Raph Koster on magic and games

J Erwine is working on some gaming ideas and has asked for input. I’m to old to have played the D&D variety of game, so I did not respond, but I saw this link in BoingBoing.net this morning and followed it. A blogger posted the transcript on a Ralph Koster’s talk about game development.

I particularly love the idea that songs are made of songs and games are made of games. This is a truth that is so obvious as to be invisible. Novels are short stories spread over a larger canvas. Short stories are smaller stories, images and epitaphs spread over a plot. I will make a note of Ralph and watch for him to do a talk in the northeast. I read some of his stuff, like comparing non-techs to muggles, and I like the way he thinks.

Wonderland: Etech 07: Raph Koster on magic

Now, game playing brings up my mandatory boring recollections from my childhood in Central Nyack, NY. I wrote lots of stories and read quite a bit as a nerdy bespectacled kid. Growing up in Rockland County’s equivalent of The Hood, though, I could play basketball with the best, I owned guns and went hunting, and in the summer every kid in the neighborhood played Army. Our army games were based on the TV show Combat, which the neighborhood kids all liked and watched. Army evolved into a sword and sorcery game where we used sticks for swords and plywood shields and a kill was made via a touché. We called the game Draconia after a story I had written (long since lost).

Draconia was very popular in the summer with about 20 kids playing. We moved it inside in the winter time. I took the ping pong table in a neighbor’s basement and turned it over. I painted a map and then drew in black magic marker 1/2 inch squares. I made game pieces by making clay molds and pouring melted wax into them. I had red, white, blue and black candles so we had 4 teams. I made a spinner out of cardboard with move options on it and we would take turn moving armies around the map. There were rules for fighting, there were walled cities with rules for sieges. There were ships for the rivers and seas. It was all very complex and games took weeks to play before there was one winner. There were secret alliances and all of the strategies of the battle games that would later become popular. There were dragons and sea monsters and randomly moving hazards. It was all very complex and we added rules all the time.

The neighbors moved to Nebraska and the table went with them. I now watch the domain name Draconia.com so if it expires I can register it in homage to the game I played as a kid. Maybe I can make a flash based MMPRG based on the old Draconia ping pong table rules. That would be a project. Maybe if J creates a good game, I’ll find time to make the online version of it.