Genre Redesign Madness challenge

edited November 2008 in Story Games
We've all seen those games on the shelves. Another post-apocalyptic rpg, another hard sci-fi, another high fantasy...only this time the orcs are purple, or whatever minimal cosmetic change was necessary to avoid a copyright lawsuit. You know you could do better with one hand tied behind your back, and now I challenge you to prove it.

Genres are handy things. They provide familiar patterns which people can quickly grasp, but they can also become prisons if followed too closely. This challenge will provide each entrant with a randomly selected genre and 10 days in which to create a roleplaying game that uses that genre, but pushes it in a new direction.

I've been setting up the pages over at You'll need to sign up for an account with wikidot to participate. I'm thinking of starting on the 28th.


  • This sounds very fun. Assuming I have time, I'm totally in.

    I have a Wikidot account already. :)
  • This does indeed sound very fun, and I would absolutely love to do it, but I have many reservations. Namely, I've never designed a full game before, though it's something I've wanted to get around to at some point. Also, I don't know if I'm well-read enough to know what's already been done. Knowing me, I'd probably steal some idea wholesale without even realizing it. :) Still, how open would this be to relative newbs?
  • I'm interested. I love contests like these. I've found that I seem to only work well under a deadline, so these are great. Also, the theme is pretty cool.
  • edited November 2008
    Veritascitor, we were all new to game design once.

    Challenges like these are to get all of us to "stretch our legs" a bit, to do a little better than we've done in the past, rather than true competitions to see who is the best designer. As for doing something that might have already been done, the important thing is that you do something that you haven't seen in a game before. Despite your reservations, there's so much that hasn't been done, I wouldn't be surprised if you did come up with something new.

    I hope you'll join in.
  • In that case, I don't really have a reason not to try it out. I should be able to make the time (in between my day job and the games I'm participating in) to come up with something coherent, at the very least. :)
  • Count me in. I need to get out of my current genre for a few days anyway. My username there is the same as here.
  • People have started saying "Hi" in the forum thread on the wiki, so if any of you want to do so, feel free. That will give me a better idea of how many people I've got.
  • Oh, interesting. I'll try this.

  • All signed up and ready to go.
  • I'll give it a spin.
  • Entered and ready to go! My game plan: to add Jane Austen. To everything.

    Paranoia & Prejudice
    Shadowrun & Sensibility
    Northanger Abbey...of the DEAD!
    Mansfield Park's Dungeon (no, not that one. The other one)
  • The contest has begun! We have fifteen entrants so far, and are starting to see design threads popping up in the wiki's forum pages.
  • You've given me War, as a genre. I'm actually nervous.

    I'm going to do the Opium Wars.

  • the page doesn't seem to give any instructions on how to enter, only what entrants are required to do.
    HOW DO I ENTER? I've already created a wikidot account.
  • Well, folks, I've got exactly one genre left on my list just in case somebody needs a re-roll. I'm very happy with the turnout (19 people) and looking forwards to reading the entries in a week.
  • I got 'Western.' Unfortunately, this weekend already has me working on a twist of a western, re-cast into a fantasy mold (for another game, not one I've designed). I'd be tempted to adapt my own work and I don't know if I could escape the shadow and influence of that work. So if it's okay for me to adapt that twist, I'll go for it. Otherwise, I'm going to reroll.
  • I love these challenges, but I'm going through a divorce right now and adjusting to a tough new job. Also, I blew the last one I entered (for similar reasons) - it's too bad. This one sounds fun but I'm just not up to it, right now.
  • After Western was discarded, I got 'Wuxia'. Here's my first musings:

    So, I'm reading Le ton beau de Marot by Douglas Hofstadter (the guy who did Godel Escher Bach), which is about translation and communication and language.

    In it, it uses a metaphor. It postulates a game of "chesh", which is identical to the game of chess, such that you could understand a play-by-play description of chess/chesh and consider them to be the same (i.e. a translation of chess to chesh is perfect - you can see the analogy to language I hope).

    Anyway, Hofstadter asks a simple question about chesh - how would bishops be considered? There's no real "diagonal" on the hexagon board. He goes through various iterations of what diagonal might mean on a square lattice. There's the notion of 45-degree angles, which doesn't lend itself to exportation to hexagons (and 45 degrees with respect to what, exactly, on a hexagon board?).

    From there, he goes to the idea of diagonal being about squares that "kiss" at their common corners, and nowhere else. But that doesn't really work on the hexagon structure either.

    And from THERE he goes to the idea of "moving to the nearest neighbor of the same color." So you need to make sure your hexagons don't have any neighbors of one color. A two-color board doesn't work, but with three colors, you reach the 'aha' moment. From here we can go to answer "how will a chesh bishop move?" and now we have an answer.

    What's more interesting is that these "diagonal" moves radiate out from each corner, so while they aren't close enough to "kiss" their neighbors, they can still blow each other kisses, so to speak. You move along the 'crease' between other hexes to get there.

    Anyway - I want to do to wuxia what Hofstadter did to chess. But… what is the "square board" of wuxia? That's what I'm trying to investigate.
  • Aw man, I missed the signup for this one (just found this thread). Are you going to do this again? Can I jump in late?
  • Jump in late! Go post in the wikidot forum and Graham will set you up the bomb.
  • The deadline is still the same, though, so welcome to the time pressure! :)

    Several contestants are posting their musings, partial designs, and so on in the contest fora. Interesting stuff, readng the thought processes they're going through.
  • I'm currently wondering if I'll get anything at all actually written for the Challenge. It turns out this is not the best of times for me to be doing this: this is the last week of classes where I work, so very busy.

    At the same time, I have some interesting ideas on how to deconstruct my given genre (Post-Apocalyptic). It's actually a hard genre to rebuild, so several ideas aren't really appropriate for this challenge: either too normal or too out-of-genre. Trying to find the right middle ground is tricky.
  • I know the feeling. Life is busy at the moment, and I have a really neat idea for my genre (Espionage) but haven't had much time to think about it's mechanical implementation. Hopefully I'll be able to hack out some rough notes, at the least.
  • I'm in a weird boat. I went from a genre that I was more-or-less breathing at the time (Western) to one I don't know at all (Wuxia). So what you're going to see from me is a reconstruction of the Wuxia genre based on scholarly articles about the genre, mostly found online.

    Meanwhile, I should be studying. I have a test on Thursday, and then finals begin. Luckily, my slacker genes have risen again.
  • My first draft's done and I'm busy revising it. And hopefully playtesting, and buying dice, tomorrow.

    I'd never have thought of writing a war game. Actually, I'm not totally sure I've written a war game. Still. This is fun!

  • Signed up. Hope I can get a genre and get'er done before the deadline!
  • Durn.

    I was totally geared up for this one, but forgot about it until I saw the thread.

  • Playtesting! I knew I forgot something! :)
  • When is the deadline, anyway? I've lost track.
  • I think it's Sunday at 11:59 PM. I'm not sure what time zone.
  • I'm pretty sure its eastern time. Also, I plan to get a lot of writing done tomorrow, and then maybe I'll post some stuff to the forum. Zombies are just so much fun to redesign, it's pretty awesome.
  • To everyone who's wondering if they'll make it, I still hope you'd be able to share some ideas and/or outlines of the work you did get done. I love the ideas almost as much as the implementation, so let's see 'em!

    To Lxndr: have you considered mashing up the Western and the Wuxia? They did it here.
  • edited December 2008
    ozbot: I thought about it, but I wound up going more broadly. You can see my design notes and considerations in this thread:

    Chess, Chesh and Wuxia
  • I got "Westerns" which is a genre I know and love, but with stuff like Dogs in the Vineyard and Dust Devils and even Deadlands towering like giants over the plains I don't give much for my chances of coming up with anything interesting.
  • Oh, I wish I'd gotten Westerns! I was going to do "the real West", where there were surprisingly few mano-a-mano gunfights and rather a lot of trying to stay alive in horrible weather. Also, cattle, sheep, sod huts, rail barons, and Little House on the Prairie.
  • Lachlan, why not do it anyway, outside of the contest? I could groove on that.

    I remember my history professor detailing the Top 3 Causes of Death in the real West:

    3. Lightning
    2. Killed by livestock (being dragged behind your horse or being trampled by cattle, mostly)
    1. Drowning
  • I asked for a reroll instead of doing Westerns (as I've been working on a West-ish project already).
    I'd love to see a Western come out of this contest. Do it, Mike!
  • edited December 2008
    I've got it! Boom!

    Wakan Tanka - A Game About the Lakota and the End of the World
  • We played Graham game tonight and were thoroughly British and despicable. Poor Dave lost two characters, one to being shot in the back. It was a bit like Hunting Boxers for Victoria. And fun too.
  • Rivers and Lakes

    I think I'm done? I won't have any chance to playtest before Sunday, unfortunately.
  • Mine is building. The 'whodunit' factor is about to break me though. I have to figure out how to get evidence introduced. But the core is there.
  • Well, the deadline has passed, and there's 9 entries for me to review. This will make for some very interesting reading over the next few days.
  • edited December 2008
    Speaking as a 'first-timer'...(in the contest, I was 'lachlan99')

    ...learned a lot in this process:

    1) I can make a game in 7 days. I didn't know that before.
  • I want to echo what lachlan said.
    This was my second challenge and I learned a lot. I agree with each of your points. My submission is late but I have the core of a good game and will get some needed feedback.
    Thanks for setting this up.
  • I agree with all the points lachlan made as well. The contest was definitely a lot of fun. Hopefully another will get organized soon, or I'll have to organize one myself!
  • Firstly, I'd just like to say that all of you have probably stopped reading this by now and skipped down to the names of the winners, so I'll just get on with it, okay?

    THE WINNER: Promise Hollows by Ozbot!
    Suburban noir was a beautiful twist, merging the corruption of noir with the politics of parent/teacher associations. It also presented the first build-your-own-setting system I've seen that really helped the process of telling the story. I look forwards to giving this one a try.

    Star Empire by Colin Fredericks and Emma White
    This is what a complete challenge entry should look like, not a concept awaiting development, but ready for serious playtesting right away.

    Forbidden City by Graham W
    A war rpg that's all about the mental struggle, not winning the war. Forbidden City got the "Surprise Me!" point as I had to think over the rules many times to fully appreciate the story they would create.

    Thanks go out to everyone who tried their hand at designing a game. I hope to see you all in future challenges!
  • Ach.
    Well, I tried.
    Thanks for the contest, Graham.
  • It was fun. Congrats to the winners! (I'll get you next time...)
  • I had a lot of fun with this. It was very challenging for me which was good. I ended up late with my entry but I accomplished what I set out to do - get the seeds of a new game. It is in the refining stage after review by a friend. There's a game in there.
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