[2G1N] Constraint Discussions

Wanted to start a discussion for my own selfish reasons on the constraints in the Two Games One Name project. Chris and I have decided to split the constraints between us and I took the mantle of "No Character Generation". While I have a couple of Ideas about this, I was wondering what the extremes were in this case and what wouldn't be looked upon as bad form.

For instance, If I let the player play a character and allowed them to name the character despite all else being pre-ordained, is naming the character "character generation"?

Also, If anyone else wants to discuss the ramifications of their constraints should they have any issues this space is for rent.

JOE--

Comments

  • What does character mean? What does generation mean? Those are really fun questions with no right answers. There's no bad form.

    Given your example, I'd make sure you can justify giving the player agency over naming when everything else is locked down. If that's an important and meaningful choice, go for it. If it isn't, why bother allowing them to do it?
  • you could also have a rule like "no naming your character before it's relevant in game". So, you'd need to have your character get into a situation where they were saying their name aloud, like a formal introduction situation.
  • I've got the constraint "must be played around strangers." Does it have to be played around strangers the entire time, do you think? Can I mechanize that character creation has to happen around strangers, but then be agnostic about wherever else you play?
  • edited October 2009
    Re: Character Generation; I personally don't count name and even personality as 'Generation'. To me, the term has always had a mechanical meaning rather than an aesthetic one. Sure, most character generation systems will suggest you think about who your character is and how they act, but to me that's more part of role-playing than generation since these factors often do not interact directly with the rules. You could role-play any character without interacting with the game's rules once. So I'd have interpreted that as meaning 'no character statistics should be necessary'. There are ways around that; for example, in my game I'm planning on not giving the characters statistics anyway. Instead, the company they work for has all the mechanical statistics and they 'borrow' what they need from it. Their own abilities don't enter into the equation. Another way around it of course would be to provide only pre-generated characters. They've been made for you, therefore they haven't been generated. There are bound to be tons of other answers to the question though, and I doubt anyone will raise any complaints if you lay down a clear, logical and honest line of reasoning as to why your game has no character generation.

    With 'Must be played around strangers', I'd interpret that as the actual gameplay being in the vicinity of strangers. You could probably get away with generating characters elsewhere with no strangers around, but I personally don't count character generation as being part of actual play. Your definition may be different, so like I said before I doubt anyone would worry so long as you were clear in what the constraint actually means to you without twisting the given meaning too much. What's more I'd say it'd be best if the mechanics or atmosphere of the game actually depended upon the fact that there are strangers around. That, however, is going to be difficult to manage without risking breaking social taboos. Ever hear of a game called 'Killer'? Players are assassins who each must 'kill' another player using a suitable physical representation. Water pistols or cap guns stand for real guns, shoeboxes wrapped in duct tape are bombs, though a sound effect is required for it to go off, and specific very strong and unpleasant flavours usually go for poison. Thing is, all of this is done while real life happens around you. There's no stepping in and out of character, if someone gets you, they get you. This can sometimes upset ordinary people who just happen to be passing when somebody jumps out of the shrubbery and shoots their friend with a toy pistol. It's a game that has to be played very, very, very carefully.

    My own constraint is rather giving me gyp too. I've got 'Played by Text Message'. Realistically, if we take telephone text messages as being the meaning here, that means I have to limit the amount of interaction between the players dramatically since these cost money, and it's awkward forwarding them to a long list of people. I have a kind of solution that I'm working through, but it's presenting some annoying difficulties, most notably making sure that everyone is up-to-date on the current state of play because of the problems presented by having to text several people at once.

    -Ash
  • For what its worth, I think exploring a constraint and then abandoning it because it's getting in the way of making a good game is totally valid.
  • I've got two different ideas, in both cases a name is all I need. The character is an extension without attributes of the player, what a player chooses to be known as in the game is up to them.

    Text message I though was an interesting constraint, and phones jump immediately to mind. But what about a text message is just a written communication. You could say "get a pack of index cards" for each player and the players must use these cards to communicate. The cards could contain complete message or they could contain single words. Maybe those magnet packs that contain a bunch of verbs, nouns, articles, etc that can be used to leave messages on the fridge. An RPG that uses these could also be played around strangers. As the participants leave messages to one another in public places and run the risk of be subverted by the unsuspecting non-players.

    JOE--
  • Posted By: artexerciseText message I though was an interesting constraint, and phones jump immediately to mind. But what about a text message is just a written communication. You could say "get a pack of index cards" for each player and the players must use these cards to communicate. The cards could contain complete message or they could contain single words. Maybe those magnet packs that contain a bunch of verbs, nouns, articles, etc that can be used to leave messages on the fridge. An RPG that uses these could also be played around strangers. As the participants leave messages to one another in public places and run the risk of be subverted by the unsuspecting non-players.
    Well, I'm trying to write it so that any form of written communication will do. I've made one suggestion leaving notes attached to the fridge for instance. That sounds like it might be an interesting option for Elizabeth's constraint as well though (must be played around strangers).

    -Ash
  • Posted By: ElizabethI've got the constraint "must be played around strangers." Does it have to be played around strangers the entire time, do you think? Can I mechanize that character creation has to happen around strangers, but then be agnostic about wherever else you play?
    One LARP system I played required you to get a total stranger not playing in the game and play paper-rock-scissors against them in order to accomplish things. If you lost, they got to decide what happened. Since this was a Toon game at a convention, it worked out (most of the input from random strangers was very silly and strange). In a serious game and/or among normal people, it might not work.



    I thought the "game for children" versus "game for the elderly" constraints for A Hatful of Rabbits was dead on, and I'm doing okay making a game about the elderly, if not for the elderly exactly. When I saw the title, I immediately had two games in mind: a lighthearted game for kids, and a more serious character drama thing involving an elderly stage magician. Graham got the kid's game, for better or worse.
  • Posted By: DestriarchWell, I'm trying to write it so that any form of written communication will do. I've made one suggestion leaving notes attached to the fridge for instance. That sounds like it might be an interesting option for Elizabeth's constraint as well though (must be played around strangers).
    I wonder if having an RPG in the form of notes left around the house would avoid the issues I have with play-by-email games and similar sorts of things. The physicality there, and the intimacy of playing with people I know and live with might provide social pressure to keep playing. Maybe.
  • edited October 2009
    Posted By: Mr. TeapotI thought the "game for children" versus "game for the elderly" constraints for A Hatful of Rabbits was dead on, and I'm doing okay making a game about the elderly, if not for the elderly exactly. When I saw the title, I immediately had two games in mind: a lighthearted game for kids, and a more serious character drama thing involving an elderly stage magician. Graham got the kid's game, for better or worse.
    A Hatful Of Rabbits
    A game to instill discipline in your children through fear

    I really like my constraint. I think I have the better of the two and I'm grateful to Nick for giving into my pleading to have it.

    Graham
  • Posted By: Graham
    A Hatful Of Rabbits
    A game to instill discipline in your children through fear

    I really like my constraint. I think I have the better of the two and I'm grateful for Nick for giving into my pleading to have it.

    Graham
    God damn it, Graham... I've been slaving my ass off over that same game* for a long time.

    *untrue, they're very different games. But sort of.
  • I had the constraint "music is key to resolution" for the game The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. My solution was to imagine that each little action on the part of a character was like a note of music, and the reactions of other characters like consonant or dissonant notes, producing harmonies or noise. Upon that analogy the resolution system was built.

    I have a draft as a pdf you can download here here, if you want to see what I mean.
  • It's interesting, I was concerned about incorporating the "must be played around strangers" constraint in Chained Souls because my game is essentially Secretary: the RPG. But really, what I'm doing now is exploring more about the disconnect between who you are in private vs. who you are in public, and reconciling the two.

    Also, it's really, really dirty.
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