Tag: game

The Giant Hula Monster #3- Conception of The Astro-Games

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!

The Giant Hula Monster #1 – The Science Fiction Theme in Games

I like science fiction. A lot. If I’m reading a book, most likely it’s science fiction of some sort. You should check out Leigh Brackett’s Eric John Stark series or anything by Robert Heinlein.  I enjoy pretty much all flavors in the genre – space opera, speculative, alternate history, hard science, sci-fi spy (James Bond). It’s all good. Greater than fifty percent of the movies I watch fall into this category. Most recently I was in a ‘70’s science fiction mood so I got The Omega Man, Soylent Green, and Logan’s Run watched (man, Charlton Heston liked to take his shirt off!).

So what about games? There are a lot of science fiction based games. You have the standard 4X games like Eclipse, pick up and deliver games like Terra Prime or Junk Orbit , worker placement ones like Alien Frontiers or Dinosaur Island. You can’t fall down in a game store without landing on a space themed game. I searched BGG on this theme and there are 50 pages of science fiction games! Why is this? Why are there SO many science fiction themed games?  I have some thoughts on this.

First, and probably most important, it sells. If it didn’t there would not be so many games with these themes. People like science fiction. Science fiction in general is popular. Why? There are many, many reasons. I’m not going into this as it will take 20 posts to cover. Go search the internet using “Why is science fiction popular?” and you will get plenty of good opinion and stats. I’m talking a small crumble of the science fiction pie.

Because it is popular, science fiction sells. Go to Barnes & Noble and go to the science fiction section. It’s huge. Then go to the DVD department there. Again lots of movies and TV shows. Science fiction makes money. Game publishers are in the business of making money from the games they publish. It is logical that they would jump into this genre. I would be interested to see sales numbers for science fiction games. I bet they would be in the top two themes. So there is money to be made with science fiction themed games.

Terraforming Mars by Stronghold Games

Another reason, I believe, is for the publisher it gives them their own intellectual property (IP). Unless it is a licensed property, the publisher owns the ‘world’ created for the game. They can do whatever they wish with that property. If the initial game makes money, they are free to do sequels or other games in that world/universe. And they could use some of the same art or at least artists and creators that they already have relationships with. It is sustainable. They can continue to build off of the property for years. For example, Button Shy Games has created its Pocket Universe. There are seven or eight games set in this universe. They all have similar art and their stories are loosely linked. Locations, characters, and art are shared between the games to give the Pocket Universe cohesion and a unique identity.

That’s two or three good reasons why there are so many science fiction games. I will mention one more – escape. Ask people why they play games. It is very likely one of the reasons is it gives them a break from life, a little bit of time to think about something other than jobs, bills, etc.. Science fiction adds another layer on top of that. And I think an active layer. By that I mean that people can imagine science fiction themes better than say, medieval themes. Even though the latter theme is more factual I think people enjoy thinking about a science fiction theme. I know I would rather imagine myself zipping around in a spaceship delivering goods to planets rather than driving an ox cart between towns in Europe. Science fiction is snazzier. People like snazzy.

Those are just some of my thoughts on the science fiction genre in gaming. Next time I start my own journey into genre.