Mridangam over Skype

edited October 2006 in Story Games
No, I'm not kidding. Let me explain.

The first thought I had was to take the big charts of hand gestures from Mridangam and make a sort of live online reference chart, which several people could log in to and not only use the web app to signal which gestures they were showing each other, but actually have the meanings listed right there, as well as all possible response gestures.

Such a web app would also enable even more complex rule sets without breaking the seamless nature of the spoken portion of the game. Which of course leads me to my ulterior motive: I want a game that provides tools for making a dramatic improvised podcast. With as little editing as possible.

Which is why I got hung up on Mridangam's "thought balloon" mechanic, wherein you raise a flat palm to signify that your words are being thought, not spoken, by your character. Unless the web app you were using to send your threats also recorded the incidence and duration of those signals - making it significantly harder to program - this would result in a confusing sound recording. How would you know for sure which portions of the recording you then needed to go back and add that echoey, internal-monologue sound effect to?

Then I realized: you'd just have to add it live. And sure enough, there's a Skype plugin called DoNaut which adds realtime voice and sound effects to your Skype calls. I haven't gotten to play with it yet, but it has enough effects that it could possibly not just augment a (crude web-based simulation of a) gestural mechanic, but replace it entirely with sound effects.

I think some of the possibilities are obvious. Let's talk about them all anyway.


  • An impro radio-play game? That's seriously cool.
  • That's great.

    I wonder if you could do it without the plug-in? Perhaps if you whispered to signify the internal monologue, or tapped the microphone, or something like that.

  • As I mentioned to Mike in a private email, this is exactly the sort of thing that I'm working on with Fabulous Days of Yesteryear, though designed for face-to-face play using physical props instead of virtual ones.

    I suppose this means that I should finally get that playtest draft together.

  • So, Mike, do this.

    But I am not sure Mridangam is the right game for you. The whole entire point is that the gestural signalling is embedded in natural body language and mime. I don't have any clue why you'd want to play the game without that. It would be like playing D&D but without taking their stuff.

  • Yeah, I don't think Mridangam is the game this will end up being at all. I'm stealing the notion of out-of-band communication, not the specific impact of gestures (tied as that effect is to mutual physical presence).

  • Mike,

    This is going to sound weird and a half, but have you looked at Volity is a nifty little collection of open protocols to develop board games around, but it's built using Jabber as it's network transport. No real reason Jingle couldn't be added on top. Then all the hand gestures could be built into the parlor (the Volity parlance for game server) and be nifty clickies, that'd be recorded in the game log.

    Incidentally, I'm totally in love with Volity and wish that my project list were shorter, because I'd love to be developing games (possibly from scratch) against Volity.
  • I know the Volity developers, actually. This is too funny. Usually I'm the one pimping them to others!

    Volity's client-side story for developers is still not very good, unfortunately. SVG is hard, let's go shopping.

  • Posted By: misubaI'm stealing the notion of out-of-band communication...
    Me too. It's the good stuff.

  • Posted By: misubaSVG is hard, let's go shopping.
    Inkscape. The rest is mere ECMAScript. It could stand to have some easier parlor programming, though.

    And it troubles me somewhat that I'm two removes from Andrew Plotkin about 5 different ways.
  • Zarf's just that kinda guy.

  • Yeah, and he's probably sick of hearing about this one guy who still loves Fool's Errand.
Sign In or Register to comment.