Archive for July, 2004
After finally getting worked up and moving on Shadows Rising, I’ve started doing some more in-depth research on how to integrate a decent set of rules and mechanics. My very first thought of course was to implement a d20 system – similar to that employed in games by Wizards of the Coast, i.e. Dungeons & Dragons.
So off I merrily went and visited their home page to look up their System Reference Documents. Now taking stroll around, I happened across the d20 System homepage which hosts along with the SRD’s the applicable licenses for Open Gaming Content, i.e the Open Gaming License.
This where the fun begins! After reading through the licenses available I quickly realised that the OGL was the only feasible license if I wanted to use Open Gaming resources such as the d20 SRD’s. However, and a big however it was, the license seemed very specific to textual gaming content – not altogether suitable for an online game. I’ve since come to believe that the modular nature of Shadows Rising – separating content from engine, and both of these from the rulesets – may facilitate the license more easily than a fully integrated version. I’m posted my idea to the Open Gaming Foundation’s mailing list, hopefully to receive back some positive news – then again maybe not. I’ll wait and see.
One thing led to another, and I happened across the Prometheus Project of the Free Gaming Association which offers a helpful additional license called the Prometheus Compatibility Trademark License. (There are a few others of interest.) Basically these govern the use of the Prometheus logo as a mark of compatibility with the FGA’s free versions of the d20 System’s SRD’s (referred to by Prometheus as PRD’s). I found the project quite interesting in its goals, and I hope to be able to conform to their requirements in the future – assuming my research over the use of the Open Gaming License is first successful.
The main problem really is that the OGL seems full of stumbling blocks for software. For a so-called “Open” license it seems just a tad suspicious. Why make something open if you’re going to limit it depending on platform? Of course the entire license though claiming to be applicable to any work, seems to read just too specifically as if it’s targeted solely at text and books. This is probably why so much ambiguity over software and the OGL’s implementation in software seems to persist.
Well, I’ll see what falls out of the emails and forum postings I’ve made trying to clarify the issue…
In the beginning there were 4 volumes of Dungeons & Dragons rpg books circa 1985. Small volumes, each one of those books where you read a passage, choose an option, and turn to the page it points to. Simple yet very irritating to a 6 year old who was trying to figure out why the character seemed doomed to end his life plummeting from the clouds. (And yes, I could read at that age )
That was probably my very first introduction to the fascinating world of Fantasy Fiction and RPGs. Together with an healthy appetite for my native Irish folklore and mythology, it evolved into a major time consumer. Reading Tolkien, Brooks and Gemmell melded into my more literary reading of Irish Mythology volumes from W.B Yeats, Lady Gregory and anything else I could lay my hand on, inspiring a mixed bag of ideas and characters which later came to life on the FFW RPG “The Talisman War” I had moderated along with a number of others since 1999.
It was in 2000 when I first though of creating an interactive RPG game for the internet. It led me to PHP, and from there to the first PHP game I got hooked on, Solar Empire. I played SE for about a year, and finally left to concentrate in my studies at University. However SE stayed in my mind, and in 2002, I finally returned, now with time to burn, and an RPG game running in circles in my head begging to be let out. But first I needed to learn PHP – and what better place to start than to try developing SE?
Nowadays, I am joint lead developer on an SE fork, Quantum Star SE, with a release candidate for version 2.2.0 almost ready to be released. It’s the first PHP game I’ve ever gone it alone on, and I think it has worked out rather well.
Now to the point of this post – that RPG that refused to lie down. Earlier this year I finally decided to take a stab at it. In May I founded Shadows Rising RPG, registered the domain (shadowsrising.net) before anyone with ideas grabbed it, registered the project on Sourceforge and put out an appeal for developers.
I also did some research, and was more than a little surprised. There only appear to be a handful, literally, of open source RPG games written in PHP. There’s the most obvious phpRPG, and of course Legend of the Green Dragon (though it denies being an RPG realistically). But other than these two, there is a smattering of proprietary coded RPG’s, many of which are highly popular but few (if any) of which support a single character levelling and party system. Many seem obsessed more with “Empires” than a single adventuring character. So where are the big single character RPG’s in PHP? Answer: Either invisible, or non-existant.
This came as a shock – PHP games are generally straightforward; store your data on a database, present output of game to players, process player input, output results, and back to square one… They take time and effort, but any newbie to PHP could have a stab – and indeed this is exactly what I found. Sourceforge is a graveyard for dozens of dead RPG efforts. Unlike Space games (Quantum Star SE, TKI, BNT, AATraders, Open Merchant Empires, Solar Empire, etc., etc.), the RPG genre of PHP games is sparse, very sparse. The majority never released any files, or only made one release before fading into oblivian.
So where does this leave Shadows Rising RPG? In a big open space with lots of expansion room? Perhaps. More remarkably, such a lack of alternatives only strengthens SR. If we’re the only OS project doing something on such a vast scale – it makes becoming a successful project very likely. On the downside, there are few examples already existing, from whose mistakes we may learn. All, in all, however. SR’s future looks surprisingly bright and secure – if we get that playable code released in time for Christmas…