Designer Biography – Rich Parker


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Bio – Rich Parker

My daughter had been into computer games for some time, titles such as the King’s Quest series and similar games. They were OK as far they went, but I was always disappointed that they were basically single-track games. Play the game once and you didn’t need to play again – it would be the same every time you played it. I wanted more for games that I’d like to play.

Then I saw Age of Empires one day in the local computer gaming store. RTS, the game reacts to what you do, make your own decisions, build your own armies, a different game every time – cool! I took it home (I did pay for it first!) and loved it from the start. I did not pay much attention to the design aspect at first – I was having too much fun grumbling over the computer stomping my troops into guava jelly time after time. But as I got better at the game, I also started to pay more attention to the design track. It seemed interesting, creating scenarios or campaigns of my own.

Somewhere along the way I found out about AoEH and downloaded some scenarios & campaigns. The Relay was the first custom scenario I played, and still is one of the best I ever played for Age of Empires. The mapmaking alone was amazing. I was inspired to create something of my own and came up with a pseudo-historical scenario called Mezoamerica. It was fun to create, taught me a lot about ai & per files, and I had some fun with the storyline. I passed it on to AoEH & hoped someone would enjoy it. When it was reviewed, the reviewer had some nice things to say about it, and really only criticized the fact that I had not included any desert on the map – a valid criticism.

I thought I’d try my hand at a campaign and the timing was not bad for a campaign contest AoEH was running to promote the Rise of Rome expansion pack. I wrote a campaign about Julius Caesar’s Britain expeditions, which I did not have as much time to develop as I would have preferred, but decided to submit anyway just to see how it did. I think it got a 3.9, which was respectable for that competition. I recall that Gordon Farrell was amused by my narratives, which were unusual for the time in that I laced in some humor to keep them from being too dry.

Next was a story that I figured was good for a three-part campaign – The Lord Of The Rings. It pushed my creativity but I was satisfied with the final result. I don’t suppose I was the VERY first to do it, but I did come with the idea, in one scenario, of deleting pieces of swamp to give the illusion of walking on water. I like to think I was the first, anyway 😉 Scenario three, The Return Of The King, was basically three scenarios in one, the map being separated into three distinct parts. I liked that also and had a great time creating the maze that comprises the castle from which Frodo & Sam must escape. The Gates of Mordor section of that scenario taught me a lot about game balance.

There was a brief interlude where I created a crappy scenario, experimenting with replayability. I was able to make the player start locations vary each time you started the scenario, but after that it was basically B&D and was not very interesting. Good poem in the narrative, though – hee hee.

I got an email from imhotep one day. He was impressed by some of the things I had done in Julius & LOTR, I was impressed by some of the things he had done in David and Scipio, and ultimately we decided to combine efforts and create a campaign together. He wanted to do something about China, so we researched for a few weeks & finally decided that Emperor Wu-Ti was fertile ground. He would do scenarios 1 & 3, I would do 2 & 4, and we would somehow combine for scenario 5. He had pretty much finished scenario 1 when he decided to drop out of designing altogether, so I finished the rest of it on my own, keeping his scenario 1 since I knew I could not improve on it. It was very warmly received and clearly was my best effort to date.

My last campaign was about an Indian emperor, Chandragupta, and was done with RoR. By this time Ingo & I were swapping ideas & playtesting each other’s stuff, and he was instrumental in improving the campaign.

I started an AoK scenario, but due to a variety of factors I became less & less involved with designing over time. Ingo keeps trying to get me to finish the darn thing, which perhaps I will one day, but my interests have turned more to other things over the past couple of years: my guitar, golf (my newest passion), & other mundane pursuits. BTW, Ingo is quite a musician, IMHO. Now my daughter plays AoE online with her boyfriend. The cycle continues . . .