Missing Persons… Magic and Witchcraft… Myths and Legends…
With the aid of a time-dilating, anti-gravity generator hidden in Area 51, let’s travel back to 2016. I am lying in bed, unable to sleep. Something is interfering with my circadian rhythms. Something sinister and harmful. Something… alien.
It calls itself cancer. And it is trying to kill me.
Thankfully, I have a battery of high-tech weapons with which to take the battle to this single-minded enemy. Chemotherapy, keyhole surgery, and particle-beam radiotherapy are all unleashed upon it. In the end, I win the war. But the wounds of the fight dig deep, in both body and mind.
Sleep is a casualty of the war. To this day, if I manage four hours of zizzing in a row at night, I call people up to tell them the happy news. But back then, I had to accept that post-treatment pain and the collateral damage my organs endured meant an hour or two with eyes closed, followed by another wide awake.
And that’s when In Search Of… stepped in, and helped keep me sane.
Hooray for Youtube. Legally or otherwise, there’s a lot of stuff from the golden age of television that’s been loaded to the most-viewed video platform in the world. (There’s also a terrifying amount of utter drivel, mostly advocating the views of flat-earthers, free-energy gurus, and people who think Tesla was smarter than Einstein. Guards, seize them.) An iPad and Youtube did wonders for keeping my brain distracted in the small hours, waiting for the latest round of painkillers to kick in. And when I found a channel filled with all six seasons of In Search Of… I found the nostalgia and wonder of this old show released waves of endorphins, just when I needed them most.
Hosted throughout its run by Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame, In Search Of… was a half-hourly exploration of the unexplained. It covered a spectrum of topics we’d nowadays associate with the bizarre; The Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, The Bermuda Triangle.
It also dabbled in religions, both old and new. Who remembers the episode The Man Who Would Not Die about The Count of Saint-Germaine, and the kooky cult that grew around his legend in California?
It was a smorgasbord of the weird, with delicious sides of spooky music, hammy re-enactments, and very 70’s pseudo-science and spirituality. And to an eight-year-old me, it was glorious. It was my introduction to many sources of inspiration, and I happily filled my burgeoning brain with as much nonsense as it could carry.
One of those inspirations was the episode simply entitled: UFOs.
Having been bitten by the sci-fi bug at a very young and impressionable age, the idea of visitors to the Earth from distant worlds wasn’t something new. But the mystery of their origins and purpose was. Nature abhors a vacuum, and thus my neurones fired off dozens of ideas to fill the gaps in the story. Why are the aliens coming here? How can they get to Earth? And are they really that desperate for beefsteak? I needed answers, and went in search of… my own.
Which is why this all began. Sort of. But as I said at the start, we need to travel back to 2016 to really get to the beginning of how. You see, if you’re a gamer like me — incapable of contentedly staying within the confines of rules and mechanics that game designers spend hours slavishly honing to perfection, because you just know you can do better… *ahem* — then you might be familiar with what was percolating to the surface of my brain while watching the UFO episodes of In Search Of… Up rose those infamous words that have launched a thousand sets of wargames rules: There’s a game in that!
Thus I was soon sketching out ideas for a miniatures wargame of battling UFOs — flying saucers, if you will — duking it out in the skies of the Earth.
As you can probably guess from this long-winded diatribe, A single spark of inspiration makes not a worthy game. There’s a lot more to the process of creating something like this. Any creative endeavour is a lengthy, often costly, task. With game design, weeks of research, writing, designing, playtesting, revising and re-writing go into the process.
But in my next post, I’ll take you through the initial stages I went through in charting my course to creating the past you never knew; the secret history of Saucer War One.
Until then; Watch the Skies!