• Orion, thanks for posting such a detailed AP. This game sounds like it was super, extra rad.
  • Yeah, you're right. Ribbon Drive is super, extra rad. I had a ton of fun playing that game. Now I've got to finish the AP I'm working on for Fiasco.
  • edited August 2011
    Orion, I am curious about how you guys approached the idea of playing one scene per song (not the actual rules, by the way, but a hack that I have often considered.)

    Did you just cut the scene the moment the song stopped? Did you give players a little bit to wrap up whatever was happening at the time, and if so did you pause the mix during that time or something else? Did you loop the song until the scene was done?

    Also, you mentioned some short songs leading to very short scenes -- did that feel like a problem, like things were being rushed? I find that Ribbon Drive scene often have a very meandering, conversational quality to them, which I enjoy -- but said scenes almost always stretch over the length of several songs.
  • The suddenness of the cut at the end of the scene mostly depended on how much resolution the scene needed. Often, especially for longer songs/scenes, we would anticipate the end of the song and wrap up any loose ends in the action, then fill the rest of the song with conversation. There were times when the song would end in the middle of something, which was usually resolved by each character providing some brief exposition of how they wrap up their involvement. There were other times when the end of the song provided a sudden and immediate cutoff at a point that left some potent mystery about how the scene had ended, which was usually explained in the framing of the following scene.

    For example, I believe in the scene where Dust was stabbed in the chest the song ended right after she was stabbed, when the song changed the next framer said something like, "So Dust jumps up and grabs Maurice while everyone is frozen in shock, and they run out to the car and drag Talman with them. They get back on the road for a little while, and Maurice starts arguing with Talman about how... crazy he is. Go." I actually enjoy the way the songs not only inform the scenes content and mood, but their pacing as well. I also like the way it drives the action of the game forward, giving each scene a lot of momentum, and encouraging the players to get a lot of good stuff in each scene right away. And I just think it's cool that each scene is tied to a specific song. The first time I played it, I had a lot of moments where a new song would start in the middle of a scene with a change in mood that didn't feel appropriate, and the scene would continue on feeling disconnected from the song.

    Ironically the tradeoff for me was that songs no longer provided a context for the rise and fall of action within scenes. In my first play of the game, using the same mix, there was a great moment where the story took a detour from a conflict where my character got in a fight with someone else. The next scene started with the song Fear of Death, and the whole scene was everyone panicking over whether I was going to die or not while I bled over the back seat of the driver's beloved car and begged the driver to take me to a hospital. Mind you, we were all criminals.

    Over the course of the next few songs we played some scenes with me languishing in the hospital while the other characters made deals behind my back to leave me behind. Just at the right moment, the song Alive came on with the chorus saying, "I'm feeling alive again, alive again." At that moment I jumped out of the hospital bed, shouting, "I feel better. Lets get the hell out of here before we get caught!" and then ran out to catch the rest of my group as they were about to leave me, jumping in the car just ahead of the orderlies chasing me. It was a great series of transitional moments within scenes.

    I think I ended up preferring playing so that scenes start and stop with each song, but it might not fit as well with a more introspective game, and I'd still like to play it the other way some of the time. I recommend trying it both ways.
  • Posted By: Orion CanningThe first time I played it, I had a lot of moments where a new song would start in the middle of a scene with a change in mood that didn't feel appropriate, and the scene would continue on feeling disconnected from the song.
    Yes, I've definitely had this happen as well. And in general I am always thinking about ways to modify the game to increase the focus on the songs during the post-setup play, since I always feel like it results in fairly lopsided mixes (or lopsided mix-impact). But of course as you point out, there are also those moments where a song change provides an opportunity for the players to make a similar shift within a scene -- often in a way that suggests a resolution to some current dilemma, emotional or otherwise. It sounds like in this latest game that still happened at least once -- the way you describe the chest-stabbing scene, it sounds like the next player basically framed the new scene specifically as a resolution to the previous scene, in response to the song change. So a bit of both worlds.

    I'll definitely have to try playing the game with the one song = one scene approach. Part of why I've been reluctant to try it in the past is that, at least when I play Ribbon Drive, I would guess that a significant minority of scenes exceed the length of a typical song -- having to cut those meandering scenes short seemed like a risk to the game's overall tone. But then again, like you said, it's neat to have the music control (or contribute to) the pacing as well as the mood of scenes.

    I also need to formalize & test my 'montage sequence' hack as well, which involves looping the current track (if necessary) while players take turns describing a classic road-trip-montage.
  • Just looping a song until people decide to end the scene might be one way to do it. We did loop a song one time, for the school scene, but only because the song was so short it ended just as we finished framing the scene, but before we did anything in it.

    It might also be for the best to make mixes for this style of play with that in mind, making sure to have songs that are a little longer and none that are too short. I think most of the songs in my mix were around 4 minutes long, with some being up to 7 or 8 minutes long.

    It's a really interesting game design space, and I think Ribbon Drive is the only game that uses it. With that in mind I'd love to see more Ribbon Drive hacks.
  • Posted By: Orion CanningWith that in mind I'd love to see more Ribbon Drive hacks.
    Speaking of, have you read Radion-Accelerator Drive, or Slashed to Ribbons? Those are the two big hacks I've written for my own game.
  • No I haven't. That's awesome, Joe. A firefly hack? And a slasher movie? That's so awesome. I must try these. Expect more actual plays!
  • I already made a mix CD for Slashed to Ribbons, with a Leonard Cohen inspired killer and a long of songs empathizing with the plight of the victims. I think I'll pitch it for the next thursday meet up.
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