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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 81 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: [Dirty Fucking Freaks] feedback  (Read 3015 times)
J. Tuomas Harviainen
Member

Posts: 127


« on: October 14, 2005, 01:45:41 AM »

5. Finally - anyone who's not involved in the contest - I formally request that you nominate yourself as an informal judge. Pick a game you like, regardless of whether I've posted about it yet, regardless of how I rate it. Provide comments in threads about it, or talk about how you'd like to see it published, physically, or best yet, play the thing and post about it.

Taking a turn at this order. Being known to write the occasional sex-related larp myself, I thought I'd look at Graham Walmsley's "Dirty Fucking Freaks". This is more a commentary on a game I found very interesting rather than a nomination for a personal #1 favorite, but I hope that isn't completely against the rules.
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First of all, I love the unapologetic tone. It fits the style and the mood of the game very well. The idea itself is also great, larping the empty trysts and pointless fights covering the hollow inside the freaks while being dressed in appriopriate style, possibly even within a suitably gorgeous environment.

But there is a big problem: DFF isn't very larp-like. It's more of a tabletop game that's just played in stylish clothing. A lot like a by-the-rules MET game, with just more graphic content and a discourse-enhancing resolution mechanic. In essence, I don't see much point in playing this as a larp /as it's now written/. The visual dynamics side of events is not happening. There's constant tension - a serious build-up of it, actually - but no actual or even symbolic release. While this is good for player safety, it runs a serious risk of ruining the mood quite quickly. Everything is static, nothing is evolving. The combination of the mandatory audience cheers (a great idea) and the verbal+coin resolution would lead to very strange moments that are neither immersive, narrative nor competitive, just absurd. People cheering in a ring while the two inside are waving hands and issuing statements. The judgment-by-applause makes it even more so, despite the basic idea of using applause to make decisions being highly appropriate for the circus theme.

It might be possible to combine the coin mechanic with enough theatrics ("get the coin, dictate the next move of acting"), as long as nothing like complete no-touching rules is used. That way it may work well enough to remove the static feel of the game, bringing it from a verbal multiple-discourse level to a fullly "live" stage. Faked actions dictated by speech rather than just speech.

Furthermore, the logic of using some of the /pains seems a bit arbitrary, requiring too much explanation to resolve plausibly. In a more fluid larp it might work, but in such a mechanistic game it's too interpretative to really rely on.

I f-ing loved the STD transmission mechanic. Blatant yet sarcastic.

Even bigger problem: the road leads to nowhere. It's just a game about repeating mechanical actions until you've reached one of the endgame conditions. That factor is further emphasized by the "player knows -> character knows" rule. There isn't narrative construction, immersion-support of any kind, or competitiveness. It's a circular dance that may be a lot of fun to play for a while, but does not cater to anything beyond it. Players, especially those inexperienced with games that have a strong sexual content, will probably have a great time during the first play session, but I strongly presume attendance levels would constantly drop as the "campaign" progressed.

Very bad thing: the "choose the characters your character wants to fuck" rule. It's a free licence to use the game as just an excuse for initiating "live phone-sex" with people a player feels attracted to. While possibly fun (and a commentary on the Game you refer to), it's not good for the game itself. A random-target system for fucks and fights would be a lot better - and a lot safer for both players and the game's integrity.

I still like the basic premise very much, though, so I'd definitely like to see you develop a more personal-level, more live version of this. I know that may not be easy, as such games usually require a pre-screened player base to work, but that's precisely why I'd like to see what you come up with. The potential is definitely there.

-Jiituomas
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Graham W
Member

Posts: 437


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« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2005, 10:03:52 AM »

What fantastic feedback. Thank you.

I'd be very grateful for any other feedback people have. Dirty Fucking Freaks is a flawed game - more a prototype than a finished game - so if anyone can point out flaws, that would help enormously.

It might be possible to combine the coin mechanic with enough theatrics ("get the coin, dictate the next move of acting"), as long as nothing like complete no-touching rules is used. That way it may work well enough to remove the static feel of the game, bringing it from a verbal multiple-discourse level to a fullly "live" stage. Faked actions dictated by speech rather than just speech.

That's a very fair point. The idea of the combat is that, in some sense, it's actually fun to watch. Otherwise the spectators will be bored.

I think the narration element is important: I want the players to be able to narrate things they couldn't do as players ("I jump in the air, whirl round like a tornado, land behind you and slash your cloak with a razor!".

But I wonder if it's possible to also have the players acting out what they do? It would be more interesting. I'd want to maintain the no contact rule - since there's no way I want players simulating strangling each other.

Perhaps if there was a "five feet rule": the players act out what they're doing, but keep an artificial distance between them. So you get one player slashing at the air with an imaginary razor and the other going "Aaaargh!" and dropping to the floor. As they narrate what they're doing, obviously:

I get my razor and SLASH you across the chest!

Furthermore, the logic of using some of the /pains seems a bit arbitrary, requiring too much explanation to resolve plausibly. In a more fluid larp it might work, but in such a mechanistic game it's too interpretative to really rely on.

Interesting. Yes. I think, at least, it needs a word of explanation that if your pains are mostly physical things and weapons, they'll be easier to narrate into combat later.

Even bigger problem: the road leads to nowhere. It's just a game about repeating mechanical actions until you've reached one of the endgame conditions. That factor is further emphasized by the "player knows -> character knows" rule. There isn't narrative construction, immersion-support of any kind, or competitiveness. It's a circular dance that may be a lot of fun to play for a while, but does not cater to anything beyond it. Players, especially those inexperienced with games that have a strong sexual content, will probably have a great time during the first play session, but I strongly presume attendance levels would constantly drop as the "campaign" progressed.

Yes. I think I've fallen into the trap that a lot of LARPs fall into: of putting the emphasis on the character's story.

And what happens then is as follows. People work out a great character backstory: "He's an amnesiac! He doesn't know who his father is!". And then that backstory plays no role at all in the actual LARP.

In LARPs I've played in, the backstory is mainly resolved with the GM, in between games. It's an awful state of affairs.

Somehow, I need to get the interactions of the players to build a story. I'm not quite sure how to do this.

Very bad thing: the "choose the characters your character wants to fuck" rule. It's a free licence to use the game as just an excuse for initiating "live phone-sex" with people a player feels attracted to.

Oh...but...

That's the idea. Really. This is a game where, if you're attracted to someone, you can completely innocently walk up to them and say "Want to fuck?".

The LARPs I played in were, to a great extent, pick-up joints. So this game tries to make a virtue out of it. The Fucking mechanic is partly a way of scoping out sexual partners. If two players have an in-game fuck and then realise that they'd actually quite like to do it for real, then that's fantastic.

But the random target thing is interesting.

Thanks again for the feedback. Much appreciated.

Graham
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J. Tuomas Harviainen
Member

Posts: 127


« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2005, 10:18:38 PM »

I'd be very grateful for any other feedback people have.

I'll say a bit more myself, and then leave the floor to the others.

Quote
But I wonder if it's possible to also have the players acting out what they do? It would be more interesting. I'd want to maintain the no contact rule - since there's no way I want players simulating strangling each other.

Apologies if I push too many "Nordic" ideas here, but I think you should allow a limited level of touching. Over-the top combat actions that are described plus a suitable gesture that carries the meaning to the spectators. For instance, it's quite safe to say "I'm BRUTALLY strangling you" while having your hands upon the victim's /shoulders/, far from the thoat. Everyone around you gets the message, the scene is much stronger, but it's still completely safe.

The same with sex. Really. (Although I admit that there may be cultural issues involved, and I'm not completely accurate here.) As silly as it sounds, experience with this kind of larp material has shown me that many players find it actually easier to sort-of softly dry-hump one another with their clothes on than to verbally describe sex acts, /when they are face to face with the partner/. The movements also convey the events to others. This system of course needs an even stricter list of off-limits body areas. Another option would be moving in rhythm while not touching - at a distance of about 4" it's still quite easy to mimic the necessary movements, but beyond that the situation tends to become awkward due to the contrast between the lack of intimacy and the speech's graphic content. (One more option can be found here.) If the game is about fucking and fighting freaks, it needs to look the part. Dirty sex needs to be visually represented in some way.

Quote
And what happens then is as follows. People work out a great character backstory: "He's an amnesiac! He doesn't know who his father is!". And then that backstory plays no role at all in the actual LARP.

As it is now, the game carries no real stories, just character actions that are repeated. Your biggest challenge with the project is in my opinion finding a way to break this cycle and make it into something meaningful. In theory, it might be possible to get spontaneous plots by having a rule that says that at the start of each game sessions, as the players are assigned one new random "fuck" target and one new random "avoid" person, they'd choose which of the two people from each group they'd keep as the other one in that category. (Or, even better, may choose as "must-fuck" one character they had sex with at the previous game, regardless of whether that person was on their list at the time or not.)

Example: At game session one, John's randomly selected mandatory fucking targets were Mary and Michael, and he played sexual scenes with each of them at some point during the game. At the start of session two, John's player chooses to keep Michael on his "must-fuck" list, and gets one new random fuck target assigned. Meanwhile, Mary's player had chose John as the one she'd keep on her list. Will John still have sex with Mary, even if he nop longer desires her as much? Or is he now too busy chasing his own targets? A cheap drama is now ready, and may even lead to future fights and vengeful seductions.

Quote
That's the idea. Really. This is a game where, if you're attracted to someone, you can completely innocently walk up to them and say "Want to fuck?".

Here's the problem: the moment you state this is the game's purpose, the illusion of complete innocence is removed. The game, as a game, perishes, and becomes a series of formulated foreplay performances between the more attractive players. You need to keep the game aspect strong enough so that the innocence, and with it the excuse to take initiative and ask "want to fuck?" stays.

One way to circumvent the problems would be to assign random targets at first, and introduce a rule mandating that no sexual scene may be played without an audience. So you'd need a peeping tom, a crowd of spectators, etc. to have the right to have simulated sex. This way the players could also impress potential partners by indirect means. Combine the two, and you have a situation where one doesn't know if the person asking you to do a sex scene picked you from the crowd because of off-game attraction or because you're just one of her random targets. You do not know if she had you on her list, or just chose to fuck your character in addition to those on her list. Either way, it's a chance to impress her, and the person(s) watching you two perform.

And one final note: you do realize that player selection for a game like this is going to be a horrifically difficult process for all involved, right? It's not at all going to be fair, and will always leave some players seriously disappointed.

-Jiituomas, stepping now aside so that others may offer their feedback on the game.
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Graham W
Member

Posts: 437


WWW
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2005, 10:38:28 AM »

Thanks again, useful stuff.

I think we may have to agree to disagree on the dry humping. But I'll do a bit more reading about Nordic LARPs and see if I change my mind.

On the plotting: I have a real problem, but then it's a problem shared by many LARPs. It is genuinely hard to have LARP plots that make all the characters feel involved. If a GM tries to impose a plot, the players often see it as something separate from them; if the plot stems from the players' actions, then it tends to stem from the actions of just a few players, and other characters feel uninvolved.

I like your ideas on jealousy and so on and I think that's probably the way to go.

The "choose who you want to fuck" and "choose whose stuff you want" rules are an attempt to give new players something to do. Too often, in LARPs, I've seen players standing about, not knowing what they're meant to do. This game tells you things to do: you want to fuck these two people, you want to steal from these two people, and you need to fight or fuck to get rid of your Pain. But you're right, that as it stands, it doesn't make a story.

Here's the problem: the moment you state this is the game's purpose, the illusion of complete innocence is removed. The game, as a game, perishes, and becomes a series of formulated foreplay performances between the more attractive players. You need to keep the game aspect strong enough so that the innocence, and with it the excuse to take initiative and ask "want to fuck?" stays.

Yes. The idea is that it isn't quite the game's stated purpose, but it's a known side-effect.

And one final note: you do realize that player selection for a game like this is going to be a horrifically difficult process for all involved, right? It's not at all going to be fair, and will always leave some players seriously disappointed.

Well...the idea is that there's no selection. Anyone can turn up. That's one of the things I've most enjoyed about LARPs: the idea that I could turn up to any of them without being selected.

Unfortunately, that has the side-effect that people turn up who aren't fun to play with. So this game tries to make the selection process part of the game itself: you can choose who you want to fuck or fight. You don't have to play with anyone you don't want to. (Whether or not the game succeeds in this is another question...)

Thanks again.

Graham
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