Evolution of the Creator Tool

Some of you may already know me by name. For those of you who don’t: Hello! I’m Sam Riordan, Head of Content here at MetaArcade. If you’ve played Tunnels & Trolls Adventures or Cthulhu Chronicles, you’ve probably read some of my words!

I joined MetaArcade almost two years ago as a part-time Content Specialist. I started out by creating MetaArcade’s first Style Guides and adapting Tunnels & Trolls adventures. My role has grown significantly over the many months between then and now, and recently I was promoted to Head of Content! Among other things, I currently oversee all in-house content development. I’ve had the chance to work with some amazing freelancers, and craft experiences I’m very proud of. (If you’d like to hear about my experiences in greater detail, there’s a developer blog about just that.)

Now it’s time for the next phase of our content creation: we’re taking our formerly-private Creator engine public!

I’m so excited to see what everyone in our community comes up with. MetaArcade has already published several community-created adventures (from two excellent creators, Stefan Jones and William Connors), and I can’t wait to see what new wild and wonderful things you will create during our upcoming Closed Beta.

Our Creator software has grown in leaps and bounds in the past several months as we get it ready for you. We’ve vastly improved its speed and accessibility, as well as the number of available features. The new Creator engine provides a universal framework with lots of customization potential. The “crunchy” bits of RPG design and programming are taken care of on the back end, so creators can focus on telling stories rather than trying to balance a game system. The built-in aspects of the Creator (the way player stats, skill checks, and combat work) make for a common experience across all universes, and lower the barrier of entry for new players and creators.

Compare the old (left) and new (right) versions of the Creator tool

We’re launching the Closed Beta next month, and I could not be more eager to see our platform take flight.

Among other features, we’ve added and improved:

  • Custom variables! Create and track your own variables, whether that’s “Sanity”, a la Cthulhu Chronicles, or something farther afield like “Keys Gathered” or “Cuteness.”

  • Customizable player stats! Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence are the default stats, but you can change them your heart’s content.

  • Boolean checks for all variables, including player stats, rooms visited, and custom variables! Has your player visited Room X, or Gathered a Key? Now you can not only keep track of all this, but use it send the player down different paths!

  • The ability to directly upload and use your own art assets, in addition to the pre-loaded asset libraries in the Creator! You can create and upload your own art directly, without being constrained to the engine’s built-in libraries. This also enables you to create your own universes, with completely distinct art styles!

These are huge milestones for our platform. We’ve been listening carefully, and these are some of the features you have most asked for. As someone who uses the Creator extensively, these are the features I’m most personally excited for as well. Those of you with experience using tools like ours for narrative design will know that custom variable tracking is a huge deal for branching narrative capabilities. It means you can call back up previous choices in an adventure easily, without the need to duplicate whole pathways within the adventure to keep track of a player choice.

We have three universes for you to explore and add to at launch: Tunnels & Trolls, Cthulhu Chronicles, and the newly-announced Old Roads. But, even more than that, we want you to feel empowered to build your own worlds; your own intellectual properties. Our platform provides a framework, yes, but ultimately it’s a tool for you to use however you see fit. Does that mean writing a one-off adventure in an existing universe, or a full campaign in a world of your own creation? It’s completely up to you.

You can sign up in advance for our Closed Beta on our website, and join our Discord server here.

I can’t wait to see what you’ll make!

Sam