Fastfood Gaming

edited September 2006 in Story Games
Nicked from Tony's post on Social Footprint. To be fair, it's not the statement itself, but the larger picture I think it refers to.
Straight up, larger social foot-print means more of a barrier to entry. A higher barrier to entry means less people will enter. Less people willing/able to play a game with me means less gaming, and that sucks.
There is something disturbing in this and I can't quite put my finger to it. Where has this need of intensity come from? Why should the "fun" and "cool" and "conflict" be served right here, right now, in next twenty minutes - and if not, things are "boring" or "not fun"? It sounds a lot like hyperventilation just waiting to happen.

Is it about player engagement? Does the barrier of entry suddenly rise without the intensity? Or does it rise if the intensity is not kept up? Why?

And why the need for games which can be played in small amount of time? Are people in such a hurry? Is the some reason why they don't want or can't commit for longer time? Longer playing sessions or number of sessions? Is there some kind of need to experience this thing, right now, and then move on to the next thing?

Is this somehow tied to the culture at large? People seem to have less time, these days. The movies are getting more intense, with faster cutting, high-adrenaline stuff thrown at the spectators, very Quentin Tarantino-style. Is this a design focus for games? Fast in, experience a lot of stuff in short amount of time, fast out?

I can buy the entry drug-approach; selling roleplaying to people who have not done it before and convincing them that it's an intresting thing to do, engaging them quickly. I can also buy some of the time allocation-problems and need for games that can be played in short time.

But I don't really understand the intensity and that almost all games seem to be designed to be played in relatively short time. And why it looks like almost everyone in the independent design circles seem to be aiming for the same goals?

I'm trying not to point a finger. It feels more like a bigger, cultural thing, than really just a roleplaying game design focus. Do they market two-hole golf courses for people under 50 and the full 18-hole golf courses only for pensioners?

Edit: Written in hurry.

Comments

  • Jukka, I think you're seeing what you're seeing because you're looking at the design that's happening at the Forge, and here, which is very much what you're describing... but if you look at some other games coming out of different design philosophies that's not true so much.

    To take your analogy a little further...

    How often does the menu change at McDonalds? They try out a new product every six months, like clockwork. They have to, because their products don't have lasting interest.

    How often does the menu change at the diner? Never. People go there every morning for their coffee and danish, and every sunday after church for their country fried steak.
  • I think you're projecting the image of "intensity" onto these games.

    Fast-Food doesn't mean "Let's take ALL THE STUFF that would happen in a three month campaign, and cram it bodily into a one hour session." It means "Let's make a game that can be played, productively, in self-contained one hour sessions." Those can be frenetic like a hamster on amphetamines, or lazy like a flowing river, it's all good.

    I played Fast-Food last night. We had a few scenes, got a little done, and it was fun. We didn't shoot anyone in the face, we didn't radically change the shape of the cosmos or the relationships between the characters. It was mellow. It ran an hour, including character generation. I'm satisfied with it as an independent story. I'm also intending to return to that world with other players, and tell more stories there ... not because I have to in order to fulfill the promise of the original game, but because I want to. I think it's a fun little setting, and I think there's more fun to be had there.
  • Posted By: MertenIs the some reason why they don't want or can't commit for longer time? Longer playing sessions or number of sessions?
    Oh, and to address this: Yes. The answer to this is "Yes." It is easier for people to commit to an hour or two, right now, here where they are than it is for them to commit to four hours a week, week in and week out. Does that surprise you?
  • Posted By: VaxalonJukka, I think you're seeing what you're seeing because you're looking at the design that's happening at the Forge, and here, which is very much what you're describing... but if you look at some other games coming out of different design philosophies that's not true so much.
    That's very true. Want to give me some pointers? Especially from the independent front?
    How often does the menu change at McDonalds? They try out a new product every six months, like clockwork. They have to, because their products don't have lasting interest.

    How often does the menu change at the diner? Never. People go there every morning for their coffee and danish, and every sunday after church for their country fried steak.
    So very true - and disturbing, especially because I frequently visit both. Why then, don't we visit the restaurants which change their menu more often or cook at home? With eating, it's a money thing (not so with roleplaying, unless time equals money) and a time thing (which applies to roleplaying as well).

    Why the lack of those easy nights out with friends, with good food, socializing and relaxed atmosphere? Why the hurry?
    Posted By: TonyLBOh, and to address this: Yes. The answer to this is "Yes." It is easier for people to commit to an hour or two, right now, here where they are than it is for them to commit to four hours a week, week in and week out. Does that surprise you?
    No, unfortunately. I'm well aware of the scehduling problems. But would pre-planning and allocating, say, a long evening once a month in addition to the fast food be good? Why not have best of the both worlds?
  • Posted By: TonyLBI think you're projecting the image of "intensity" onto these games.
    Very likely. Stuff like "cool stuff in twenty minutes" or "impossible thing before the breakfast" (taken out of context, here) makes it easy to project.
    Posted By: TonyLBFast-Food doesn't mean "Let's take ALL THE STUFF that would happen in a three month campaign, and cram it bodily into a one hour session." It means "Let's make a game that can be played, productively, in self-contained one hour sessions." Those can be frenetic like a hamster on amphetamines, or lazy like a flowing river, it's all good.
    I'll show my prejudices, here. What can you fit into a one hour session? Or, rather, what do you leave out?

    It seems to me that there is an emphasis to focus on something called Important Stuff and that there are a lot of techniques which let's you focus on this. I'm posting a mental note to myself to check out Breaking the Ice. How do you fit that subject into small, digestible chunks?
  • Posted By: MertenBut would pre-planning and allocating, say, a long evening once a month in addition to the fast food be good? Why not have best of the both worlds?
    Merten,

    I do. I have a group that meets regularly about once a month to play for five or six hours, and we play long-term games with five or six sessions a story arc. I also meet every other Friday with a different group where we play for three or four hours, and we generally play a different game each time. I like both styles of play, and I wish I could get my weekend group together more often. However, I've got two kids, a full-time job, and a small business, so I don't have time for the leisurely games anymore. I did when I was in high school/college, but as a grown-up, long campaigns can take half a decade.
  • edited September 2006
    Posted By: MertenI'll show my prejudices, here. What can you fit into a one hour session? Or, rather, what do you leave out?
    I'm not even sure I get the question. You can fit a short story into a one hour session.

    For instance, here's the first episode of kare kano (best. manga. evar.):
    Miyazawa is a girl who puts up the front of being a perfect student because she secretly just loves being admired. Vanity! Her plans are dashed by Arima, who genuinely is a perfect student. They have interactions, her always lying and him always honest, while she schemes to outdo him. She eventually beats him on a mid-term exam, and as she's preparing to gloat he congratulates her with a sincere smile. She is devestated and feels like a total hypocrite. At the end of the episode, Arima accidentally discovers her lazy, unkempt, wierd side. End of episode.
    You could totally fit that into an hour of play. That's a damn cool story. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about ... not "Let's make a huge pile of things we need to address, then address them all at break-neck pace," but rather "Hey, let's just address one little thing. That way it won't take too long."
  • Posted By: TonyLBI'm not even sure I get the question. You can fit a short story into a one hour session.
    You could totally fit that into an hour of play. That's a damn cool story. That's the kind of thing I'm talking about ... not "Let's make a huge pile of things we need to address, then address them all at break-neck pace," but rather "Hey, let's just address one little thing. That way it won't take too long."
    Let me clarify with even more questions: what actually happens during the one hour? Can you give me an example of how this is divided to different scenes? How much dialogue between characters happens?

    There's an ulterior motive of an character-immersive player trying to understand just how you do that and trying to map what you are doing to how I could imagine myself doing that, and seeing the differences.
  • To comment on this, my experiences. I'm playing in three different groups. Two of them meet on weekday nights, on alternate weeks. In both of them, we start play somewhen between 20:15 and 20:30, and we end between 22:00 and 22:30. The third meets irregularly during the weekend, and we play on either Saturday or Sunday night, from when the kid's gone to bed (about 20:15 or so) until midnight.

    Reasons for that: people have lots of other commitments, have to get home / to bed on time so they can get to work in the morning, and can't really get there earlier because of work. We're a bunch of people between 30 and 50 years of age at the moment, all of us with either jobs or parenting+adult education going on. And a lot of us don't have the energy for more than this.

    If I compare that to my student days, when we played Friday and Saturday night, from 19:00 to .. well, late, I can see the difference clearly.

    Playing a nice, focussed game of PTA helps with keeping things moving, and having a feeling of accomplishment. With one of the weeknight group we play D&D, and we're happy if we can get two scenes done in one night, if at all.

    So I would say that a game (system and / or GM) that manages the short-form game well, means more fun to us.

  • Posted By: Herman DuykerTo comment on this, my experiences. I'm playing in three different groups. Two of them meet on weekday nights, on alternate weeks. In both of them, we start play somewhen between 20:15 and 20:30, and we end between 22:00 and 22:30. The third meets irregularly during the weekend, and we play on either Saturday or Sunday night, from when the kid's gone to bed (about 20:15 or so) until midnight.
    I usually play once or twice a month, on weekday evenings, usually starting from 18.00 to around 01.00. I don't actually mind the slow pace; playing requires me to be away from home, and I like the atmosphere of "gaming evening". Playing less than four hour sessions would feel like not getting what I'm after.

    But I can see the need for short-term games, yes.
  • Posted By: TonyLBHere's a link tothe playtest report.
    Okay, I think I'm getting bogged down on play style -issue. I can't identify the stuff my roleplaying experience is made of. Time for stupid questions.

    The scene of "We had Tracy (a tomboy from Kyle's past) show up at the gate, wanting to be let in".

    What happened before Tracy appeared to the gate? How long did it take? Where did you start (the scene) from? What happened at the gate, dialogue-wise? What was the emotional connection to the characters like?

    If I'd be playing a scene like this with a friend (skipping the mechanics, here), the bickering at the gate and after Tracy had been let in, would have last at least half'n'hour, probably longer. And probably with a long stare-down contest between Kyle and Tracy, flaring tensions, snide comments and possibly a shouting match.
  • edited September 2006
    Well, first off, Kyle [i]wanted[/i] Tracy to be let in. She's a friend. But, y'know, movie sets have security, etc., etc. She "Wasn't On The List" :-) Just to clear up any miscommunication in that regard.

    Before? I believe we established the scene with (if I may say so) a few deft strokes ... a movie set, down at the beach, gaffers, flimsy set-pieces, etc. Then Bonnie swanned in and did her prima donna act all over Kyle, long enough to make Eric thoroughly disgusted with her, and to have them get some bickering in.

    In this case, "Long enough" equals roughly this exchange:
    Bonnie: "Oh how sweet! You got here on time. A real professional, like myself, knows that nothing ever starts on time. But it's the thought that counts, I guess."
    Kyle: "Nothing starts on time because you're always late."
    Bonnie: "If it weren't me there'd be some other excuse. Hey ... did somebody eat all the raisin bagels? Who the hell ate the last of the raisin bagels? I can't perform under this sort of deprivation!"
    Kyle: >muttering< "You can't perform at all."
    Bonnie: >turning instantly< "What was that?"
    And then, having juiced a good deal of fun in a little over a minute, we went to "And there's a commotion at the gate, you see Tracy, etc." and switched scenes.

    At the gate we had hugs, the whole "Look at you! A movie star now! Have you let it go to your thick head yet?" ... basically some fun camaraderie to establish the link between the two. Then when Eric wanted to have Kyle show her around the set (as a continuation of the friendly banter) I jumped in to make that a conflict. Not On The List. The security guard is just doing his job. We started setting up later conflicts with the producer (also Kyle's father) by having the security guard glance over to the production wagon and be given a subtle but definite "No" head gesture. That kind of stuff. We bantered a bit more dialogue back and forth. Stakes were set ("She gets in," "She doesn't") and Issues were applied. When Eric brought in the Issue of Bonnie not thinking that Kyle belonged on the set, we knew that it was time for Bonnie to pop in and make the link. More dialogue, between Kyle and Bonnie, Kyle and Tracy, even Tracy and Bonnie (yeah, a little schizophrenic). Tracy didn't take to Bonnie ... big surprise.

    Each exchange (like, Kyle talking with Bonnie and her talking back) went on for about two or three back-n-forths. Some snark, some counter-snark, the main point was raised, a rebuttal, maybe some closing statements. I'd estimate the whole thing at somewhere between two and three minutes, because it was a more involved scene. Then we rolled some dice, and spent another minute or so playing out the exchange (as implied by the result of the conflict) with the security guard and Tracy being let in because Bonnie's a bitch and Kyle's a nice guy.

    So ... what ... five minutes all told? Probably something like that.
    Posted By: MertenIf I'd be playing a scene like this with a friend (skipping the mechanics, here), the bickering at the gate and after Tracy had been let in, would have last at least half'n'hour, probably longer. And probably with a long stare-down contest between Kyle and Tracy, flaring tensions, snide comments and possibly a shouting match.
    Uh ... with all due respect, a shouting-match to what purpose? Even if we correct for our miscommunication, and make Bonnie the adversary, rather than Tracy ... what do you get out of half an hour of bickering and shouting?
  • Posted By: TonyLBSo ... what ... five minutes all told? Probably something like that.
    Thank you, that cleared things out a lot. I can see similarities, but also a lot of differences. I can certainly see how fit a lot of stuff into one hour, though I'll have to admit that it feels kind of alien.
    Uh ... with all due respect, a shouting-match to what purpose? Even if we correct for our miscommunication, and make Bonnie the adversary, rather than Tracy ... what do you get out of half an hour of bickering and shouting?
    For the characters (and thus, the players). I'd imagine the scene starting out like it did for you, though probably lasting longer and with more exchange (I might be misreading here, but it sounds like your exchange was more about preparing for the conflict, where as we would not be preparing for a conflict - the players would be bitching to each other because their characters would be bitching to each other. I'm not sure how to bring out the difference between player and character, here). Things might escalate to a shouting contest or might not, depending on how the players read out the situation and how do they involve the characters. Players would probably not be communicating to each other aside from speaking with the mouths of the characters and describing, if necessary, the actions of their characters (I push my chin up, look down on you. "Nothing starts on time because you're always late"). If the character gets angry, the player gets angry (or at least acts angrily, raises his voice, etc).

    See the difference? It takes some time before things escalate and it's hard to fit the whole package into several minutes. Or they could not escalate at all, which is fine.

    I'm starting to think that the opening question(s) was a bit misplaced.
  • Jukka,

    I may simply be mis-reading you, but I feel like your playstyle is very odd. Not odd in the sense of uncommon, I've played like that before, but looking back, it seems like we make things take longer than they really do. You say that the scene with Tracy would have taken at least half an hour, and probably longer than that. And I think back to my own real-world experience and go 'Half an hour? To get someone in a freakin' gate? Only if I were employing some sort of wheedling technique where I wore the guard down for so long that he let me have my way so I'd leave him alone.'

    So, I do think that you're probably right if you're thinking that a lot of interaction is getting cut out (compared to real life) in Tony's style of play. But I'm now beginning to wonder if we aren't getting some artificial padding from the other side...

    Thomas
  • So, when do you know that the conversation is done and it's a good time to move on to something new?

    I'm liking my unintentional "juicing" metaphor above more the more I think about it. Think of a scene in an RPG as an orange. You squeeze it, and a big spurt of juice comes out. Mmmmm ... juice. Then you squeeze it harder, and some more juice comes out, but not as much as before. Mmmmm .... juice. Then you squeeze, and very little comes out. You squeeze harder. A little juice comes out. Mmmmm ... juice. Then you get a hydraulic press, and ....

    There's a law of diminishing returns at work, y'know?

    Now it would be different if that were your only orange. But you're standing right next to a pile of oranges! If you've gotten a lot of juice from one, and now it's not so juicy any more, toss it and pick up the next orange.

    My scenes are juiciest at the first squeeze. If yours aren't then that's probably a distinction worth exploring. But mine are. The longer they go on, the harder it becomes to juice the fun out of them. I'm standing next to a pile of new, juicy scenes, just waiting to be squeezed. When I become more excited to play the next scene than I am to play the current scene I toss the current scene and move on.
  • Posted By: Thomas RobertsonI may simply be mis-reading you, but I feel like your playstyle is very odd. Not odd in the sense of uncommon, I've played like that before, but looking back, it seems like wemake things take longer than they really do.
    I think they do take longer that they probably "could take". One reason is the fact that you lack the physical exchange, the body language (not all of it, but at least we don't stand up when the characters are standing up). You have to make up for a lot of non-verbal communication with verbal communication. Aside from that, I do think things are extented a bit artifially - you take things a bit further, you escalate them consciously or unconsciously, make it more melodramatic to get out more emotional response.

    Though, I'll have to admit, I counted the possibility of what could have happened to that half an hour. It could have escalated to a longer discussion, with the one girl let in from the gate and all three continuing the scene from this side of the gate. Or it could have gone through in mere minutes, with little friction as maybe Bonnie would have bit her lip and brought the issue of Kyle letting Tracy in later, in appropriate situation. We don't set conflicts as such, they happen if they happen.
  • Posted By: TonyLBSo, when do you know that the conversation is done and it's a good time to move on to something new?
    When players feel that there's nothing more to say or to do. There could be external pressure to them ("you hear the shouting of assistant director") if needed, but if not, they know when to move on.
    I'm liking my unintentional "juicing" metaphor above more the more I think about it. Think of a scene in an RPG as an orange. You squeeze it, and a big spurt of juice comes out. Mmmmm ... juice. Then you squeeze it harder, and some more juice comes out, but not as much as before. Mmmmm .... juice. Then you squeeze, and very little comes out. You squeeze harder. A little juice comes out. Mmmmm ... juice. Then you get a hydraulic press, and ....

    There's a law of diminishing returns at work, y'know?
    I know and the players in general know. Can I extend the metaphor a bit? Think of a scene in an RPG as the quest for getting the orange; sure, you get the really juicy bits at some point, but the act of getting the orange is really what means. Or as a cup of coffee; the coffee is good, but you get to drink a lot of coffee. What matters is the moment of drinking coffee - wheter you're drinking it at home, at work, or leaning back at that comfy chair at the cafe, sucking the Cohiba and looking around at the rather intresting assortment of people around you.

    Or it could the orange or the cup of coffee. It's a matter of focus and what you're after - if you want the coffee, you get the coffee. If you want to savor the mood of cafeteria, then that. Different tools for different focus, because if you're starving for coffee, it just sucks to sit there and not get to drink it.
    Now it would be different if that were your only orange. But you're standing right next to a pile of oranges! If you've gotten a lot of juice from one, and now it's not so juicy any more, toss it and pick up the next orange.
    Are the oranges going somewhere or getting sour? Why don't the Japanese just boil the water, put the tea leaves in and drink the damn tea? Why bother with the stuff built around it?

    With apologies to people who know more about Japanese tea rituals than I do.
    When I become more excited to playthe next scenethan I am to play the current scene I toss the current scene and move on.
    I guess it's a matter of saturation. I'm more intrested in slow build up, thoroughly exploring the character from inside, than the actual scene. The act of being is more intresting than the act of making. Pacing, then, is a whole different issue - if there's a reason for the players (characters) to need urgency, there will be external or internal pressure and the need to move fast.
  • Posted By: MertenCan I extend the metaphor a bit? Think of a scene in an RPG as the quest for getting the orange; sure, you get the really juicy bits at some point, but the act of getting the orange is really what means.
    Uh ... that extension of the metaphor doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

    The orange juice isn't conflict. The orange juice is whatever you think is fun. You can't say "Well, what if the metaphor is extended to talk about my having fun without orange juice?" The metaphor is "fun = orange juice."

    If what you want is to explore your character from the inside then find the right scene to help you do that. Juice that scene for some good exploration, until you start thinking "Hey ... y'know what? I could explore better if I had a different scene to do it in," and then cut the scene and move to the next.
  • edited September 2006
    Posted By: MertenThink of a scene in an RPG as the quest for getting the orange
    I think this is referred to as the "Fun Later" school of gaming.

    Merten, I think you're confusing what Tony wants with the "juice". If what you want is something different than Tony, that's fine, but the orange metaphor still stands, with the juice standing in for what you want. And it sounds like you're pretty disinterested in the conflicts between the characters and far more interested in feeling out the insides of the characters' heads. So what you're after right now at the start of a hypothetical scene in a game is not the eventual pay off ("the quest for the orange"). What you're after right now is experiencing your character, which is something that you can do for an extended period of time without forwarding the conflicts, because the conflicts don't matter to you except as a pretext for getting into your character.

    Does that sound anything near accurate?

    Edit: Tony, get out of my brain!
  • edited September 2006
    Posted By: Joshua BishopRobyEdit:Tony, get out of my brain!
    I can't do that. I'm having a plasma flat-screen delivered on monday.
  • Since you're sharing brains, I'll just take Joshua's more verbose response.
    Posted By: Joshua BishopRobyI think this is referred to as the "Fun Later" school of gaming.
    Or could we just call it "A Different Kind of Fun" school of gaming? Because I don't see the fun coming later, it's coming in all the time, just in a different form. Later might be more fun, but I kind of see it as a whole package.
    What you're afterright nowis experiencing your character, which is something that you can do for an extended period of time without forwarding the conflicts, because the conflicts don't matter to you except as a pretext for getting into your character.

    Does that sound anything near accurate?
    Well... Yes. That pretty much covers it. Conflicts (in broad sense, not as something what you build up and especially invest into) can come, but they are not focus of playing, just an added bonus because they produce certain kind of strong emotions, which then again strenghten the mix of player and character. If you're experiencing anger and your character is experiencing anger, you're pretty close to each other.
  • Sorry for the bait-and-switch, Merten. ;)

    So to get back to your OP, can you see that when Tony is hopping up and down about all his intense right-now-right-now fun he's talking about a different kind of fun than you are, and that in order to get his high-density fun composed of conflicts, he needs fast and aggressive scene framing? That's why he wants "fast food" gaming, because it's the optimized delivery system for his kind of fun.

    You, on the other hand, are also getting intense, right-now-right-now high-density fun if your scenes progress at a slower pace, allowing you to immerse as deeply as possible in your character. Tony's delivery system is going to suck for that, but in the end, you're still after the "same" goal -- increasing the amount of fun every moment of play.

    Does that get at your original question?
  • Posted By: Joshua BishopRobyYou, on the other hand, are also getting intense, right-now-right-now high-density fun if your scenes progress at a slower pace, allowing you to immerse as deeply as possible in your character. Tony's delivery system is going to suck for that, but in the end, you're still after the "same" goal -- increasing the amount of fun every moment of play.

    Does that get at your original question?
    Yes and no. I think I now understand why more clearly (though not how - this is the playstyle clash between me and Tony, and lot of other folks), but I still don't entirely subscribe to the small social footprint theory. It works - on some cases. Meanwhile, back in the arctic circle, we are getting a steady income of new players with a very large social footprint, namely the live-action games. There's a huge amount of preparing done for a relatively short time of entertaiment, and it's - I dare to claim - nowadays the most popular entry to roleplaying. Arguably, it mostly targets younger folks with more free time in their hands, though there's a steady if a small amount of older (25+) folks coming in. Another factor is that it draws in a lot of women and girls, to the point of not drawing in enough men and boys.

    For further thought: how, then, could tabletop roleplaying games be designed in a way which would attract people to the large social footprint games? Because I do agree that the "traditional" games suck at doing that.
  • Bigfoot Games!

    Merten, I think that would be a fabulous topic for another thread. Not one that I'd be able to contribute much to, but one that I'd be fascinated in reading.
  • Actually, if I understand things correctly, LARPs tend to be relatively small social footprint activities too. At least compared to traditional tabletop play. I mean, most LARPs are one-shots, right? You block out six hours of your life and play them. Contrast that with traditional tabletop play in which you're committing to a 'campaign'. Even a relatively short-form campaign design like Primetime Adventures is going to take 15 to 18 hours minimum, if played all the way through. That's a big difference in my book, especially since it means you have to coordinate multiple meetings for the tabletop game, but only the one for the LARP.

    Thomas
  • Posted By: Thomas RobertsonActually, if I understand things correctly, LARPs tend to be relatively small social footprint activities too. At least compared to traditional tabletop play. I mean, most LARPs are one-shots, right? You block out six hours of your life and play them. Contrast that with traditional tabletop play in which you're committing to a 'campaign'. Even a relatively short-form campaign design likePrimetime Adventuresis going to take 15 to 18 hours minimum, if played all the way through. That's a big difference in my book, especially since it means you have to coordinate multiple meetings for the tabletop game, but only the one for the LARP.

    Thomas
    Minds Eye/White Wolf LARPs tend to be played open ended.
  • Posted By: Thomas RobertsonActually, if I understand things correctly, LARPs tend to be relatively small social footprint activities too.
    Depends on how you count the footprint and what kind of LARP it is. The ones I'm thinking about require you to read a lot of stuff beforehand (not as much as from a tabletop RPG book and certainly not as hard to learn - mostly color and character background) and might require a lot of work to do on the prop side. You might end up sewing Yer New Setting Tailored Fantasy Outfit or hunt down that leather jacket from second hand stores (which, incidentally, are the high barriers for me). Also, you might or might not spend a lot of time building up your character in your mind, depending on your play style. There could be character workshops before the game. And the actual game might take from six hours to two days of your life (or a week, if you happen to be Swedish, but they might just have longer lifes or more free time).
  • Well, there are LARPs and then there is, you know, the Cammarilla. There's also the medieval and civil war re-enactors, who can be considered to be LARPing or doing something that is a close cousin to LARPing. So there's certainly a gradient involved from one-shot LARPs to interminable LARPs.

    I think another dimension involved here might be how LARPs make their games into events and incorporate a lot more freewheeling socialization between a variety of players. But that's grist for the Bigfoot Games thread, I think. ;)
  • But even if you spend all weekend on a given LARP, you're only committing to a single meeting. A campaign of Primetime Adventures is a commitment to six meetings (pilot + 5 episodes). That's a huge social footprint.

    Thomas
  • Posted By: MertenBut I don't really understand the intensity and that almost all games seem to be designed to be played in relatively short time. And why it looks like almost everyone in the independent design circles seem to be aiming for the same goals?
    This also isn't an absolute thing either. Low-footprint games sound really interesting and appealing to me, but not as a replacement for longer campaigns. I like the idea of having a situation where me and my friends have an hour to kill and instead of playing Halo or Give Me The Brain or somesuch, we could do a quickie RPG. Getting friends who don't normally play RPGs (or, say, my friend's cool roommate who mainly plays D&D) to try it out would just be icing on the cake. I'm honestly not sure how well it would work -- my group has been kind of hit and miss when it comes to one-shots -- but now I'm tempted to give some of Deep 7's 1PG games a try...
  • edited September 2006
    Posted By: Thomas RobertsonBut even if you spend all weekend on a given LARP, you're only committing to a single meeting.
    Right. What I'm saying is, if you join the Cammarilla, you are "committing" to far more than one LARP. If you join the SCA, you're talking about way more than one weekend camping trip dressed up in garb. My friend who runs non-Cammy LARPs runs them as campaigns over multiple evenings. I'm just saying LARPs have a spectrum like tabletop. They have one-shots and campaigns, too.
  • Posted By: Neko EwenI'm honestly not sure how well it would work -- my group has been kind of hit and miss when it comes to one-shots -- but now I'm tempted to give some of Deep 7's1PG gamesa try...
    Intresting. Do you know anything more about these games? I'd be definately intested to to check out these if I read the pitch right:

    - Scenario-approach
    - Fast-learn, lite rules (possibly even "universal" system, tailored to the occasion)
  • Thing is, Joshua, that while the local Camarilla might run events once a month or something, and while you'd be encouraged to attend each, they realize that not everyone is going to come to each, and work around that. Basically you don't really "commit" to playing, you just realize that you have a regular opportunity to do so.

    I don't think I've ever heard of a LARP series where everyone was required to attend every session. I'm sure it's happened, don't get me wrong. But I think the groups would be relatively small, and that this is pretty rare.

    Further, Jukka, you're talking about your style of LARP. Realize that there are entire other communities that have much less prep time involved. In the US, typically only in Boffer LARP do you find the sort of preparations neccessary that you're talking about. And even then it's often considered OK to come without such prep.

    Take the "Ring War" held annually in Governor Dodge State Park here in Wisconsin that drew mostly from the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, and was organized largely by SCA folks, IIRC. I have no idea if this still is in existence, but when it did run, I recall that it attracted more than 100 people some years. You were required to have a costume to indicate which character you represented, but often times people would just bring a sword or something. There was a contest for best costume, to give incentive, but the minimum requirement was quite low.

    But even the local Camarilla events don't require much. Partly they get away with this because Vampire is set contemporary to us, so you can wear whatever. And play is such that props aren't all that neccessary and can be provided by GMs.

    Then there are "Con LARPs" where the person is there for many events, of which the LARP may only be one. These often run as short as 4 hours, and you can envision them as TT LARP where there are some GM props, and you don't sit around a table playing. No, or very little costuming. I played in such a LARP run by Kat Miller recently.

    The point being that LARP is, taken as an average, a relatively low footprint activity. Certainly much higher than playing a boardgame, but usually far less than your traditional TT RPG. Even considering prep. Sure, there might be huge footprint LARPs, but I think that they're far from the norm with the LARP form. Even your form is small footprint.

    This is, in fact, the primary reason that LARP is more accessible to new players is, I think, the smaller footprint.


    Here's something interesting to think about, the intro pitch and post demonstration pitch for each footprint committment. For a LARP, Jukka will tell the player he has to read up, make a costume and props, do some substantial prep, and then show up for the weekend at the location. This is the intro pitch. Afterward, Jukka says to the player, "We'll be doing another in October...very similar...want to sign up?" Note that you've already got one game out of them, even if they say no. But the barrier to the next is no more daunting than it was for the first. They know that they can quit at any time. So if they joined one, they're likely to do another (assuming play is fun).

    For a TTRPG, the pre-pitch (unless you engage in Bait n' Switch), is to describe what play is like. "The group gets together for a 4 hour session once a week. The campaign will go for 10 weeks. If you don't show up at a session, we have to play around your characters absence, or I have to play your character for you which can result in things happening to the character that you may not like, so you can't miss any of the sessions. You're committing to all 10 sessions."

    No post play pitch, the player is either on board for the whole amount at this point, or they are not. You don't get any play out of them unless they commit to all of it. Worse, if they do commit, and then pull out in the middle, it leaves a big gap. I'm sure your LARPs are built to handle no-shows and such, with some characters more important than others, right?

    And the example was for a ten session TTRPG? That's revolutionarily short. That is, the pitch most often, as Tony's pointing out, is actually:

    GM: "We meet every week."
    Player: "For how many weeks?"
    GM: "Well, every week. Sometimes if a character dies, a player will drop out then, but usually they just roll up a new character, and we keep playing."
    Player: "So you're asking me to play this game every week until???"
    GM: "Well, until we stop for whatever reason."

    Now, that all said, I think there are other parallels to this that mean that it's not quite the extreme activity that it sounds like. Take my mother's bridge club - when it's going, the committment is to host at your home in rotation, and to be there every time they meet, or to arrange for a substitute to be present if you can't make it. I'm not sure what they do when they don't have everybody present for some reason, but I'm sure it makes a shambles of things to some extent (I think there are three handed work arounds?).

    Not precisely the same thing, but such a committment is also indefinite, I believe. It's not "we'll play every month until year end," but, "we play every month."

    A group playing a RPG is pretty much a club.

    Mike
  • Like a chess club, a bridge club, a square dance club, a crafts club, and arts club, a sports club...?
  • Fred: I have never seen (and can barely conceive of) crafts clubs or arts clubs that oblige people to attend every meeting.

    I have never seen (but can easily conceive of) chess clubs that obliged people to attend every meeting.

    You seem (to my mind) to be mixing together a lot of things that have very different standards of commitment.
  • I haven't been in an ongoing campaign that required players to attend every meeting since high school.
  • Posted By: Mike HolmesFurther, Jukka, you're talking about your style of LARP. Realize that there are entire other communities that have much less prep time involved. In the US, typically only in Boffer LARP do you find the sort of preparations neccessary that you're talking about. And even then it's often considered OK to come without such prep.
    I am, since it's the only reference I have - I have never (well, not in a long, long time) been in a LARP that would have little or no preparation. The only exceptions are convention LARP's. But yes, I'm agreeing; an infinite campaign has a bigger footprint, since you can't estimate how lot of time it's going to end up taking. A heavy-prep LARP takes a lot of time, but you can about estimate how much. It's then, I dunno, a medium-footprint game, like a short campaign with limited number of sessions would be?

    I haven't heard of a campaign LARP which would require every player to attend every game, either.
  • Posted By: MertenIntresting. Do you know anything more about these games? I'd be definately intested to to check out these if I read the pitch right:

    - Scenario-approach
    - Fast-learn, lite rules (possibly even "universal" system, tailored to the occasion)
    Yay threat necro! Why? I finally went and bought one of the 1PGs, namely Exosuit A-OK. The whole PDF is 13 pages, with 2 for title page and credits, 1 for the character sheet, and six 1-page scenarios. One of the things I find interesting about the game is that it uses randomness in character creation in order to make things quick and disposable, and maintain a beer & pretzels gaming atmosphere. Hence, you roll for 4 attributes, assign 3-6 skill points, roll on a 1d6 table for Background, Status, and Starting Gear, and do a couple of other fiddly bits, and your character is ready to go. I get the impression that each 1PG uses more or less the same system, and has its own set of 6 scenarios, each aimed at being an unrelated one-shot.

    Normally I don't go in for random character creation, but in this case it looks like it's been turned into a strength. The overall design reminds me a lot of a much-condensed Toon or Teenagers From Outer Space. I don't know how it plays, but I intend to find out. I suspect I may have just found the right system to use for my plan to run a one-shot game based on Metal Wolf Chaos. I'm thinking I'll write up a scenario for Exosuit A-OK called "Full Metal President."
  • Posted By: Neko Ewen
    Yay threat necro! Why? I finally went and bought one of the 1PGs, namely Exosuit A-OK. The whole PDF is 13 pages, with 2 for title page and credits, 1 for the character sheet, and six 1-page scenarios. One of the things I find interesting about the game is that it uses randomness in character creation in order to make things quick and disposable, and maintain a beer & pretzels gaming atmosphere. Hence, you roll for 4 attributes, assign 3-6 skill points, roll on a 1d6 table for Background, Status, and Starting Gear, and do a couple of other fiddly bits, and your character is ready to go. I get the impression that each 1PG uses more or less the same system, and has its own set of 6 scenarios, each aimed at being an unrelated one-shot.
    Intresting - is the tone of writing beer & pretzelish? I mean, are the scenarios just for quick fun, go there, kill 'em all?
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