Category Archives: Game Design

Game Maker Studio

Again I am breaking one of the rules that I wrote down when I started this blog. Today I want to write about a topic unrelated to pen & paper RPGs. While pen & paper RPGs are my primary hobby, there are other things I enjoy doing very much. Writing software is one of these.

Of course I am no professional programmer. Back in the 1980s I wrote simple programs in BASIC on my Amstrad CPC 464. Those were exciting times. With a few lines of code you could achieve pretty cool things (at least I thought it was cool back then). Later I switched to Turbo Pascal on the PC. I wrote a couple of pretty crappy games, a simple engine for text adventure games and a database application for my dad.

In more recent years I mostly dabbled in some web-based programming (mostly PHP, some JavaScript). I still enjoy writing code very much, but it has become much harder to be motivated to do so. Generally it has become much harder to come up with worthwhile projects that are also easy enough so I don’t get frustrated too quickly. I always wanted to dabble in game development, but it’s definitely one of the more advanced subjects when it comes to programming.

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Recently I stumbled upon a YouTube playlist by Tom Francis who developed the awesome indie game Gunpoint. He used YoYoGames GameMaker software, which is basically an engine for 2D games with it’s own development enviroment and it’s own programming language called GML. The huge advantage of Game Maker Studio over similar products is that you can get things done very quickly and easily. Of course something like Unity is vastly superior in most aspects, but it also has a much steeper learning curve.

In the free version of GameMaker Studio I was able to write a simple Asteroids clone in about two to three hours. Of course the game is far from being polished. Heck, it doesn’t even has a score counter, no highscore list, BUT you can fly around in a little spaceship, shoot at asteroids and it’s actually fun doing so. So far I think GameMaker is a perfect tool if you want to get results quickly, especially if you prefer the “quick & dirty” approach. The code I wrote definitely doesn’t look pretty and some of the solutions I came up with a at least quirky, but I had a blast adding new features and coercing the PC to do my bidding. Smiley mit geöffnetem Mund

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By the way, if you want to have a look at the latest version of my game (please note that I disabled background music, because it got annoying pretty quickly), feel free to download the Windows executable here (Some antivirus solutions like Avira’s may report the file as potentially malicious, but that’s a false positive – you can trust me). Please let me know what you think.

An Elegant System For A More Civilized Age

Most of you probably remember the line “An elegant weapon for a more civilized age” from 1977’s Star Wars. So it’s probably no surprise that this post is about the rules of the original Star Wars roleplaying game by West End Games.

Released back in the late 1980s the game used an updated and modified d6 System which premiered with the Ghostbusters RPG. If you compare it with the later editions of the Star Wars game and other d6 System games you’ll notice quite a few differences. While a lot of people prefer the more recent editions of the game system, I still have a soft spot for the Star Wars 1st Edition rules.

Overall the 1st edition rules were simpler than the 2nd edition rules. 2nd edition not only added the Wild Die (which could lead to some very epic results and as epic failures), but also tweaked scaling, changed movement speeds form dice codes to a fixed value, changed the damage and healing system, and last but not least added Advanced Skills. Do the changes make the system better? Maybe. Do they make the game simpler? Definitely not.

Especially if you’re looking for a fast system which doesn’t get in the way of roleplaying the old 1st edition rules are probably your best choice. I am actually not surprised that the creators of the Heavy Gear d6 conversion chose to model the rules after this system instead of using the more recent d6 Space as a basis (which is pretty close to 2nd Edition Star Wars).

What I’d really like to see is a generic SF RPG modeled after the original Star Wars ruleset. In my opinion it’s closer to what I personally would like to run. Perhaps I’ll have to do the heavy hauling myself one day, if noone else does it. But you never know.

Why there will be no 2nd Edition of WR&M

Over the last years I have thought several times about creating a 2nd Edition of Warrior, Rogue & Mage. No game is perfect and WR&M is no exception. The combat rules need fixing, some talents don’t work as intended, several of the monsters in the bestiary need to be looked at. Most people don’t seem to mind, but I look at the Wyrm System and see its flaws in every little detail. I guess it’s true that the worst critics of any game designers are themselves.

Fixing some of the issues would probably be doable, but whenever I start working on WR&M I get the urge to change more than just the problematic parts. Perhaps a new dice mechanics would be fun! Why not make weapon damages static? Let’s remodel the whole magic system! I guess it’s a sign of what I call game designer ADD. I just can’t help myself, I just have to mess with my own designs.

Recently I released the WR&M SRD under the very open Creative Commons Attribution license. So WR&M is now basically in the hands of the community. I am confident that they’ll treat “my baby” with respect. In a way that helps me not to turn all George Lucas on it and totally mess it up in the long run.

A new edition of WR&M would probably be very different to the game you all know, just because I like to come up with new solutions to old problems just for the heck of it. The same thing happened when I started working on WR&M Pocket Edition. At first I tried to simplify the rules even more, so that I could fit it into Pocketmod format. But then I read about dice-less RPGs and decided it would be cool to make it dice-less as well. What I finally came up with might have worked as a system, but it just didn’t feel WR&M anymore.

Long story short, the reason why there won’t be a 2nd Edition of WR&M is that I just can’t help myself changing the game beyond recongnition. So instead of doing that I should just take the elements I like and create something new with them. WR&M is better off in the hands of its fans. I don’t want to become the George Lucas of the RPG industry. Zwinkerndes Smiley