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Game Chef 2013 – First ideas

May 23, 2013 Leave a comment

The Game Chef competition for 2013 started last weekend. This time, both the theme and the ingredients are pictures instead of words, which is a nice change for a while. The pictures are simple enough to be interpreted in various ways, yet interesting enough to give plenty of ideas. Pictures can also convey ideas that single words simply cannot, which makes them ideal as ingredients. I kinda hope to see something similar in the future.

The pictures must have been also quite effective way to get my creative process going since I almost immediately had a few ideas about the ingredients. After going through my initial ideas and thinking about what kind of a game I want to create this time, I ended up having a one solid idea that I can flesh out more as I progress.

Working title: The Parasite

The Parasite is a game of distrust for 4 to 8 players. The game is about a group of scientists coming back up from the depths of Earth where they were conducting a research. Unfortunately, they discover that someone in their group has been infected with a parasite. They only have a few hours before the rest of the team will pick them up, and they need to decide who to put into quarantine so that the parasite won’t spread any more. The backstory isn’t much, but most of the players probably won’t even care about it.

The game runs as follows:

  1. Each player is dealt an identity card. One of the players gets an identity of Parasite, others are identified as Safe.
  2. Make a separate deck with cards with all the cards from 1-10. Each player is then dealt 5 cards and the rest are put away.
  3. The players start discussing about who to test first. If they can’t come up with a unanimous decision, they need to have a majority of votes.
  4. Each player chooses one card from their hands and plays it face down in front of the person who is being tested.
  5. The cards are then shuffled and revealed. If the total sum of red cards is bigger than the sum of black cards, the identity card is revealed. If not, then the card is left as it is.
  6. If the revealed identity is Parasite, the other players win. If not, the identity is left open for everyone to see.
  7. The played cards are put aside the player who was being tested. Everyone can check them whenever they want.
  8. The game continues until the Parasite is found or the players run out of hand cards, in which case the Parasite player wins.

I haven’t tried out the game yet, but I think it works quite well at the moment. Some design questions I am facing at the moment:

  • Should there be other identities besides Parasite?
  • Should the game have a point system, or is it fun enough to be played as it is?
  • Are the game rounds too short?

I have a good feeling about this game, hopefully we’ll be playing it often after it’s done.

NaGaDeMon – Redesigning Previous Cookings

November 7, 2012 Leave a comment

This month marked the beginning of the National Game Design Month 2012. Not actually a game design contest per se, but more like an event where people plan, design, create and play games, supported by other people going through the same process. Since there are no rules or guidelines, I decided to go back to my first Game Chef -game Psykhotherapy, and redesign the game to better fit my original vision.

Main idea

The game is about people who are seeking help for their mental disorders. The characters enter a new form of therapy where they try to help each other to get over their problems by investigating the subconsciousness and trying to find reasons for the problems. During each session, one character is put into a deep, coma-like sleep where the other patients then enter. The Dreamer is the game master of the session, and the others try to understand the Dreamers subconsciousness: The Dark Mind.

Game mechanics

Originally Psykhotherapy had a d12 based mechanic where the characters Abilities were used to calculate the difficulty of success. It was a decent mechanism, but I am not certain if it serves the game and the themes well enough. I have recently been thinking about using a more direct approach, giving the players a resource to use for solving problems they cannot solve otherwise.

Being a group therapy-based game, the game needs to be structured as such. Each session starts and ends with a therapy session where the characters discuss about their problems and share information to each other. This information should be relevant to the characters illness and to the eventual visits to the Dark Mind.

To measure their progress, each character is given their own patient sheet to fill out. The sheet functions both as a character sheet and as a tool for preparing the character’s own Dark Mind. The sheet contains a few questions intended to help the player to create interesting and entertaining characters and their backgrounds.

What’s next?

Since the main idea and some of the mechanics are already written, I don’t have to spend that much time working on them. Instead, I am going to refine the idea and mechanics, and also rewrite all the (poorly written) text of the previous version.

I’ll update once again after I have done some progress.

Game Review – Last Chance to Tell the Tale of Coyote and Medicine Man by Bryan Hansel

April 25, 2012 2 comments

As mentioned in a previous blogpost, I will be reviewing some games as a part of the Game Chef 2012 contest. This is the fourth and last review.

Introduction

The game is about telling the tales of the creation in the spirit of campfire-stories, using shadow puppets to narrate the story of Coyote and Medicine Man, two figures who are responsible for both the creation and uncreation of the world. Everything is done in a cooperative manner, from character creation to the actual narration. The game resembles more of a play than a game, which is not a bad thing at all.

Read more…

Game Chef 2012 – Reviews

April 19, 2012 4 comments

As a part of the Game Chef 2012 contest, us Chefs are expected to give feedback to each other. Each Chef was given four games to review. I will make a separate post for each of review, but for the sake of referencing, here are the games I was chosen to review, with links to the games and a small introductory blurb:

Submission #27: Therapy by Charles Boucher
A game within a game with shared characters and hidden player identity, or else just a way for three people to mess with a fourth at length.

My review on Therapy.

Submission #29: Beacon of Hope by Shari Corey
Travel through time to undo Coyote’s sabotage and save humanity-But Coyote travels with you-Can you prove yourselves worthy?

My review on Beacon fo Hope.

Submission #32: Heist by Theresa Strike
Synchronize your watches, because the police are on their way and time is running out.

My review on Heist.

Submission #36: Last Chance to Tell the Tale of Coyote and Medicine Man by Bryan Hansel
Tell the story of creation in this story telling parlor game told at the end of the world. Includes a fire ring and shadow puppets.

My review on Last Chance to Tell the Tale of Coyote and Medicine Man.

Categories: Game Chef Tags: ,

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
Link: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/13981462/ToPutThingsRight.pdf
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…