This Blog 2019, Goals and Grommets

Inspired by the 2019 goals post over at Charles's Dragons Never Forget Blog, I figured I would do the same thing. 2018 right around ...

Saturday, December 31, 2016

though lost eyes, re-discovering a game from my past.

Back when I was in Jr high school I wrote a "RPG" about pro wrestling, which I creatively titled "The wrestling game." I don't remember exactly when. I know it was before High school, before being able to drive, and all the distractions that come from that sort of thing.

We would get together at one of our homes and play D&D, Car wars, Star fleet battles, or whatever was on deck. Since we were relying on rides from others, we would never all arrived at the same time. So I wrote the wrestling game to fill those minutes before the group had fully convened. We played it a few times. I think we enjoyed it. I guess that's when I got the game design bug. I realized I could makes something my friends and I could share and enjoy.

Since then I have always held a soft spot for pro wrestling games. Not that there have been a ton of them, but there have been a few.
Here's a quick list of some of the Wrestling games I've read through in the years since I wrote my own.

  • Squared Circle
  • WWE's Know your role RPG 
  • World wide wrestling:  This happens to be my favorite, due to the authors approach. I have taken heat for that here on the blog before, my opinion is unchanged.
  • Superstar pro wrestling: More of a board game. I have never played the physical game but have had a chance to read the  rules in PDF format. I have fooled around with the Computer version.
  • There was a game named "Ring Master" which used a percentile based system to simulate matches but I simply can't find it a Any more.
  • The WWF adventure game  This is another I never got to play only read.
  • I also did some e-feds and ran my own E-feds on a couple of occasions.
I have tried to keep my ear to the ground in a search for wrestling RPG games. I have even updated my original ideas over the years. Having written a few drafts of  wrestling games with varying degrees of success.

 Recently one of my friends found (A physical copy?) of that old wrestling game from so many years ago. It got me thinking. I have kept a digital copy of the original game since I bought my first pc back in 1993.  I  laboriously transcribed it from the paper copy and saved it as updated file types as I have gotten new technology ever since. It has been sitting on my portable hard drive, with a last opened date of 8/10/2003.

Yesterday I opened it.

As you all know and I am not shy about saying I'm not a good writer. I have no idea what year I last typed up that old wrestling game, but I was a hell of a lot worse back then. To make matters worse I must have opened the original rich text file in MS Word 97, then just saved it. So the  formatting is all buggy. There's not a single line of text longer than seventy characters. The font is  hideous. Funniest to me is that this old document is rather vaingloriously labeled "version 4.5." I have no memory of ever tracking versions of the game, or why I would have.

 I spent a few hours on it this morning. I started going through and correcting the obvious spelling and grammatical mistakes. I worked on fixing some of the formatting.  It's a big pile to dig through.

So what can I learn from my old game design that could help my current gaming?
First of all if it were someone else's work and I read it with my current perspective I would say it's not a role-playing game. It's more like an attempt at genre emulation based on wrestling video games.  There is hardly any attention given to "backstage politics" or the relationships between the wrestlers. The game is about creating a character and beating up other characters.
I must have been reading TSR's "Top Secret" at the time  because the game features attributes with secondary-attributes calculated using those attributes. I would need a calculator to make a character. There is a great deal of fiddly stuff going on.

There's not a lot of fat in the game, everything is directed towards simulating matches. So two players could fight it out and pretty much know the game will deliver a fair match. There is no padding to force a dramatic or "good" wrestling match. A dominant character would smash a weak character given average die rolls. Which is a good emulation of wrestling at the time when the game was written. At that time a viewer would see mostly  "squash matches" with lesser talent getting killed by established stars week after week.

Finally the game was written before the internet, Or at least it was written when the internet was still mostly BBS boards. The  whole game is  devoid of "smart-mark" insider wrestling lingo and "it's still real to me" jokes.

Wrestling was never"real to me." The very first time I ever watched IWCCW wrestling from Texas, with my told me straight out. "It's not real. If they really did that to each other some one would be dead, and they would all be in jail." 
I always knew it was fake but when I wrote that first wrestling game I had no idea how it worked, or how a wrestling promotion functioned behind the curtain. The game reflects that. I didn't know wrestling, I knew matches. The game only does matches. There's absolutely no irony in the game. There is no sense of, "this is a wrestling game and I'm writing it to show you  how smart I am about wrestling." That smarkishness is so prevalent in today's internet culture.

The game simply exists the way  the matches in Nintendo's "pro wrestling" existed. Floating in their own singular bubbles removed from the real world, entrenched in their own reality. A reality where big guys have advantages because the WWE of that era (one could argue still) favored size over pretty much everything else.  And whether or not you can lift your opponent might be the  thing that wins or loses the match for you.

With the internet, wrestling lingo is everywhere, the internal workings so of the publicly traded WWE are written about all over the place. That influence is unavoidable. The world wide wrestling RPG has a section and essays on wrestling and culture. My most recent efforts toward writing a wrestling game focused on the matches being the engine that powers a promotion, competing with other promotions for talent and  resources. The matches are almost secondary to the  wider pro-wrestling  business.  This represents a sea-change in perspective from the time I wrote the original to now. A recognition that my mental focus has as one would expect changed over time. The old game is a wide eyed kid is watching the matches and asking how do these athletes succeed? The new game is looking at it as a business and asking how do all these parts come together to make a successful product?

I guess the big lesson to be had is when working on a project, game adventure what ever. Recognize the effect a persons perspective has on the project focus. Realize that perspective on any given subject might not be 100% under a persons control. The amount of information available, and the amount ambient noise about a subject a person might have absorbed over time can significantly  influence the  focus of a project and the end result. This is true even if the  person working on the project does not intend it to. Games and game designs are o some extent like anything else products of their time, and environment.

So is that old wrestling game of mine any good?
I don't know.
I don't think so, to be honest.

On the other side is original Car wars any good? Is Red Box D&D any good? 
I don't know. Depends who you ask.
Are they fun? Absolutely. I love car wars even if it does take 4 hours to simulate 4 seconds of combat. Red box D&D was my first D&D and of course I love it for that. I know there are people out there who think Red Box D&D is the  ONLY D&D worth playing. I'm sure there is someone who feels Chain-mail was the best game ever written and can see no reason to play any tabletop game written after 1971. Each to their own. As long as a good time is being had, who cares?

Like those other older games it's pure, kind of like a car wars for wrestling. That's what surprised me. I like the  purity of the  whole thing even if the end result is not what I would  look to do today.

Make a character and fight. How could I ever complain about that?

Thanks for reading .

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