Posted on August 12, 2008 by First Oni
Next up is Eloy LaSanta telling us about his new game Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. and how he created his company Third Eye Games.
Apocalypse Prevention, Inc.
Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. came from a culmination of ideas that have mulled around in my head for years. I’ve been writing and roleplaying for over fifteen years, written articles for webzines, and been published a handful of times. I found a sense of pride in being able to twist my ideas to fit into someone else’s titles, but I also wanted to share my own visions with the world. The decision to strike out on my own was easy and I then became the one-man operation that is Third Eye Games. I was lucky that had more experience and contacts than some attempting the same and I’ve been grateful to those that I’ve worked with in the past for a strong foundation. They taught me that it’s important to understand your goals and implement them.
When it came to creating my action horror, I realized that it’s really hard to truly scare someone nowadays. You can’t scare everyone with the same trick and our society is quickly immune to horror in a traditional state. The site of a dead body may be quite scary for a newb, while veteran are rarely freaked out in the least by even the largest fountains of blood. Then, I looked back to horror inspirations that I grew up with, from Nightmare on Elm Street to Halloween to Candyman. The first viewing of any of these movies easily made me hide behind couches, cower at going near a mirror in the dark, or even go to sleep sometimes. But I progressed each time I watched them, desensitizing myself to the violence and introducing a new element… humor. I’ve found that horror is often the funniest of genres after getting over the initial scare factor. Yes, slightly morbid, but true.
Instead, I really tried to tackle this while writing Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. by using the surprise approach. Players take the roles of agents for a shadow corporation, investigating prophecies, miracle sightings, dimensional portals, and other supernatural occurrences, but they don’t perform these tasks alone. Demons from other worlds face these threats by their side, including some monsters that humans have been scared of since the beginning of time. Even in their strangeness and horror, they are stilled scared by other investigated monsters. This should tell you something. Again, each of these threats has some hint of comedy after you look past the initial horror they present, which was important to the setting. In any game and in life, making assumptions on appearance can put a character off their game, risking their lives and those of their friends, and reintroducing a sense of terror into the game. My goal was to definitely make a setting where appearances could not be trusted. For instance, one of the most gruesome-looking demons in the game works in a cancer ward and wouldn’t hurt a fly.
This was a huge part of my personal design goals. They are things that I have always been interested in playing (or GMing) and I can only hope that others share my enthusiasm. The setting itself is a lot of fun, but the other part of game creation that I loved writing was the system itself. I’m a mechanics-whore and I love games that have an enjoyable setting AND system. No game out there fulfilled both for me. It would always end up that I either really liked the setting or the mechanics individually, but never both. Development between the creations of the Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. setting and the Dynamic Gaming System (DGS) mechanics were about equal, each taking several months to get just right after dozens of independent play tests.
As a one-man operation, it became quickly apparent that in-depth play testing was going to be needed. It was important for me to not just get “the rules work”, but to single out good and bad elements. The things that were wrong needed to either get cut or get an overhaul. Combat, for example, took way too long in the original iteration of the mechanics. Then not long enough in another. Good things needed to be made even better. Many of the available magic options in Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. came directly from play test input. I remember back to some of my first play tests and laugh now, seeing how far the game has come from then.
It did eventually get to a state where I am now happy. The setting has enough horror, intrigue, depth, and purpose that I had hoped for, and the mechanics infuse action and creativity into the game with carefully crafted combat rules and wholly customizable magic. Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. is currently in its last editing stages and I couldn’t be more excited. Please check our web site, www.thirdeyegames.net.