wanted to talk about writing and game design.

My interview was posted today, and you can check it out here to see me talk about what writers can learn about game design and give a shoutout to some of my favorite recent storygames.

The S.E.T.H. Universe

Chatting with a friend a few days ago, we talked about characters we created as kids.

In junior high and high school, my friends and I played a long-running campaign using the DC Heroes RPG rules, but our own setting called Radiant City. (I don’t think we’d heard of the Mister X comic and its similar setting at that point.) The many branches of that campaign have continued for decades, most recently a game I ran for friends here in Seattle just a couple years ago.

But even before that, we sat around making our own comics. My friend Brian did incredible Super Scott comics featuring his younger brother as the main character, with issues given to him as birthday and Christmas presents. I don’t know that I ever finished a whole issue of my own Super Seth (my sister wasn’t interested in being a superhero), but I made up a lot of characters who were part of my S.E.T.H. Comics Universe–the Super EnterTaining Heroes Comics Universe.

As a huge fan of DC’s Who’s Who and the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, I wanted to do a guide to my own heroes. That meant I needed a list of all my characters–a list I found recently:

Click on the image for the full list.

Some of the characters I remember: Super Seth, of course, and his nemesis Master Disguise (who wore a suite of white armor shaped quite similarly to that worn by Lex Luthor at the time, housing holo-projectors that could cloak him in various disguises.) Spy was my Nick Fury. Power Jousters was inspired by Team America, a childhood favorite comic, except they rode techno-monocycles and carried (naturally) lances armed with various gadgets. Worst Case Scenario was a lot like G.I. Joe, an elite military team with highly specialized members; I remember that among the scores of soldiers in their ranks was a combat cook. Chainsaw, Monk Punk, would make an appearance years later in the Sketch! rulebook as one of the first characters I drew for the game Brian and I designed.

Others I don’t remember, but I can infer a bit from the names. I can only assume that Jesus Force was an excuse to draw superheroes in church bulletins during boring Sunday services. Aaron of the Jungle was probably my school pal Aaron turned into a Tarzan clone. (Almost all of my friends had heroic or villainous identities eventually.) I can only make the same assumptions you would about what Crossbow and Broadsword might carry into battle. Captain Clutz looks like a complete and utter ripoff of the Don Martin MAD paperbacks I loved as a kid.

Reon, Mimbon, Quintain….those sound like I was just stringing random letters together to make a name. I have absolutely no idea who they might have been.

But I’m going to see if I can find out. I have file cabinets and boxes jammed full of stuff I created when I was a kid. Over the coming days, I’ll see if I can dig up (and scan and share) some answers.