So last time I talked about where the idea of making the Astro-Games started. It came from my life long love of monster, science fiction, and horror movies. Not the ‘modern’ ones. Mostly pre-1975. Especially those from the 1950’s. That was the heyday of the B-movie. I love ‘em. No matter how ‘bad’ it might be, I’ll watch it. There’s something good in every movie. Even Manos-Hands of Fate has Torgo, who is fun if only to watch the actor moving around as the character. So I thought this would be a nice well to draw from for game theme. But what movie to do?
I think I’ll continue with The Survivor but as a roll and write. The game calls to me and I want to do something with it. It would be cool to actually do it as Robinson Crusoe On Mars. That would be awesome. I was initially discouraged when Desolate came out but I can set The Survivor apart as I have a bigger scope for it. And I think it will work as a roll and write maybe. So there is one science fiction themed game I’ll work on in 2019.
The second is Invasion: Hollow Earth. I love the Hollow Earth theme. It’s so cool to think about all the different ‘theories’ about a Hollow Earth. The Pellucidar series by Edgar Rice Burroughs is a super fun read. The movies from that property are ok, fun but definitely hurt by budget limitations. But there is Peter Cushing. But the one movie that comes to mind here is The Mole People. Made by Universal in 1956 and starring John Agar and Hugh Beaumont, this movie has been a favorite of mine for a very long time. The game developed out of playtesting Daniel Solis’ Athelion. His game is using the Avignon shifting mechanic and I thought this could be a cool thing to work with also. Initially the game was about escaping a sinking ship. But the Mole People / Invasion theme just occurred to me one day. And it works with the game well. The game is in early design as a tile shifting game. There is a grid of tunnel tiles between the two players and each player has a few of these tiles in their hands. The goal is to slide in tiles from their hand into the grid to make clear paths to the other side, moving your meeples along the paths as you go. The tunnels constantly change as tiles are moved in and out. But it works. I’ve playtested it at a Game Designers of North Carolina meeting and got very positive feedback. It’s coming along nicely. That makes two science fiction games for 2019. Can I do another? We will find out in the next installment of … Invasion of The Astro-Games!
Last time I talked about science fiction as a game theme and listed some examples. There are A LOT of them. It is a oft use theme. Why? Because it sells, the IP space is open if you do something original (i.e. you can make more games in that universe), and most of the time these games look cool. All this got me thinking. As a game designer, why aren’t I designing a science fiction themed game? Well I was. It was called The Survivor and it was loosely based on Robinson Crusoe on Mars, a movie from 1964 starring Paul Mantee. He and Adam West are astronauts who crash on Mars. Mantee has to find food, water, and shelter until a rescue vessel can arrive. It’s a fun movie, very 1960’s feeling. I started on it several years ago. It started out as with mechanics using a standard deck of cards, charts, movement on a small board. It was complex and not fun. So I set it aside and went to the next design. Then I see Jason Glover’s Desolate and realized that this was the game I was trying to make. By the way this is an excellent solo game that you can hear more about right here – Flying Solo . And you can buy your own copy here – Desolate on The Game Crafter
The itch to make a science fiction themed game was revived when I discovered Monster Kid Radio podcast. Derek Koch’s wonderful show covers the movies that I LOVE – 1930’s through early 1960’s monster movies. This includes your classics like Dracula, The Mummy, and Creature From The Black Lagoon. He and his guests also talk about not as well known movies like Dan Curtis’ Dracula, Santo movies, Nosferatu, and The Beach Girls And The Monster. It reawakened my monster kid and I’m very glad of it. Here’s a link to MKR. I give it my highest recommendation.
Anyway, Ryan and I got to talking and actually watching some of them ‘together’. He asked me that very question – why don’t I make a science fiction themed game based on one of these movies? That was a very excellent question and got my brain working. It would be great to do a Logan’s Run or This Island Earth. But licensing issues would surely arise. It would be best to find a movie without that particular roadblock. Therefore to the public domain I went. And that is where I will harvest my theme. There are numerous movies there to pick from. Movies such as Robot Monster, Killers From Space, Attack of The Giant Leeches, and any number of Flash Gordon or other serials. Surely I can dig a treasure from such fertile ground. So readers, that is one of my design goals for 2019. I am going to design, or at least start, a game based on some public domain science fiction (possibly horror) movie. I have a couple of ideas and invite you to tag along on this journey with me.
Next Time: A few movies I’m considering