I was afforded an opportunity I believe few get to experience. I got to build and create things for the love of the project instead of trying to make as much money as possible. Don’t get me wrong, commissioned projects are great because you get paid to do them, but rarely are they wildly personal. There is a game called Tabletop Simulator, and for only $20 it is greatly under-valued in my opinion. Tabletop Simulator is an independent video game that allows players to play and create tabletop games in a multiplayer physics sandbox. Developed by Berserk Games as their first title, after a successful crowdfunding campaign in February 2014 the game was released in June of the following year.
When I was a younger and then again in my 20’s, I commonly played a game called Magic: The Gathering. Perhaps you have heard of it? If you have, it’s no surprise because it has been a widely popular game since it’s conception back in 1993. My cousin introduced me to the game, and he was some would call a good player. He went to tournaments and faced crowds of people and did very well for himself, so by default how I learned to play was using advanced tactics, rather than simply throwing down cards. I got relatively proficient and found that he was a consistent challenge where others commonly fell short. There is a mindset to win a game in 8 turns and anything over 12 is just a long game, and that is not commonplace during games at Friday Night Magic at the local comic shop. We moved apart as growing older does sometimes and intro Tabletop Simulator. We had gone years without playing a single game, and this new virtual tabletop game allowed us to get back into our regular matches. It also allowed us to make decks that we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, because we can just use copy/paste to get 4 of a card we only had one of in our library.
After we found a couple decks that people have uploaded, there were sets that brought back some serious nostalgia, versions like Arabian Nights, I wanted to add some newer decks and the whole library that I had. Luckily enough, I had a scanner and photo editing software to make it happen. We worked together to find a great mesh of quality of images and quick loading for users, and since I had more time on my hands, I got to work making new decks to play with. I went out and bought all new sets of decks to upload and worked with another player from Russia to set the standard for importing decks. I think we came up with a great way to create quality images and keep the tactile feel of MTG on a table. There are some MTG games that offer tons of videos and effects, but the game that I really enjoyed was the one that just used the cards and a couple of buddies sitting around playing, much like the feel of a weekly poker night with the friends.
There is no official release of how people can upload MTG decks, however, after all the decks the player in Russia named Loac and myself uploaded, there hasn’t been too many variants. This is the first time I will release my templates to be used by anyone to keep the same format alive and make is easier for other players to make their own decks or upload their own libraries to play with. I have a Photoshop Template and a Paint.net template, both work great. I started out using the Paint.net and moved over to Photoshop once I started my Creative Cloud account and Photoshop is just easier and more widely used.
I have 14 decks and or battle decks that people can use. I have over 10k subscriptions, so it’s not to hard to see that they are in fact being used. I also created a table that people can use that has basic counters, 5 different dice collections, turn-key piece and a tablet that connects to a 24/7 official MTG judge, just in case the topic arises and players need a 3rd party to confirm if a play is valid or not, and yes, it happens. FNM has judges, and I wanted this table to offer that same feel. Here is a list of decks/battle decks I have uploaded so far.
1) Heros vs Monsters
2) Speed vs Cunning
3) Elspeth vs Kiora
4) Jace vs Vraska
5) Elves vs Goblins
6) Sorin vs Tibalt
1) Vivian of the Arkbow
2) Tezzeret, Cruel Machinist
3) Lilian, The Necromancer
4) Sarkhan, Dragonsoul
5) Ajani, Wise Counselor
6) Angrath, Minotaur Pirate
7) Red Menace
1) Magic X4T
I mainly went for MTG games but I also wanted to come up with custom game that was more about wasting time than it was about being serious, as MTG can get quite intense. I wanted to use the physics aspect of the game engine and kept it simple. It is a combo between paper football and dice, it’s called Zombie Toss. The basics of the game is to use colored chips of the players choice and flick them onto a target trying to get to 150 points the fastest, which is called a round, players can decide how many rounds count as a game, 2 out of 3 or 3 out of 5 are common options. The target I picked was a zombie (big surprise) with a shooting-like target on top. The points range from 0-10 and there are special ways to achieve extra points. Up to 8 players can play, and it is fun in its simplicity, the kind of game you can just hang out and have fun with friends or meet new people. There is a dice that you roll to see who goes first, and a calculator to help if anyone needs. I was awarded the Sharing is Caring achievement in steam for my contributions, which only 0.4% of players have been awarded. It was a fantastic project to undertake, it took a great deal of time, was a little spendy, but I am pleased on how it came out and the path it took me on. I got to collaborate with people in different countries and timezones, set a standard for a game I have played for years, keeping it as pure to the in-person version, and I got to play a favorite game with a childhood friend again. The ultimate Member Berries
I give this project 3.5 stars because of the time it took and the complicated nature of working with people from different countries and timezones, the editing needed to create good looking and fast loading graphics, the continued updates that are needed to keep games functional in newer releases of Tabletop Simulator, and keeping up with the forum to answer any questions people have about the materials. If you would like to get some tips on using any of the templates, feel free to reach out to me and I will gladly go over them.