VORPS, a web-based system for writing and playing story games -- looking for feedback and GMs!

edited October 2012 in Directed Promotion
Hi everyone --

I'm a noob around these parts, having just discovered S-G via a link on John Harper's site. I've been working on a project that I think you all might find interesting, and I'd love to get your feedback. Hope I've chosen the right category here. (I was going to post to Praxis but it looks largely inactive...?)

My project is a web-based system for writing and playing story-driven games. It's light on rules and it's time-shifted, so that everyone can play at their own pace. I call it VORPS (lulz?), which maybe stands for Virtual Online Roleplaying System.

I set out to create VORPS because I missed the RPGs I used to play with friends many years ago (AD&D and Champions, and a little GURPS). But in the process of creating VORPS I think I ended up with something different. I'm not even sure it's an RPG. I think it is much closer to a "story game", as the term is used on these forums. It does have some elements of classic RPGs (health points, levels, and classes) but they're mostly there to provide just enough structure to drive player behavior.

VORPS is almost like a blog with simple game mechanics. It also has the concept of "sourcebooks", which are reusable, structured documents that define a setting and all of its components (character classes, items, history, GM guidelines, etc). Sourcebooks can be shared with other people, who can use them to run their own games and tell their own stories.

Here's an example game in progress -- one of the alpha test campaigns I'm running with some friends. (It's been going on for a few months so it might be easier to follow the story if you hit the "switch to book view" link to switch the game to chronological order.)

http://myvoiceismypassport.vorps.com/game/2

And here is the "sourcebook" that the campaign is based on:

http://myvoiceismypassport.vorps.com/sourcebook/1

(Those are special links that will let you poke around without a login and pretend that you're the GM.)

VORPS is still in an alpha state, but everything works. I would hugely appreciate any feedback on the idea or its execution!

I'm also looking for GMs to run campaigns, as well as for people who want to try writing a sourcebook. Maybe you've had an idea for a campaign setting or a game design rattling around in your head but haven't had the time to write it up or the means to publish it for others to use. I *think* VORPS could be for you. If any of the above sounds interesting, whisper me your name and email address and I'll create you an account!

Thanks for listening, everybody. I'm looking forward to being a part of this community.

Stephen Hood
@stlhood

Comments

  • Oh my. This sounds so much like something I've wanted for ages, that I'm almost afraid to go look...
  • Don't be afraid...

    image
  • edited October 2012
    It looks cool! I think the main difference from my vision is that I wanted a GM-less system (mostly inspired by Universalis).

    Things I'd like to see: A way to track NPCs (extending the cast of characters beyond the "Players" list.) Explicit demarcation of scenes.

    What happens if a player makes a move that the GM decides couldn't happen as written? Can the GM undo the move or does s/he just add a note stating "Well, it didn't happen quite like that…" and describing what did happen?

    How does one get invited to the private testing? ;-) I think I could dig up a few friends to play with me.
  • edited October 2012
    It looks cool! I think the main difference from my vision is that I wanted a GM-less system (mostly inspired by Universalis).
    Thanks! I've tinkered with the idea of making it GM-less, but so far I've had the most success by having one "player" be responsible for the story's integrity, and the other "players" being responsible for its characters.
    Things I'd like to see: A way to track NPCs (extending the cast of characters beyond the "Players" list.) Explicit demarcation of scenes.
    Cool, NPCs are on my to-do list! I'll move it up in priority. Demarcation of scenes is very interesting. I am experimenting with the concept of "chapters" and "acts", which might also be a good way to divide up a campaign into multiple adventures or sessions (to use the metaphor of in-person RPG play).
    What happens if a player makes a move that the GM decides couldn't happen as written? Can the GM undo the move or does s/he just add a note stating "Well, it didn't happen quite like that…" and describing what did happen?
    There is a comment system that everyone can use at all times. If the GM does not accept the player's move, they can tell them so, and the player can edit it -- the old move remains but is "struck-out" so you can follow the conversation historically. You'll see some examples of that in the example game that I gave the link for. The game doesn't advance until the GM starts the next turn, so they ultimately can control what is and is not allowed.
    How does one get invited to the private testing? ;-) I think I could dig up a few friends to play with me.
    That would be awesome, thank you. Just whisper me your name and your email address and I'll create you an account with GM privileges. When you create a game, VORPS takes care of the whole process inviting your players, getting them signed-up, and creating their characters!

    Thanks again for the feedback!
  • Hey! I'm gonna dish for a bit about what I plan to do with this cool site.

    Because I'm a subversive sort of guy, I'm going to run a game styled after weird, sitcom-style cartoons in the vein of Regular Show and Adventure time (with the sourcebook entitled "Best Bros"). There's a lot of tension there because it's clearly not the style of game the creator had intended - all of the more fun!

    First up, since physical health doesn't matter all that much, I'm going to reinterpret it as Luck - how much the universe favors you as of the moment. As Luck dwindles, the situation gets crazier and the stakes get higher until you hit HP 0 and...well, I don't know yet.

    Now, characters. Since the characters can be pretty much anything from a vampire to a talking raccoon, classes instead are general character type. There's The Nice Guy, The Dick, The Smart One, and the Weirdo.

    Finally, as the actual setting will be pretty much defined by the players during play, the content of the sourcebook will mostly just provide advice on getting the tone right, and hitting the right groove for narrating an episode.

    I hope I'm not being a bad alpha tester by doing something the game was probably not intended for, but I think it's important to test the system's limits.
  • Hey! I'm gonna dish for a bit about what I plan to do with this cool site.

    Because I'm a subversive sort of guy, I'm going to run a game styled after weird, sitcom-style cartoons in the vein of Regular Show and Adventure time (with the sourcebook entitled "Best Bros"). There's a lot of tension there because it's clearly not the style of game the creator had intended - all of the more fun!
    That sounds awesome, go for it! I am actually trying to make VORPS as genre- and style-neutral as possible, so I welcome your experiment. Subvert away!
    First up, since physical health doesn't matter all that much, I'm going to reinterpret it as Luck - how much the universe favors you as of the moment. As Luck dwindles, the situation gets crazier and the stakes get higher until you hit HP 0 and...well, I don't know yet.
    That's really interesting. Although HP and PP do tie into the game mechanics in specific ways (when you hit 0 HP you become unconscious, and you can't use your class' Talent if you don't have enough PP) it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. Perhaps you (the sourcebook author) should be able to name these HP points whatever you want them to be called.
    Now, characters. Since the characters can be pretty much anything from a vampire to a talking raccoon, classes instead are general character type. There's The Nice Guy, The Dick, The Smart One, and the Weirdo.

    Finally, as the actual setting will be pretty much defined by the players during play, the content of the sourcebook will mostly just provide advice on getting the tone right, and hitting the right groove for narrating an episode.

    I hope I'm not being a bad alpha tester by doing something the game was probably not intended for, but I think it's important to test the system's limits.
    Not at all, I'm glad you're pushing the envelope. Thanks for trying your ideas out on VORPS!
  • YOU MAKE ME WISH I COULD CODE GOOD

    (this is seriously fucking awesome)
  • YOU MAKE ME WISH I COULD CODE GOOD

    (this is seriously fucking awesome)
    Heh, thanks! I actually *don't* code all that good. I'm just really frelling determined.
  • Heh, the game looks a lot like the MSPaint Adventures/Homestuck format.

    It also is a game totally calibrated from the get go for play by post, I've never heard of that before. I'm kinda isolated right now and this would be perfect to play with all my scattered friends.
  • edited October 2012
    Heh, the game looks a lot like the MSPaint Adventures/Homestuck format.

    It also is a game totally calibrated from the get go for play by post, I've never heard of that before. I'm kinda isolated right now and this would be perfect to play with all my scattered friends.
    Playing with scattered friends is a key goal of this thing!

    I think play-by-post is probably the closest thing to what VORPS is right now, although I also think that VORPS has more structure and reusability built-into it. That should make it more accessible, which is another goal of the project. We love these games and yet not enough people get to play them!
  • I actually *don't* code all that good. I'm just really frelling determined.
    Determination trumps l33t sk1llz! (Or rather, your Determined aspect gave you a +2 to making this happen.) I code pretty good but I've never gotten around to starting something like this. What language/framework is it written in?
  • edited October 2012
    Determination trumps l33t sk1llz! (Or rather, your Determined aspect gave you a +2 to making this happen.) I code pretty good but I've never gotten around to starting something like this. What language/framework is it written in?
    It's a Rails app running on Heroku with S3 for image storage and Sendgrid for email notifications. Rails has its pros and cons but it's the framework I know the best, and I wanted to make quick progress on the idea, so there you have it. Heroku is great for offloading sysadmin/config/maintenance overhead, at least for early-stage projects. I may migrate to EC2 as VORPS grows, we'll see.
  • Oops, VORPS was down for a little bit due to some derp-ness on my part. It looked like some folks were trying to take a look at the time. It's all fixed now, so if you saw an error earlier please try again. Thanks for looking!
  • Is this still alive? I want to try it but the link is dead.
  • edited September 2016
    It is! It has gone through many iterations (and a Kickstarter campaign) and is now known as Storium.
  • It is! It has gone through many iterations (and a Kickstarter campaign) and is now known as Storium.
    Wow, this looks really cool. I like play-by-post and this is a more structured approach that looks very interesting. Will try this!
  • There have been quite a few threads about Storium on Story-Games. Check them out!
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