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Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Elements of an Old West Computer Role Playing Game

The husband of a colleague of mine works for BioWare, the famous Alberta software company responsible for Baldur's Gate, Dragon Age and other well-crafted computer role-playing games.

I've long felt the genre lacked games of this type with an Old West setting, and in a fit of jest I asked my colleague to pass on the following thoughts to her husband. Of course I don't expect anything of it, but it was fun putting together some ideas.

Elements of a satisfying Old West RPG

·         Cowboys
·         Cowgirls
·         Indians
·         Tragedy
·         Revenge
·         Bandits
·         Mexicans
·         Soft Easterners
·         Riverboat gambling
·         Railroad shenanigans
·         Miners
·         Bitter Civil War vets
·         Diversity
·         Shootouts
·         Dynamite
·         Shovels
·         Pick axes
·         Evil land/railroad/mining barons
·         Widows
·         Orphans
·         Taciturn loners
·         Plucky sidekicks
·         Animated skeletons
·         Caves
·         Fur trappers
·         Canoes
·         Whitewater rafting
·         Hardy settlers
·         Covered wagons
·         Dysentery
·         Primitive hot air balloons
·         Coyotes
·         Buffalo
·         Ravens
·         Gold
·         Silver
·         One-horse towns
·         Temporally displaced androids indistinguishable from humans but luckily programmed to behave like Old West characters
·         The occasional British or French fop
·         Mysterious strangers
·         Incredibly smart and talented horses
·         Incredibly cheap goods and services
·         Saloons – including player pianos and senseless fights, hopefully with the ability to smash whisky bottles and bar stools over heads
·         The bittersweet reality of an old way of life giving way to the new – the wild west making way for encroaching civilization
·         Wayward Mounties
·         Well-meaning but annoying nuns
·         The ongoing tension between ranchers and farmers
·         Chupacabras
·         A rabid donkey
·         Corrupt Sheriffs
·         Incorruptible Sherrifs
·         Awesome Old West music
·         Vast vistas

Character Classes!
·         Gunfighter
·         Sheriff
·         Deputy
·         Gambler
·         Travelling Snake Oil Salesman
·         Piano Player
·         Magician
·         Miner
·         Trapper
·         Scout
·         Skeleton Fighter
·         Dentist
·         Surgeon
·         Civil War Veteran
·         Rancher
·         Farmer
·         Plucky Kid
·         Fop
·         Reporter
·         Fancy Eastern Lawyer with alla that book learnin’
·         Scientist (Mad)

Character Attributes! (1-10 scale)
·         Shootin’
·         Sluggin’
·         Guts
·         Purtyness
·         Wits
·         Book Learnin’
·         Survival


Jeff Shyluk said...

You left out silver spurs. But then, so did Westworld. You can rape someone, kill them inside out, and then reainimate their corpse for more sadistism, but so help you, you can't put little knives on the back of your boots to spur that person's horse.

Also: boots, vests, ten gallon hats, Bowie knives, dynamite, and bleeding out slowly. Cattle drives, indian fighters, red sunsets, cacti, lynching, graveyards, undertakers, train conductors, Mexican silver, lost sisters, rattlesnakes, scorpions, wanted posters, whiskey, bandannas, broken arrows, mysterious piles of rock, stagecoaches, carriages, fistfights, buckskin, vernier rifle sight, Winchester repeater, the rare 8-shot Webley revolver for those who count shots, saddle oil, hand-made rope, gold tooth, sheriff star, federal marshal, Texas Ranger, glints on the horizon, coyote howls and owl hoots, blue shadows, sudden snowstorms, towns with inappropriately optimistic names. Fashions from Paree. Staircase bannisters that break. Lonely hotel rooms. Beans, campfire meat, covered wagons, the Holy Bible. Sand devils. Cold sores and wind burns. A canteen with a hole shot through it. A hat with a hole shot through it. A hangman's rope shot through. Buzzards. Harmonicas. Arroyos and buttes. Pince-nez glasses, perhaps coloured lenses. Cow shit. Pig Shit. Chicken shit. Royalists, secessionists, and congressmen. Chinese labourers. Gatling guns. Lead bullets with crosses sliced into them. Boilerplate armour. Wincing, limping, missing fingers. Cigars and cigarillos. Eagle feathers, wool blankets, hard tack. Bullwhips. Flash floods. Boiling water and rages as medicine. Destiny.

Hot air ballons, I'm not so certain: those would have been much more popular out East at that time. Ballooning was an event and the aerostat (balloon) pilot expected payment. There wouldn't be many crowds, to watch a balloon go up, although I can see it from a steampunk point of view.

Also, if I may be so self-serving as to add: Greek gods.

Earl J. Woods said...

All worthy components, to be sure!