Hatchlings Games

Web Gaming 2.0 Revolution

We are moving!

We have a new home, at VirtualPieces.com! We’ll be putting updates and new content there, so make sure you check out that site once you finish reading this!

October 18, 2007 Posted by | Hatchlings Games | Leave a comment

The evolution of Igna, or how Quasr isn’t Magic

(Note: This article requires the knowledge of the game. To learn how to play Quasr, please visit the Quasr website to sign up. But I’ll try to make it as general as possible.)

Now that Quasr is online for some time already, I figure it’s about time to talk about the design and development of the game. I’d start with a general article, but it seems like I’ve written it already. Check out “The color pie and the color salad bowl“. I’ll go into slightly more specific subjects, in the mean time touching on some history of the game, and how did it come about.

I can’t talk about Quasr without mentioning Magic: the Gathering – Indeed, if there’s one game that changed my life, it has to be Magic. Back in early 2000 I was studying high school in Singapore. I just checked in to my dorm after the year-end vacation, when I noticed my room-mate and few other friends playing ‘poker with pictures’ in the room. It didn’t take me long to get hooked to Magic. Now, studying abroad under scholarship and staying in a Presbyterian hostel isn’t the best time and place to start investing in a ‘Satanic’ (as my teacher puts it) game. I’ve gotten into a fair share of trouble which I don’t want to mention again.

Two years later and I was in junior college. That meant a new dorm as well as new room-mates. Among my five room-mates, one was, for a lack of better terms and I hereby ask you, Michael my ex-room-mate, for your forgiveness, a chess freak. While my other room-mates were quite accommodating of playing any game, Michael and I seemed to be at two ends of the gaming spectrum. I never understood chess for the lack of strategic thinking, and he never understood Magic for reasons that I don’t know. Oh, and there’s Edison, who doesn’t play anything other than Diablo 2, until I introduced Magic and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City to him.

Quasr, then titled ‘Battle Chess’ for a lack of imagination and product research, was born in search of the middle ground between Chess and Magic. The rules are a combination of both – defeat your opponent’s ‘King piece’ (the Aspect) using cards from a deck you build. There were numerous iterations between the first design and the current one (In fact, the current version that you see on the site is undergoing some changes as well). These changes happen when we learn new things that we never knew before. One thing we did not know was how strong direct damage can be.

Due to the expanding nature of the game, one of the aspects of Quasr design was conserving design space for future use. For each ‘faction’ (in quotes because of the lack of a better term;we wanted to change it but have not thought of a replacement yet), the idea was to pick a strategy and go all the way with it. This leads to several problems along the way, but right now I’ll just talk about ‘Igna’.

Igna was one of the three starting ‘factions’ of Quasr. Each of the three factions corresponded to a creature stat (Windia, whose details I shall leave unwritten for now, corresponded to the now-obsolete ‘Movement’ stat, or how many squares a creature can move per turn). Igna’s stat, as it turns out to be not too hard to deduce if you have played the game, is Attack (ATK). Igna’s creatures have been big-fisted and small-butted ever since the first card list, as the saying goes “Offense is the best defense” – When you’re busy attacking, there’s no need to hold back. The idea of ‘attacking’ extended from just creatures to Hacks, the ‘spell cards’ of Quasr. This is where the problems started, and the whole point of this article.

There was this one little card in Magic that I stole into Quasr:

Shock felt generic enough to be in any card game that had creatures and combat. It feels just like ‘extended combat’ – attacking with something else when your creatures can’t. Thus, a similar card found its way into Quasr’s set file.

Whack
R
Hack
THIS deals 2 damage to target creature or Aspect.

The ‘R’, which stands for ‘Range’, is the card’s cost, defined by either the number of rows or columns between the player’s Aspect and the target, whichever is greater. Soon enough its cost was increased to R+5. It might not even make it past the next iteration.

Balance is a tricky thing. Just because it’s a common that doesn’t get played in Tier 1 decks in one game doesn’t mean that the same card would not dominate in another game with slightly different rules. The difference – the board – turned out to be not so slight this time. Whack, in a land of one-grid-per-turn movers, was considered ‘cheating’. It was the gun in the fistfight, the Brazilian in the Malaysian football team. It could take out a creature from a distance, or a finishing blow to an Aspect being hurt by similar cards (Igna is full of these). While the Igna player gains no card advantage by scrapping a creature with Whack (what is known as a ‘one-for-one’ trade), it makes up by gaining the player tempo advantage – You save the amount of turns used to move towards your target and attack it. This advantage is even more significant when a creature can only move one grid per turn, a rule implemented to counter the imbalance of fast movers. (We’ll talk about this another time.)

Playtesting makes it so clear that the addition of the board into Quasr makes it so much more different from Magic. A more experienced game designer might spot that out immediately but hey, we’re all learning.

Related Posts:

June 26, 2007 Posted by | Game Design, Quasr | 4 Comments

After hours

In the darkness, on the soft earth, the First Being lay.

The strange world, thoroughly barren in every direction the boy looked, had areas of light and shadow. He had crossed a border a while ago, a blurry line, slightly jagged from the bumpiness of the ground. Stepping across that border marked the instant transition from light to darkness. The First Being looked back, trying to find the Lightgiver through the buzzing purple and green objects in front of his eyes.

The Lightgiver was still there, though only a sliver of white light was seen from his angle. In the darkness he could still see his hands and feet, as well as the bluish wings of his friend. The wings gave off a very faint glow, invisible under the Lightgiver but now illuminating the air around him.

“If only I could bring the Lightgiver with me,” the First Being mumbled. His friend nodded nonchalantly.

“Why not try crafting it?” His friend asked.

The First Being did not say another word. He closed his eyes and channeled power into his fingers, still lying down. He pictured the Lightgiver in his mind, focusing on crafting the essence of Light on his fingertips.

A seed of Light formed on his palm. Then leaves, stems, roots. The seed swelled into a bud, and burst into petals.

Beneath his eyelids, the First Being sensed light. He opened his eyes. Hovering above his palm was a plant. A flower with petals of yellow and white, curving up towards a center, where a fuzzy ball of light bobbed lazily.

Forgetting his fatigue, the First Being got up on his feet and planted the flower into the earth. Focusing energy in his palms again, he crafted another flower, and another…

The standard working hours in Hatchlings is 2pm to 12am. Most of the people leave a the strike of midnight. Choo just picked up the habit of staying in the office until 3am. Kwang will not be here until Wednesday. Slade went off to fetch Iris from the airport… so right now, at 5.51am, it’s just me.

Our office has this small extension room, which is meant to be the storeroom another company’s room. So far they have not turned up, so we gladly took control.

The room is about a third the size of our office, though it can comfortably fit 4 (or even more) if the authorities would just throw away the dozen or so broken monitors (hence, ‘storeroom’). Choo’s PC takes up the other corner in that half of the room.

On the other half is a couch and two mattresses. Slade and I usually sleep there after hours. I mean, not together. That’s why there are, you know, two mattresses. And a couch. Right? Usually Slade takes the thicker mattress and I take the couch. And we’ll have nightmares of each other.

After office hours is pretty much casual time. Sometimes Iris, Slade and I will have a casual discussion on game design (Yes, work can actually be relaxing… but only at night), otherwise I’ll be goofing around on my Nintendo DS. I usually pass out at about 7am, just when the sun rises.

Cyberjaya is very sparsely populated at night, largely due to the fact that most of the land here is occupied by offices. No cars on the street. Just streetlights and lights from hourses far away. A medley of yellow and white.

The future crafters came to the world, and stunned by the flowers’ radiance, named the area the Glimmermeadows.

June 19, 2007 Posted by | Hatchlings Games, Quasr, Quasr Concept, Working Environment | 2 Comments

The agitated gamer, and other mildly amusing anecdotes

… It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

That was what the low-polygon professor from Brain Age told me when I, on a fine day, thought I’d do some elementary math after two months of… doing something else.

Brain Age is one oddity. Last weekend I brought my Nintendo DS Lite home for the first time (seven months after I bought it), my younger sisters were naturally attracted to its ‘weird controls’, but my parents were wary – Both of them are primary school teachers for about 25 years now, and as far as primary school education goes, games and television are bad for children.

I wasn’t too surprised when I saw my mum hogging the DS a few days later, trying to break my record for 100x Calculations on Brain Age (1 minute, 1 second). I said nothing, and just smiled. I don’t think Brain Age or the DS would break their “Games are bad for children” mindset, though I suppose they’ll be referring to the DS as ‘the GameBoy with the maths game.’

It always happens – The general public merely takes the lowest common denominator and uses it as a norm. That’s why any instant noodle here is called ‘Maggi’, any chocolate drink is ‘Milo’, any image editing program is ‘Photoshop’. I didn’t do any tedious research, but here are the five media stereotypes that currently irk me the most. And in no particular order (but it just sounds more exciting when done in countdown):

#5 The conspiring friends

This one’s pretty common, and I’m sure that I’m not the first one to talk about it. Here’s the scenario: Little Jimmy was a quiet little boy, until his ‘friends’ introduce him to cigarettes, Ecstasy, pornography, video games or whatever is the current social ill. Little Jimmy got himself addicted to said vice, and his personal and social life slowly crumbles into a mess. A tearful confession full of regret ends the message with a powerful note.

Witness the power of testimony. It’s always “I drank and drove and lost both my legs”, never “My friends got me into smoking and we all got lung cancer.” What happened to said victim’s so-called friends? They’re pretty much never heard of again once the protagonist falls far enough. Sometimes you’d think if ‘the rest’ are conspiring against the poor guy.

The influence of testimony doesn’t stop here. Remember your visiting aunt, who told you that sleeping after 11pm will give you prostate cancer, or the friend who is sure that Sonic will be in Super Smash Brothers Brawl because he read it in a forum thread started by this guy whose uncle works at Nintendo (Personally, I sure hope Sonic will be in SSBB). It doesn’t matter that radiation from microwave oven would not cause cancer even when there’s a scientific explanation behind it, to some people radiation is radiation. It’s just so convenient to get ‘facts’ from friends, and when something bad happens it’s always their fault.

Which would lead me to my next point…

#4 The ‘Brand X’

My country, Malaysia, is a country that likes superlatives. Everything has to be the ‘biggest’, ‘fastest’, ‘first’. True story: There’s this banner in front of my apartment complex, proudly advertising a fishing competition with ‘the highest prize money in the country’. Imagine winning twelve thousand ringgit (That’s about US$3,500) in a fishing competition.

With that out of our way, it’s not hard to think of an advertising plan in Malaysia: you just have to compare it with something else, and somehow show it’s better. That brings us to the ‘Brand X’.

Sample TV commercial: A guy in a lab coat interviews this young woman. “I used to have dandruff problems”, says the woman, smiling, as she twirls her finger in her hair, “but after using [name of shampoo being advertised], my hair is shiny silky smooth!” Obviously, said brand of shampoo is better than ‘the others’ because ‘the other shampoos’ don’t solve her dandruff problem.

Some advertisements take it further by introducing the ‘Brand X’, the perpetually unnamed victim of inane advertising campaigns. Invoking the law of typicality, as long as something is better than something else of its league, it’s better than any other item of its kind by inference. This brand of detergent washes away grease stains better than ‘Brand X’? ‘Brand X’ might as well be a bucket of paint.

#3 The ‘and more’

…Because, well, the supposedly main attraction just isn’t enough.

Pardon me for naming names here, but I’ve been long irritated by The Chicken Rice Shop‘s tagline. “Chicken Rice… and More” – it doesn’t take half a brain to think of that. Imagine a world of and-mores:

KFC – Fried Chicken… and More!

Dell – Computers… and More!

EA – Challenge Everything… and More!

See, even I can do it.

The and-more tagline is another instance of the law of typicality in effect. You don’t have to love chicken rice, just come on in and you might find something you like because, you know, we call ourselves ‘The Chicken Rice Shop’ but we don’t want people to think that we sell only chicken rice.

I have a suggestion. Instead of ‘and more’, people should use ‘and stuff’, or even ‘and blah’. “KFC – Fried Chicken… and blah.”

#2 The thieving woman

The man wakes up in the morning, bleary-eyed. He shambles to the kitchen counter to make some coffee. The coffee done. With a satisfied smile he puts his lips close to the coffee…

And his wife pops out of nowhere and takes the cup away from him. The woman happily walks away with her loot while the man is clearly disappointed.

And Nescafé isn’t’ the first commercial that’s doing it. Because you know, a happy family is composed of a man that tries to get himself a treat, and a thieving woman.

#1 The Agitated gamer

I didn’t have much to say on the last point because I’m saving it for this one. Technically both fall under the same category – annoying stereotypes – though the agitated gamer grazes a raw nerve whenever I see a ‘gamer’ on television, butt-jumping up and down on his couch, jerking the wired controller with a force enough to throttle a child, frantically pressing the shoulder buttons without any apparent pattern.

Because people can’t keep their elbows still while playing a game on his favorite console (Typically a Playstation). Because these people have this crazed look in their eyes when gaming. Because games now still show “YOU WIN!” in Arial when you clear it. Because being able to tolerate your thieving woman makes you a real man. Because people actually slip on banana peels in real life.

These are simply tools to get the message across easily. Guy bouncing in chair = gamer. Girl runs out of house after a quarrel with dad = car accident. It’s like how the black guy or the guys in the red shirts always die first. I couldn’t care less about the others, but the agitated gamer stereotype keeps gaming at an immature, ADHD-rife level. That’s why DS-es will always be fancy GameBoys to my mother. First person shooters will be murder simulators to Jack Thompson. And gaming, in general, will be bad for kids.

I told my mum that the fancy GameBoy is actually a DS. Now she thinks that it’s a ‘PS’ (Playstation). Oh well…

June 12, 2007 Posted by | Games, Gaming, Malaysia, Quasr Concept | 2 Comments

Chapter 4: The Wind City of Cuelo

We take a break from the Ark arc (ARK ARC LOL) and focus on another character.


In another city across Quasar, Deena ran.Deena’s metal gliding wings, in a cool shade of pale green and grey , were kept straight behind her. The wings caught the sudden gust of wind that blew into her face, slowing her down for a second. But still she ran, now with a pair of wind-shielding goggles on her eyes, and her wings folded tightly. Behind her three boys ran, evidently attempting to catch up to her. Deena was taller than each of the boys, but she did not possess the strength they had. The four children wore uniforms of green and light blue, the colors of the Prodigious Crafting Academy of Cuelo.

“Deena, stop! You’re running on the wrong side of the currents!” One of the boys shouted. None of them stopped.

“Stop chasing me!” Deena turned her head, trying to look over her shoulder while still paying attention to any oncoming traffic. “I don’t know what you guys are talking about, I have nothing to do with Master Avolia!”

“But I saw you together with Master Avolia!” Another boy yelled, this one the chubbiest among the three. “I saw it, he taught you a new hack. Just you! We just want to see it, that’s all!”

“Shut up, Bern!” Deena had her head turned back, avoiding incoming gliders at this busy part of the windtrail. There was a major junction in front, going further down the road led to a sheer cliff towards lower parts of the city.

Before the children knew it, horizontal ground was a thousand-foot drop below.

Deena fell for the first two seconds. She did not look the least bit worried, but merely spread her tucked wings and glided down. Another short fall later, her feet landed on a paved road. Reorienting herself to the vertical part of the city, she continued to run

The City of Cuelo was built on and along a mountain range and its neighboring canyon. Having different laws of gravity than Pamira, buildings and roads were built on the sheer cliff and canyon walls. Along the roads were automatic wind generators, three-bladed metal fans that spun by itself to produce a constant wind current on the road. Cuelo citizens did not travel by vehicles, instead using their wings to glide along quickly.

Deena silently hoped for the clumsiness of her classmates, that they would not reorient themselves on vertical ground that quickly. Meanwhile, she took a sharp turn away from the main currents, losing herself among the alleys of Bolero Town. She smiled at her good luck, the sun was shining on the other side of Cuelo at this hour.

She heard another shout from behind her. Before she could turn around, a green-gloved hand snagged at her shoulder roughly. “Gotcha!” Three young male voices cheered at the same time.

“Emilio! Bern! Nach! How…”

“Oh, we had our eyes on you all the while. You took so many turns that you ended up on the street just by the main road. So we split up to go for you.” the boy named Emilio, the shortest yet most shrewd-looking among the trio, cut her question short. “Now c’mon, just show us your new trick before we tellt the rest of the class tomorrow.”

“Hell, I could tell them now,” the boy named Nach added, touching a thick band on his right index finger which responded by beeping softly.

“But… why? What could you guys get out of this?” Deena cried, “If I actually a trick, that is.”

“C’mon, you know we’re battle freaks,” Emilio said matter-of-factly, “Bern even knows a couple of Fraynian hacks.” Bern nodded sheepishly to that comment.

“I know you don’t care about tournaments, but there’s a big one coming up in Pamira in three days. We can’t afford to miss that one, it’d affect our ladder standings too much.” Emilio continued to say, “Bern says he caught a peek while you were with Master Avolia. He says it… Bern?”

“It all happened too fast.” Bern completed Emilio’s sentence. “It was like… whoosh.”

“So Dee, what’s your decision?” Nach pressed on, the thick band on his finger pulsed in a faint green light.

“No Nach, don’t you dare.” Deena growled, “and don’t ever call me ‘Dee’ again.”

Nach said nothing, but just stared at her. She knew he was all too high-nosed to pass up a chance to challenge the best female battler in class. He had left her with no choice but to disobey her master’s instructions (“Especially not to Emilio and his gang,”). Instantly she came up with a plan. She grinned slyly, as she imagined the outcome of her demonstration.

“Fine then. Now, promise me you won’t tell anyone that I showed you this.”

“Fine by me,” Emilio agreed without a second thought. The other boys nodded.

Deena cracked her knuckles.

“Ready now, blink and you’ll miss it.”

Deena’s body exploded with strands of green energy, enveloping the other three children within it. A split second later their visions cleared. Deena remained standing in front of them, but somehow she looked blurry…

To Deena, time was slowed to a crawl. Experienced battlers would be able to stop time entirely, but she had only learnt it for just about a week and can slow time to a fiftieth of its usual speed – a commendable result for a Time Hack amateur. The grin on her face widened. Still panting from the sudden release of energy, she began her revenge plan.

“What in the…” Nach was only in mid-sentence when he felt a sharp tug on both of his shoulders and the warmth of freshly-crafted metal wrapping around his arms and the rest of his body. He tried to scream, but was served with a mouthful of foul-tasting sticky goo the moment he opened his mouth. He saw his other two friends were in the same state of astonishment, as what seemed like ventrilium twine fused around their bodies and legs. In less than a tec, all three boys stood helplessly bound, glaring at Deena’s trail of residual images with fear, surprise and respect.

There were a few seconds of silence, each one of the boys listening to their own trembling heartbeat and strained breathing as they felt the tightness of the ventrillium rope biting into their skin. Then at the same time all three of them heard a faint giggle from their behinds. Nach turned his head over, lost balance and fell on his butt. He let out a soft grunt through the disgusting gag.

“Mrrrphmm,” Nach tried to speak with his mouth full of goo, probably calling the name of the girl who had just incapacitated him in slightly more than a blink of an eye.

“So there,” said Deena with great exhaustion and a hint of smugness, “How’d you like it?”

“That was awesome, Deena!” cried Bern, wiggling his toes to keep him from falling.

“Now, your end of the promise. A word of this to the others and I’ll hang all three of you on the Academy gates every morning.”

“Yeah, you bet, we won’t tell anyone.” Emilio said, “Now if you could set us free…”

“Eh, it’s just triple-bound ventrillium twine,” laughed Deena. “Nothing that your hacks can’t handle, since I left your fingers free. Obviously it will take a while, you better be quick though, it’s getting dark. See you guys in class tomorrow!”

With that, Deena slowly walked off despite her classmates’ cries of help. She nearly tripped over her feet twice within the short distance from the alley to the main road. Evidently the hack took a high toll on her mental strength.

The three boys watched silently as she shambled her way back to Bolero Main Street. Again there was a moment where nobody did or said anything. A fat raindrop fell into Nach’s eye. As though struck by lightning, the three boys woke up from their trance, crafted metal scraps on their fingertips, and started cutting.


The Quasr Story (can also be read from the game site):

April 12, 2007 Posted by | Encephalon, Quasr Concept, Quasr Story, Quasr World Design | 7 Comments

Chapter 3: The Domed City of Pamira

“I did not know Arky- what?” Ark asked, scratched his forehead. The duo had left the booth some five tecs ago and were walking on the streets of Pamira. His new identity felt itchy.“Arkylezious.”“OK. I did not, I mean, didn’t know Arkylezious is an actual name.”“Me neither. I came up with it on the spot.”“Right.”

“You came up with Mico too. I like that name.” Mico smiled, his wings glowing slightly brighter.

“I guess I could get used to Arkyl- Ark.”

The Base Echelon’s main road was the longest in the whole of Pamira, as it ran a complete circle around the widest platform of the city. Roads that lead to the inner parts of the Echelon branched off every five hundred feet. As the duo watched wrollers whiz past them, it did not take them long to figure out that they were lost.

“I… I think the arena is on the other side.” Mico stammered, frantically scanning for the distinct three spikes of the Pamiran Arena.

“I’m so tired after all that waiting outside,” Ark sighed and looked up, the dome was partially blurred to shield the city from the midday sun, obscuring Meta. Other than that the sky was clear.

“We should have asked for directions just now.” He sighed again.

Yellow lights coalesced on top of Ark’s head, as though the breath from his mouth formed matter – not something he cannot do, but he did not prepare so.

“ARENA, 12,035 F THIS WAY,” The yellow characters cheerfully bobbed in mid air, and a big arrow of equal size pointed to their destination. Ark’s mouth remained open.

“Did you see that?” Ark pointed upwards and asked, still feeling what just happened was unbelievable for a being who can craft matter at his whim. He peeked at the floating arrow to ensure that it was still there. It was.

“See what? There’s nothing up there,” Mico looked at the finger’s direction, “Nope, not even clouds.”

“It’s not the clouds, it’s… these!” Ark jumped and waved his hands above his head wildly. To him he was grasping at the floating arrow, but to Mico and every other passerby, he was just a hyperactive boy on a sugar high. After a tec of futile grasping, Ark gave up on explaining. “Oh well. Let’s just walk along this road, we should reach the arena in… one hour.”

“How sure are you? I don’t want to…”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you!” Ark jumped agitatedly. “Never mind, let’s just go.”

Ark walked for a while, his stride going faster and faster, turning into a jog, then a run, eventually spreading his wings and lifted off the ground. The pedestrians on the road watched him take flight in disbelief – Citizens of the Windy City of Cuelo had gliding wings to ride the wind currents flowing across and around the city, but a person who would fly without wind was never seen or heard of.

“Much better!” Ark laughed. A drop of perspiration dripped off his arm and splashed on a man’s forehead.

At one hour past midday was a spontaneous carnival. As rays of sunlight shone through a small hole at the top of the dome and hit a well-marked spot – a black symbol engraved in a cube of solid gold in the central park at the highest Echelon – the city exploded into a fanfare of lights, fire and music. A stream of green fire singed the tip of Ark’s hair, clumsily he dove to ground for cover. He was not safe on the ground either, shortly after he landed he was assaulted by a stream of photon confetti.

The revelry lasted for one full tec – ten seconds – returning to the usual bustle right after. A few people still remained standing, stunned – evidently their first experience with this tec-long festival.

“That was… weird.” Ark said, still dazed from the show of lights. “And fun.”

“It’s the Midday Festival. First time here, eh, kid?” A passing adult male explained cheerily, “Name’s Perillo, nice pet there!”

“It’s not…” Mico tried to explain, but apparently the stranger named Perillo wasn’t listening.

“Sorry, no time to chat. Drop by my store some time! You know where.” Perillo waved goodbye and continued walking.

“Sheesh, how rude! He should have kept his mouth to himself. Do I look like a pet? A pet?”

“Maybe,” Ark commented, noticing a few other boys and girls across the street with small critters accompanying them.

“I wonder why did he even bother to be an adult. Who wants to grow up?” Mico continued to complain while Ark just smiled. “By the way, he said you know where his store is. Do you? I don’t think so.”

“I do,” said Ark with a smile, much to his friend’s surprise. Once again the yellow arrow appeared in front of him, pointing towards the other side of the city, two Echelons down. “But let us get on our journey for now.”

Until they reach the Arena, Ark and Mico opted to stay on foot. Along the way people stopped, smiled and waved to the duo. A few intrusive ladies even patted Ark’s head, commenting on his cherubic appearance.

“What’s wrong with these people? They weren’t caring a tenth as much when we were outside.” Mico grumbled, referring to the multiple cold shoulders they faced while queuing to enter the city.

“It’s the whole city itself,” said Ark while delivering a high-five to a boy walking towards him, “You just can’t help but to be happy when you’re inside here.”


The Quasr Story (can also be read from the game site):

April 11, 2007 Posted by | Encephalon, Quasr Concept, Quasr Story, Quasr World Design | 5 Comments

Quasr FAQ

Q: Qu- Qu- what?
A: It’s pronounced ‘qway-zer’.

Q: What does it mean?
A: The name came from the astronomy term ‘quasar‘, or ‘quasi-stellar object’. We used the name because… it sounded sci-fi. Or something. Please proceed to the other questions while no-wing figures out how the name came about.

Q: What happened to Encephalon?
A: For those who have been following our blog, we did mention about Encephalon more than once in the past. Encephalon was the old name of Quasr. Encephalon is Quasr.

Q: What is Quasr?
A: Quasr is a game. It’s hard to put it in a specific genre, but let’s just say it’s a Web Trading Card/Board Game. That’s quite a mouthful.

Q: Trading card game you say? I see no trading features on the site.
A: The beauty of web games is that development cycles are fast. At this point we’re still working on adding cool features and eye-candy to the site.

Q: Cool! So what features will you have? When will it be done?
A: There’s no such thing as ‘done’ in web development, we’ll be adding features and polishing up the game as long as we don’t get hit by a bus or something. These features should be available by the end of next month:

  • User subdomains (http://username.quasr.com)
  • Forum
  • Art community
  • A full-fledged game client
  • Card editor
  • Deck editor
  • A lot more new cards

Q: Wait, an art community in a game site? Card editor? I don’t get it.
A: Quasr was developed with more than just a game in mind. While most trading card games exist in paper form, Quasr is fully online (though that doesn’t rule out a paper version in the future), and thus allowing both developers and players to have bigger degrees of freedom.

A big feature of Quasr is that players are able to modify their own cards, for example giving a card better stats or a new power, even naming the card itself or giving it new art from the art community. Quasr is not just about playing a game, it’s also about contributing to the community.

Q: That sounds like a great idea! I’m telling my friends about this!
A: We’re glad you feel the same way as we do 🙂 Please tell your friends about Quasr, the game gets better with more people.

April 3, 2007 Posted by | Encephalon, Game Development, Game Industry, Games, Gaming, News, Quasr, Quasr Updates, Web Gaming 2.0 | 7 Comments

Chapter 2: The First Being takes a trip (and gets a name)

It’s quite tiring to refer to him as ‘the First Being’ all the time.

Here‘s the first part.


The First Being sat on the bed in the middle of his room, bare legs dangling and swinging over the edge and two inches above the cool white stone floor. The ageless boy hummed tunelessly, while his hands tried to cover the wide grin on his face, while his diminutive friend watched nearby, hovering five feet off the ground, arms crossed.“Yes, my crafter, I can see that you are very happy about tomorrow’s trip down to earth.” The First Being did not reply, though a few chuckles were heard from beneath his palms.Above the hustle and bustle of Quasar was Meta, the Silent Moon, the uncontested abode of the First Being. Shortly after he departed from mainland Quasar and arrived on the Big White Sphere in the Sky, he crafted himself a simple home beneath the moon’s surface. His palace had no doors or windows, since the moon itself produced a faint white light by itself.The clock on one side of his wall, a downscaled replica of the First Clock, spun lazily on the other corner of the room, the two interlocking metal discs chiming faintly as they knock into each other once every ten seconds. The dials on the clock marked the amount of time that has passed ever since time started. Currently, it marked 189 years, 37 days, 23 hours and 312 tecs, or ten-seconds. Midnight was approaching.

“Alright, time for us to rest now. Look at the time already,” the friend said as he fluttered towards the First Being. “We have a long journey ahead tomorrow.”

Midnight came and went, and there was dawn. The room walls glowed gently as Meta’s outer surface absorbed sunlight. The First Being turned and stretched on his bed, his head still buried among a hill of putty pillows. On a normal day he wakes up at midday, but today was a very special day. His friend was already up, buzzing busily around the room making preparations.

“Oh wait, we don’t actually have anything to bring along. Good morning, my crafter.”

The First Being’s wings stirred a bit, then in another moment spread to full width. He leaped up from his bed, and another leap he landed on the floor. The clock chimed loudly.

“Is it time to move out yet?” The boy asked anxiously while running towards a full-length mirror not far from the bed. His clothes were the ones he made for himself on that day he finished crafting the world – a long sleeveless robe that covered up to his ankles.

“What should I wear today?” He asked loudly.

“Honestly, my crafter, you already look good in this. But if you really insist on changing, let me just relay some designs from the world below to you.”

After several changes, the First Being finally settled on battler clothing in white with different shades of grey. “What do you think?” He asked his friend as he crafted himself a silver headband.

“I don’t know, I’ve seen battlers dress up in all colors except white. But you look very smart in it,” said the friend as he circled him. “I wonder why white is such an unpopular color though, that’s something I couldn’t figure out.”

The trip down to Quasar was uneventful, though they incited some commotion as they landed on the outskirts of Pamira City. Several pedestrians were slightly shocked to see a winged boy in dressed in white landing on the streets.

“Pamira,” exclaimed the First Being as he looked up at the domed city in front of him, awestruck, “Looks so different from the ground, isn’t it.” His friend nodded, equally stunned by the sheer scale of it. From Meta, the city was but a yellow-and-grey snowglobe.

The biggest and busiest city on Quasar, Pamira City was an architectural oddity by itself. One half of the city was built on concentric circular Echelons, or platforms, tapering to a minimum of a two-hundred-foot radius at the top Echelon. The other half of the city was built suspended in a large pit, symmetrical to the upper half except decreasing in radius as it gets deeper. Not only that, it was as though the normal laws of gravity do not apply here; buildings were built on both sides of anEchelon. Covering the entire city was a massive dome of a tough, spongy membrane to regulate the weather and temperature within.

“Well, let’s go in then,” the First Being said, brushing off a thin film of sweat from the back of his neck, “It’s sure warm out here.”

“Why yes, we’re in the tropics now. You know, the cold quadrants don’t reach this place,” his friend quoted from his compiled data.

For a grand city like this, the gates to Pamira are sure unceremoniously dull, thought the First Being as he stood in queue to the identification check station. Though all that required was a mindprint scan, the pedestrian line stretched a quarter mile long, each one sluggishly trudging under the sweltering mid-morning sun. The First Being took off his right glove and wiped his forehead. He tried to start a conversation with a lady that stood behind him a while ago; apparently no one was interested in talking.

“Looks like you need a change of clothes once you get in, it’ll still be another good half-hour before we reach the ID station.” the friend fluttered around impatiently. On the road beside them chains of wrollers whizzed past. Wrollers – bulb-shaped automobiles – travel on mostly gravity with a little help from solar-powered cells on slightly deep tracks. Pamira was a wroller driver’s dream – the roads were fashioned such that no matter how one moves in a wroller, he will always go downhill.

The air grew warmer as the tecs ticked by, and finally it was almost the First Being’s turn. He could clearly see the relief in the people who went inside in front of him, that the regulated climate of Pamira City was a most rewarding thought after an hour standing in queue.

“It just occurred to me that I forgot to tell you something.” The First Being’s friend said while scratching his chin.

“Huh?”

“You need a valid identity to go in, else you’ll have to register one manually over there. For that, you need a name. And I need one too.”

“Can’t we just tell them that we have no names?”

“They won’t take that as an answer.’ Before the friend could finish talking the mindprint scanner beeped. A tall woman, wearing a skintight dark blue uniform with a loose coat over it walked to them.

“Good morning, boys, my name is Byati. It seems like we don’t have your ID data. Please follow me, this way,” the tall woman smiled hospitably.

“Uh wait… we have names!” The First Being added anxiously as the three of them walked away from the line to a small booth nearby.

“Of course, sweety, everyone does,” Byati chuckled, “You just need to give me that and some other details, and you’re free to go in.”

The registration booth was less than six feet wide and across, but the air was cool and the couches arranged along the walls looked soft and comfortable. The First Being and his friend both gave a sigh of relief in unison as they stepped into the booth. Byati instructed them to sit, while she remained standing. A translucent screen materialized in her left palm.

“Let’s start with you first,” said Byati, pointing to the First Being, “Please tell me your name, age, city of origin and purpose of visit.”

“We’re here to battle!” exclaimed the First Being as he jumped up from the couch. Byati laughed, and scribbled something on the screen with her right index finger.

“OK, so that’s one question down. I still need your name.”

“Um… I’m…. uh…”

“Arkylezious. Or Ark for short. His name is too long that he forgets it once in a while. Heh, heheh. We came all the way from Cuelo. Yeah.”

“Um… that’s it, I think, heheh. Say, er, Mico, how do you spell my name again?” The First Being was quick to catch on his friend’s act.

“No problem, I think I got it. We had two Arkyleziouses last week,” said Byati as she continued scribbling on the palm-screen, “I always thought you people have issues with getting attention.”

“Uh well, I thought it sounded cool. Heheh.”

“Precisely. Age?”

“One hu-”

“Thirteen.” ‘Mico’ interrupted.

“You’re pretty short for a thirteen year old, isn’t it.” Byati said as she switched off the screen with a light sweep using her right palm. She walked towards the boy who will be further known as Ark. Lifting up her left thumb, she pressed it gently on Ark’s forehead. The boy felt a sudden jolt of warmth coming from it.

“And there’s your identity mindprint. Welcome to Pamira.”


The Quasr Story (can also be read from the game site):

April 3, 2007 Posted by | Encephalon, Quasr, Quasr Concept, Quasr Story, Quasr World Design | 4 Comments

Chapter 1: The World came to be

Oh, it’s been a while since I wrote stories. I hope it doesn’t turn up sucky.


And so, the World came to be.And the first being came into existence all of a sudden, like a stray thought manifested into flesh. His eyes were open the moment he materialized on the ground, naked and hungry. He was, in words from our world, a human boy. The first being looked upwards, into a sky of pure white. A small sphere was seen in the distance, its white perimeter darkened into a light shade of grey to contrast its distance from the white infinities. He looked down and saw the dirtless ground in the same color. His shadow formed a dim grey circle around his feet. His skin did not feel hot or cold. Blinking, he uttered the very first words of this world, those words that echoed in the loneliest corners of this world for the rest of eternity, those same words that will bring those who are lost back into safety for the eons to come.”Where am I?”His voice reverberated within the world, battering him with his own fear and doubt. He knelt down, eyes shut tight. And then the second words were uttered, those words that echoed where there was creation, and those same words that will weave into the threads of reality that form this world.”I wish… there’s someone with me.”The first being felt a warm pulsing from beneath his left hand. He pulled him arm up. A yellowish glow pulsed less than an inch from his open palm. He stared into the glow, not knowing what to do. His heart was pumped with excitement, though in back of his mind a hint of jealousy, that he was not alone anymore. The spherish glow buzzed, bobbing up and down in his palm. And then it spoke.

“What do you want me to be, my crafter?”

“I want you to be my friend.”

As the first being uttered the last syllable, sharp rays of yellow and green shot out violently from both his head and the glow. His eyes were momentarily blinded by the sudden flash, and when he could see again, his friend was standing in front if him, the yellowish glow still weakly pulsing from his body and faded away eventually.

The first being’s new friend was shaped similar to him, though he stood no taller than twice the height of his ankle. The miniature friend smiled, and the first being smiled back. And the world grew a little warmer. Drops of perspiration formed on the first being’s back. He felt strained, like a part of his mind wrung out and formed what was standing in front of him.

“What is my name, my crafter? And what is yours?”

“I don’t know. My crafter did not give me one.”

“You do not have a crafter. You are a crafter.” The friend smiled.

“Wait, how do you know more than I do?”

“I know as much as you do, my nameless crafter,” said the friend, as translucent yellow wings grew from his back. He fluttered around the first being. “The difference is that I am born of this world and you are not. You know all the answers to your own questions, my crafter. It is only a matter of time and place before you find them.”

“Will you help me?”

“Of course, my crafter. And before you find your true name, I shall remain nameless as well.”

“But where should I go? This world is empty. There is nothing but only you and me.”

“This world has everything that you could ever need and want,” said the friend. “Use your hands to craft, just like how you have crafted me.”

And so the building of the World began. The First Being crafted a clock, but did not set it into motion as the World was not ready for time to flow. He crafted hemispheres of Day and Night. He crafted a sky of clear blue, a sun of royal gold and stars and rainbows of every color in the spectrum. He crafted the season quadrants. All those he set aside, as time remained still. His friend stood guard to all these objects, ready to guide them into operation on the command of his crafter.

After all that was done, the First Being crafted the geography of the World. He dug the seas and piled the mountains. He shaped the tides and the winds. He erected towers and paved roads. Other than his winged friend, he was all alone. But somehow he knew that eventually this World will be filled with beings just like him, and another million types of beings who are unlike him. Halfway through he found himself standing on the other side of the World, looking up into a patch of clouds, seas and cities, dotted far above the skies.

The world was not flat, as he originally thought, but rather the interior of a hollow sphere. Nevertheless he worked on, perhaps finding an answer to all his questions – He was born in a world of emptiness, yet he has the ability to create something out of nothing. Surely, he thought, he must have came from somewhere.

After an eternity, the First Being was done. He stood proudly on top of the tallest tower, looking down and up into his creations. He crafted for himself garments of pure white, so that he does not forget the original color of this World. However, there was one last part of this World that was left untouched by his hands – the sphere at the center of the World.

“Let us go there, my friend. We shall make it our eternal home.” The First Being crafted a pair of wings into his skin, and hand in hand with his friend, flew towards the sphere. As they ascended, the First Being looked back down on the world.

He waved.

The first clock started to tick. The season quadrants began to turn. The winds began to blow.

And so, the world began.

In time, more beings of different builds came to this world, materializing in a split second like how the First Being did. They gave names to each other, as well as to every single thing in this World. They named their world Quasar, a self-sustaining microcosmos. They spoke of the sphere in the sky, and named it Meta, the Silent Moon.

The inhabitants of Quasar, like the First Being though not as powerful, had the power to craft matter out of their fingertips. They contributed to the World with their powers, adding myriads of unique objects that no one else in Quasar has never seen before. They entertained themselves by crafting little animate creations to fight against each other – a battle of wits than muscle, a war without blood.

For a world where wars are not fought over resources but over leisure, the once pastime soon became popular all over Quasar. Lavish arenas, each one distinctly different according to geographical location, are built to host such events, attracting crowds by the hundreds of thousands. In the arenas, people find fame and fortune, striving to be the best ‘battler’ of Quasar.

And beyond the clouds sits the Silent Moon. The First Being, still nameless, sits there and watches. He stands up, cracks his knuckles and sptretches his wings. Soon enough he shall revisit his world he created down below, joining the tournaments as a normal being. He marched happily back towards his self-crafted palace deep beneath the moon.

After all, boys will be boys.


The Quasr Story (can also be read from the game site):

March 28, 2007 Posted by | Encephalon, Quasr Concept, Quasr Story, Quasr World Design | 8 Comments

Hatchlings Games features in GameAxis

Just picked up March’s issue of GameAxis today while out. I’m not an avid buyer of GameAxis (or any magazine for that matter), but hey there’s an article about us 🙂

More info to be updated soon, I’m not quite prepared to read it yet.

March 25, 2007 Posted by | Hatchlings Games, Malaysia, News | 2 Comments