Happy December, adventurers! Hopefully you’re enjoying the final weeks of the year and the countdown to 2018. We’re glad that so many of you have made Tunnels & Trolls™ Adventures a part of your day-to-day adventures this year, and can't wait to continue the journey into the new year!
Before we dive into the exciting stuff, we’d like to thank everyone who took the time to complete our recent survey following the super-major-awesome T&TAv2.0 build released last week! You all provided some GREAT feedback about your experience with the game, the latest changes and updates, and perspective about what you expect in the future that lies ahead for Tunnels & Trolls Adventures. Your feedback will be our compass as we plot a course into 2018 and focus on the most important aspects of the game, so thank you for taking the time to provide us guidance; and in return, we hope you enjoy the Hearts as you dive back into your favorite adventures!
While we're working hard to prepare NEXT week’s adventure, we wanted to take a moment to shift the spotlight onto one of the awesome members of our team. This week, we’re excited to (re-)introduce you to Sam Riordan, an official adventure designer here at MetaArcade. Sam most recently brought you Labyrinth and Sword for Hire, and is working on the first adventure that will release in the new year. While we briefly introduced Sam a while back, we want to do a proper introduction: as one of the creative minds here on the MetaArcade team, and as the first pick for our Developer Spotlight!
So, once again (and without further ado), enjoy!
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO? TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF!
I’m Sam: adventure designer extraordinaire. That’s a fancy way of saying that I write and adapt adventures along with other tasks like image and copy-editing as needed. Basically, anything the Content team needs, I’m on it!
Also, I’m a proud new cat owner.
(LOOK AT HER FACE. LOOK AT IT! SHE IS PERFECT!)
WHAT’S YOUR BACKGROUND IN GAMING? HOW DID YOU GET STARTED AND HOW DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR SKILLS OVER THE YEARS?
I’ve been playing video games for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I was pretty much limited to educational games like JumpStart, MathBlasters, and other point-and-click PC games from Humongous Entertainment. My aunt had (and still has) an SNES, though, so when we visited her we’d marathon Donkey Kong Country 2 and Super Mario.
As I got older, I branched out more, but I’m still a PC-gamer at heart.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE GAME GENRE OR FRANCHISE? WHAT’S AT THE TOP OF YOUR LIST?
RPG’s, naturally! In particular: Dragon Age, Psychonauts, Pajama Sam.
Dragon Age is an iconic fantasy-RPG franchise with loads of player agency in the narrative and great PC/NPC interactions.
Psychonauts is gorgeous, and is in my humble opinion a perfectly cohesive game. (So excited for the sequel!)
Pajama Sam is super simple in comparison, but like all Humongous games it has a nice sense of humor and lots of fun little easter eggs. Plus, the hero’s name is Sam…that never hurts.
IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH A SINGLE GAME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE? WHY?
How could you do this to me…God, it’s like choosing between children.
Dragon Age: Inquisition by Bioware
That said, Dragon Age: Inquisition. Open world exploration means plenty of hours of playtime, and it has a high level of replayability on top of that.
WHAT GOT YOU INTO TUNNELS & TROLLS? DID YOU PLAY ANY OTHER RPG’S OR TABLETOP GAMES?
Honestly, Dungeons & Dragons. It’s the obvious answer, but yeah. I started playing with my family about 4-5 years ago. Then my dad mentioned T&T, and I met David [Reid], and now I write for the property!
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE GAMING INDUSTRY, AND WHAT ULTIMATELY LED YOU TO JOIN METAARCADE?
I started as a wee little college student studying Creative Writing. My college had just started offering undergrad game design courses, and one of them was in RPG Game Writing. I took the class and LOVED it. (Huge shoutout to Chris Klug, the professor, for setting me off down this path. Look at me now, teach!)
MetaArcade was a huge stroke of luck for me, where I happened to be in the right place at the right time. I was originally hired to write the Style Guide for writing and adapting T&T adventures; the rest is history.
EXPLAIN A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR PROCESS. WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION WHEN BULIDING AN ADVENTURE OR CREATING A STORY?
When adapting an original T&T adventure, I start with the story and break it down to its bare bones. Then I build it up again while focusing on what I think was key to the original success of the adventure.
When working from scratch, I start with an interesting concept and build out from there. I’ve [usually] done loads of world and character-building while I'm working on the plot [of the adventure].
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF CREATING A “GOOD” ADVENTURE?
The audience’s perception of it. It has to be fun for players! That doesn’t mean it has to be light-hearted, or easy. A “good” adventure is one that engages the player and makes them feel things—though ideally, those things aren’t frustration and disappointment.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TUNNELS & TROLLS ADVENTURE THUS FAR? WHAT MAKES IT YOUR FAVORITE?
Again with the difficult questions!
I’m going to be selfish and say Gamesmen of Kasar. It’s not published yet, but I’m having loads of fun writing it.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE MOST WHEN PLAYERS BEGIN CREATING AND SHARING THEIR OWN ADVENTURES?
The variety! People are always going to surprise you with what they come up with. No matter how original you think you’ve been, there’s always going to be someone who blows your mind with something out of left field.
(I’m looking at you, Piss Wizard.)
IF YOU HAD ONE LESSON TO BESTOW UNTO PLAYERS LOOKING FORWARD TO CREATING THEIR OWN ADVENTURES, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL THEM?
Write for the player, not for yourself.
It would be [much] easier to just write a linear adventure with no choices or branches whatsoever, but that’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to write fun, unique adventures! Seize the player and make them feel things; suck them into the story by making their choices matter! (Vive la RPG!)
But also, don’t go crazy. Be reasonable. Love yourself. Remember: a finished adventure is always better than an unfinished one.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES OUTSIDE OF GAMING? WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING IN YOUR FREE TIME?
Surprisingly, I do still write for fun outside of work. Don’t ask me how or why; I’m shocked too.
Aside from that, I watch loads of terrible movies and TV; some good stuff, too, but mostly cheese and schmaltz. Rom-coms are my Achilles heel.
MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL: WHAT SUPERPOWER WOULD YOU HAVE AND WHY?
FLYING. I don’t care if I have wings or if I’m just flapping my dang arms; get me the heck up there!
Is it a bird? A plane? No, it’s Sam, and I’m having the time of my life!!
There you have it! We'll keep finding moments to introduce our small team in the future, so watch out for more introductions between our releases.
As we mentioned earlier, we’re also hard at work on next week’s adventure: another Tunnels & Trolls classic and the fifth chapter of the Crown of Klade campaign arc. This latest chapter will continue the story of your heroic journey through the world while offering new opportunities to level, swap out your gear, and grow. T&T veterans will recognize the classic tale, though (like all our other adventures) it'll have our signature MetaArcade twist. We'll talk more about it next week, so stay tuned!
Have a fantastic weekend, and happy delving!
—The MetaArcade Team