Let's talk about Stage One!



  • Also, holy shit man, stupidgremlin, I just scrolled up to read back in the thread and saw the play aid cards and sheets you are making for my game. That's hot shit man, thanks a lot!
  • Orion: I tend to do crazy stuff like that when I get inspired by a game. You should've seen all the cards and play-aids I made when I ran a one-shot of Ghostbusters at GoPlay PDX North a few months back.
    Anyway, if you're interested, I can post a link to some convenient, print-ready PDFs tomorrow when I get back to the office.
  • Posted By: Orion CanningSome thoughts about the game: when I got to the last section, the dam, I only rolled 1 level one bad guy and all the rest were crates and ammo. That ended up feeling pretty anticlimactic.
    Yeah, I feared that. Measures to avoid that were sacrificed in favor of fitting it all in two pages.
    What if you set the amount of bad guys in each part of the map and the player rolled dice until he got that many? It could also help keep the balance in the difficulty of a map against the time limit.
    I could see doing that, or saying, "If you have fewer than X Guards on this map, roll d6s equal to the difference. Dice that result in 4-6 are level 1-3 Guards." Something like that.
    Also, again there's a lot to keep track of and some way of simplifying the book-keeping would be nice. At the same time, those bookkeeping bits feel straight from the game, it's just that the game keeps track of them automatically for you.
    Yeah, exactly. The ammo's vital to track. At first the Guards were taking hits, but I quickly realized that -- of course -- that would be a pain to track, so it became a binary thing. Your own hits are absolutely necessary. The game isn't about time constraints for most levels, so tracking ticks might seem odd, but ultimately it was just a way to get the Guards to automatically oppose you without requiring a GM. It has the side benefit of making Secret Agent and 00 Agent more difficult, so bonus.

    Tracking hits on the Crates... that also seems like a necessary evil. Or you could roll a d6 for every hit blocked, I guess, and it blows up on a 5+. But then you're rolling more dice, which could get confusing and time-consuming.
    I'm tempted to run the game for someone else and control all the enemies and do all the book-keeping for them, just to streamline their experience and make it feel a little more like the video game.
    That would totally work, of course. For me, making it a solo game was important because, outside of the excellent multiplayer, Goldeneye is such a solitary endeavor. I wanted to preserve that.
    What if you made a countdown track or grid of numbers that the player could slide a counter around on to keep track of ticks and ammo?
    Oh, absolutely -- it would benefit from all kinds of play aids. I just didn't have room to include them, or even advice about that. If it hadn't been for the Stage Two setup, I probably would've used that last column for a hit, ammo, and tick tracker.

    Thanks for the feedback!
  • edited November 2011
    Here are the links to high-res (at least, as high-res as old NES graphics can be) PDFs of the Monster and Reference cards I made for Orion's Dragon & Warrior.

    Monster Cards: 4up per 8.5x11 page, blank fields so you can fill in your own details
    Reference Cards: 2up per 8.5x11 page, the Dragon Warrior card also functions as the character sheet.

    I'd recommend writing on them with Sharpies, or other dark, permanent pens. Either that, or laminating them with a 5mil gloss lamination, and then writing on them with dry-erase pens.

    These both have full bleeds and crop marks for easy trimming. I would normally print these on larger sheets, but most people don't have access to either 12x18 sheets of card stock, or to printers that can run 12x18 sheets. Plus, the smaller sizes make it easier to print on ISO standard papers (I believe A4 size), as well as laminate afterwards.

    EDIT: I should also mention, for sake of completeness, that credit for the ripped NES graphics go to The Spriters Resource, and specifically the contributors Valoc Darkmyre, Bean, Luke Groundwalker, Tonberry2k, and Vanarus.
  • You guys are awesome. Yay for mutually-supportive game design and revelment!
  • I'm planning to record our D&W session.

    Also, playtests are going to be underway in Portland for some Stage One games, and well, anything else.
  • @mikeolsen I do like that it's a solo game, that's the reason I ended up playing it first. I also really like the way the baddies are streamlined to shoot on your turn, which helps streamline things.

    @stupidgremlin: Cool! Thanks for uploading these, I really appreciate it. Also, good call on combining the character sheet with the dragon warrior explain card, that's one of the first revisions I made after the playtest.

    However, as much as i love your monster cards, I think drawing the monster pictures is a big part of the fun. One of the highlight of our playtest was a monster Jackson made, a belligerent, irate tree stump completely unable to move and easy to kill, who would taunt dragon warrior until he killed it. Think of the black knight as a tree stump. And the drawing only made it better. In fact, one thing I was thinking would be fun to do is scan the monster cards from our game and put them up somewhere where other people could post theirs. Anyways, I recommend drawing monsters, it's fun.

    @jwalton: I played All Cosmos with Robert Bruce, and it's a fun dice game. He mentioned it on your blog, but we didn't have enough dice to keep our whole collection for the entire game. I think you need 60 dice to win if you go all the way to beating the d20. per person maybe, if it's close. That's a lot of dice! So the natural solution we came accross was dumping our collection back into the middle whenever we went up a dice got upgraded. This provided a neat balance and rhythm to the game; as we played the easy dice would usually get sucked up into our collections, making it harder to get dice the fuller they got. Then one player or the other would go over the thresh-hold and spill all the easy dice back in the middle, giving the other player the first opportunity to roll them up. Robert pulled ahead and had the advantage with his bigger dice for most of the game, but he was never able to pull too far ahead thanks to the balancing nature of our little hack. I also think it nicely reflects the way it can become a struggle to find things to pick up in the actual game just before you grow enough to grab larger objects, then suddenly when you pass the thresh-hold there's all kinds of things for you to easily get. Anyways, I reccomend you try playing that way and see what you think!

    Also, I finished revising the rules based on my first playtest, but I don't want to jump the gun on Stage 1 and put them up too early. What do you think, Mr. Walton?
  • Is that tonight? I'm stoked to hear feedback from your D&W sesh, to see how your interpretations differed from ours and so on. Great game, Orion!
  • Posted By: jackson teguIs that tonight? I'm stoked to hear feedback from your D&W sesh, to see how your interpretations differed from ours and so on. Great game, Orion!
    Tomorrow. & Orion, if you want to give us the new rules, we're not complaining.
  • edited November 2011
    Alright, you asked for it. Hopefully these make the game a little better.
    Dragon and Warrior 1.3

    So you're going to record it? I can't wait to listen!

    Jackson, when are you going to hack my hack of your hack?
  • Orion: I read the new rules. I have to say, I like the original version better. You're right that it's probably best to have a scene economy, for reasons you stated above, but there's something about adding that and the POI that sort of seems to make the game needlessly complex. But! I haven't played, so this is all just whatever.
  • Orion: My preference is also drawing the monsters, as opposed to having premade images. In my experience though, people I normally play with, when presented with the opportunity to draw their own characters or monsters, even if it significantly adds to the experience of the game, will more often than not either leave that space blank, or have me draw it for them. By using iconic sprites from the classic Dragon Warrior game, I was primarily trying to provide an immediate "feel" of the game's genre, rather than stifling their creativity.
    On Monday, what I'll do is prepare some blank monster cards...probably ones that are background-graphics lite too, so its easier for people to print.
    ...and when I get home tonight, I'm going to download the revised rules and give them a good looking-over before tomorrow.
  • Well, maybe you guys should try the original rules and see how they work for you. You might have a totally different experience than we did, and it's possible I overcompensated for the some of the problems we had in our game. Also, stupidgremlin, I don't want you to think I don't like the monster cards, because I love them, I just didn't want you guys to miss out on that part of the game. Using both sound like a good plan. I also think your friends should be forced to draw monsters anyways. In a nurturing creative environment sort of way.
  • Orion: No worries. My previous explanation probably sounded a bit too clinical (blame that on my day-job where I have to explain design specifications to my clients...sometimes I can unintentionally sound a bit...terse).
  • So, we got a chance to play Dragon & Warrior yesterday, and despite some confusion about which roles belonged to whom, and some creative-engine sputtering as to where to go and what to do, it was pretty fun. For the most part, it did fairly accurately capture the feel of the source game, with a few instances of die-rolling back and forth as the hero tried to defeat some tougher monsters (1 HP damage here, 1 HP damage there...). I liked it for the most part, but definitely some areas that could use ironing out, which probably Hans will detail better when he posts his audio recording. We used the original set of rules, instead of the 1.3 version, since it was a bit simpler (though in retrospect, we may have wanted to use the addition of Points of Interest).
    I think our main thing was that the switching of the roles was more often than not going back and forth between the same two players frequently (typically, monster switches with hero, hero switches with monster, etc.). Because it all centered on the hero, it would sometimes leave some of the other players with little to do except wait for when they could chime in with description. In Silver & White, on the other hand (which we played later that evening), the role switching happens between any of the players. So, basically, if there can be some way for the other roles to tag someone to switch, instead of it being dependent on the hero, that'd be a major improvement.
    Other than that, I was kind of thinking that it missed some of the random "A Monster Appears" feel of the source game. Perhaps when the hero ventures out into an area or dungeon of a particular level, each location he enters requires...I dunno...maybe the Monster or Treasure player to make a random Monster roll, 1 die per Level, and each 5 or 6 that comes up is a Level of Monster that appears? So, if you're in a Level 3 area, and the roll results in two hits, the Monster player could introduce two 1st Level monsters or one 2nd Level monster? Just a thought. Boss Monsters would then be found in POIs, perhaps.
    Still, I enjoyed it. Quite a lot.

    ...and as for the blank monster cards, I'll have to post those tonight. Apparently the internet service I have at work has blocked my access to my Mediafire account (it has an annoying habit of tagging things that are file-sharing or P2P as potential security threats, and blocks them...it also prevents me from browsing art on DeviantArt, and sometimes blocks RPGnow...). So I'll have to send the files to my home computer, and then post them from there. Either way, it's only maybe ten hours or so before it'll be available.
  • That's the same problem we had in our game, for a while we stayed in town while the Monster player was stuck waiting around, and then once we were outside the people player didn't have much to do for a while. I added the scene economy to try to motivate the players to keep moving to new areas, mostly to get them out of town for the benefit of the monster player. I added the POI to have little areas that could be anywhere, which would allow for everyone to switch roles.

    Dungeons were intended to do that originally, but in our game the dungeon felt daunting and we were avoiding it until we thought we were strong enough to take it on. Another thing I tried to do in the new rules is make sure treasure, monster, and people had a way to make dragon warrior switch cards with them. So in 1.3, whenever Dragon warrior goes into a building or kills a monster, the treasure player can choose to trade with Dragon warrior, monsters show up wheneverhe goes outside, and people can choose to make people show up. Outside people can make POI to do this too. I tried to strike a balance with areas making you fight a monster when you moved through them. If you get a chance to try the new rules, let me know what you think. I'll listen to your AP tonight too!
  • Posted By: Orion CanningIf you get a chance to try the new rules, let me know what you think. I'll listen to your AP tonight too!
    Well, I hope to get another chance to play it at the next GoPlay PDX North, or maybe one of the other venues. As for the AP, not sure when or where Hans will post that.
    Next time, though, I am definitely uploading choice bits of the classic 8-bit Dragon Warrior soundtrack to my iPod, so I can play the battle music.

    In the meantime, here's the link to the blank Monster Cards, once again 4-up on 8.5x11.
  • Posted By: stupidgremlinPosted By: Orion CanningIf you get a chance to try the new rules, let me know what you think. I'll listen to your AP tonight too!
    Well, I hope to get another chance to play it at the next GoPlay PDX North, or maybe one of the other venues. As for the AP, not sure when or where Hans will post that.
    Next time, though, I am definitely uploading choice bits of the classic 8-bit Dragon Warrior soundtrack to my iPod, so I can play the battle music.

    In the meantime, here's the link to the blankMonster Cards, once again 4-up on 8.5x11.

    I just invited Orion, privately, to my dropbox. If other folks want to hear it I suppose I can throw it up somewhere.
  • edited November 2011
    So, I just listened to the ap and It was really awesome and gratifying to hear people playing my game. I also stretched my powers of deduction and from the background noise I believe you played at Card Kingdom in Seattle. A fine choice. What was interesting was how differently your group's playstyle was from mine. You guys actually were probably playing more the way it should be played than my group was, truer to the source material. As I said before we spent two hours in town, using lots of detailed description, fleshing out the world and characters with a lot of depth. Not that it wasn't all a bit silly and fun, and colored with Nes Rpg nostalgia, but you guys really understood what the game was about, going out and killing monsters and gaining levels! So I can see how you felt the scene economy I added in the new rules felt overcomplicated, your group wouldn't have needed them. But our group probably needed that push. (well we were having a lot of fun, it's just that the monster player was left out.)

    I nerded out a little over your knowledge of the video game, especially when people were humming the theme song. I heard some good criticism in the Ap too, like that 200 gold might be an unbalancing amount to start with (because it probably should be more like 50.), and that the control you get from the explain cards is a little unintuitive and wonky. That comes from me beginning the design from simple narrative elements, then needing to add things for them to do in places where their area of control gave them none. That could be helped with layout (bullet points as it was said in the ap) or just a conceptually stronger distribution of narrative control. It's quite possible the game would work better as a three player game even, but I like that it's four.

    Now, if I can get dropbox working on this I pad I can hear the actual critiques you sent me... Ah, there we go. Yeah, I'll definitely work on the layout for the explain cards. You're definitely right that creative description is what keeps the fights interesting, having the characters say a line of dialogue with each attack and describing their moves and the effect they have on each other, and maybe I should instruct players to do that more explicitly? That's also something that spending a little more time in your game on worldbuilding and background would help, finding something that makes you care more about the villains and DW. Oh, and about the idea of rotating cards among all the players instead of just swapping between two, In the new rules you rotate like that when DW levels up. Also, the blank monster cards are perfect, I love them. It makes me wish I was allowed another page to stick them on. Thanks guys, so helpful!
  • Posted By: Orion CanningI also stretched my powers of deduction and from the background noise I believe you played at Card Kingdom in Seattle.
    Actually, Fiction Addiction in North Portland.

    ...man, sometimes I WISH I could be in Seattle. I hear that's where all the cool kids hang out. And so much good FOOOOOD!
  • Posted By: stupidgremlinPosted By: Orion CanningI also stretched my powers of deduction and from the background noise I believe you played at Card Kingdom in Seattle.
    Actually, Fiction Addiction in North Portland.

    ...man, sometimes I WISH I could be in Seattle. I hear that's where all the cool kids hang out. And so much good FOOOOOD!

    Yeah, Card Kingdom is the game store par excellence.

    Anyway, glad that it was helpful, Orion. I'm definitely feeling you on the worldbuilding--making the players care about the world a little bit more up-front would help a lot, I think.
  • So... I know you guys don't need me anymore, since you're already playing each others' games (which couldn't make me happier!), but just wanted to update that I'm most of the way through reading and commenting on the games -- just have a few more to go! -- and will try to post all of that as soon as I have some free time in front of a computer. Honestly, at this point, a bunch of you have more direct experience with these games than I do, since you've actually played them! I'm going to try to play through the games that are open to solo play -- Shadow of Colossus looks promising in that regard, as does Half of Everything is Luck and a few others -- and will post about that too (ideally, with a bunch of pictures!).
  • For those who are interested, I've posted a couple rules tweaks to Half of Everything Is Luck on my blog. One reduces the bookkeeping burden a bit, and the other guarantees the dice don't hand you a Guard-free cakewalk. I also tacked them onto the end of the PDF of the game and re-uploaded it, for the sake of convenience.
  • I'm looking forward to my review! I think roguish should be soloable, though that might feel more like an "activity" than a game. Plus if there's just you, you can just play your roguelike of choice on the computer in the first place instead of burning through some index cards.
  • edited November 2011

    So, last night I was working on my entry that didn't get done in time. I realized that while the rules are done there is still a lot of work to do, because creating the elements necessary for "Stage One" is going to take almost as much writing as the rules did. So I've decided to create them as two separate documents and go ahead and post the rules now. I give you...

    A Dark And Quiet Place

    This is like my 3rd or 4th attempt at a Silent Hill RPG. The rules make reference to the first location "The Old Toy Factory". Creating all the materials for that location is what I'm still working on. You technically don't need them since all the rules for creating those materials are provided. I want to finish them because (a) they let you jump into the game without doing a lot of prep and (b) they provide nice examples for what I'm talking about in the rules.

    Anyway, so there you have my day late, dollar short, broke all the rules "entry" for Stage One. Enjoy!

  • Sweet, Jesse. Looks great! I'll review it and any other latecomer games after I finish with the first batch.
  • My Castlevania game is ready for playtesting and I'm scheduling a time with my coauthor friend to give it a whirl. It looks like it can be both a 2 player and a 4 player game, which is cool.
  • Hey Jonathan, don't want to push you too hard, but I'm just wondering: Do you have an ETA for when the reviews are going to drop?

  • Should be today. I'm about to post the first six.
  • edited November 2011
    First six reviews are up. Two invitations, two playtest-and-revises, and two games that need some rethinking to fit the anthology concept.

    Note that if you decide you don't want to be part of the print anthology I'm organizing, that's totally cool and doesn't reflect anything about you or your game. Maybe you just want to do something else! That's what being indie is about, so don't let me tell you what to do with your game. The anthology is just the thing I'm willing to help put together and nobody should feel any pressure to be a part of it if they don't want to or if their game is going in a different direction.
  • I'm so glad you liked roguish! It almost had a dice mechanic. Then I decided that the world didn't need another game where you roll a die and add a bonus to see if you hit a guy. I still haven't actually played it, so it may well be missing some rules/hints to make it fun. I also want to emphasize a bit more, somehow, the idea of saving really exciting rooms and monsters and treasures to mix in to the decks each time you play.
  • Sweet! I fared a lot better than I thought I would. I'm going to have to brainstorm a bit to figure out how best to revise Resident Evil+, but there are some ideas brewing. There'll be a playtest thing coming up in PDX in a few weeks, so I'll see what I can up with by then.
    I may have missed some mention of this, but by when should we have revisions ready?
  • edited November 2011
    There's no timeline for this project yet, since I kinda need to finish the Magic Missile anthology first, since I'm already committed to it. I figure we should give all the games (even the ones that have already been invited) a couple months to be played and go through any internal revisions by the author. And then, once it's clear which games still want to be part of the anthology, authors will submit their drafts and we'll put them through the paces during editing, polishing, and layout. If people want some support or suggested steps to go through in the playtest-and-revise stage, I'll be happy to provide some guidance and even try to play as many of them as I can. So maybe touch base around the end of December and we'll make plans to put this together early next year? How does that sound? If you have questions or want more feedback in the meantime, I'm definitely available, like I said.
  • edited November 2011
    Simon Carryer and I playtested Heavy is the Head (Civilisation) and Fortunes and Thieves (Uncharted) today at lunch.

    Fortunes and Thieves needs a bit of refining. I need to think on it in more depth, but some quick notes:

    - The setup is fun and grabby.

    - What's happening in the fiction isn't particularly important (so the game quickly runs the risk of just being about the players saying "I use my Parkour skill", "I use my Assassination skill").

    - The consequences of succeeding and failing at tasks needs to be considered carefully. Currently, I'm thinking that characters 'succeed' at everything. It just might cost them in terms of injuries, damaged skills or introducing new complications.

    - I need to figure out how to handle simultaneous challenges - like 'Move the crate through a zone of unstable gantries' and 'Kill all the guards who've suddenly appeared'.

    - I need to actually write down my rules for creating the challenges and the map of the areas the game is taking place in, which (at the moment) I think will play best when they're slightly abstracted (like Zones in Spirit of the Century/FATE).

    Hopefully Simon will post about Heavy is the Head. I thought it was fun, works pretty well in its current form, and has a lot of potential to create a meaningful experience.
  • Heavy is the Head was pretty fun! Certainly the game was functional, but I think a few tweaks could make it substantially more fun.

    My "People of the Stone" faced pretty tough times, some famine, internal strife, and raids from neighboring tribes. They came through it barely, advancing from a small despotic tribe to a loose confederation of warlords.

    My vision for the game was that it would be essentially a facilitated discussion about politics for two people, and I think it modestly succeeds at that. Essentially the game is about deciding what problems you're willing to live with, which I think is an apt description of politics.

    It needs a few more rules (a "do nothing" move, for example), and maybe a more concrete relationship between in-game time and turns. It takes a little longer to play through Stage One than I hoped. Maybe 45 mins to an hour, instead of 30 mins. The back-and-forth between player one and player two worked pretty well though, I thought, and we pretty naturally created fictional material.

    Steve, how much "fun" would you say you had? I found it pretty fun, but also slightly hard. "Heavy is the Head" indeed. I was ready for my turn as Player One to be over.

    Fortunes and Thieves was also pretty fun! The initial situation is indeed grabby as heck, and I think with another player there'd be heaps of room for banter and showing off. My favourite bit was imagining lots of cool action scenes, and thinking about how it would look "in the movie". I don't know Uncharted at all, so I don't know how well the game fit the game, so to speak. It felt like a kind of modern pulp, Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider kind of thing. Style over substance, set piece action sequences glued together with funny characters and some dialogue.

    Steve I think you've outlined the problems pretty well. I like the idea of "You always succeed but sometimes face consequences".
  • I saw "Meek's Cutoff" last night, and now I wish I'd done an Oregon Trail game.
  • Simon, I started off a little confused about what my role (as Player 2) was in the game, and then began having an increasing amount of fun as I realised that my role was to:

    a) build up a coherent story about what was going wrong with your society (putting pressure on you to make decisions and act), and
    b) slowly define what could be waiting for you off in the blank squares of the map (for instance the raiding parties initiating reprisals on your city).

    FYI: Here's a link to Heavy is the Head

    Like I mentioned, by about Turn 4 I was starting to wonder whether there was anything 'extra' to the game or whether it would basically be me putting pressure on you, you making decisions, and the two of us building up a coherent setting that the action was taking place in. However, I can definitely see potential in having us swap roles during Stage 2 of the game. I'd like to also propose a variant: that Player 2 creates their own civilisation that - at some point - intersects with Player 1's. I've got two reasons behind that:

    a) I wondered how invested I would be in making decisions for the civilisation you created, and
    b) one thing I missed from this game was the sense of a coherent enemy building its power off-screen and having to be defeated.

    - - - - - - - - -
    I have some other observations, but I'll leave it there for the moment.

    (Oh, and here's the link to Fortunes and Thieves.)
  • Me and Robert played heavy is the head last tuesday and the review I wrote of it didn't actually get posted due to some error. But I'll write a new one.

    My tribe lived off of mammoth meat and labor was divided so that young people did hunting and gathering of food, and the older men became soldiers and the older women became medicine women and community leaders. To my right I found an ocean where I could harvest salt but a group of pirates said they owned that part of the sea and wanted me to pay a tribute of 4 mammoth tusks a month to use it. When I refused they fired on my gatherers and I responded by stealth attacking some of their fishermen, at which point they renegotiated a tribute of two tusks a month which I agreed to.

    Then I ran into a rival civilization on my left that worshipped the mammoths and opposed me hunting them. In response I stealth hunted them at night in secret. This led to me accidentally killing some of their priestesses who were wearing mammoth furs and sleeping beside the beasts. My hunters took the bodies to the ocean where the pirates fished, leaving a trail, then dropped the bodies in the water. The pirates pulled up the bodies in their nets and the mammoth worshipping tribe discovered them then, so blamed them for the attacks and went to war with them.

    My civilization joined thhem in the war against the sea pirates, but on my next turn I ran into another rival civilization that was a group of horse riding traderswho did buisness with the sea pirates. Together we decided it would be best if I got rid of the mammoth worshippers, so after agreeing to support them in an attack against the sea pirates I secretly pulled my troops away and snuck them into the mammoth worshipper's palace to kill their leaders, then took over the city while their soldiers fell in battle. I expanded into the new city, then at the end of the game I built a wonder, a channel that went all the way from the sea to a port at the new city.

    I really liked the game and I thought it did a great job of putting player 1 in the role of a leader with difficult decisions, while exploring the tiles felt just like the video game. I also felt like some more moves could be in order, especially a diplomacy or negotiation option. I had a problem thinking of any other way to respond to rival civilizations other than force with the moves I had. That was also a problem because I had just watched City of Life and Death which is about the japanese occupation of nanking, and after seeing all the war atrocities in that movie I felt pretty icky about playing a pretty brutal civilization, (especially when Robert asked me what I would do with the mammoth priestesses after I conquered their civilization. I sent them to live somewhere else.) I kept feeling like if I had more imagination I could have thought of more peaceful solutions but, the moves just weren't there. Not that your game has anything to do with the rape of nanking or anything. I usually would have more fun playing a conniving backstabber, but at the time I wanted some other options.

    It also felt like the game would be fun to play with more players playing different civilizations that run into each other as they develop, like multiple people taking the player one role while player two sort of acted as gm and facilitated their interactions and injected conflict. It's a good game anyways and I would like to play it some more, at least to see what it's like to be player two and to see what happens in stage two.
  • Posted By: J. WaltonFirst six reviews are up.Two invitations, two playtest-and-revises, and two games that need some rethinking to fit the anthology concept.

    Note that if you decide you don't want to be part of the print anthology I'm organizing, that's totally cool and doesn't reflect anything about you or your game. Maybe you just want to do something else! That's what being indie is about, so don't let me tell you what to do with your game. The anthology is just the thing I'm willing to help put together and nobody should feel any pressure to be a part of it if they don't want to or if their game is going in a different direction.
    Posted By: J. WaltonFirst six reviews are up.Two invitations, two playtest-and-revises, and two games that need some rethinking to fit the anthology concept.

    Note that if you decide you don't want to be part of the print anthology I'm organizing, that's totally cool and doesn't reflect anything about you or your game. Maybe you just want to do something else! That's what being indie is about, so don't let me tell you what to do with your game. The anthology is just the thing I'm willing to help put together and nobody should feel any pressure to be a part of it if they don't want to or if their game is going in a different direction.
    As an "invitation extended" member, I'm curious about how you are handling rights ownership. I'm more than happy to make changes for submittal into whatever book project you are working on, but I also want to work forward and make the game bigger and into a real project of it's own. Also, are we still limited to just 2 pages? I've come up with a solitaire variant for the Colossus (Or, I guess, the new license-free name being something like "The Fall of the Titans" or something) game that seems to work pretty well.
  • Orion,

    Thanks for posting that! I'm glad the game was fun. It sounds like you invented some cool details for the different civilisations, which I'm glad to hear. I was working hard to make the fiction relevant to the rules of play, in the hope that it would encourage that kind of spontaneous creation.

    I think a diplomacy move might be a good idea, or maybe a specific rule for dealing with other civilisations (like the "emmissary" screen in Civ). The game definitely needs a "Do nothing" move for when you decide that the problems aren't worth dealing with, and let them run their course.

    The "Stage Two" rules let you invent your own moves to reflect the new political situation. Do you remember where you ended up on the Politics Grid?


    Good points. I can see what you mean that it's less compelling playing with someone else's civilisation. Bear in mind that you still get the same opening: Describe your throne room, describe your council of advisors, your band of warriors. Name your people, etc. Would that help?

    Intersecting Civilisations is an interesting idea. I'm finding it hard to imagine how that would work though, without becoming competitive.
  • Scott: The original guidelines said, "Contributors get free copies and rights to their games forever." So that's still the plan. Basically, I trade you my help in editing and layout for the right to publish a single print run (~100-200 copies) of the anthology, including a version of the first stage of your game. Since you still own the rights to it, you're welcome to do whatever you want with your game, as well, including publishing it yourself further down the road, in whatever form you like. If you have any concerns about any of that, I'm happy to discuss alternate plans. I'm not planning to make money off the anthology, but to publish it at near-cost. If it ends up being a huge success and I want to reprint the anthology, I'd have to come back to the contributors with a new deal, since the current deal is just for a single run, not in perpetuity.

    I'm imagining that, in some cases, editing and polishing the existing drafts will require some expansion beyond the original wordcount. And the layout may, of course, end up being really different, just due to the dimensions and specifications of whatever print format we end up going with. So, no, the anthology versions will not necessarily conform to two pages.

    Let me know if that's unclear or if you have any other questions!
  • Hey, Happy Thanksgiving!

    Also, the next batch of reviews and invitations are up, with about the same mix as the last batch.

    I'm in the midst of consolidating all my online crap together, so if you don't recognize things, that's why. I'll try to get the next batch done on Friday or, at the very least, over the holiday weekend.
  • Thanks for the excellent review, Jonathan. Your blow-by-blow account of your first impressions of the rules will help me when I'm revising the text.

    Great competition, and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of your reviews (esp. for Heavy is the Head and Lost Colony).
  • So for those of us who did not get an invitation, how do you see the revision and resubmittal process going, johnathan? Our goal is to work at our game until it is at a level of quality where it is ready for the book still, right? I'm wondering what level of communication I should expect and be trying for; should I be discussing my new ideas about my game with you along the way, or should I simply send you the revised rules based on your initial review when I finish them? Should I move further discussion with you about my game somewhere else (like email), keep it here, start a new thread, or what? Tell me what you think. I'm mostly worried about you getting bombarded with responses. Thanks!
  • Steve: Glad it was helpful, Steve, though probably not as helpful as the feedback from folks who actually played it!

    Orion: I'm happy to have as much or as little communication as you like. If you know what you want to do with your game, by all means, have at it and let me know when you want me to look at it again. If you want more assistance and suggestions along the way, I'm happy to do that as well. Don't worry about bombarding me with stuff. I'm offering to put this anthology together because I enjoy it!
  • Simon, I love love love your description of Heavy is the Head as being a game that facilitates us having a conversation about politics. As for your other question, I do think it would be interesting to us to swap roles and for me to play 'your' civilisation.

    I feel like I would need more of a sense of ownership, so that it was 'our' civilisation. One way of doing that is what you have in the rules: I narrate the throne room, advisors, etc. To justify this, I'd probably narrate that the ruler had changed to someone new. In our game, for instance, we had just shifted to 'Warlord' status: given that, perhaps one of the young warriors now controlled the warband after your ruler had died in battle.

    I can see two benefits to doing that:

    1. Civ kinda implies that the civilisation you're controlling is run by an immortal leader who's guiding her people through history. Which seems weird to me. So changing rulers solves that.

    2. Changing rulers also gives a sense of time progressing. Time definitely progresses inside a player's five turns: I would say that we probably played out 9 months to 2 years worth of events in your turn. But, depending on how much of an 'epic sweep of history' feel you want Heavy is the Head to have, changing who the fictional ruler is would give us a real incentive to narrate time moving forward in the fiction.

    (The other way to create a sense of ownership over the civilisation would simply be to have Player 2 involved in the initial decisions about what the civilisation is.)

    - - - - - - - - -

    Oh, and one other thing: when we started playing the game, I asked you, "How important is it that we keep track of fictional details?" On reflection, I think it's very important - it actually made the game work when I was actively trying to think about the ramifications of your decisions and the implications of the antagonistic forces I'd introduced ... for example, the increasing discontent of the youthful warriors in your civilisation, or my decision that the cities you'd raided off the edge of the map would retaliate.
  • Steve,

    Changing rulers: Definitely. The text isn't explicit about it, but it sphould be. It's a new era, with new problems and new opportunities. It's one of the reasons I think I might need to be more explicit about the relationship between turns and in-game time. "Epic sweep of history" is the scope, rather than "day-to-day minutiae". The next player's turn could be 50 or 100 years after the previous.

    Interesting about Player Two being more involved in creating the culture. I feel like in many ways you were quite involved in creating the culture. But a few concrete choices at the start might enhance that. "Player Two: Describe the gods these people worship, describe the lands surrounding their village, describe their means of subsistence." Or something like that?

    Oh! Player One needs a "describe your treasure room and its stockpile of wealth" step, so that when you're engaging in public works you can be specific about what you're spending, rather than nebulous resources.

    Keeping track of fictional details is important. I'd like to think that there's not more detail than you can easily hold in your head or jot down on the map. But yeah, it's important to remember details about the threats and the civilisations resources.
  • We playtested Return to Maniac Mansion last night. It was fun, though it never quite got running on all cylinders. Six players is almost certainly too many for the game (3-4 might be ideal) and verb distribution may get reworked. More solid rules for cutscenes and new rooms definitely are needed, though I don't have any idea what would look like.
  • edited November 2011
    Awesome, Nick! I'm excited you played it and are going to make some revisions. I have a deep love for some of the classic LucasArts point-and-click games that MM inspired (Sam and Max Hit the Road! Day of the Tentacle!).
  • As I revise, should I still worry about sticking to the initial challenge's restrictions (two pages, focused on Stage One, etc.) The revision I have in mind give more solid structures for later rooms of the house and how the rest of the game goes.
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