“With MetaArcade we landed on something we believe can work in all genres of games and interactive fiction—the goal is to let people create easily and still have a robust game mechanic in it which can apply across all universes.” – David Reid, Founder & CEO, MetaArcade
Two years ago Wade (Mulehorn117) met with David Reid, founder and CEO of MetaArcade at Pax South 2017. Wade became one of thousands of attendees to get an early look at MetaArcade’s adventure creation tool – the same tool used to design and deliver the platform’s first products. First came remastered versions of solo adventures from the classic tabletop RPG, Tunnels and Trolls. Shortly thereafter, Cthulhu Chronicles solo adventures were released – as the name implies, adventures based on H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos and the popular Call of Cthulhu tabletop role-playing game. Since then, MetaArcade has been nose-to-the-grindstone taking what they have learned from their first two products.
Recently I had my own opportunity to sit down with Dave Reid, a game industry veteran, and discuss where MetaArcade is today. Dave talked at length about what they learned over the past three years and how MetaArcade is now closer to Dave’s ultimate vision. He gave me a sneak peak of some of the new features being revealed in February’s closed beta. I’m not an excitable person. On the contrary, I am really low key. But, by the end of my talk with Dave, I was consciously restraining my enthusiasm lest I look like a fool – this is something to be excited about!
Choose You Own Adventure
Interactive fiction and solitary adventure novels have been around for a long time. They follow a simple storytelling concept; establish a setting and a story with a beginning and end. Establish plot points at key moments in the story where the reader must make a decision between several options. Your choice may lead to safety or harm, victory or defeat. “You stand at a crossroads. A Cold wind bites into your skin and penetrates the gaps in your cloak. The path to the left leads into a dark shadowy forest rumored to be haunted. Nestled within is a cozy little cottage. Smoke from a warm fire curls upward into an unpredictable sky. The path to the right leads into the mountains. A shortcut home for sure, but the high slopes mean snow and even colder temps as night falls. Which path do you choose?”
Create Your Own Adventure
Tunnels & Trolls and Cthulhu Chronicles gave players a chance to experience classic solo adventure storytelling in its traditional sense. Elements of traditional role-playing games exist within the framework of each story, but each story is the culmination of someone’s efforts. We can play them, but we don’t have any say in their design. MetaArcade changes all that. From the beginning, MetaArcade has sought to provide a platform that anyone can use to create, publish and monetize their own interactive stories. As a long-time tabletop role-playing game enthusiast himself, Dave knows that the TTRPG community is where people have been passionately creating their own adventures since the beginning of the genre. In Dave’s own words, “RPG players are the best interactive storytellers in the world, as we’ve created, shared, bought and sold interactive narrative for decades in the form of our adventures and campaigns.”
MetaArcade – The Story Creation Tool
The self-composing/self-publishing platform is Reid’s ultimate vision for MetaArcade. That is what February’s closed Beta will deliver. The MetaArcade adventure creation tool gives the storyteller an easy-to-use interface that allows them to design their adventure using a storyboard format. At each frame you can include your text along with your images and your sounds. The completed project is uploaded to MetaArcade’s servers where it follows the same license validation process other publishing companies follow now. Once complete, it’s yours to monetize as you see fit. “It’s about building the platform where all of us, and all of our friends, can play every adventure ever written by anyone. For any RPG system, and ultimately any story in any genre of fiction, in a satisfyingly interactive game.” – David Reid.
Now that we have a solid understanding of what MetaArcade will do for us, let’s take a look at some of the nuts and bolts of the system. The following information contains details from my interview with Dave, official Discord community discussion forums and emails.
How will stats and abilities be handled? How do they relate to dice mechanics?
- The dice mechanic is our first mechanic for skill checks: this is how you’ll do easy/medium/hard checks against your Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence
- The beta will include a new dice and token combat mechanic, but it’s only one of several mechanics creators will have at their disposal.
- Because people can create their own universes with different attributes if they choose, the dice mechanic will handle skill checks for those new attributes as well.
- You will be able to rename stats, attributes and other parameters related to the character playing the adventure
Creating and Publishing Your Adventure:
- At the end of the creation process, you upload your adventure, which will be compiled into a single file and sent directly to the cloud for access on the Player end.
- You will be able save your adventure locally while working on it.
- Custom art assets – The Creator lets you upload images locally. You can create and upload custom assets without it affecting the export process on your end.
- For people needing assets, libraries of art and audio will be available including art from T&T, Cthulhu Chronicles and a new IP releasing with the beta.
- The images will publish as well and appear in the playable adventure.
Platform and Monetization:
- Play on PC and mobile. Creation tool on PC only.
- Accounts will be unified so your content will be available to you across all your devices.
- All universes will exist in one app.
- You’ll charge prices for your adventures in simple currencies, and players who purchase will own them outright forever.
About February’s Closed Beta
Nine playable adventures will release with the start of the closed beta – Three adventures for each of MetaArcade’s three IPs: Tunnels and Trolls, Cthulhu Chronicles and a new IP developed in-house based on folklore and mythology. Additional adventures will release for each IP leading up to the open beta.