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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.

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

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.