Gaming rules

Ok, a little background first… I love gaming rules. Perhaps not as much as the game itself, but the rules that govern the play. What makes a game fun? What gives it staying power? What algorithms are used to determine success and failure? I have spent a great amount of time in crafting gaming rules, whether it be with playing cards, board game pieces, or software.

I have listed three new links in the Games category: Dark Tower, Mage Knight, and RPGD. Dark Tower arrived in our home for Christmas 1981. Imagine the delight I had as a 16-year old playing an electronic-assisted board game with my brothers all night and into the following morning. Shortly after, I was exposed to some BASIC programming in a high school computer math course. I could not learn fast enough! I would bunk school to go to the public library instead where I would spend countless hours attempting to reverse-engineer that bleeping toy, Dark Fortress using only a pencil and compositions pad to write with. A month later, I would purchase a Commodore VIC20 (only $300) and put my computer math teacher to shame with a new color and sound version of Dark Fortress — all of which required only the standard complement of 3.5kb of memory. That was when I knew what I wanted to be: a computer programmer.

During the time of Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering card games, I was introduced to Mage Knight at my brother’s store. He was quick to sell me the starter and booster packs, predicting it would be a great hit. I was curious by its simplicity at first: Mage Knight uses a figure on a combat dial, coupled with a simple dice roll to determine each action outcome. What I did not expect was me getting hooked on collecting all the figures. I mean, you only got 5 random toys per booster pack from some 160 in the whole line. What did me in was getting a coveted Mystic Draconum in one of those packs — to me, my fever for it was no worse than those Beanie Babies fanatics. I would insult my brother whenever he found out I got some of the “rare” figures from ebay, or worse, from another collectables store.

RPGD is my translation of an old Apple IIe ProDOS program written in BASIC. When I first played it back in 1986, it was a dedicated dial-up BBS with message boards and file transfers, but it had uniquely integrated a kind of hack & slash style of game play between the members. Five years later, I ported it to an original IBM PC/XT with 512kb and two 5-¼” floppy disks only. The following year, I rewritten it using C on a multitasking Commodore Amiga and run a dial-up BBS for several years: Hack & Slash. As it turned out, a friend of Lonnie’s, Mark Montminy, would port it as a game door for another BBS, and we made $10 each for every copy sold. I was shocked how popular the game became as it spread around the world. It reached its final destination as playable over the Internet when I ported it to Linux in 1999.