© Copyright 2013-2014 by Dan and Steve Bress. All Rights Reserved.
Building Better Games

Dan Bress

A History of Innovation

MINIATURE RULES The first game I worked on was “Imperial Guard” a set of rules for 15mm Napoleonic miniatures. My partner Ed Konstant believed that morale in the Napoleonic era was more important than damage. It took us a while, but we ended up with a fun, fast-playing set of miniature rules where “morale checks” drove the combat system. We were able to successfully recreate many Napoleonic battles with these rules. ROLE PLAYING GAMES (RPGS) I was first introduced to Dungeons and Dragons with the D&D boxed set. I enjoyed playing D&D, but found the original rules lacking in depth when I starting designing my own Dungeons. I was the first to produce generic add-on books for D&D and others, to help game masters design new dungeons. The first one I brought to market was “Book of Monsters.” I was the first to publish full dungeons so GMs could just jump into a game. The first one was “The Lost Abbey of Calthonwey.” I was also the first to upgrade graphics in RPGs, such as using full color art (very expensive at the time) on my Dungeon Modules. After a while of playing D&D, which was very Tolkien-ist back then, I wanted something new. I had one of my guys write “Books of Shamans”. So if you enjoy playing a Shaman in a RPG, you’re welcome. BOARD GAMES I produced the board game “Streets of Stalingrad” which BoardGameGeek.com calls “The most luscious wargame every produced…”. One thing I am particularly proud of is putting in two basic rules books, so each player always has a copy of the rules in front of them. It is a small thing, but as a game player as well as a producer/designer it has a huge influence on game flow and enjoyment. Streets won the 1980 Charles S. Roberts “Best Initial Release” Award, a category made just for us as the big boys Avalon Hill, SPI, etc. didn’t want a small company ending up with the Game of the Year award. One day a new game designer dropped into my office with a board game covering The Boxer Rebellion. He had done excellent research, the artwork was first rate, the rules were solid, except for one thing. His turns were 30 seconds long, about the time a British soldier could reload and fire his weapon. The problem was the siege took 55 days, or 277,200 turns. I was able to solve this by adding a meta-game, which limited the number of turns there was active hostilities. COOPERATIVE VIDEO GAMES There was a time when all Video Games were competitive shoot-em-ups. I enjoyed cooperative tabletop games and decided to bring that experience to video games. My brother and I worked on two cooperative games. “Revenge of the Phoenix” we coded for both the Commodore 64 and the Atari 2600. My brother released the code in his book “Commodore 64 Assembly Language Programming”. We had a second cooperative game inspired by Gordon R. Dickson’s “Time Storm”. We were invited to demo our games at Commodore Headquarters. Our games were rejected because “gamers will never want to play cooperative games”. A few weeks later Commodore folded, go figure. ARCADE GAMES I was working with Motion Controls LLC., manufacturers of a six-degree-of- freedom pneumatic motion platform and a commercial space company. The challenge was to create an arcade game which 1. Took place on the moon and 2. Did not involve human on human violence. The result was “Lunar Defense” a fun, challenging arcade game. The game included my brother Steve’s and my Self Adjust Difficulty (SAD) Technology. The SAD Technology allowed every player to be challenged, and to be appropriately rewarded with a score that reflected their difficulty level. At one point in the play testing phase of Lunar Defense I got a bit frustrated. Initially I had made the game too complicated and my play testers rightly pushed back. I blurted out to my brother “all these guys want to do is fire a big gun”. So after calming down, I modified Lunar Defense and came up with a new game called “The Big Gun”. The Big Gun would be perfect for a Star Wars or Pirates of the Caribbean arcade game. [Disney, give me a call…] SLOT MACHINE There was a point in my life where I was considering becoming a professional harness race gambler. In parimutuel betting you are betting against everyone else at the track, with the house taking a cut of all bets. So I started by studying how people bet at the track. I took this knowledge and ran with it, creating a new type of Slot Machine which allows people to wager on personal information such as birthdays, anniversaries, phone numbers, etc., etc. You can read more about this in U.S. Patent Application US20050261054 “Systems and methods for a gaming device with wagering on personal information.” VIRTUAL REALITY I watched the TV show “Survivor” when it first came out, and was very disappointed that it was just a game set in the outdoors. I was hoping it would be more like the “Search for the Nile” early pc game I had worked on years before.  Thinking about it a bit more there are obvious problems, like people getting actually eaten by crocodiles.  To solve safety and other issues I starting looking at how far we could push Virtual Reality to do a reality show / “Dream Park” where people work up a major sweat in the real world while running around in a virtual world. The result is what we call “Quest” consisting of : 1. Motion Capturing of contestants, 2. Two-way interaction with the virtual world, 3. In Real Time, and requiring, 4. Interacting with objects existing in both the real world and virtual world, all requiring, 5. High Physical Levels of Effort of contestants based on the status of the virtual world environment, 6. Such that there is No Role Playing, and such that the Game System produces, 7. A unique way of Story Telling. You can read more about this in U.S. Patent Application US20080026838 “Multi-player non-role-playing virtual world games: method for two-way interaction between participants and multi-player virtual world games.” PINBALL My brother and I have always enjoyed playing Pinball. One of the problems with traditional Pinball machines in an arcade setting is that game time is totally dependent on a player’s skill. A novice player will have a short game, and feel “cheated” and a good player can tie up a machine for a long time, reducing operator profits. Our solution is to use our Self- Adjusting-Difficulty Technology along with active playfield elements to make a pinball easier to play for a novice, and more challenging to an experienced player. The score is increased as the level of difficulty is increased. You can read more about this in U.S. Patent Application US20100072699 “Systems and methods for adjusting game-play time of pinball machines.” My brother and I have a number of other pinball machine innovations. It would not be overly surprising in the not tooo distant future a pinball machine project showed up on Kickstarter.com IN PROGRESS As of this writing we are getting ready to put Asteroid Wars up on Kickstarter. More on that here. We are also working on a board game with miniatures. The working title is “Hack Attack: Now With More Robots!” Check back for more info as we get closer. Look for us on KickStarter!
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