Never Let a Good Concept Die – Dinosaurs at the Alamo

May 4, 2024

I’ve worked in the videogame industry since 1996, and some of the first games I shipped were on the Game Boy. That’s a long time to watch game design evolve, along with the hardware to push pixels.

Somewhere back in the Xbox 360 era, I came up with a fun XBLA game concept — Dinosaurs at the Alamo. There was just something about the idea of an arcadey game where you defended a fort from incoming, bloodthirsty dinosaurs that sounded fun. But other than a few times pitching this concept to various publishers, it never really came off the page. In those days, prototyping a videogame took more effort than it does now.

A few years later, Microsoft was investing heavily in the Kinect and was looking for some fun new ideas. While I wasn’t 100% convinced it could work with motion controls, once again, a game where you defended the Alamo from dinosaurs seemed like it was worth prototyping. But again, we never found the time to build it — we built a cool Roman gladiator Kinect prototype instead.

And then a few years later again, when my studio was building free-to-play games in the early days of the iPhone, we thought a tower defense game might work great. And we finally, excitedly, prototyped Dinosaurs at the Alamo!

Just the way I was taught it happened…

And alas, it wasn’t fun. Something just didn’t translate from the page to the mobile screen. Maybe it could have gotten there with more time, but the prototype just didn’t work, and we moved on.

But this concept has always stuck with me. Even though it “failed” at many stages, I always loved the concept. It’s quirky, gonzo, and you immediately know what you’re in for when someone tells you what the game is called.

Don’t Give Up the Ideas That Stick With You

I think all of us have creative ideas that stick with us through the years. This was obviously one of mine, surviving at least three videogame generations and now emerging finally in ttrpg form.

This month’s adventure is Dinosaurs at the Alamo, a gonzo old west adventure for both GURPS and Old School D&D type games. Just a couple days before the Alamo is doomed to fall, Commander Travis sends some of his best scouts out to raid one of Santa Anna’s supply trains. Soon after the ambush, our heroes discover that there’s a nearby valley where Santa Anna lost three big ol’ cannons – cannons big enough to save the Alamo.

Of course, this hidden valley is filled with danger, surprises, and, well, you know… dinosaurs. Can the PCs save the Alamo? Only if they can survive the valley, recover some cannons, and maybe even tame some carnivores on the way back.

So in the end, just remember, if a concept sticks with you, don’t give up on it. Sure, give it some months or years to percolate… but don’t give up on it.

Get Dinosaurs at the Alamo for FREE Here!

Related: More Old West Horror

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  1. Another great scenario. That said, one quick note. The “Jim Bowie” Card for the GURPS Old West Horror pdf has the wrogn character image.

  2. You’ve armed Bowie and another character with a “M1779 .69 flintlock revolver”, shouldn’t this be ‘pistol’ rather than ‘revolver’.?

  3. Also, one question. Is ‘Dinosaurs at the Alamo’ inspired by/connected to, ‘Big Lizzie’s?
    Finally, what is the D&D character sheet for?

    A nice piece of work, I might adapt it for our AITAS campaign.

  4. So, I just downloaded this, and the first thing I noticed that is wrong (in the GURPS version), is that the last page is a D&D character. That obviously needs to go.

  5. Some fixes:

    p4: ithat night, and his fellow >> that night, and his fellow
    p6: perhaps climbing out to face a hungry dinosaur, like Duckface or Toothboy. (No terminal “)” ).
    The carnivores in the valley know that the streams
    often block their prey from escape. >> escaping
    p8: or Toothboy) . >> be “).”
    p9: (see below) >> See below.
    The men scream as his limbs >> their limbs
    p10: Styracosarus are “these”, Therizosauruses are “this”. Inconsistent plurals in title and tactics.
    p13: At the top of the path is a grove of tall, blue-and-yellow striped cactuses The >>cactuses. The
    p16: the” Knowing Your Own Strength” >> ”Knowing Your Own Strength”

    1. Yippee ki-yay – thank you for the editing help! I made those fixes and gave you a shout-out in the special thanks.

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