Tuesday, 30 June 1998

World Development: Civilization 2, 3 and 4

There's one thing I seem to be very good at, figuring out how to be lazy and yet still get good results.

Civs Tech Tree, Mine Tripled it, for just the Middle Ages
So Way back in '96 I got Civilisation II, and while I played it probably non stop for a year, I got bored enough with its generic, simplification of technologies and the early years of the game.. so like many Civ players, I learn how to Mod the game.

But I had more purpose than that.

Civ created a Map for you, Major cities, borders, races and politics, within the Cities you could list the basic buildings available to its citizens, you had access to a wide variety of information, did they have access to resources, what kind of population was happy (rich) vs unhappy (poor, criminals)

You could create an entire roleplay world in a matter of hours, what would take an average writer months and months..

So I did... but it wasn't good enough,

Lord of the Rings Icons suits many a fantasy setting!
So I edited CivII, Added in more relevant techs for a historical setting, high fantasy but low magic world, I joined Civ Fanatics, I wrote about changes, I uploaded and downloaded images, shared ideas and developed a Fantasy Themed Civ game..

Then I inflicted it upon my friends and roleplay group.. Civ II only allowed 4 human players. so we had to replay the map in sections to create a decent enough history & backstory..

My group liked it well enough to want to do it again, So I decided to create some 'back story' maps too.

Tyranosaurus Rexicus Maxiumus Invades Cairo
 There was a Mod for Civ II something to do with dinosaurs, they 'ate' forests to increase their size, nested for created baby dinosaurs, some could chew up the land to create lakes & if nearby sea beds..

This was like a terraforming Mod (I went on to make this into 3 games) which worked brilliantly.. It got my players interested in making the land masses, shaping the world, choosing if a region should be forested, or chewed up by the dinosaurs to become grasslands (or when a dinosaur died, become oil fields)

My team, inflicted once again, played out 3 rounds of this.. I amalgamated the maps into one, and this determined some 'ancient structures' as well as some 'interesting landscapes'.

Around 1998-1999, Civ III came out... with a far easier editor.. but better yet 16 players! I took a year to create a Mod for this, all new graphics, all new designs, new Units, new tech tree..
Dragons, Magicians, Knights, Castles. Civ IV has enough models, I could do it all again!!

and we never played it. Real life took everyone in new paths..

But, it did give me the impetus for Fantasy Kingdoms, years later, I would discover, this idea that players are very willing to participate in world generation.. if you give them the right tools.

So, if you're looking at this great big world you're thinking of creating, and it seems like such a huge job.. why not do the same.. Start one of the many Map ownership games that exist out there, with some friends (maybe even your gaming group) and build the back story of your world together.. share the workload in a fun manner

Your play team will often surprise you and include things you could have never thought of.....

Monday, 30 March 1998

Original Stats: The Mage

When we first started looking at putting together the Mage in our system, we had 3 players who tried magic, Mattius the Thaumaturge, was an experimenter, he had no real spells, just things he picked up along the way, Reym the Elven Mage/Fighter, who had some augmentation for combat, and finally Sutekh, the sprite, who had a range of natural abilities, but not specific magics.

Remember, this was back in 2nd Edition Rules, The Amalgamation of all systems had begun, but magic was far down the list.. so in order to make a playable game, I just hobbled together the spell lists, averaged out some spells and levels to match something clean, and ended up with a hodgepodge of mismatched rules that made little to no real sense..

which is magic, when you think about it.

Magic is either science or its Not

My First big problem was that I was reading far too much Science Fiction at the time, Issac Asimovs stories of Azazel the 'Demon' using high level technology to create the effects, which seemed like magic. 

In '96 I went to a community college to get a degree on Computer Science and was learning about databases.. one thing I put together was a structure of 'cause & effect' for spells.

Then at the Same College I met some teachers, who put me onto some Professors at University, who were very keen to discuss how magic could work under the laws of Thermodynamics, Electromagnetism and Looking into Spirituality and how it could be represented in a magical system.

Now, while I have remade the rules of Combat several times, Archery several times, Stealth several times, Magic remained the same system for many many years..

Here's how it worked then, and still does for Version 3..

All spells, based on their school, had a difficulty level to study, A Study requirement, an Imperfection level to cast spells. The Caster would roll for cast spell, if passed, they had an imperfection chance %, but if failed, this value was increased by the spell difficulty x The failure result.

Back then, Magic worked on a number of d8s  x the spell level. so 1st level spells could fail up to 8 pts (if you had no score) and the highest 16th level spells, could theoretically fail by 128pts. We were experimenting with varied dice pools at the time.. my colleague was trying to make a 3d8 version of the whole system, arguing if 2 dice gave a good bell curve, 3 dice would be better.

Again though, Maybe because the magic was so broken, or so difficult to learn a spell, or the number of players I had was so limited, I needed a group to play some mages..

So the OS team were born.. 5 Mages, down on their luck, driven out of town after town for some shocking trickster attempts, vowed to return to vent their revenge, sought out some powerful magics and blew themselves to smithereens when the imperfection failed far too much. But in that time, I did manage to clean up the magic rules from v2 to v3.

v3.5 is another story for another day.. 

Friday, 30 January 1998

The Lists

In the endeavours of my system, my best friend Craig, had joined me in the idea of creating this awesome system. He introduced me to rolemaster, Wow, I thought my game was complex... I am curious how modern gamer kids view it, or if they even come across it..

But what we did back then was to grab all the systems we had access to and write out this big lists..

All the Skills, All the Spells, All The Traits, Flaws, Statistics, Modifier charts, Everything.. including all double-ups.. until we had this big BIG set of lists..

Early on, we check for things that were similar duplicates, but also, different duplicates.. wrote notes about how or why they were different.

Skills were broken into three groups.. easy medium and hard.

Spells were left in a big pile for much later.

While things changed, we always came back to these lists to check if we missed something.. sometimes it was a tweak of an idea, where we had the concept wrong from the start.. other times it needed to be scratched out.. too many skills based on the same thing, just because English language has two words for it, doesn't make it separate skills (but often it does)