Games Design And I

I’ve been a gamer for as long as I can remember. When you’re into games, every now and again you stop and think about designing games yourself. There’s a thrill that comes from the idea that you could make a game that people would play, especially considering the fact that you yourself understand intimately the joy that this brings. Myself being a huge pen and paper RPG player, I’ve always wanted to design a roleplaying game and a few times in my life I have attempted to do this, either with friends or on my own.

Each of these attempts have met with failure, for a variety of reasons. Chiefly of which is that being an adult is hard. With every project I have attempted in the past, I became busy and eventually it petered out; it’s sad, but I’ve come to just see it as a function of the process. The time has to be right. For any project to get out of the early stages and for every stage after that, the stars have to consistently line up, you have to keep just working away little by little until you achieve enough to call the project complete. That has never happened to me yet, but I know one day it will.

So this writing project is part of that and this article is a small commitment to that idea; that one day I will make a game, because for me, games are the ultimate in creative human interaction – you are using manufactured constraints to build action and excitement that is unique every time those constraints are imposed. Gaming is so amazing because more than mediums like books or films, the person engaging with the work itself is a key part of the experience, so their personality becomes a part of the legacy of that work. It’s amazing.

I want to make a game, and one day you may see a little demo pop up on here, and maybe one day I’ll even see it played by others. Until then, I’ll continue plugging away at the keyboard. Take care.

P.S. I have been very ill this week, so sorry for the short, rambly piece.

Meeting Emelia – Character Study

I am currently quite ill, so today I’m going to show you the first quarter of the first chapter of a project I started last year. This opening basically goes into some detail about the life and feelings of a 13 year old girl named Emelia. She goes on to have some interesting adventures, but right now you’ll just get to know her. Thanks for reading!

Emilia sat cross legged on her bed. It was morning. She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and looked around; boxes were piled all around the strange room she was now supposed to call her own. Emilia’s parents traveled all over the country and sometimes overseas for their work. At the age of thirteen, Emilia had moved home six times, every time her parents bought a big house, let her pick her own room and gave her everything she could want. But the only thing they couldn’t give her, which Emilia wanted the most, was a friend.

They had tried their best for Emilia; her mother was allergic to dogs, her father to cats so they had gotten her a Bearded Dragon named Archimedes. Emilia hated him at first. He did nothing but sit there in a big cabinet, under a hot, bright bulb that hurt her eyes, and he ate worms and smelled like the zoo, so Emelia ignored him, only coming round to his cabinet to feed him with long blue tweezers or laboriously remove his heavy tiles and wash the corners of his dusty, dry home.

One day while Emilia was cleaning out his tank, she saw that he was huddled in a corner, looking very sorry for himself. She carefully grabbed him out and saw that he had laid a clutch of eggs! He was a she! But Archimedes looked dark and ill and her legs wouldn’t work properly, So Emilia quickly told her parents and made a hot water bottle to keep Archimedes warm, before they rushed to the vet to see what was wrong. The little spiky lizard had clutched onto Emilia so tightly that through her worried tears she promised to never to ignore her or say anything bad about her again.

Waiting in the vet’s was one of the worst times of Emilia’s life. Her mum hadn’t let her talk to the vet after Archimedes had gone in, just like every other time she had felt an important decision had been made, Emilia wasn’t there. Her mum just said that her lizard was very ill and the vet needed to operate on her, before sitting next to Emilia, diligently checking her watch every five minutes and texting on her phone. Emilia’s eyes had never been so red or puffy, and she had never cried for a longer time. Hours passed and her mum had to leave. Emilia’s dad arrived at the vets as it was getting dark. All she wanted was a hug, but neither of her parents were ever very good at stuff like that, he just said that he was sorry and that maybe getting her such a strange pet was a bad idea. Emilia never hated him more than in that moment and it echoed in her words.

“You never asked me. You never let me read about them; you just got her for me one day. You got me work, dad, not a pet.”

Her dad looked incredulous for a second before remembering the situation. He looked around nervously.

“Well. You could give him away after he’s better if you want. We just thought we were doing the right thing.”

Emilia looked up at him and smiled ruefully.

“She’s a girl. I found that out today. I’ve had her for three months and I never knew, and now she could die because I was too angry at you and mum to care for her when she needed me. No, I’ll keep her. I owe her that.”

Her dad looked confused, but realising that his daughter wasn’t so cross any more, he sat next to Emelia, put his arm around her shoulder and squeezed. Emilia’s arms flew out and for a few stiff moments they hugged in the green-walled vet’s waiting room before her father cleared his throat and stood.

“I’ll go and see if I can find anything out.” he said, before walking around the corner towards the other rooms, leaving her alone again.

Archimedes didn’t die. The vet came out and started speaking to Emilia’s father, who, to her surprise, directed the vet over to her. The vet explained that Archimedes had gotten one of her eggs stuck, and that he got it out. She would be fine, but needed to rest for a few days before she could take her home. On the car journey back, Emilia had detailed to her father all the things she would need for Archimedes and he silently nodded his approval. Three days later the little lizard was presented to her, wrapped in a blanket covered in unicorns, looking groggy and dark. Emilia carefully laid the soft creature on her chest and hugged her gently, promising to make it up to her.

That was a year ago. Now as Emilia sat quite content on her bed, surrounded by boxes, Archimedes lay on the windowsill; all wrapped in that unicorn blanket atop a hot-water bottle, bathing in the sun and looking suspiciously out onto the street below.

Fall of The Hamurai – Part 2 – The Empress

Silence pervaded the hidden chamber of the sacred city of pearls. Vole servants paced silently back and forth, their anxiety was written plainly on their silent faces. It was not permitted to pass a word within the chamber without the empress present and although they traditionally adopted a system of signals to communicate, the atmosphere that hung over this place reduced the impulse to gossip to a few furtive glances.

The servants started as they heard a door slam beyond the chamber they were in, more glances were exchanged and their souls tensed. The empress was angry, which could easily lead to one of their heads being served on a plate. Before long, the regular striking step of her majesty could be heard approaching them, so the production went into frantic effect.

They worked silently and automatically; taking from many small cabinets a selection of cordials, perfumes and dainties that they knew the empress expected to be on hand, all the while keeping a portion of their attention to the raised voices that were coming closer to them with every second. After a minute or two, they had furnished the small tables that lined the receiving chamber with a plethora of beautiful and exquisitely crafted platters and bottles, arranged in traditional ways as to please her majesty.

Not a moment sooner than the last servant had placed the last marinated slug roll upon a pyramid of its contemporaries, did the beautifully worked lacquered door of the chamber burst open as if kicked, and a short, rotund female Vole marched into the center of the room: She was Empress Kinato, leader of the dawn empire; an archipelago of one hundred islands that stretched over a thousand miles in the shining sea. She ruled over many peoples: from the giant Tanuki that tended to the high mountain passes to the diminutive field mice that tended to vast swaths of rice and wheat all over the empire.

The Empress stood expectantly, dressed in a voluminous plum coloured kimono. Its silks were of the finest weave and the print; the dawn sun rising over little fishing boats, was painstakingly detailed in gold and red thread. Trailing behind her was a gaggle of functionaries and politicians whose never ending stream of consciousness filled the chamber. The servants looked on as they placed treats into the Empress’s oustretched hand, her bored expression quickly turned to anger as she listened to Lord Hakana; A vole of the most aristocratic class, talk of a subject about which he was most passionate:

“I talked to you last time, my empress, of a small commune situated in the slate valley, now the blossom valley, upon the hill of Tanagara which I am sure you know was the most holy of places under the old religion. I have since sent diplomats to treat with their noble and well respected elder, Lord Gutoa; a hamster of some military renown.”

Hakana said this as he always did, speculatively, in the hope that others would ask him questions and so he would be at liberty to talk at great length about himself. Rather than this however, the empress rounded on him, the fur on her cheeks standing on end, her mouth still full of slug, she chewed slowly. She stared at the tall vole for a solid minute while everyone else, who had previously been chattering away about one petty matter of state or another, quickly passed into silence; some even took a step away from Hakana, for they anticipated fit of the Empress’s rage. Eventually she spoke in a tone of vicious certainty.

“Yes, lord Hakana, you did indeed speak to me of these brigands you now seem so deferent to. A ‘commune’ you call a rebel lord establishing an independent territory upon my very doorstep. A hamster no less; vile creatures not native to our archipelago and who, instead of instructing them in the appropriate way to conduct themselves as rightful subjects of their divine empress, you condescended to send diplomats, as if this Gutoa were emperor in his own right. Have I appraised your report correctly, lord?”

Hakana’s ears lay flat against his head, nose twitching and eyes darting back and forth between his colleagues; nobody offered even a shade of sympathy and all assembled would not even meet his gaze, but Hakana, being a prideful old Vole, saw this as not a rebuke, but an opportunity to convince his most beloved majesty.

“Now, be fair majesty, the slate valley has long been under the sway of true brigands like the notorious Kai Lang, who have terrorized the common populace for many years. Your father tried and failed for to tame that part of the mainland and it seems that this Gutoa, through his organisational prowess or military might has brought that part of our country into civilisation. my point was not only that we should gently bring him into the fold for the good of the empire, but that he may be a valuable asset to use in the future.”

Hakana puffed out his chest and refused to wither under the glare of the empress who squinted as she chewed, her hackles still raised. Slowly she retorted after stuffing another dainty into her mouth.

“Now you speak of my father’s apparent failings and this Hamster’s superiority over the divine and everlasting emperor’s memory in such a distasteful way! This Gutoa has surely poisoned your mind with his revolutionary thinking. The bandits of the south, while wholly disregarding our laws, atleast paid tribute and deference. No, my dear Lord Hakana, this cannot stand. As remedy, I will send you with my most beautiful army to take down these usurpers to my name. Go now and dismantle this cult. That is my final word on the matter.”

With that, the empress turned away. Lord Hakana paled and shrank as he realised the gravity of what had just taken place.

“No, please my empress.”

She carried on without regarding his words.

“Lady Nitato, come and look over the sunset with me, I wish to feel nostalgic.”

A tall and beautiful weasel strode forwards, her eyes fluttering with a patronising look as she passed the old vole, whose world had closed in on him. General Akahashi clapped him upon the shoulder.

“Come now my lord, I shall instruct you on the proper use of my soldiers.”

                                 **********

In the valley of blossoms, Kusai, having wiped away the tears she had momentarily shed, looked out to the mouth of the valley where the winding river Bokke turned, she saw a flash of glittering steel and a shadow pass over the land. A column of soldiers was emerging. She sheathed her sword and bounded up the steps to the temple; her sadness turning into grim determination with every step.