Other sites about my books and games

Welcome to my Blog!
Most of my posts will be to do with the books I write, or the games I design. Feel free to stop by my personal web page, or the game company's web sites.

Philip Blood This is a link to my personal web site.

Citadel of Sorcery This is a link to a the MMORPG website.

MMO Magic, Inc. This is a link to the game company where I work.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dragon Slayers, Incorporated Novel Published!

Dragon Slayers, Incorporated is my ninth published novel (tenth book), however in many ways it is the oldest novel that I have published.  I came up with the idea for the story over 30 years ago, and even wrote some of the first few chapters back then (though I have heavily re-written them now).

Let me start with where the story came from.  I used to do a lot of GMing for Dungeons and Dragons back in my wild youth.  In fact, I had one group that got together every week for five years, playing through one epic story.  Along the way they named their group, Dragon Slayers, Incorporated (and yes, T-Shirts were made, I still have mine).

Now, role-playing table top games are meant to have the players, well, role-play.  This means that they should act like they are actually people existing in the time and world on which the game takes place, without knowledge of modern technology or pop-culture.  My DSI team really didn't do a lot of role-playing, they were more like a group of teenagers from our time tossed into a fantasy world.  Of course, table top gaming is meant to be whatever you want it to be, so it isn't like they were ‘breaking the rules’ or anything, and they accomplished the most important element of that gaming, they had fun.

In fact, our games were more about comedy than story most of the time.  I remember one time when I asked Colin Morgan what his character had on him, after he pulled out a 50’ foot rope, tied it to a ten foot pole, used a hammer and spikes to attach it to a wall, and a pulley to slide down the rope.  I checked his character sheet and found he had something like fifteen 50’ ropes, six suits of armor, twenty 10’ poles, and much MUCH more.  I made him draw a picture of himself, where he had to put everything he was carrying in the image.  There was this little person, and a giant sack the size of a greyhound bus.  Santa Claus would have been envious!

But there were many other funny moments, like when one of our team learned how to move his body through solid stone, then he ran into a giant stone golem.  So, instead of fighting him, as I had planned, he went inside the stone of the golem’s body, moved up to the head, and stuck his arm and weapon out, and preceded to smack the golem in the head, from inside its head.  This is not standard fantasy battle stuff, but it was funny.

So, I got the idea to write a story about a company from our time, called Dragon Slayers, Incorporated.  The name meant that even though dragons are mythical, if you pay them enough, they will slay your dragon.  In other words, a company that claims they would take on the impossible for the right fee.

This company is then approached by an old man who wants them to do something clearly impossible, and meets the price they placed.  The send a team, expecting this guy is a nut case, and end up being transported, in their Chevy Van, with all their modern equipment, to the fantasy world of Zot.

This novel is about what a modern group of problem solvers does, when stranded in a wacky and crazy fantasy world.  And, just like my group of players, this is a comedic look at the outcome, not anything too serious.  The story also pokes fun at many fantasy clichés, even things I have used in my own epic fantasy series, as well as doing parodies of things from Lord of the Rings, Conan and many other fantasy works.
It is all meant to be in fun.

Finally, because the idea came from a group of friends of mine, I decided to base ALL the major characters (and many of the minor) on those friends and family.  They are called by their name, and may (or may not) have some real elements about those people.  However, as I warned all of them, these are characters, and they aren't really those people.  I took as many liberties with them as I pleased, after all, this is a comedy!

So that is Dragon Slayers, Incorporated, my latest novel, and one that has been a long time coming!  If you are in the mood for a quick, light read, in a story that doesn't take itself at all seriously, then come join the crack squad from Dragon Slayers, Incorporated on their first adventure on a fantasy world.  And just remember, no matter what, Dragon Slayers, Incorporated always delivers!

Monday, February 24, 2014

My new novel is published: zONE: The End and the Beginning

Well, I've got my writer hat back on.  I like to keep my hand in writing novels, even if I'm busy making a computer games like the MMORPG, Citadel of Sorcery.  In fact, my new novel, zONE: The End and the Beginning has much to do with the MMO publishing world (in strange ways).  It even mentions Citadel of Sorcery as part of the story line!  So I've tied in my work (creating computer games) with my pleasure (writing novels).

But this post is about zONE.

This is my first out and out Science Fiction Novel.  It takes place around thirty years from now.  First off, think about what has happened to technology in the last thirty some years?  Let's take a quick trip back.  It's 2014, so if we subtract thirty years, we would be 1984, George Orwell's year.  Personal computers were just starting to get into a few homes, and were at the basic level of the Apple IIe, with green screen monitor, there were no cell phones, and no Internet.  Imagine that (or if you're older, think back to that time).

In just thirty short years we went from the Apple IIe to where we are today with the Internet, Cell phones and computers in, well, just about everything.  I think there are toasters with computers more powerful than the original Apple II.

How about politics?  Remember the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia?  In 1984, thirty years ago, Ronald Reagan made the gaff while joking with a live mic where he said, "My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever.  We begin bombing in five minutes."  Only seven years later, that same Super Power, The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) formally ceased to exist on the 26th of December, 1991.

The First World War lasted just over four years, the Second World War lasted just six years.  These were world sweeping wars, hence the name, yet they only lasted a few years.

A lot can happen in thirty years.

And so, in my novel, zONE, subtitled, The End and the Beginning, a LOT has changed in the next thirty years.  The Internet is dead, cell phones are gone, and it was all changed by a new technology called, the Zones.  The Zones are a virtual reality where they can create any environment, story, world, or even universe.  When you go in, you feel like you are in a real place.  Every famous book, movie, time period, historical setting, etc. have been recreated into Zones where you can actually go there and experience it as a living person.  In the Zones you are a Puppeteer, or 'Teer', controlling a Puppet.  What this really means is that you get a new body, of your choosing, and you travel through these worlds as that person.

You can go, do or be anything or anyone you want, and it all seems real.

Not only that, but there have been sweeping changes to the political landscape as well, there is no more United Nations, in fact, there are no nations.  There is just one world government, run by a company called Zcerebral, Inc., the company that created, and owns the secret to running the Zones.

zONE is told in First Person from the mind of the lead character, T.C. Hamilton.  The problem is, he has lost some of his memories, but not all of them.  There are just big gaps.  He is the most wanted man on Earth, and in the Zones, he is a Pirate.  Pirates are like Hackers, but these are the very few who are on the top 50 wanted list.  These are people who have figured out how to create and sail their sculpted spaceship through zSpace and illegally enter any Zone.

As the reader you get to ride along with T.C. on his adventures through an Earth run by the iron fist of a new totalitarian government, who use the bodies of their own citizens as zombie bodies for their operatives to commandeer.  If T.C. is caught before he can discover why he is the most wanted person, then his body will be donated to the Zombies, the zPol police force.

But there is much much more to this onion than just why T.C. is wanted, and he will have to travel through the various story world, like Wonderland, Hyperborea, The Jungle Book, and through other famous people's worlds, like the Harrison Zone, the Roddenberry Zone, the Lucas Zone, the Rowling Zone or the Tolkien Zone in order to find the answers, and solve a great mystery.

I had a lot of fun with this, and got to pay a lot of respect to authors, directors, screen writers, and artists of many kinds in this novel.  This was a challenge in some ways because of copyright laws.   Fortunately, due to the 'Fair Use' I can mention authors or titles of other works, which I do.  I stay away from their stories, characters and other copyrighted information.  This means a certain amount of dancing around, unfortunately, but it is their work and their rights should be protected.  However, zONE pays homage to these works without infringing on their rights.

In the case of stories in the public domain, I had a lot more freedom, like Alice in Wonderland, or The Jungle Book.  I was also able to use some of my own previous novels as worlds, and did so simply because I knew I could without getting sued.  :)

There are many references throughout the book to other famous works, and this is an integral part of the story, as you will find out before the end, or was that the beginning?

As for what kind of Science Fiction, well, that's hard to pin down.  It has some science to it, though I wouldn't call it hard science fiction, and it has some fantasy to it, but I wouldn't all it fantasy.  This is mainly an adventure, with some romance and humor mixed into the science fiction.  As with all my novels, the most important part of it was to be entertaining.  It's a fun look at what might be, and what would happen if there were such things as the Zones.

I invite you to read the book, and remember that, as with all my novels, not everything is as it seems.  Please read zONE: The End and the Beginning.  It is now on Amazon (for Kindles) and at Smashwords.com (in many other formats).  Most importantly, if you enjoy the story you can really help me out by posting a review.  I've found that good reviews go further to spreading a book than anything else on the Internet (or in the Zones).  :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Citadel of Sorcery: Players are slow to believe.

The world is slow to accept change.  Of course, I knew that.  Ten years ago when I was kicking around the concept for an MMORPG that was twenty or so years ahead of its time, I knew I would face an uphill battle to get this game made.

When I gathered the core team of game industry professionals, all working at game companies at that time, I offered up three proposals.  Of the three, they all chose Citadel of Sorcery, even though I explained to them that this was, by far, the most difficult game to make.  They wanted to do something extraordinary, something new, and something that they could be proud they made for the rest of their lives.

I then explained that no one would believe us.  It was like saying, “Look, we’re going to build a spaceship that goes faster than light.”  Who would believe us, I mean,  not only hadn't it been done, but no one BELIEVED it could be done!  That was what it was like ten years ago when I penned the first design of CoS.  It was deemed… impossible.

After a couple of years of R&D, we finally started actual work on the game.  Now, about eight years later, we have managed to create our FTL engine, or in game terms, the T3D engine.  All the technology that was deemed… impossible now works.  That and other important elements now working include:

1)                         Generating an entire, unique, planet, 900,000,000 square kilometers in size, the full size of earth.
2)                          NPCs who live lives in our game world.  Currently we have run a test city that is fully populated with NPCs living their lives, they have jobs they go to during work hours, homes they sleep in at night, and they go out on the town during leisure hours. They can have friends, family, and are constantly making decisions on what they want to do next.
3)                         A live events system that is constantly changing what is happening in the world. Our world is alive, with new things taking place all the time. The system to keep these events running is already functional.
4)                         Proprietary in game tools that allow multiple game designers to work together simultaneously within the running game world, creating the living world and live testing it instantly so that more can be built faster and better by fewer people. It’s very efficient.
5)                          A Voxel/Polygon hybrid rendering system that allows us to render down to every blade of grass (not just a texture of grass), or a complete vista of forest all the way out into the distance, with every tree being unique. This brand new proprietary technology does not exist in any other game engine currently on the market.

So, back to my original statement, the world is slow to accept change.  Yes, we knew that, so we built all of this so that people would not have to accept the idea of us doing the impossible, we could show that it is possible.

But, recently we put the Pre-Alpha version of CoS up on Kickstarter only to find that people still don’t believe us.  Even after we have all that working, the majority of people still won’t back something this new and different.
We've actually had people posting telling us that the reason they won’t back our project is that is offers too much.   Too much?  Really, you want less?   I find it sad that people have become such cynics that they will not support something that attempts to give them everything they want, and instead only attack those that are trying to do something new and innovative.

Fortunately, not all humanity has succumbed to such lowly and base instincts, and still has it in their heart to believe in magic.  We named our company MMO Magic for a reason, because we are going to put some magic into a game genre that has become stale and lifeless.  Where if you are not a clone of what already exists, then you are not deemed valuable.

This brings me to another aspect of this, game looks.   We showed pre-alpha shots of the game, and were immediately attacked.   Of course, the first response we would have is, these are pre-alpha, not finished.  This is true, and our graphics will look much better before the game launches.   But even with that said, these reactions to the look of the game are unfair.  No, we don’t look like other games that players are playing right now, but looking different isn't looking bad. 

I look at recent games, like Guild Wars 2, and I find that their game does look a lot different than CoS.  Not better, different.  If I was to attack GW2 (which I don’t actually want to do, there is NOTHING wrong with the way they decided to make their game look) I could point out that a lot of what you are looking at is painted rather than real (shadows painted into the texture, not cast by the light source).  The whole look of their world is what I would call fuzzy painted.  That is the look they decided to go for, and within that goal they did a nice job.

The point is, this is just one possible look.  There can  be many styles of art.  Just because we decided to go with 'sharp reality' vs. 'fuzzy painting', doesn't mean our graphics look bad, they look like they are intended to look, different, and in our opinion, they look GREAT!

If you look at a building, and walk up close to it in CoS, you will find that it still looks sharp and real.  In most other games, if you walk up close, their ‘painting’ on the polygons turns into a blur.  As light sources change the world objects look kind of flat, but in CoS objects stay three dimensional with nice real time shadows and sharp images.  This also means that shadows and lighting change with the time of day, making our world (graphics) look real, not like a flat blurry painting
The Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci looks nothing like a work from Picasso or Van Gogh, they are all radically different styles of art, none are ‘better’ than another.  Our style of art is our own, it isn't better or worse than others; it is the style we choose to make in our game.  We wanted sharp reality, so that’s what we’re making.  Here is a comparison between Guild Wars 2 and Citadel of Sorcery.  Please note that the differences we point out are a choice, not a good or bad.  We choose to make our graphics look the way we thought they looked good.  Someone else may have a different opinion, that is the way of art, it is subjective.  Still, we are not afraid of a side by side comparison of our Pre-Alpha art and the Finished art of Guild Wars 2.  Note the overall 'sharper' style of CoS over GW2, and then we listed some other things to note in each comparison.

Click on each image to get a larger view!

But, people are slow to change, in graphic looks, and in new kind of game play.  And so our Kickstarter campaign was slow to gather backers.  Many people want to wait and have us ‘prove’ it all before they give us their backing.  Sadly, this does only one thing, delay the day they get to play something new.

Still, there are a few who believe, and to them we say ‘Thank you’, for your optimism, for your understanding, and for your willingness to stand with us, and help us create a game that is new and different.

We will be opening up our own Crowd Funding on November 9th.  So come join us in making this game!  

However, regardless of any Crowd Funding, we will continue to work on this game, no matter how long it takes to finish.  And every dollar that IS donated through our own Crowd Funding will be put straight into finishing the game sooner.  

Here is a promise, we’ll make sure that the people who believed, the people that backed this project when others would not, ARE rewarded.  You will receive things that no other player will ever get, and you will be the first people into this new world.  Finally, you will also be the first to learn new things about the development in the game.  We want our backers to be part of the team, not just players.  So those that pledge on our web site crowd funding will be part of the Patron Team, with special access.

Come be a believer, join our Patron Team, and help get Citadel of Sorcery done even sooner!  Come to our web site on November 9th, 2012 and check out the new Crowd Funding rewards, or just talk to us and the other believers in our game in the forums.   


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Table Top meets Computer game

As an avid fan of Table Top games, I always dreamed of what a computer could do to improve the game, but after years of waiting, it just never seemed to materialize.

Let’s talk about Table Top gaming first.  The social aspect of the game play is wonderful, but one of the things I always loved about Table Top games was the depth of story, and the seemingly unlimited choices you had as a player.  Yes, I said, ‘seemingly’, because Table Top players understand that the Game Master sort of nudges you in the direction you need to go, after all, they don’t have the entire world detailed.  But we forgive them, and the illusion of unlimited choices is there, since the GM can adapt to all the crazy ideas that the Players may come up with.  In truth, Table Top is a bit like Improve, from both the players, and the GM.  That’s the good stuff.

Now let’s talk about the bad parts.  As mentioned, what the GM has prepared is typically limited, so you have to go where they have things ready.  But, the worst part by far is the tediousness of calculating out probabilities.  You use charts and graphs, dice and calculations, data sheets and pages upon pages of rules.  You spend hours poring through these trying to get the odds and chance of something working or failing, correctly.  A short battle could take three hours, a shopping trip all night.  Then there is what things look like.  Sure, the GM may describe what you see and hear, and with a good imagination, you may picture wonderful things, but these are all in your head.

Computer games can fix these issues.  A massive team of people may prepare a world, so that you can go anywhere, and do what you want, because the entire thing is there.   When it comes to the tedious calculations… nothing does tedious faster than a computer.  It can do all those calculations in a heartbeat, freeing the players to stay in the story and fantasy, rather than dice and charts.  Finally, with the right team of artists and programmers, these days we can make a beautiful fantasy world, with excellent sound.
The problem is that, so far, we have been satisfied with the graphics and quick battle calculations.  However, the depth of the game play has been sorely ignored.  The grand adventures we played in Table Tops are reduced to simple tasks instead of epic quests.

However, we don’t believe that these two mediums are mutually exclusive.  So with that in mind, we are attempting to take the best of a Table Top game, the story, the game play, and the ability to do whatever you want, and meld that with the graphics, sound and ability of a computer game to calculate everything.  This would truly be a game worth playing, the best of both worlds, Table Top melded with Computer game.

The real question was only why hasn’t someone managed to do this?  It turned out to be very difficult.  Replacing what a GM can do for you in a Table Top game was a massive undertaking.  Creating a world that is alive, and can still handle millions of players, without breaking, is equally difficult, but not impossible.   Then we wanted each player to have a unique story, and have their choices change and affect their path, just as if there was a GM to adapt to the changes.   

Through years of design, by teams of game designers who were successful in both industries, we did manage to meld the two into a playable and fun game.  Then we brought in top engineers to code an engine that could achieve our designs.  What we are making is a game called Citadel of Sorcery, and we have not seen anything like it, though we have dreamed of it ever since we played Table Top games, and watched Computer Games come alive.   We have a saying at MMO Magic, Inc., “It’s time to expect more from a game”, and this is what we are building in Citadel of Sorcery.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Writing a screenplay

I’ve gone back to my roots!  In college I was a film major (English minor).  However, when I finished college I did a little foray into Hollywood, meeting with various people in the industry.  For reasons I’m not going to go into, life in Hollywood was not for me, at least at that time in my life.  Eventually I found my way into the computer game industry, as a Producer and Lead Designer, which suited me better at the time.  That is still where I spend most of my time working, currently making Citadel of Sorcery at MMO Magic, Inc.
However, a cousin of mine has started a production company, Blood Line Productions, and they are getting ready to make a feature length movie.  He already had a concept, which I found quite intriguing, and he knows I am a writer.  One thing led to another, and the Director asked me if I would like to write the screenplay, and so I agreed to give it a whirl.
The working title of my screenplay is Forgotten.  It is a crime drama, with some suspense roots.  It involves a serial killer from the past, and a copy cat killer from the future, as well as a father and son.  The father has Alzheimer’s disease, but was the Lead Detective on the original serial killer case.  Now his son, a new detective, must seek out his father for help with a copy cat killer who is duplicating the killings from his father’s old case, but Alzheimers throws a wrench into the whole thing.

This is a very deep story, with a lot of twists and turns, and some very interesting characters.  I’m finding it difficult to tell such a deep story in two hours, but am working through the limitations.  It is very different from working on my various novels, where I have almost unlimited time to develop my story and characters, and different from my game quests, where stories again have little to constrain them in time.  Still, I am enjoying the challenge, and I am attempting to get everything I can out of every minute of film.

Casting will begin in the near future, as I am only a week from finishing the first draft of Forgotten.  I’m looking forward to seeing some of these characters I’ve written come to life at the hands of the actors, cinematographer, editor and, most importantly, director.

If you would like to see the quality of production from the Blood Line Production team, watch the 10 minute, multiple award winning, short film that they created, called Lucy.   Here is the link:

I was only involved in the making of Lucy in a couple scenes, particularly the ocean scene where I was one of the safety divers taking care of the little girl staring in the movie.   She was out there in 55 degree ocean water, wearing a thin nightgown, what a trooper!  We had to shoot really fast to keep her from getting hypothermia, and it was my job to keep her safe.  Quite a bit different from writing a screenplay for their upcoming feature length movie, but I was happy to do even that small part.  Obviously, my role in Forgotten will be much larger since I am writing the screenplay.   Let’s hope I don’t screw it up!  ;)

So, many years after my college classes in film making and script writing, I’m finally making use of that time I spent studying and dreaming of making movies! 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

So when is a game not a game?

I have a problem (well, several, but we will just talk about this one).   This problem is the word ‘game’.  As soon as I start to tell people about the ‘game’ I am working on, Citadel of Sorcery, they get this image of kids sitting around their Xweestation console blowing up each other in a kill fest.  Most of the adults immediately file it away under, ‘kids stuff’.  The problem is… it isn’t.

If I instead told them I’m working on a movie or a book, they would start asking, “Oh, what genre?” or “What’s is about?”  They would want to find out if this movie (or book) was one they might like to watch/read, and only make their mind up after they had learned more about it, but not games.  The moment that word, ‘game’ comes out, BAM, filed under ‘kids stuff’.

This could not be farther from the truth.  In fact, I will go so far as to say that this ‘game’ is more ‘grown up’ than most movies or books.  (the word ‘adult’ brings the wrong connotation as well).  How you ask?  Well, simple, a movie or a book, no matter HOW good… is a spectator sport.  You are only an observer into another situation/world, not a participant.  In Citadel of Sorcery you are entering a full world, a place of momentous plots, where kingdoms will rise and fall, fortunes of entire races change,  where epic sagas will begin, murder mysteries abound, expeditions to strange and wondrous history take place, and… instead of being an observer, you make the decisions.  You solve the mystery, you save the kingdom, you destroy the ring of power in Mt. Doom, you find the Arc of the Covenant in the buried ruins, you make decisions that change the fate of your character, and the world.

This is not a game… not like anyone has seen before.  You will face choices, where you must evaluate your options, knowing that once you go down one path it will forever rule your destiny.  You live in an evolving world, where you make a difference.  This isn’t Mario Brothers, or some Shooter, or Dance game; this is true adventure, life as an Avatar in another world, escapism at its highest level.  This is multiple epic novels all wrapped up into one world, hundreds of movies all delivered, and none of it is set on one path, it all changes based on who you are, and what you choose to do.

This isn’t a game… this is life at its grandest moment, and you are the hero in a story the likes of which you could only dream of in our real society.  This isn’t just for kids… it is for everyone.

My problem is how to convince people of the fact that a game isn’t always a ‘game’.  Sometimes a new form of entertainment can come about, a melding of book, movie, table top game, computer game and… well, life.  This is what Citadel of Sorcery is about, making a new form of entertainment, one we hope we can convince people to try, you just might find out you like it.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Let’s talk game design and Citadel of Sorcery…

I've been designing games now for more years than I want to recall.  I've been doing it professionally for nearly 30 years.  Designing games is fun, sure… but contrary to what most people think, it’s a LOT of work and you seldom, if ever, get to design what you want.  Coming up with the concept for the game is the easy part, in fact I would be so bold as to say that any person who has ever serious played, or worked on games, has an idea for that they think would make a great game.  In other words, ideas are cheap, and not at all hard to come by.

What is hard is to fully design a game.  This takes a lot of time, effort, swear words, lots of typing, lots of spreadsheets, graphs, research, long nights beating your head on the wall and waking up on your keyboard with the pattern of the keys embedded into your forehead.  You have to understand what has been done before, and why.  How your ideas would be made, and how many people it would take for how long.  You have to understand how it could be tested, what tools could construct it, what engine could run it, or what technology would need to be developed, and is there a market that wants to buy it, a publisher who wants to publish it.

In truth, for the most part you cannot design a game and get it made.  Instead, you have to be hired by a publisher/developer and work your way into the role of game designer… and then you still can’t design your own game.  They will then tell you what they want you to write and you design what they asked you to do.
Sound like a pain in the keester?  It can be.  However, every once in a while a beam of sunlight makes it through the canopy of life, and somehow, someone gets to actually design a new game… from scratch.  That moment happened for me several years ago when I got to concept, design and see the construction of the MMORPG, Citadel of Sorcery.  After about one thousand pages of Design Guide, years of work, thousands of design meetings, ridiculous numbers of redesigns, grueling years of hard sixteen hour a day work… my game is coming to life.  It CAN be done… it’s just hard… really hard.

Citadel of Sorcery is, simply put, my look at the MMO genre of games, specifically fantasy, and what I wanted to see vs. what I got.  Let me explain.  I started reading fantasy at nine years old when I picked up a copy of the Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolkien, as if you didn’t know who wrote it, I didn’t, at least at nine.  It was one of two books, and my teacher made me read one.  I happen to pick the one on the left… The Hobbit.  This changed my life, forever.  Since that day I have loved fantasy, read everything I can get my hands on, played D&D, wrote many fantasy novels (see earlier posts).  And… every single time a fantasy based MMO comes out… I get excited.  Though I was FAR more excited the very first time I tried one.  Why?  Well, I expected to be Bilbo Baggins going on an ADVENTURE!  I expected an amazing romp, like a novel, I expected the depth and fun of a table top D&D game.  I expected to be swept up into a new world of wonder and magic… but what I got was grocery shopping.

Yes, you heard me, grocery shopping.  It was like my mom telling me to go get her milk.  I walk up to some NPC standing on some corner (he’s been standing on that corner for a few years now, night and day, saying the same thing to every woeful player who ambles by).  He says something like, “Blah, blah, blah, fetch me 10 wolf tails and I’ll give you one of these swords.”  So… I go out to have my grand adventure and kill a wolf.  I find a wolf, some other sorry ass player runs up and attacks it first, so I have to find another wolf.  I do, and kill it.  No tail.  Crap.  I find another wolf, (stealing it from some other player) and kill it… oh boy, it drops a wolf tail.  Now I have to kill more wolves, I need 9 more of the stupid things.  ARGH!  This isn’t an adventure, it’s a tedious task!  Worse, EVERY other player who comes through this world will have to do the same thing.  WORSE yet, the wolf I killed will pop back into existence in two minutes, right here, as if my actions meant NOTHING!  Well, in this game they don’t.  I don’t get to destroy the necklace of doom, by hanging it around the fairy queen, who then knights me as lord of the seven kingdoms.  I don’t get to lead armies into the dark forest to find the man who set the spider men on my trail.  I have no story, I have no life, I have no impact on the world, no… I do the same thing as everyone else in a world where nothing changes, and all reverts back to the same state every few minutes.  I’m not positive, but… isn’t that a definition of… hell?

This is not what I signed up for (certainly not what I wasted my hard earned bucks to buy).  I want AVENTURE!  I want to carve my story out of the world, have an ongoing story, have epic climaxes, in situations that MATTER! I want to save the world!  I want… well, I want everything.  I get nothing, except a grocery list.  Fetch me ten whatevers.

Each time a new games comes out, I get excited (though a little less each time, (the Little Boy who Cried Wolf syndrome), and then am once again crushed by the lack of anything great, exciting, new, or fun.  Out of boredom I decide I want to kill people, other players, because maybe, just maybe then I’ll get some excitement, you know, a ‘thinking’ opponent.  Unfortunately, though this happens to a small degree, it is pretty rare.  Mostly I deal with idiots trying to gank me, or prey on newbies, or goad me (a lower level player) into attacking them, so they can slaughter me and take my stuff.  They often do this by becoming annoying to the point where I want to kill them.

I nearly despaired.  Where was all the adventure?  I wanted to be Conan going through the adventures in Hyperborea.  I want to be Aragorn and take on the battle at Minas Tiriath.  I want to be a hero, doing things that matter, in a world that will change, reaching epic climaxes of grand adventures.

Well, I finally got my chance to put up or shut up.  I designed many games for other people.  I even got to do a few concepts of my own.  And after much success I got into a position where I could put together a large team of professionals with the capability to make a major AAA game title.  I chose MMORPGs.  I did this simply because I was so disappointed in what I’d seen.  I expected so much more, and never got it.  This meant to me that there must be other people, many other people, just as disappointed as I have been, each wanting that grand adventure.  They might even know what kind of game they want, even have an idea for it, but not the experience, means, support, contacts and sheer gumption to turn that dream into reality.

I did.  And the game is Citadel of Sorcery.  I started work on the design eight years ago; companies were formed to make the technology and to make the game.  I had many contacts in the industry, so people signed on, also intrigued by the promise of making that elusive game that they have always wanted to see made.  The team grew, work started, technology began to arrive, designs were written, reworked, rewritten, revamped, redone, remade, renewed and… we got results.  Better yet, when we started melding that technology with the game design… lo and behold, it all… worked.  I game and world like this wasn’t impossible!  A game world is forming, a world so large no player can ever explore it all, so deep that Quests are the equivalent of an epic multi-series novel.  Every player has a unique path through the world, each one with their own personal stories, enemies and friends.  No monster pops back into existence in their quest.  In a crises, things they achieve matter, and their efforts can change the course of the world.  Their quests tie together into a bigger personal story, which in turn takes place with a progressing epic story.  And there isn’t one… no, not one… grocery list.

I would love to take credit for all of the innovative and wonderful design ideas for Citadel of Sorcery, but in truth, though I designed the initial game, over time the ideas and thoughts of many designers have made it better than the original concept.  It has become such an amazing game that players will be in shock when they first start, but once they realize what they have discovered… they will never go back.  It’s like eating mud all your life… and then someone giving you a bowl of ice cream.  Holy CRAP!  This is good stuff!  And I was PAYING to eat mud? 

And so… yes, I have gotten to design that elusive game, that idea, that original concept, and gotten to see it grow into a full fledged, epic monster of a game.  More than a game, a world, an alternate reality where I can really BE that hero on a grand adventure.  This project is on the verge of even more massive expansion as all major design elements have been proven viable.  And at this stage we have started to garner serious interest in the title from publishers in multiple countries.  Almost every publisher we show it to gets excited about the design.  We are closing in on making a deal with one of them, and then Citadel of Sorcery will finally come to the players, where we hope to give them what they have been wanting for so long: true adventures.  All of us that have gotten to work on the game are blessed, and we are trying our hardest to give the players the reward for their long patience.  CoS is coming, get your wand and sword and meet me in a Reflected World for the adventure of a lifetime… soon.