[GameChef 2011] Stratford-On-Avon: A Midsummer's Nightmare

Started by buffaloraven, July 25, 2011, 08:09:28 PM

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Well, it's done.  And I'm one of those silently working on a game, so I guess by talking about it I'm lowering our collective badassery.  Sorry guys. ;)

Last year the ingredients came out when I was on vacation, so I basically had 2 writing days.  Came up with a good game, but Jonathon's comments were very helpful in making it marketable, which it now is! 

This time I was at home and had nothing going on except just having gotten a house and having a toddler and a puppy, so...lots during the day, but nothing at night.  I am much more excited overall by this game than I was by my game last year.  Not that I didn't like my game, it just didn't grab me the way this one did.  I think it's because I'm a horror fan, at heart. 

Anyway, anyone who wants to comment on my game, feel free!  Promise my feelings won't get hurt.  :D


Hey! I'm officially reviewing your game for gamechef, but it got too wordy so I figured, instead of shortening it, I'd just post it all here!

When I read the into I was like, HOT, SHAKESPEARE+HORROR two of my favorite things! I would totally play a horror game in the Shakespeare mythos, as it were, and with fae as the sacry bad guys to boot. I really like how much work you put into this super creative setting. It's very Shakespearean and academic in it's title, use of the characters from Shakespeare, and in the haunting imagery you're invoking. That's really cool.

Except... it doesn't really FEEL like a horror game. Is the horror in that you're all college students? Or are the fey supposed to be truly terrifying? Right now they just seem fae and mad. I think I would try to add more horror game play elements. How does playing this game make the players experience the horrific parts? It sounds kinda like a 13 Ghosts type horror film, where the Ghosts or the characters in the house are kind of more important than the poor hapless victims running throughout. Then, are the PCs in these victim's shoes? What's fun about that? I would focus on this a bit!

It's cool that you're using the Liar's Dice as a mechanic (it's very fitting for the feel of shakespeare), but I'm not sure it fits thematically with the bidding system. Are the players supposed to be constantly decieveing each other, in the narrative of the game? It'd be cooler to see a more original system, not based of a dice game that already exists. I do like the complications though, but it seems like they're just variations on the traditional dice game.

I do like that you've included characters from many Shakespeare plays, and considered what their roles would be and how they would interact. I think it's very clever, and really interesting. It would be fun for me if I were playing this game to meet and interact with those characters as much as possible. I want to know more about them.

What's the point of players having individual goals? Is it survival horror? Are they competing against each other?

It seems like you want to have specific scenes to always happen: meeting Puck, Ophelia, and Tisiphone. Having the Fortress react in certain ways. Maybe instead of alluding toward these things as suggestions, you should just have them be concrete scenes that have to happen every time people play the game. Scene 1: meet puck in the grand ballroom. Scene 2: be chased by ghosts downstairs into the dungeons... that sort of thing. Some kind of concrete scene that the players have to play out, but their agency lies in how it happens differently every time.

How does it end? Is the goal for the players to get out of the Fae Haunted Fortress alive, like in a horror story? I would tighten these details up a bit, to make the narrative you're going for match the mechanics of the game, and how its supposed to be played.

"So how does this relate to you and your college characters? Simple. Oberon is the one giving the tour of Stratford-On-Avon, and when he sees the Spark in you, he leads you to one of the entrances of the fae, hoping that you can defeat or at least calm Tisiphone and restore him to his beloved Titania and end his exile, or at least allow her to come with him in exile." Ah, so this is the point. But not sure you have to be college characters to do this? What's the correlation, just that you're on a college campus? Where's the horror in this goal, the experience of the fae? Shouldn't this be everyone's shared goal then, once they get there?

"The fortress is quite reactive to words and emotions. As players and NPCs see, react, and speak, the set can quite suddenly and dramatically shift. The fortress plays favorites, honoring the words and emotions of Tisiphone and her henchmen, then the main players, then the groundlings, then the bit players. As such, it's better to have a leading role, though a bit role can be advantageous as well." I think this should be the focus of the mechanics! This is so neat, and the whole story is about going in and experiencing the Fortress and the Fae who are there. I would make this cooler and more interactive!

Where is the conflict? I see that dice rolls are supposed to happen, but I'm still not sure why, or what would prompt them. Would everyone just work together to get out alive? Or is only one person allowed to escape?

That's all my nitpicky critique! I think I gave yours the most critique because I like it a whole lot, and I think it just needs a bit more work to make it complete and playable. I tried to go over your whole game and pick out the parts that need fine tuning. Overall, I think with a little polishing this could be a really fun one-off type game. I would make the fae and the situations scarier and bloodier, and tie the mechanics and the situation the characters are in more tightly together.

Want to bounce some more ideas off me or get some more critique? Send an email to anansi at gmail, or catch me on Storygames as anansigirl.