As for my mysterious absences from the blog thingy recently; I have been busy trying to shop an idea for computer-based role playing fantasy game (what we degenerate gamers like to call a CRPG). What is this,you ask? It's basically a virtual world where players can interact with one another while doing super-human things like slay mythical monsters, rescue fair maidens, and give in to their darker, psychotic power fantasies without actually leaving their house...or hurting anyone.
Some of the better-known games my older readers will have heard of or seen advertised: World of Warcraft, Halo, Call of Duty, Prince of Persia, The Simms, and the like. The genre has spawned as many games, and as many settings, as the human mind might conceive, but they all usually have a singular purpose: to immerse the player in a virtual reality (probably because Real Reality sucks so badly). These games are direct descendants of the role-playing games of my youth, like Dungeons and Dragons, Champions, Traveler, Twilight 2000, and others (those are the ones I played regularly from about age 12 right into my 30's).
For a long time now, I have been part of a community of players and tech geeks who have gravitated to a game called Neverwinter Nights, which was an extension of the Dungeons and Dragons franchise. One of the advantages of this game, from the player's perspective, is that the adventure doesn't necessarily end when you've played the game as it came out of the box; the developers have thoughtfully provided additional software for you to produce your own adventures for your own use, or to share with your friends. Some of the more dedicated geeks have even gone as far as to produce what are known as PGW's (Persistent Game World servers), where their personal creations are open 24/7/365 to anyone who wants to play. Some of the better ones have thousands of regulars, who come together to play act and adventure together.
The Neverwinter Nights game itself has spawned hundreds of these servers, many of them in operation for nearly a decade, now, a testament to both the game and the dedication of the community which plays it. I've been associated with a few, myself, building the servers, writing the code, and providing the background material with which the game is played. Well, I figured that since I know so much about gaming, programming, and how these things all work together in the online world, I just might as well develop my own game. It's a project that I have worked on off-and-on for about five years, now.
If you've not tried it, you should. Some of these games -- and better yet, the PGW's on which they are played --are a great way to kill a few hours on a rainy evening.
I went and developed a unique game system, chose a suitable fantasy background against which a plot could be set, and got to work trying to pound it into some kind of shape that would make it an easier sell to one of the bigger game development companies.
And I have (semi-) succeeded! I got one one of the smaller companies to give me a tenative "yes"
So, I have been pretty busy trying to nail down some details (there's an astounding amount of paperwork and legal hoop-jumping involved in copyrighting and contracts over these things), and have landed a "job" helping a bunch of even bigger geeks turn my diseased vision into a (virtual) reality.
I can't identify the company publicly, nor give you any details on the game itself, but perhaps one day (they say a really good game often takes 2 years from concept-to-publication) you'll see it in your local game store, or perhaps even play it yourself.
And to think that when I was a kid, we were told that games like this would make us all stupid, lazy, homocidal, devil-worshiping chronic masturbators who would never amount to anything!
Well, they were right about the stupid part, at least.