Just over a year ago I started my MSc in Interactive Digital Media in Trinity. My goal was to use the course, which was advertised as “intense” and had interesting looking interactive narrative and game design modules to a) update my skillset and b) serve as a launching pad into getting a job doing narrative or design for games. A year later and I can certainly confirm that of all the things the course was “intense” was certainly not one of them. I also realised, after doing some research into it that working in the reality of working in the AAA games industry was rather disheartening.
I further realised that I liked having money. So the job hunt began. However after spending so long in it I didn’t want to end my relationship with the academic world cold turkey. So I applied for a few funded PhD’s as well as jobs here and there. I was unsuccessful in securing either a job or funding and so I signed on to ye olde social welfare. Which if I’m honest suited me fine as I am largely convinced my native state is semi naked and semi-comatose.
But throughout the last year or so I had been working away of some designs for small; let’s call them “indie”, games. Some of this design work I managed to integrate with my course work (go, go Research paper on turn based strategy games and a design approach to re-invent the genre!) and some were, much like what is best in life, just for me. The future looked bright, my days filled with dole queue funded drunkenness as I supped on alcohol brewed in an old sleeping bag at the foot of my bed and my nights filled with frenzied coding.
But fate is as always a harsh mistress and sought to disrupt my bliss by offering me second place in both my previous job and PhD hunts. Which is why gentle reader you now find your humble author lecturing part time and pursuing a self-funded (i.e. poverty) PhD full-time. Needless to say this is eating into my free time like that fabled fly that burrows into the still living flesh of its hosts. What’s worse though is that I’m not sure that either of these two things are things I would like to do full time for the rest of my working life.
So as such I shall be continuing my plan to create (or in some cases finalise) these games. I’m going to approach them in the order they are presented here, largely because I think that in terms of skillset they build quite well on one another. Of course like all bedroom game developers everywhere my secret hope is that these somehow rocket me to stardom. To that end feel free to send me money or spicy pictures of yourself, to be honest you should generally feel free to do either of those two things.
The following are very high level summaries as I intend to try and keep a regular (once a week) design journal going on my development of them.
Starting 80AD the player takes charge of a small struggling gladiatorial school on the outskirts of the Roman Empire. Over the next 100 years he must take his school from obscurity to the very heights of fame and fortune – the Imperial games at the Flavian Amphitheatre in Rome!
The original idea for this is more recent than any of the others. It came about when I suggested adding a strategic layer to Simon’s proposed gladiatorial combat game and took off from there. Simon refers to the idea as “Gladiator Manager 2013”, because he has clearly huffed too much glue. But that’s basically what it is.
All of the mechanical design work for this is done and there isn’t a huge amount of graphical design to do. I also have a good amount of high level pseudo code done up. So to be honest for this it’s more a matter of deciding on a language/development kit and just getting going.
This came about from a little design exercise I set myself for a tabletop RPG mechanic that made duelling fun while capturing the tension but retaining extensibility. The basic mechanic is in place and then the idea sort of grew around it. To be honest Wikipedia’s definition of “Musha Shugyo” more or less covers what I plan to include in the game:
“Musha shugyō (武者修行?) is a samurai warrior’s quest or pilgrimage. The concept is similar to Knight Errantry in feudal Europe. A warrior, called a shugyōsha, would wander the land practicing and honing his skills without the protection of his family or school. Possible activities include training with other schools, dueling, performing bodyguard or mercenary work, and searching for a daimyo to serve.”
It will be set in ancient japan with no (or possibly very limited) supernatural elements. This one requires a bit of work, the plan is to include and build on the detailed statistic management of Ava Imperator while adding a lot more freeform narrative elements. At the moment I’m envisioning it playing similarly to the ADV sub-genre of Japanese VN’s.
As this started out for p&p RPG’s I’m also considering adding in all the little anachronistic setting elements I came up with for that proposed campaign. But we’ll see.
After creating a visual novel as my final MSc project I want to take another stab at one unhindered by project constraints (and of course the impurity of other’s contributions ;) ). This was initially going to be a fairly by the numbers VN but while tinkering with it I’ve come up with some experiments in how to approach an interactive narrative that I’d like to try. Ideally this will build on the narrative work from Musha Shugyo.
The oldest idea here and one I’ve been working on and off for years at this point. It’s also the most technically ambitious. It’s basically a spin on updating classic western turn based tactical RPG’s mechanically and setting in a modern day supernatural setting. Clearly though XCOM has stolen my thunder ;)
10 years in Avalon
Set in an anachronistic setting mirroring our own world around the industrial revolution only in this world steam and electrical power has been replaced by magical power drawn from bound elemental spirits. The game fill focus on a military squad from one of the game world’s many countries, the brave men and woman of the Royal Avalonian Empire’s Special Arcane Services (SAS). The SAS use the latest magical technology to anachronistically ape the capabilities of modern day special forces teams (long range scrying instead of satellite reconnaissance, air elemental driven dirigibles instead of troop planes, etc.). The game will follow their missions during the Avalonian – Granian war.
This is basically an alternate setting for a game quite similar to my idea for Divison 10. It’s got quite a bit of work done to it and in terms of design has some novel stuff going on (it was the case study for my MSc research report).