To Put Things Right, Finally

April 15, 2012 Leave a comment

After a long and tiresome week, filled with busy schedules and few setbacks, I managed to finish the game! I even had time to do a placeholder cover picture, which I am not really proud of, but it serves to set the mood of the game.

Here’s the official entry:

Chef: Antti Lax
Title: To Put Things Right
Elevator Pitch: Realising that he is living his past again, Doctor begins his Last Chance to save his beloved and Put Things Right. A storytelling game for one player and up to three narrators.
Word Count: 2967 (not counting Credits)
Eligibility: Eligible

So, if you are interested in the game, please check out the final version. I’d really like to hear some comments (beside the official reviews we are going to get). This game has a lot of potential, and I feel like I am going to continue on developing this game after the Game Chef. Possible ideas include enlarging the concept from this one storyline to multiple possible storylines with a full deck of Memories to explore. The way I deal with the characters also might change, and I might write a few separate player characters to choose from.

As it is usually the case with Game Chef, the end of the contest is the beginning of something new.


To Put Things Right, again

April 14, 2012 Leave a comment

The Game Chef contest is coming to a close soon. I feel like I am making good process, maybe something like 2/3 finished. I did have a bit of a slump earlier this week: I had to re-evaluate my initial ideas for the game and try to make it work better. Eventually I got through it, changing the game slightly.

This newer idea differs in that there is actually only one player character: the Doctor. The other players take the roles of Fates, who are kind of a pseudo-GMs who are responsible for making the story go forwards.

Mechanically the game works pretty much like a narrative storygame. The players take turns to set up scenes,  progressing the story. There are also special scenes called Memories from the Future, that contain crucial information about the overall “plot”; the previous future the Doctor remembers and is able to change due to these Memories.

During these Memories, the Doctor can make a choice between keeping the Memory as he remembers it, or using his Influence to change it.

Influence is a resource that is used to make changes to the Memories but also to succeed in small tasks during “regular” scenes. Some Memories might also grant the Doctor some more Influence, but mostly of the time it is a resource that needs to be used carefully.

The main characters (and the storyline) is still the same, but I decided that this way the game represents my vision better. I still have to finish writing off the Memories and come up with a good descriptions of the characters. I also don’t think that the names of the characters (Doctor, Lantern, Coyote and Mimic) are particularly great, but I haven’t been able to come up with other nicknames for them. I want to give the players the option to set the game to a setting familiar to them, and thus refrain from actually naming these characters. They might be called Richard, Alessio, Sakari or Takeshi, it doesn’t change the game that much, and being able to name the characters themselves might give the players a better opportunity to adapt the game to their own purposes.

I hope that I’ll be able to finish the game today, or at least early tomorrow. I’ll post a link to the finished game after I’m done with it.

Game Chef 2012 – To Put Things Right

April 9, 2012 Leave a comment

After spending the last couple of days thinking about the Game Chef 2012, I eventually came up with a concept that I feel like I’m able to write a game about. The theme of this years contest is ‘Last Chance’, which I initially had a good feeling about, but couldn’t get any interesting ideas at first since for some reason I got too stuck with the idea of apocalyptic setting. Fortunately I was able to get my creative juices flowing and moved onwards.

Another (unofficial/optional) theme for this years contest is “Design your game as if it might only be played once”, which will probably lead into various different interesting design choices. I personally like the challenge it gives to us designers, and how it breaks away from the traditional RPG format, which is why I decided to go for that as well.

The ingredients for this year are set in two groups, a common list and a personally generated list of threads from The Forge, which serves as the official forum for the contest.

The common ingredients are: Coyote, Doctor, Lantern, Mimic

My personal ingredients were not as interesting, so I decided to scrap them and go for the Old School GC way of doing things. Restrictions are a nice way to feed creativity, and while the Game Chef format can be really hard sometimes I feel that it also brings out the best in us designers.

So, I eventually got to the point where I had a nice idea. The name of my GC2012 entry is going to be “To Put Things Right”. What is this game going to be about?

Read more…

Game Chef 2012 Announced

March 30, 2012 Leave a comment

The annual game design contest Game Chef is having its 2012 incarnation surprisingly soon. According to the current Master Chef Jonathan Walton, the contest is planned to be held in The Forge, which is slated for hibernation  in early June, which might explain the unusually early schedule.

I’ll post an update when the actual dates are announced. It’s hard to say if I am able to participate myself, since the busy life of an exchange student might prove hard for me find time to write anything. But I’m really exited to read what other people come up with.

Categories: Game Chef

Storytelling Card Game Revisited

March 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Even if I didn’t manage to come up with anything for GC2011, I have decided to recycle the storytelling mechanic I initially described in a previous post. Since then, I have done some revisions with the rules. I also decided to go for really simple rules with less emphasis on roleplaying and more on storytelling, in order to broaden the possible audience of the game. This game might actually even work as a drinking game 🙂

The basic concept is still the same: Everyone narrates a story together by taking turns. There are still a few things that I haven’t figured out, such as do I want to have a clear setting or go with a universal storytelling game. There’s also the ending clause which I’m not sure about yet, since we haven’t had the opportunity to test this out properly.

Read more…

Categories: Game Design, RPGs

Cooking RPGs – Size does matter

August 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Roleplaying games come in different shapes and sizes: Some are huge and complicated, some are small and easy to read. Some games need hours of reading and preparing to be played, while some games are designed to be easily accessible with almost no effort at all.

This division is very arbitrary and most games don’t necessarily fit in on either one of the groups. But I think that it might prove useful to make a tool that helps game designers to better categorize their games. For this purpose, I have come up with following terms: Full course RPGs and Snack sized RPGs. The definitions are my own and up to debate.

Full-course RPGs are games that are designed and written to support long campaigns. They contain a lot of information, such as a setting for the game and a thorough set of skills and abilities for almost unlimited number of possible character concepts and ideas. These games are to build a strong set of tools for the GMs to create interesting stories and campaigns to play in, and so the games are written as such. Most traditional RPGs such as Dungeons and DragonsVampire the Requiem and Call of Cthulhu would be these full course RPGs because they don’t emphasize any specific kind of campaigns and have a lot of potential for different kind of characters and stories.

Snack-sized RPGs on the other hand are more focused and have usually a predefined amount of resources such as time or player aids. Most snack sized RPGs have a certain kind of story they want to tell, and focus on doing that very well. These games usually incorporate specific mechanics that direct the game to a certain direction. For example, The Mountain Witch is a snack sized RPG that has a clear setting: a group of ronins go to Mount Fuji to kill the Mountain Witch. The game also has a few specific mechanics (Trust and Dark Fate) that encourage a certain kind of a way to play the game. On the other hand, The Mountain Witch is a game with a very specific setting, and it doesn’t work very well in clearly different type of settings, but it really doesn’t even try to do that.

So the main point of my rambling is that there are two clearly different kinds of RPGs: Those that are designed to be a set of tools for the GM to create his or her own story, and those that are designed to do one thing, and do it very well.

Another important thing to notice is that while these Snack-sized RPGs can be very fun and entertaining, they tend to become a bit repetitive over time. Even if I like The Mountain Witch very much, I couldn’t imagine playing only it for a couple of years. The Full-course RPGs are more suitable for those long, epic scale campaigns that consist of different storylines and can be played even for years. But I think that the Snack-sized RPGs deserve our attention, because they offer something different and new to the otherwise very homogenic group of RPGs.

This is something that I’ve been working on for almost a couple of years, but haven’t been able to write down clearly. I personally don’t think that either one of these games is better than the other, but merely that it is important to recognize their differences and design games (and campaigns) accordingly.

Categories: Game Design, Game Theory, RPGs

Game Chef 2011 – Ideas and mechanics

July 18, 2011 1 comment

After a couple of days of pondering, I’ve come up with some ideas about my entry for year’s Game Chef. I’m not very familiar with Shakespeare, because here in Finland his works aren’t read so vigorously as they are in English speaking countries. But I think that despite my lack of knowledge about Shakespeare and his plays, I know enough to pull of a great Shakespeare inspired game.

The ingredients (Daughter, Exile, Forsworn and Nature) don’t give me that many ideas about the setting, but I’ve come up with a narrative storytelling game that uses a regular deck of cards to create interesting stories.

The basic mechanic works as such:
– Each player is dealt a set amount of cards from the deck (initially I was thinking about dealing 13 cards for each player, because 52/4=13)
– The story is built in 13 scenes (or less if necessary), and each scene has a predetermined structure (Scene 1 introduces the main characters etc.)
– After each scene has been set up, each player chooses one card they have been dealt. The most common suit of the cards tells the nature of the scene (Spades  = Drama, Clubs = Tragedy, Hearts = Romance, Diamonds = Comedy).
–  The player with the highest card then narrates the scene according to the genre.
– Ace is the highest card, but also defines the nature of the scene despite what suits the other cards are.
– In case of a tie, the cards are resolved in following order: Spades, Clubs, Hearts, Diamonds.

Other than this raw gameplay mechanic, I’ve come up with nothing worth of mentioning. I hope that I figure out something soon so that I can start writing.

Categories: Game Chef, Game Design, RPGs