In a quiet corner on the upper floors of the Washington State Convention center, there was a small booth, it’s visitors sitting huddled over tablet devices, their brows furrowed in deep concentration as noise cancelling headphones blocked out the cacophony of sound coming from the show room floor. Randomly, someone would stand, walk over to an easel with a pad of large paper on it, and mark off their death. These deaths, and a familiar face gave me pause. As I looked over the list, I chuckled. Death had variety, from vampire bats to drowning in beer, it seemed whatever this game was, it was definitely killing it’s players. Yet these same players kept coming back.
I had to take a look.
What I had stumbled upon was the first in what is going to be a series of text based RPG adventures based on the modules, and combat systems of Tunnels and Trolls, the 2nd tabletop RPG to ever be published (seriously, you can verify this on the US Library of Congress). Originally designed by Ken St Andre and published by Flying Buffalo, Tunnels and Trolls was a tabletop RPG that focused more on the story telling and experience of playing a tabletop RPG, rather than the complex character sheets, rules, and multi-sided die that were required by other tabletop games. Figuring not everyone had access to the dice bag of holding, Ken’s system was built around dice that every household had, the trusty d6, and from there the world of Trollworld was born. The tabletop version of the game was originally released in 1975, but back in 2013, Ken, reunited with his original publisher, the President of Flying Buffalo, Rick Loomis, along with his original Tunnels and Trolls team of co-designer and artist Liz Danforth, art director and cartographer Steve Crompton, and writer Jim “Bear” Peters to release the definitive version of the game, Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls. Meta Arcade’s CEO David Reid partnered with the aptly named “Fellowship of the Troll” group, to bring Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls from book to digital format, and that they did with the first module Naked Doom.
Naked Doom plays out much like a “Choose your own Adventure” book, but unlike the books, you can’t flip back when you make the wrong decision, which led to a lot of deaths by vampire bats, or drowning in beer. As the tabletop version of the game used 6-sided die, so does the digital, the game is complete with the dice rolling visual, and accompanying sound, which really gave this digital game a tabletop feel, not only was the sound spot on, but the physics of the dice roll were amazing, especially for a game that had only been in development for 3 months, dice collided with each other with a satisfying sound, and bounced across the screen, where this was the most satisfying was during combat, when red and black dice would careen over the screen, causing me to hold my breath as I quickly added up the dice, letting out triumphant “YES!” when I finally beat out the vampire bats…only to be quickly ended by a very angry Balrog, but that my friends is a story for another time.
After speaking to David about Naked Doom (and Rush because when two Rush fans meet, it’s a necessity to talk about Rush) I was pleased to hear that Meta Arcade had much bigger plans for the platform and that Naked Doom wasn’t going to be the only adventures in Trollworld. David spoke at length about the community he envisioned utilizing the platform, with members of the community creating and sharing adventures, David also mentioned plans for a revenue sharing program for these fan created adventures down the road we’ll be sure to keep you budding writers and creators out there in loop regarding that as more news is released.
Naked Doom has definitely left me wanting more, the 10, 15 minutes I spent playing immersed me in a world that was challenging, and at the same time relaxing, there were no flashing lights, no hit meters, no combo counters, just the story, my choices and the dice, which even amidst the craziness of the PAX show floor was somehow very relaxing. This was definitely a hidden gem on the PAX West floor, and definitely worth the sit down. Make sure to keep checking back here for development updates, and news from the Meta Arcade team as we hear it.
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.