Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Alien Worlds - a Brief History

As Alien Worlds is now live at, I thought it might be nice to write a short post about how the game that started me off on this whole endeavour came about.
My son Daniel - who was only five at the time - and I found ourselves at home alone one rainy Saturday while my wife was out at work.  We had previously played a very basic game using his old Galactic Heroes figures.  If you've not seen them before, they look a bit like this:

photo courtesy of
The game we played was based on something I read on a forum somewhere, written by another Star Wars-loving dad.  From there, and to be honest I don't quite remember how it started, we graduated to the Star Wars Unleashed line of toys.

Star Wars Unleashed
Over a couple of weekends, we came up with a game using these toys and my old wargaming scenery that eventually evolved into Alien Worlds.  I knew that to keep Daniel interested, I had to keep it simple and fast.  I was playing a lot of Song of Blades and Heroes at the time, which is a very quick-moving game, and it was definitely an influence, although Alien Worlds (or The Star Wars Game as it was then) was faster still.
To maintain the interest level, we introduced different elements to the game.  Daniel and I took it in turns to come up with special abilities and new rules, some more practical than others.  We also sometimes used his other toys as the playing surface.  The Star Wars characters once had to fight their way to the top of an Early Learning Centre multi-storey car park, for example, and sometimes the Empire had a base made of Trio building blocks.  It certainly was a lot of fun.
We settled on the Alien Worlds standard of one hero, two special and three regular characters quite early on.  In those games, the Battle Droids and Stormtroopers were our regulars, Imperial Guards and Wookiees were our specials and the Jedi Knights were our heroes.  It was exclusively a Star Wars game, and it was our Star Wars game!
It occurred to me in early 2014 that I could publish the rules to our Star Wars game in Kindle format, as I had previously with a novel I'd written for National Novel Writing Month.  When I suggested to Daniel that we could sell our rules, he initially got upset because he thought  that would mean we wouldn't be able to play them ourselves.  After I explained to him what I actually meant - and in fairness it can't have been easy for his five-year-old brain to process - he started to come round to the idea and I think I finally convinced him when I said we could give the money we made from it to charity.  Naturally, I offered him the chance to choose a charity and he said "children with cancer".
So I googled that and CLIC Sargent came out top off the list.  I wrote the first version of the Alien Worlds rulebook and published it to Amazon in June 2014.  By the end of March this year (tying in with the end off the UK tax year) Alien Worlds had netted a modest £13.29 (about US$20).  Hardly enough to set the word on fire but I was frankly just glad to have a positive result.  I had paid about a fiver for the cover image and wasn't sure I'd even manage to recover that so being able to give even that tiny amount to charity felt great.
In the meantime, Laserblade was born, from a project that began life as Advanced Alien Worlds, and doubled our product portfolio!  As previously announced on our website, we will be donating 20% of this year's total profits to charity.  The dream is to be able to do this whole thing full-time one day, while continuing to support good causes.  That goal is a long way off but if we get there, it will have been thanks to a rainy day and a big box of Star Wars toys.
Neil Goodacre
Click here to see Alien Worlds on DriveThruRPG

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