Category Archives: Random musings

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.

Hell Froze Over: There will be a non-palladium-System RIFTS Game

Two days ago, Palladium Books revealed in its Weekly Update that there will be a new roleplaying game set in Rifts Earth (including a line of adventures) created by another company. For everyone who loves the setting of Rifts but doesn’t care for the rules this is great news. Alas Kevin Siembieda didn’t spill the beans what company is currently adapting Rifts to its own system.

I am really surprised that Mr. Siembieda finally allows another company to create a new Rifts game. Fans of the game have critizised the Palladium system for many years now. Any attempts of fans to create alternate rules have been answered by lawsuit threats. After a while people didn’t even dare to talk about the issue anymore.

And now – totally out of the blue – Palladium Books announces that they’ve made a deal with another company to release a whole series of Rifts products powered by a different game system. Of course people immediately started to speculate. Since Jason Richards’ Breachworld RPG shares a couple of elements with Rifts many people hoped he’d be working on the new Rifts game, but it seems that is not the case.

I really hope that the new Rifts game will not use Savage Worlds rules, which is another rumor I picked up on the web. Savage Worlds is not a bad system but I highly doubt it can handle the scale of the setting. To have both Rogue Scientists and Glitter Boys in the same game, the underlying system needs a granularity Savage World just doesn’t have.

There were also speculations that Green Ronin may be that secret company, since they announced “perhaps the biggest RPG story of the year” for GenCon in their January update, but from what we know now it’s more likely that they referred to their cooperation with Wil Wheaton and his Titansgrave setting. I also believe that the AGE System wouldn’t be a good fit either. But their Mutants & Masterminds system might actually work quite well, since it can handle powerlevels very well.

What are your thoughts on that announcement? As always, every comment is highly appreciated! Feel free to share your thoughts below.