Tuesday, October 19, 2010

15 Games in a Distracted Troll's Chest! Yo-ho-ho...

Ok, hoppin’ on the meme. I believe it’s something like the 15 most meaningful games, scribbled out in a quick 15 minutes:

  1.  D&D ‘cause, yeah…
  2. Dark Tower: I still want to build an RPG campaign off that game board.
  3. Joust: more for what I thought it should be than what it was.
  4. Warhammer 40k: more for what it wanted to be than what it was.
  5. Shadowrun: elves and cyberpunk and the end of the world as we know it
  6. Star Frontiers: H. Beam Piper, the RPG!
  7. Revolt on Antares: so many cool little pieces.
  8. Trust and Betrayal: the Legacy of Siboot: rock, scissors, paper for world domination!
  9. Blue Rose: never played, but the fever-dreams it inspired still get to me.
  10. StarSiege
  11. LotFP: elegance and focus. Maybe I can do that too!
  12. Ultima series: World-building is about culture, not just where the orcs live.
  13. Space Rogue: Elite with focus.
  14. Elite: huge universe, small ship.
  15. M.U.L.E.: Unfairness can be a feature, games can be different, and people play for different reasons.

These are not in any real order. So why these games? Because they fired off my imagination and led it in interesting directions. I mean, Settlers of Catan is a fun game and all, but it does make me go, “ooo, ooo, what about a world in which sorcerers can transform bricks into sheep?!?”

Joust is the most interesting one to my mind. My first encounter with the game is seeing classmates in 5th grade draw pictures of it. They just reproduced what was on the screen, but my mind invented a game in which noble aerial knights rescued and safeguarded eggs from ravening bandits. My conception of the game was a lot more fun than the real game turned out to be.

Games like Dark Tower and Revolt on Antares had similar effects, even though I did play them. These games were vague and handwavey in their details, with just enough art and detail to ignite sparks I could nurture into full-blown daydreams. Who were those named mercenaries at Anatares? What exactly did those keys open in the frontiers of the Dark Tower map? Cool banners and futuristic wargear still simmer in my imagination.

Art by Bob Pepper.


James Maliszewski said...

Star Frontiers: H. Beam Piper, the RPG!

It's a fine game, I admit, but I detect zero Piper influence on it, especially compared to Traveller. Where do you see it?

trollsmyth said...

James: Air cars and megacorps that own entire planets and duel in shady ways, and slug-throwers and lawmen.

It's far from a perfect map, I'll admit, even for Piper's Federation stories. It's a horrible map, socially, for the Empire period (which Traveller works pretty well for), or the Paratime stories. But the sense that there are businessmen working in the background, making and moving robot parts, that folks are running guns to revolutionaries or engaging in industrial espionage, and that others are trying hard to make it on their own, feels very Piper in his Federation stories to me. Ditto for Heinlein's "Citizen of the Galaxy," which has a similar feel to Piper's "Little Fuzzy" and "The Cosmic Computer" stories.

Which I know is crazy, because other than the megacorps, none of this is actually in the Star Frontiers rules; there's certainly no adjudication system for handling hostile takeovers or courtroom confrontations. It's just implied by the setting and the maps and other odds and ends. But that happens often to me when I'm filling in the gaps.

Stuart said...

A lot of those early videogames had fantastic box / cartridge art that was really evocative of some bigger story world than what you were seeing on the screen in crude 8-bit graphics.

Matthew Slepin said...

I loved the set-up to Revolt on Antares. I always wanted to do something with the Phantom Legion. I also thought Ward Serpentine was bad-ass.