[Show Me The Game You Want] What Did We Show?

edited October 2009 in Story Games
Kevin asked for no comments or feedback in his Show Me the Game You Want thread, but it's too interesting not to talk about. Here's what I see collectively and in general:
  • Static scenes, not situations or events
  • Sexy ladies and badasses posing, not people interacting
  • Swords, cartoons and fetish objects
  • Obvious jokes
  • Painfully specific images
So, basically, what I think of as typical RPG art. The painfully specific images might be typical indie RPG art - like your GMless one-player game about the Detroit riots of 1968.

What did you see?
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Comments

  • Agreed with all of that. Lots of badass posturing. Some out-of-context shots that are such Rorschach tests that they can really mean *anything*. Anime/manga, of course, which largely is a subset of badass posturing. Some action, but largely inactive. Very few INTERactions IIRC.

    I think three or four images total jumped out at me as game-thought-provoking.
  • Posted By: Paul B Some out-of-context shots that are such Rorschach tests that they can really mean *anything*.
    I really want to hear about where these came from and what people are going for.
  • The "scenery" pictures really stuck out for me - felt like people saying "I want a game that takes me there"
  • Aside from the few that were very specific about a thing, what I saw was mostly setting mood through color.

    Imagescapes and character portraits are both very effective conveyers of mood. Game art, I think, falls into a few categories. The biggest two being Illustrations of a thing and mood setting. Interestingly didn't see too many pictures that were just images of a thing, even though that historically had been one of the primary uses for game art (witness any bestiary or equipment list). That's probably an artifact of the way the question was asked...it was a bigger scale question, so the answers were the bigger scale art.

    It probably isn't a rigorous enough examination to draw conclusions from, but it is interesting that the answers seemed to center more on "where you do it" and "what do you look like while you do it" than on "what you do"
  • For what it's worth, this picture was "Hey, why has no one done an updated/reimagined Wizard of Oz game yet? It's public domain, after all:"

    image
  • Ha! That was the image I scratched my head the hardest over. Indeed my scalp is bleeding from the headscratching!

    Sexy New Oz makes sense, though.
  • To be clear, I'm not passing judgment. My own contribution hits four of the five categories. I think it would be really interesting to get people's decision-making process or explanation of why they chose what they did, viz. Elizabeth above.

    I picked mine because I want to play a historical badass chewing the scenery, but my image choice was sort of jokey and reflexive.
  • edited October 2009
    I picked mine because:

    [ link ]
    This is a collage I quickly put together for one of my games of BLACKOUT. I wanted to convey something urban, dark, chaotic but surreal and full of wonder where you can fill in the blanks.

    [ link ]
    I love wrestling which in essence is a live action cartoon so I thought this was hilarious. I love the juxtaposition of a mussle bound wrestler seriously selling cookie monster's attack.

    [ link ]
    My favorite RPG book ever.

    [ link ]
    I'm down for almost any revolution themed RPG where it's not "revolution is awesome" but "fuck, revolution is hard and carries a huge cost". But I don't like being restricted by historical knowledge and accuracy so I'm often at odds with others who like this type of play.
  • edited October 2009
    I totally want a game with over the top action that will generate situations where I can high-five my friends and laugh as a matter of course. Also super cop action would be boss applesauce.

    [ link ]
  • I think that some of the images (likte the soldiers waiting in the rain) strongly suggests a situation even if it isn't depicted. That often gets me going - what happened just before? Where are they going and why? Then again, I'm just as likely to go "Kickass cool helmet, yeah my guy's gonna have one of those!"

    ---

    I posted a pic of a bear holding a rifle. I guess it qualifies as total badassery but that's not really thing about it for me. No, here's this bear pointing a gun at someone. He's got a backpack so he's probably headed somewhere, maybe on the run? His posture suggests that he's protecting the girl (who seems to be crying), and his facial expression sorta tells me he's prepared to go a long way to do it.

    All of this sparks my imagination. There's drama in there, basic human drama (even though he's a bear...).

    There's a Swedish Gamma World clone that's evolved over the years. I quite like the most recent incarnation and have had some ideas about stuff to do in that world. This pic fits perfectly with some of those thoughts - so perfectly that I really can't remember if they I saw it before I had them or not.

    Really glad I remembered it and put it in there, a whisper informed me where it was from which I've always wondered but never asked. Thanks again, Colin!
  • Jason,
    The stuff that I saw that made me say, yeah! I want that two was epic stuff that looked like something was happening, the Mech/Dragon thing on a crushed building and the techno adam and eve. There was some stuff in there that was firing on all cylinders. I liked how most of it was inspired. The samurai ghostbuster and the dark mario stuff was cool too.
    Outside of that, I did notice humor stuff and some really surreal stuff, almost too hard to imagine playing a character in that setting...
    Dave M
  • Most pictures that come up on a google image search are of individual people. Most pictures are of individual people. I'm not surprised that it's not "people interacting," and apparently everything that doesn't have two people is in one of the categories you mentioned.

    The two that sparked interest in me were Ewen's first two, which are from Black Rock Shooter and Touhou, respectively.

    The BRS image is amazing because here's this girl, who is wearing skimpy clothing and chained to a pillar, but her expression is absolutely "I am in total control of this situation and don't you dare think of rescuing me" and her eyes are glowing, which is an in-genre symbol of massive power. So she's a mix of helpless fetish object and absolute bad-ass in the opposite forms of what one normally expects (one normally sees bad-ass warrior women devolved into helpless fetish objects by stripping them of their power, whereas this is a damsel in distress being far more powerful than expected.)

    The Touhou image is just cool because it's "simply dressed milk-maid medieval girl" falling through a crazy ultra-tech world of light. I see it totally as the half-angel girl raised by humans being brought back to 'heaven' which is actually the computer story system of the advanced alien race DEUS.

    The game I was inspired to write, sadly, is probably too long and complicated to actually finish. It involves power tress with 108 powers each, which is ridiculous. Which is sad, because it had some excellent ideas.

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • I have a thing, not sure why, for cute 'n fun properties turned dark and twisted. Not because I hate the original; nope, I absolutely love Super Mario Bros. Somehow it's because I like it that I'd like to explore an alternate version of it, a more desolate, bloody, and emotionally compelling version, in which Mario's strength is in fact frightening and somewhat ogreish, and the beanstalk looks suspiciously like it leads to Hell.
  • edited October 2009
    Posted By: ElizabethFor what it's worth, this picture was "Hey, why has no one done an updated/reimagined Wizard of Oz game yet? It's public domain, after all:"
    Someone on rpg.net has been working on an Oz RPG for a while. From what little I've looked at it's fairly traditional in style and material.
    Posted By: Paul BSexy New Oz makes sense, though.
    Like that in the Dorothy comic (reviews here, song about here), perhaps?
  • This one really inspired me, though I have too little free time and too much already on my plate to follow through on it.

    The intersection of Healing and Kiss/Lips could provide a solid basis for compelling stories. By whatever genre conventions (magic, technology, superpowers, the aphorisms of Mary Baker Eddy, the aphorisms of D. Vincent Baker, whatever) some people have the power to heal others by kissing them. In order to make it work, the Healer has to make themselves love the person-- true, pure and almost always unrequited. They have to accept into themselves those things that are broken within the soul of the person healed.

    This should not be confused with the intersection of Healing and KISS, which involves Gene Simmons' tongue, psychic surgery, and fighting for your right to party 'till you're dead.
  • Posted By: ColinCThe "scenery" pictures really stuck out for me - felt like people saying "I want a game that takes methere"
    These were really the images from that thread that actually made me want to game. I sent both of those weird cityscape pictures to the people in my Burning Wheel urban game (currently languishing), because I was inspired by them.

    "This picture is really cool. Let's make our game look like this in our brains."
  • edited October 2009
    Posted By: ElizabethFor what it's worth, this picture was "Hey, why has no one done an updated/reimagined Wizard of Oz game yet? It's public domain, after all:"
    Does The Zorcerer of Zo count?
  • And a more kid-oriented one: Adventures In Oz
  • It was cruel to disallow comment. Depending on my mood, many of the pictures in the thread evoked games I might want to play. But I only got one picture.

    My picture was not specific to an imagined game I feel should be on the market but is not. It was just expressing a frequent preference for games where there is a strong sense of possibility and adventure, and where I feel I'm exploring a world that's only been imagined but which references real world cultures.

    And airships.

    I can and do groove on raw human interactions/relationships in my games along with many of you. Just not most of the time.
  • Mine were:

    "I love Talking Heads"

    and

    "How come there's never been a game about journalists?"
  • The first picture I pasted is one of my favorites, but the resolution makes it almost impossible to see the newsprint on the skin of the lady with the wires coming out of her head, and very little of the hellish background tower is visible. Only the surreality and the newsprint is really important to me in that one.

    My second attempt (the map) was definitely better, but I don't have the image editing skills to find what I really want to convey, which is that I want to explore the ways in which the experiential world is made of words.
  • Mine were:

    "I like making the occasional esoteric-looking collage in my notebook. Oh look, I have made another one. Hmm...it would be fun to have a game where notebooks and important-looking (yet non-functional) mystic patterns like this one I made were part of the mechanics."

    "Oooh, magic circles and ravens. This could make some cool color for the aforementioned magic-symbol-notebook-game. I shall post it!"

    Had I known there was going to be a test at the end I would have given it more thought. Mostly I was trying to convey, using a limited number of images, the game that was on my mind at the time.
  • Pssh. Does that look like a kid's game or Zorceror of Zo to you? No. I am talking grown-up Dorothy with ruby-red stilettos and a rottweiler named Toto, a scarecrow that would make you wet your pants, a soulless robot, and an honest-to-god Lion, not a goofy dude in a lion suit.
  • Colin, that Waterhouse painting has already been the thematic touchstones for a Dogs conversion we ran: witch-princess and retinue root out corruption and demons in gritty and brutal yet 'high-fantasy' setting.

    As for posting Homeworld concept art: the thing I love about that game was the way it picked up on the themes of galactic empires and science fantasy while making it seem real. I mean, sure, realistic space battles would be quick non-events (as in ontic rather than narrative) as nukes, lasers and ECM were deployed with computerized accuracy at distances of AU. Moreover, of all the multitudes of space games out there, none of them really capture the sophistication of drama, character and narrative of the new space opera movement in SF does.

    I really, really would love kill for a game that can handle any of the short stories that Dozois and Strahan have selected for their "The New Space Opera" collection, or those in Hartwell and Cramer's "The Space Opera Renaissance."

    To be fair, Diaspora may do this. I have not read it. Yet.
  • My reason for the thread really was to take the pulse of the scene (as limited as the scene of story gamers is). I wanted to see what the fantasy to sci-fi to modern to other ratio is at the moment. It was kind of a self serving, unscientific, industry survey.

    Your interaction comment is interesting to me. I've been struggling a lot with the idea of interaction in my photo work. I feel like capturing an expressive moment of action is particularly difficult with the still image, especially in photography. It's a little easier with representative arts, drawing, painting, etc. because there's a lot of cultural touchstones to fall back on. I certainly struggle with making images that capture a moment of human interaction beyond the most basic levels. The failures of my attempts are documented by the total lack of it's representation in my publicly viewable work. it's very easy to make interaction images that feel like stilted melodramatic pastiches of real life, or worse, cinema.

    The image i posted is representative of my love of weird kid stuff and Ray Tintori music videos.
  • edited October 2009
    My first impression was that there was a lot of macho posturing going on, and a fair bit of violence. It's to be expected, I think. The amount of vague evocativeness was a bit of a surprise. There seemed to be a lot of formulaic pop culture reworks, either taking something and making it "dark" or taking two unrelated things and making them fight each other. I wasn't surprised by that. It's not my cup of tea, but not every game has to be to my taste. After scrolling through it all I was actually a bit depressed by everything I'd seen, which is why I made sure that the characters in my pictures were smiling.

    I do have two pictures but the second doesn't always show. The first picture involved a search, the second involved sharing something wonderful, put in that order to suggest a story. I did try to find something from a live action movie (Nobody Knows), but the pictures available online were horrible. I chose the pictures I did because they're inspirations for the game I'm working on now (in between other responsibilities).
  • edited October 2009
    Man, that picture thread was disappointing as hell. Without comments it was especially pointless.

    Optimus Prime? Comic book characters? Anime catgirls? I'm sorry but that shit was weak.

    I liked Elizabeth's, though.
  • I was struck by the picture of the blackbirds by the sea-side. Maybe it's my recent excitement for MouseGuard, but I think playing a group of crows, in the style of Watership Down/MouseGuard/Red Wall, could be really cool. Plus, we could call it "How to Host a Murder."
  • Well, I just posted a pic of Burroughs because I've been wanting to write/run/play a Naked Lunch-esque/Western Lands-trilogy game forever...I had no ulterior motives.

    But yeah, the scenery pics struck me the most. It was mostly about mood and being taken to fantastical places that have the *potential* of things happening there.

    Some of the pics I found really uninspiring or provoked a "hey, there are already tons of games like this" reaction.
  • Why my two pictures...??

    The first picture as described earlier...
    Posted By: DInDenver the Mech/Dragon thing on a crushed building
    I've long been considering a new mecha game. I love some of the imaginative giant robots found among alien races in games like RIFTS, but the system associated with these games tends to be really crunchy, and I haven't found one where the theme or story really gives flavour to the events at hand...in my experience they always tend to degenerate into dice fests, which then inevitably degenerate into a bunch of players flicking through pages of rule books, cross-referencing their kick-ass combos and justifying to one another how they aren't cheating but are just using some ruling that should have been addressed in an errata but hasn't.

    This image just gave me the impression of something a bit different in a mecha genre; something in that vein, but where flavour, style and atmospherics have as much impact as the raw destructive potential involved.

    My second picture...the kids with the android.

    I actually found this while surfing around after finding the first image and it instantly struck a vibe with me. Recently I've been interested in games that explore the notion of humanity; a lot of these games tend to be pretty dark and adult oriented, but this picture made me think about exploring humanity from the perspective of kids.

    What do kids look for in friends? What if a kid's conscious mind was transferred into a robot and he just wanted to have friends as though he were still flesh and blood? How would he be treated? How would his robot body make him feel "more than human" or "less than human"?

    Kids can be harsh, victimising anyone who's different...how much would an obviously inhuman kid risk to keep the friends he has made?


    Maybe there are games like these around...maybe I just haven't encountered them yet. But these are two games that I'd be interested in exploring.
  • So what ones did people like?
  • Posted By: ElizabethDoes that look like a kid's game or Zorceror of Zo to you? No. I am talking grown-up Dorothy with ruby-red stilettos and a rottweiler named Toto, a scarecrow that would make you wet your pants, a soulless robot, and an honest-to-god Lion, not a goofy dude in a lion suit.
    *David goes to look for his Universalis book*

    I think there could be room for a journalism-types RPG: Woodward and Bernstein deal with Deep Throat; embedded journalists during Fallujah, that sort of thing. Journalism at the knife's edge, where the unprotected get disappeared. Yeah... someone make that. (OO! Or could Elizabeth's spy thing have a subset or hack for that? It's investigation without the assassination....)

    Heh... and there could be the Gonzo hack. :P

    OK, back to post-analysis.
  • Ben already explained my first post better than I could have. For the second one:

    This thing, with a Mario Bros. Bullet Bill hitting a city, ties into something I've been thinking about, deliberately drawing on the surrealness of old-school video games.

    The "Do you believe in neko God?" pic came from DeviantArt, and I've been wanting to do something equally strange and surreal with otaku fetish imagery.

    Socialist Penguin is a silly in-joke that came from playing with the Prinny plushie I had sitting around.
  • edited October 2009
    Posted By: Robert BohlSo what ones did people like?
    Good question...

    As I think about it, I liked a lot of them as pictures. The ones that specifically evoked games I'd like to try would be:
    • DeBracy's 'bear with gun'
    • Nemomeme, and Johnstone's fantastical landscapes
    • Nathan Wilson's sci-fi stuff
  • Huh, you know, looking over these, I don't think Jason's characterization is wholly accurate. Or, rather, there's a fair amount of filtration going on. Basically, if you filter out all th stuff you like, you are indeed left with crap.

    1) There a large number of images which are symbolic / evocative rather than realistic: #3, #6, #12a, #15, #31, and so on. Now, of course, the thing about symbolic images is that they will resonate with some people and not others, but I wouldn't classify them as jokes (they're not) or highly specific images (they're open to a wide interpretation.)

    2) There are a fair number of images of people interacting, inasmuch as images can show human interactions. #2, #4, #10b, #14, #17b, #32, #35, #37, etc. This is not counting the "group photo" pictures, of which there are many, which are not explicitly interactive but definitely imply a relationship amongst the group. Of course, many of the most interactive pictures are from comics (comics, by their nature, being the most dynamic form of static art) which I guess means that they're lumped into the cartoons category. But I don't see how you can look at, say, #76 and not go "wow! People interacting dynamically with a crazy social dynamic."

    So, while on first reading, I bought his categorization, on a second hard look I'm not sure what Jason is on about, really.

    I do find it interesting, on this thread, that apparently SG is more inspired by images of landscapes than of characters. Of course, that's probably not a valid observation. It may be because message #1 primed them to be disinterested in characters.

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • edited October 2009
    Posted By: Jason MorningstarHere's what I see
    Posted By: Jason MorningstarWhat did you see?
    Jason's categorization is an opinion.
  • Posted By: Ben LehmanI do find it interesting, on this thread, that apparently SG is more inspired by images of landscapes than of characters. Of course, that's probably not a valid observation. It may be because message #1 primed them to be disinterested in characters.
    Also, characters imply a much more specific game, at least to me.

    Looking at those cityscapes, I thought "Hey, *my* game could go there". But looking at the images of characters, I don't have the same thought.
  • Yo, Jason. Yes. It's an opinion. It's also one that I found, upon review, to be inaccurate.

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • I'd say a lot of what I took away from most images (but by no means all) was "Well, you could play something like that in ___." I guess I'd thought that there'd be more esoteric one (like Burroughs or the sexy Dorothy) that would actual call for a very focused game, not a hack of an existing game or the using a generic or universal game out of the box (with the usual constraints such games require to avoid being Rifts or Kitchen Sink).

    I was also struck by how few were graphical in nature: almost everything was photography or illustration of discrete scene and personalities; there were very few abstractions.

    (And I, too, felt the gag order on the thread was less useful than, say, having a three-comment rule like on STW. Or at the least, credit and reasoning for each piece, to avoid obvious questions of "where did you find that?" and "how could THAT even be a game?" Maybe next time....)
  • Posted By: David ArtmanAnd I, too, felt the gag order on the thread was less useful than, say, having a three-comment rule like on STW. Or at the least, credit and reasoning for each piece, to avoid obvious questions of "where did you find that?" and "how could THAT even be a game?" Maybe next time....
    Isn't that (partly) what this thread is for?
  • Sure, Robert, but it's a bit inelegant to refer to "image 34" or to try to describe them (often with obscure[-to-me] anime references)--lots of clicking back and forth.

    But, y'know, whatever--Jason asked, I answered about how "I felt"; of course I'm never *right* in how I feel. Only a select few here achieve *rightness* through opinion....
  • I liked the original thread.
  • Posted By: BWALooking at those cityscapes, I thought "Hey, *my* game could go there". But looking at the images of characters, I don't have the same thought.
    Huh. Do you have the same feeling about art in game books?

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • Hmmm. Perhaps some people put up an image of the game they want to run, and others put up an image of the game they want to play. That's vaguely plausible with respect to a landscapes vs. portraits breakdown. But I probably don't know what I'm talking about.


    Cheers,
    Roger
  • Basically, my deepest wish in roleplaying games is having the struggle for victory lead to an amazing story which is also believable in the context. Also it has to be colorful!
  • I can't figure out how you would play a My Dinner With Andre game.

    I don't know where it's from, but the image of a really dark version of Scooby-Doo, where Fred, Daphne and Shaggy are all dead looked like a game to me. The mechanics would need to reinforce, somehow simultaneously, the post-apocolyptic darkness AND the Hanna-Barbera cartoonishness. You'd probably want to be able to play other characters besides just Velma and Scooby, but if someone pulled it off, it'd be cool. Or maybe not, but the image sticks with me, silly as it may be.
  • Posted By: Ben LehmanBasically, if you filter out all th stuff you like, you are indeed left with crap.
    Is this not true of all things in life? :)
  • Posted By: Ben Lehman(like Burroughs or the sexy Dorothy)
    Ex CUSE me, that is clearly a sexy Miss Almira Gulch.

    *pushes glasses up bridge of nose*
    *arms folded defiantly*


    (She actually couldn't be in a commercial Oz hack because she was invented for the 1939 film as the "real world counterpart" of the Wicked Witch of the West. Miss Gulch doesn't appear in any of the Oz novels.)
  • I find myself enticed by the landscape/cityscape pictures, but I feel like whenever my group (disclosure: I'm in BWA's Burning Wheel game, mentioned above, and I too love the images to which he refers) gets excited about a setting (Song of Ice and Fire-ish, Deadwood-ish, etc.), we haven't figured out how to capture the character types that make those settings what they are. We pick up on the landscapy-y trappings and miss the fact that the characters are why these stories are awesome.

    Also, when a city or other kind of setting is really important in a novel or movie, people often say that it was as if the city (or the mountain, or the space station, or whatever) WAS as character. I'm pretty new to indie games, so there may be great examples of this that already exist (in fact, I'm almost sure there are), but it seems to me that if you want, for instance, a city that is so cool and interesting that it pervades the game at every turn, there should be some kind of mechanic to encourage this, and the city needs some kind of traits and statistics that describe the mechanical effect of living there. Otherwise, the really awesome setting you pick fades to the background.
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