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tunnels trolls hands on pax west 2016

Dungeons and Dragons have always been a respected property in the fields of board gaming, as the mechanics have had a huge influence on fantasy games over the last 30 years. For every game played across the room, friends, and years, there are unique stories that are told, each one completely different from the next. The enemies that are fought, the battles that are won, and the players that lose their lives all encompass completely unique adventure in the game.


With the rise of the internet and video games today, developer MetaArcade are hoping to give a classic mechanic a modern twist. In the world of the modern internet, where blogs, posts, and stories can be shared instantly, MetaArcade hopes to bring every possible story from users and make them a part of the gaming experience. For mobile and PC platforms comes Tunnels & Trolls, a classic D&D inspired game with a modern twist. The game had an extremely dedicated presence at PAX West, with the booth constantly being filled with players, but every one of them left with a smile on their faces. I had a moment to speak with CEO David Reid, who is the head of MetaArcade and a former US Army soldier,having done mission duty in Korea over a career of four years.

Ken St. Andre created the original game of Tunnels & Trolls, and revised and maintained it over decades. David was very much inspired by the thrills and story-building mechanics of D&D. His team at MetaArcade came up with an idea. Players that play their game, Tunnels & Trolls, potentially have the capacity to tell their own stories of fantasy, survival, and combat in a realm of fantasy. Those stories can then be developed into the video game, and the community of players can play that chosen story. The stories will go through a process, for grammar, plagiarism, and content. Once that process is fulfilled, the story will go live for others to enjoy. Should that story be popular and generate interest, shares will go to that player. To sum it up, players can be potentially paid, or compensated, for their stories. Whether it was taking down the infamous Balrog or navigating a labyrinth of a dark king, these stories all wove into D&D mechanics, as well as becoming interesting narrative all their own.

Following my time with David, I sat down in the comfortable booth to play the game. I had a choice between four warriors and chose to be Lena, a female warrior trying to escape an evil city. The game had me read the text, describing my character and the details she found herself in. At points, the game prompted me with choices and the opportunity to roll my dice to improve my attributes. At that point, 3D dice rolled across my screen.  In some cases, this helped, as I fought goblins and created weapons. In other cases, it as not so fortunate, as I attempted to pull a HERO sword out of rock for defense, with no avail. The game featured good sound effects, and a music score to accompany the experience. I lasted a good while into the game, racking up good skills and points. Regrettably, I met my end at the hands of a Balrog. Though, I lasted quite a while. The team was actually keeping a scoreboard, indicating what killed players the most.

Tunnels and Trolls will be out on PC and mobile platforms soon, with continuous updates and the inclusion of user-generated stories. Physical game guides will be distributed as well.

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