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Author Topic: The Last Word - Game idea  (Read 1861 times)
OrionCanning
Member

Posts: 27


« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2012, 09:05:04 AM »

I'm just going to try to think out loud for a bit here.

My visual concept for the design was a document found after it had been through the apocalypse. Originally I was going to submit a pile of ash, but it was even less legible. Still, I expected I might need to work to make it even more legible then it is now.  I should try to lighten the paper so it's a lighter color. I've also had other people complain about the font's legibility.

So for the ending I had this interesting idea that the resolution would suddenly shift into a more theatrical form, because the characters end up becoming part of their own story. I wanted to illustrate the shift between sitting around a table and writing a story and then physically taking part in it in actual gameplay terms.

I had a couple couple other goals, just things I wanted to try to do. One was to make the game of modular length, so that it could be played as a quick game in an hour or less, a full 3 or four hour 1 shot, or a longer campaign (Though I have some doubt about whether would be resilient enough to hold interest in long form). Another was to keep the game very mechanics light so the focus was mostly on freeform storytelling. And then there was the whole idea of making a game about the question of the extent to which authorship requires a strong, uncompromising central voice coming from the vision of one person. I wanted to make a game around one person trying to tell their story, and then letting everyone else throw in their two bits and seeing if the original vision could stand up to it.

I thing that was my biggest constraint when it came to thinking of end conditions because I had to put the focus on the Lantern and whether it was their original vision or not, and it became a win or lose thing. If I wanted to add win conditions to Doctor and mimic I'd probably have to shift the mechanics to give them all a chance of scoring points. The question is how to do that without removing the sense of central authorship, or simply turning it into a 4 way grudge match for authorial control. Which is what I'm afraid it would be. The reason I don't want the game pulling in four directions is because in my experience the process of receiving artistic feedback is one where people are using their personal reaction to help improve your ideas, and they are trying to help in a collaborative sense.

The real question at that point becomes, "If I follow this person's feedback, is it going to help create a better version of what I'm trying to create, or is it just going to end up creating something that's ultimately different?" This is the question that goes through my mind when I get feedback right here during gamechef. If I give each player a win condition, can I do it in a way that keeps it about central authorial control, or will the game end up being about something else?

There's also another important question. If the game ends up being about something else, or even regardless of whether or not it does, will the feedback make it a better game?

In my game, and in most story games I've played, I suppose, the focus as game designers has actually been to break down central authorial control in favor of collaboration. Parrallel to that is removing the focus from trying to tell a story about our particular character, and putting the focus on creating a better story as a whole. (This makes me wonder, as a game designer doing that, should I try to take the focus off my particular game concept, and collaborate to create a better game concept?)

There's of course some problems with trying to calculate exactly what makes a better story, but I think that ends up being largely irrelevant. The most important thing about a game to me is that everyone has fun playing it. And I believe in general that the more involvement everyone has in the creative process, the more rewarding it ends up being for everyone involved. Which to me makes shared control the best approach.

So to get to the point (I know I'm becoming rather philosophical here and probably over thinking it), my ultimate question is which approach really is going to create that rewarding equality of shared control? Does giving each role a win condition make it more individually rewarding? Or does having a shared, we all win, or we all lose ending? I think ultimately I want to keep the latter, because it's appropriateness to the content and it's deeper collaborative aspect...

Though I just had a slight brain spark. As it is the best way for Doctor and Mimic to get control over the ending is for Lantern to win, at that point they get some shared creative control. The thing is if Doctor or Mimic take control of the story, Coyote still wins, they've still unwittingly cause the end of the world, which can't be good for them. But what if Coyote was inclined to reward them for helping him out? Maybe in Coyote's epilogue I should add that if someone really helped him out he's inclined to let them decide how they end up? Lantern isn't going to be getting any bargains from Coyote and is doomed if she doesn't discover the prophecy, but Mimic and Doctor are in a middle ground and could switch sides in a sort of devil's deal.

Now as far as the guessing thing. Part of play is already guessing what the prophecy is, or trying to, and trying stick to it. But that's done internally. So when the prophecy and concept does get revealed I think all the other players will be wondering, "Did I guess right?" If a player was trying to help the lantern and their guess was way off they'll be cursing when Coyote gets the point, and if they were dead on surely they'll be congratulating themselves when it goes to Lantern. So I think adding an extra step of making an overt guess would be a little redundant. I think if I wanted to emphasize the guessing thing, I might go with changing it so that Lantern tells the first part of the story, then stops, and the other players end up trying to guess where she was going with it as they take turns telling different endings to it. Which I think might actually work better in my alternate rules because then she ends up picking one of them, which would boil down to, "You guessed the most right" Though that would kind of leave Coyote out of the running, since he's trying to throw everything off, so with him in the mix I can't make that the mechanic. Hmm.

Anyways, I see where you are coming from. A "Guess the prophecy" game would be very cool. I just need to think about how else I could incorporate it or emphasize it more without being redundant or messing up Coyote..

I really like your suggestion to tailor the list. But there's something else that also makes it an awesomely brilliant suggestion. If you keep the new list the next time you play, it's never the same game twice. Which means you can never play it again, sort of. Muahaha. Meeting the theme. I'm totally putting that in.
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Mathalus
Member

Posts: 26


« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2012, 09:09:38 AM »

Awesome. Thanks for sharing your thoughts out loud. I think you are going in an awesome direction with this. If you get another draft together today some time, I'd be happy to reread.
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OrionCanning
Member

Posts: 27


« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2012, 11:58:10 AM »

Okay so I just uploaded this version. I made the Paper texture lighter, added a line in the setup about each player crossing out a prompt and adding a new one, and changed the epilogues a lot. I added a lot more detail on how Coyote's should work. Now he has full control over the players acting the scene, making them his puppets, as they are slaves to the prophecy and predetermined action. This is based on an improv game called Typewriter: http://improvencyclopedia.org/games//Typewriter.html

Now when Lantern wins she becomes the director, with some major changes. First of all she's in the scene too, and she's holding a copy of the prophecy. When she directs she acts as if she's reading from the prophecy, the rest of the time she's playing herself. Doctor and Mimic are free to follow or ignore directions pertaining to them, because they are aware of the prophecy and can change the outcome. Coyote plays any villains from the story that The Lantern brings in, and The Gallery can play minor characters if the Lantern calls on them to. Then they all, you know, save the world.

This still doesn't give Mimic and Doctor control over the ending, but it puts them in an interesting position of being the only actors in the play who can go off script, which means they have the ability to re-shape the direction the story goes in. Which I think is cool.

https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B3a8hYdn1DAZNnBtNmlnMVZJRk0
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Mathalus
Member

Posts: 26


« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2012, 12:49:16 PM »

This is gettin' good. It is easier to read, thanks.
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Robert Bruce
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2012, 03:31:40 PM »

Pretty readable, cool.  Maybe play with the font a bit.

Some quick feedback on the first version:

Maybe a little process in the beginning for finding seed material?

I can imagine in a game where everyone trying to win, the collective decision about how off-roaded the story got could be difficult.

I can foresee maybe some frustration that players won't negate a story element, but will take the focus off of it.

As for the alternate rules, I think the flush works well for the Doctor's win condition, though I'm reconsidering the straight. 
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OrionCanning
Member

Posts: 27


« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2012, 12:30:02 AM »

Robert, I added a small bit of text in the "other stuff" section to remind people that the game isn't about winning or losing, but creating a story together, and to respect and nurture each other's ideas, in hopes that it would help encourage enjoyment and beneficial behavior in the game. It now reads:

"You can never negate another Playerís addition to the story with your own, or otherwise minimise itís importance. Any addition must be as integral as itís creator instended. Remember, creating the best story together given the constraints is the point of the game, not winning or losing. Treat each otherís additions as if they were your own."

Hopefully that doesn't read as too authoritarian.

I also removed straights as a victory option for Doctor in the alternate game. I thought about it and agreed with you, mostly because I think it would be good to have each roles condition for victory be clear. But then again it's possible it will be too clear and easy to spot. I also like that Doctor will be focusing on a specific theme and Mimic a specific story element, which could shape the story in interesting ways. On top of that I already took the Full House from Mimic for similar reasons.

I'm working on some last minute seed material ideas. I'm thinking something along the lines of having each player submit something they would like to have appear in the story and something they wouldn't and writing down the two lists, a la microscope. But part of me wonders if it would make it easier or if adding another list of things will end up conflicting with the prompts, and I'm also worried that it would become a metagame with Coyote trying to use it to throw the story off further. Which may not be bad. I guess I'd really like to see it played as it is and judge from the playtest whether it needs more seed material or not, because part of me things the prompts should be able to stand on their own as a seed. but I don't have time to playtest before submission so it will most likely not be changed before submission unless I change my mind.
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OrionCanning
Member

Posts: 27


« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2012, 12:49:16 AM »

Actually, I realized I wasn't sure which rules version you thought needed  more seeds. After some thought I figured the alternate rules needed seeds more because they start with blank lists and blank characters. I had already made up a list of vague themes, 1 for each card, that was just sitting unused at the end of the PDF. the suits in this list are actually already themed, it was a list I made because I didn't understand your idea at first. Hearts are different types of people, Spades are vectors of desire and conflict, Diamonds are objects, and Clubs are places. I just added a line in the alternate rules that said you could draw 4 cards and use them as your themes if you like. So you might, for example, end up with the four themes... *draws four cards* The Self, The Cure, The High Priestess, and Betrayal. Surely this list could be used in more complex and dynamic ways too. If you'd like to specify where you think the game needed more seed material, please do.
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Robert Bruce
Member

Posts: 22


« Reply #22 on: April 15, 2012, 05:57:26 PM »

Actually, I realized I wasn't sure which rules version you thought needed  more seeds. After some thought I figured the alternate rules needed seeds more because they start with blank lists and blank characters. I had already made up a list of vague themes, 1 for each card, that was just sitting unused at the end of the PDF. the suits in this list are actually already themed, it was a list I made because I didn't understand your idea at first. Hearts are different types of people, Spades are vectors of desire and conflict, Diamonds are objects, and Clubs are places. I just added a line in the alternate rules that said you could draw 4 cards and use them as your themes if you like. So you might, for example, end up with the four themes... *draws four cards* The Self, The Cure, The High Priestess, and Betrayal. Surely this list could be used in more complex and dynamic ways too. If you'd like to specify where you think the game needed more seed material, please do.

I meant both versions, actually.  Particularly talking about the part at the beginning where you brainstorm ideas for the kind of story you want to tell.  Maybe some suggestive lenses to choose from at the start, like 50's space adventure, science-fiction-religious apocalypse, something else you were specifically imagining, whatever.

I also like those changes you mentioned.  Home stretch!
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