Category Archives: Non-RPG

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Off-Topic: Elite Dangerous

It’s not often that I write about my other, non-RPG hobbies. But there’s one computer game on my mind right now, that I just have to talk about: Elite Dangerous by Frontier Developments.

BBC_Micro_Elite_screenshotElite Dangerous is the latest game in a series that started with the 1984’s Elite for the BBC Micro written by David Braben and Ian Bell. Elite was the first computer game that had an open-world, real 3D graphics and could be played for months. Its successors Frontier: Elite II and Frontier: First Encounters came out in the mid-90s and had much better graphics, a more realistic universe including a realistic flight model. Frontier: Elite II is one of the games I enjoyed very much, even though it had a lot of technical issues.

Hmm, perhaps I should write a few sentences about what Elite is about. In the original game you started with a Cobra Mk III space ship in the Lave system and some credits you could spend on trade commodities. You could then try your luck as a trader, pirate, or bounty hunter. The overall goal was to reach Elite status, but how you reached that goal was up to you. In Elite there were 6 galaxies with 256 stars each you could explore. In the upcoming Elite Dangerous you’ll have the whole Milky Way to explore. In a way it will be THE open-world game!

For some reason I missed the Elite Dangerous Kickstarter but during the last months I almost watched every piece of Alpha footage I could find on Youtube. The graphics definitely look great and the gameplay I’ve seen so far is pretty awesome even considering that the game was still in Alpha.  The sound design is just awesome and the UI really helps to immerse yourself in the universe. Elite Dangerous will also be a multiplayer game (single player is still an option though) which allows you to play with other people.

At the moment I am really tempted to buy the Premium Beta package. It’s quite expensive (120€) but it includes access to the beta plus the full game when it comes out including all future expansions. At least two expansions are already planned: one that will allow to fly around in planets’ atmospheres and land on planets, moons, etc. and a second one which allows you to leave your space ship to run around in cities or even go game hunting on alien planets. Wow!

What are your thoughts on Elite Dangerous? Have you backed the Kickstarter back in the day? Do you still remember the original game or one of its sequels? Please share your thoughts below!

WotO Part XVII

Sci-Fi Fridays! Part 17, Interlude… An Interview with Ryan Wolfe

We interrupt our regular feature for this special interview! Last week I posted part 1 of the Journeyman’s Gazette, and next week we’ll return to the Outlands and part 2. However, on parts 15 of this series I sang the praises of the Future Armada Series, and specifically the Exeter which is the one we’ll be using during the game as the character’s ship.

The creator of the Future Armada and Armada Codex series, Ryan Wolfe, was kind enough to grant me an interview about the series. I would like to use this week’s post to share the answers with you. I hope you find the information interesting and useful. Check out his products, they are excellent for any sci-fi campaign (and he’s got some fantasy maps too).

Week you next week for Part 18, Part 2 of the Journeyman’s Gazetteer!

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And interview with Ryan Wolfe of 0 hr – art & technology

Sunglar: Ryan Wolfe, I know you as the maker of those wonderful sci-fi maps, but who exactly is Ryan Wolfe? How did you get into gaming?

Ryan: I’ve been a gamer since being introduced to D&D around 1980. I’ve gone through RPG, video, and board game phases but have always loved sci-fi and star ships in particular. I saw Star Wars when it was first in the theaters when I was ten and that’s what started it all for me. I was also into computers and, after getting some degrees in that, ended up programming video games in Austin and Seattle. This is where I picked up my rudimentary skills in Photoshop and 3D Studio – the art guys were kind enough to show me around the basics and let me experiment on my own.

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Slightly Off-Topic: Interactive Fiction

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Some of you might remember the computer stone age, when the majority of computer games were text-based. Interestingly enough the games from these days are still pretty popular today. Perhaps not in the mainstream but there are still gamers who enjoy playing roguelikes or text adventures (aka interactive fiction).

When I was a kid I loved adventure games. I actually even tried to program them myself. My first attempts were quite terrible, but it was fun forcing the computer to do one’s bidding.

Recently I have been thinking about things I loved to do in the past and which I don’t do anymore. Writing software is one of those things. I never was a good programmer, but I still enjoyed coding small programs. I also wrote a lot of short stories when I was a kid, mostly using my grandpa’s typewriter. Ah, those were the days!

While I was basking in nostalgia I thought it could be a lot of fun to write my own adventure game. And in a way, these text-based games are not that far off from the role-playing games I play. Doing some research on the internet I eventually stumbled upon Inform 7.

Inform 7 is a software that allows you to write interactive fiction games using (almost) normal English language. You don’t have to learn a complex programming language, but designing your game comes almost as naturally as writing a story.

Here’s an example from the Inform 7 documentation:

“Cave Entrance”

The Cobble Crawl is a room. “You are crawling over cobbles in a low passage. There is a dim light at the east end of the passage.”

A wicker cage is here. “There is a small wicker cage discarded nearby.”

The Debris Room is west of the Crawl. “You are in a debris room filled with stuff washed in from the surface. A low wide passage with cobbles becomes plugged with mud and debris here, but an awkward canyon leads upward and west. A note on the wall says, ‘Magic word XYZZY’.”

The black rod is here. “A three foot black rod with a rusty star on one end lies nearby.”

Above the Debris Room is the Sloping E/W Canyon. West of the Canyon is the Orange River Chamber.

See, how easy it is? Of course you can’t just write down everything that comes to mind. You still have to follow certain rules, but it’s way easier than to write an adventure game from scratch using conventional programming languages.

So, if you are interested in creating your own interactive fiction, why not check out Inform 7. It’s pretty impressive and free to boot. And if you come up with a cool game of your own, please let me know.