Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ryan Seacrest in Malaysia?

Saw this advertisement on a bus. Looks like Ryan Seacrest is in town... every Monday to Friday from 1 to 4 pm on FlyFM :-)

He looked kinda of over-weight on the poster compared to when he was on American Idol... LOL.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Kingdom of The Magic Crystal?

After last weekend's adventure with my kids, I decided to proceed to create a game prototype for a RPG Board Game for them, and if successful... who knows! And so...

Creating the Bestiary

Over the weekend, I created 60 creatures for the bestiary of my RPG board game prototype, with full statistics, magic and special abilities. During this initial stage, I basically borrowed a lot of the creatures from western mythologies of different eras and region. So, you can expect to find elves, dwarfs, goblin, ogre, sphinxes, zombies, vampires, etc.

In order to make it interesting, I used Google images and basically borrow any images I could find to show what the creatures looked like. Well, my kids certainly had a swell time going through the list asking all kinds of questions. They had never seen nor heard about many of the creatures here. They had difficulty even pronouncing some of the names... LOL. I could see that it was fun for them, just looking at the bestiary :-)

Sketching out the RPG Game Board

And so this morning, I decided to start designing the board of the game itself. Firstly, I needed a story plot to see which direction I was going to take. There were just too many choices. In the end, I decided to just stick with my initial "magic crystal" story line.

The following are some sketches I did on an old calendar I found.

Then, I realised that I would have to draw everything all over again when I make the actual prototype board. That was when I decided to scan everything into my computer and use Photoshop to clean up the drawings. The touched up images below :-)

More Game Design To Do

There are still three more prelim illustrations that I needed to sketch out:
  • The Tower of Irim
  • The Temple of Ubis
  • The Pyramid of Tipak
I will probably work on the drawings when I feel inspired... LOL. Took me quite a while to figure out how I was going to name some of the places and locations... LOL. There is a secret behind the naming convention :-p

I was also trying to worked out the game format for battles, special NPC (Non Player Character) interaction, item collections, movements, maps, etc. There are going to be a lot of work in this area... and a lot of it will depend on the single most important thing... The Story!

I am still trying to flesh out the main plot of the story. I have written up a brief background that hopefully will give a nice setting for the story to take place.

Game Design Goals

I have 4 simple design goals for this RPG board game. They are:
  • Story Play - Enable the players to play the game according to the main story line.
  • Free Play - Enable the players "free play", which means that they can choose not to follow the main story line and still able to play and have fun.
  • Re-playability - Make this game very re-playable.
  • Keep it simple! (I think I am failing this miserably at the moment... LOL.)
I have not figured out exactly what I am going to do to achieve the above goals, but they will certainly guide me when I progressed... LOL.

Game's Working title

So what is the name of this game? Actually, this the really tough part. The title will set the tone of the entire game. I have come up with a few names.... but I think as a working title, I will call this game, "The Kawaras Crystal".

Hopefully, I will be able to post more status updates next week. Cheers!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Drinking Chinese Cooking Wine And Then Some

Recently, an open source company (Open Dynamics) I was involved with, organised a seminar called "Automating Your Business Processes The CODE-LESS Way" in Jakarta, Indonesia. The seminar was held on Aug 9th, I was in Jakarta for a good 3 days.

Here are some of the highlights of my trip... :-)

I discovered this cheese snacks that was really tasty... :-) Brought a bunch home. Will buy more the next time I am there.

A very tired colleague of mine on our way back to KL.

It was really weird for me to see a street peddler selling real human hair!

Check out the complete selection of human hair for sale! Creep me out!

A Night of Fine Chinese Dining and Cooking Wine

The night before the seminar, me and my colleagues were invited to dine in a very nice and classy Chinese restaurant in Setia Budi One. I believe the name of the restaurant was called Ming. Our Indonesian patron was Pak Kuang and through him, we met Jason, although just met, felt like a long lost brother!

Pak Kuang and Jason were very close friends and Jason had just gotten back to Jakarta from Hong Kong, and that night was their night of catching up with old times. We were fortunate enough to be invited along to share in an experience that none of us would easily forget :-)

Before dinner was served, we were surprised to see Pak Kuang and Jason being served a bottle of Chinese cooking wine. The wine was poured into a clay test-tube like container submerged in hot water in a tall clay cup. A smaller wine cup was was placed on top to contain the heat. (I am poor at explaining this. Watch the video :P) In any case, the intention was to heat up the cooking wine before drinking.

Needless to say, we were all very curious. Why were they drinking Chinese cooking wine? Hey... cooking wine for cooking? When we asked, we received a very logical explanation... LOL.

Jason believes that it is the drinking companions that one has, that decides how good the wine and food taste; and how enjoyable the night will be. With that philosophy in mind, if the companionship is not enjoyable, then neither would the most expensive bottle of french wine.

But if one's company is enjoyable, whether it's cooking wine or one of the most expensive french wine, you will enjoy and cherish that moment.

And true to Jason's words, all of us enjoyed the Chinese cooking wine with a taste that was of good friends sharing conversation, laughter and fun. Oh... and the food was good too... LOL.

We drank 4 bottles and wanted more... but it was getting late and we had a seminar to conduct the next day! The episode just begged to be revisited and we intend to do it soon... :-) The following are some videos I took of the occasion.

How to pour the Chinese cooking wine.

How to drink the Chinese cooking wine.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Creating My Own RPG Game For the Kids

I used to be a fan of Warhammer Fantasy RPG games. We used to gather every Friday at a friend's house in Damansara Utama in Petaling Jaya, where we binged on junk food and battle the dark creatures of Chaos!

What are RPG games?

For those uninitiated, RPG is an acronym for Role Playing Games. As stated in Wikipedia, "A role-playing game (RPG) is a broad family of games in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting." All activity in the game is controlled and arranged by a GM or a Game Master. And in the early days everything was played out with miniatures, "pen and paper", dice and a couple of books filled with statistics and bestiary information.

Image source: Wikipedia.

My first encounter with RPG was in my university days back in Alberta, Canada. I used to stayed at the dorm and I would frequent a comic shop where I would watch the guys deep in Dungeons and Dragons adventures. Some of them were wearing costume and the look on their face were dead serious. This was back in the early eighties.

The first Ultima RPG game for the computers (Atari, Apple, Commodore & DOS platform). Image source: Wikipedia

RPG games have since moved from the "pen and paper" version to the interactive computer version (early Ultima series) and now the massive online version, MMORPG or Massively multiplayer online role-playing game, where thousands of users gather online in a virtual gaming work. All this took about 20 years to achieve.

Create a RPG game?

It was back in 1989, when I was working in Parkson Grand Department store that I actually created a space faring RPG game. I wanted it to be a RPG game that was not "pen and paper" in the traditional sense. I wanted it to be a board-based RPG game. That means, no need for a Game Master or require heavy reading and understanding of a world, before starting and enjoying a game.

Just a RPG game that can be played on a board, with set pieces, and yet providing a suspense filled story and quest.

Unfortunately, I lost the prototype design and cut-out game pieces. In those days, I had to hand-draw everything. There was no Adobe illustrator for me to use. Everything was lost, but never the idea to create my own simplified RPG game. That need or urge has stayed with me to this day.

RPG for my Kids

Last Sunday, I was spending some quality time lazying around with my kids at home... LOL. I asked them if they were interested to play a game. Of course my two boys jumped at the chance. (We had canceled ASTRO and there was no Cartoon Network for the kids to watch, hence the enthusiasm.)

I started off by asking them to roll a 6 sided dice (sic) or in RPG speak, 1D6. With the dice rolls, I generated a character for each of them with simple stats like hit points, dexterity and magic. I gave them a sword each. Then I told them to battle each other. I explained a simple battle system to them (single attack with 1D6, defense using 1D6 and damages based on 1D6 as well).

I was VERY surprise at how fast they caught on and how much they enjoyed battling each other. I wish I had recorded a video of them playing.

Then I introduced earning experience points and magical weapons with stats modifiers and magic fireball attacks. After a couple of battles, they were just quoting stats and talking about how the attacks went and damages scored. It was pretty amazing for me to watch... LOL.

The Kingdom of the Magic Crystal

Later that afternoon, I went a bit further and decided to create a whole new fantasy world for them based on whatever that came into my head. Hence their first adventure, "The Mystery of the Golden Alien Frog Adventure" in the improvised Kingdom of the Magic Crystal.... LOL.

They had to generate new characters, but this time I introduced more stats and skills for their character. Their 6 years old sister decided to join them in a party of 3. Her character was a Mage and she was an invincible!

Their first sortie saw them venturing into the depths of the dungeon in search of the Golden Alien Frog after talking to a villager.

The Mage and the Leeches

After a battle with a witch and venturing further into the dungeon, the trio found a well. The two older boys both went into the well searching for a secret entrance. But when they got out of the well, they had to roll 1D6 to determine how many leeches were stuck on their bodies.

Anyway, one of the brother managed to successfully repel a leech and due to a dice throw, he managed to fling a leech at my 6 years old daughter (narrative-ly that is... LOL). When she heard that a leech was flung at her and now stuck at her feet, she wept and said that she did not want to play anymore. She could not stop crying... LOL.

My wife and I told her that it was just a game and that there was no leech stuck at her feet. She just would not stop crying. And so I forced her to roll the dice to get the leech off. All she needed to roll was any number more than 1.

Let me tell you... the damn leech was tough to get off!!!! Every dice she rolled was a 1. Would you believe it? After the 4th turn, she managed to roll more than 1 and that got the "imaginary leech" off her feet... LOL.

Anyway, after that she stopped crying and the adventures continued... LOL.

Game Design

All this had got me thinking about RPG game design again. If I could design a RPG game simple enough for my 6 to 10 years old to play, I might be on to something. And so, now I am re-looking at how I can design a RPG board game that is exciting, challenging and yet easy to play and easy to understand for kids around 6 years and above.

I kept thinking about the looks on my kids' faces when they were playing the game. So engrossed, excited and filled with suspense... LOL.

Now, I am researching and working on a prototype. Hope I can get it up in a month :-) Will update this blog later.

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