26 June, 2015

Game Chef Review 11: Driven to Tears by wraith808

Driven to Tears

Ingredients: 10 [Dragonfly (3), then here's where it breaks the marking rubric a bit, 2 points each for Stillness, Dream and Abandon...hell, I'll just give it the 10 points].
All of the ingredients play a part in this design, and while the author claims that the dragonfly is the central concept representing the ships jumping out to alien worlds, I feel that this is actually the weakest of the ingredients because the ships could have been named anything. I could have given the dragonfly 1 point, and everything else 3 points because those other elements are elegantly linked into the scene resolution system. Either way it's still 10 points.

Theme: 4
This design straddles two camps of gamer mainstream, in an interesting way, but it's still a way that I've seen before at many conventions. It has the elements of establishing story and role through it's development of characters, and it has the elements of game in pitting two sides against one another. It's pushing some boundaries and producing some new ideas, but is it enough to really be aiming at "a different audience"... I'm not sure.

Would I play this?: 6
I'd give this a go. I'd twist it a bit though, maybe playing a two session event at a roleplaying convention. In the first session I might even blend it with a game of Dragonfly 3RROR, where the ship and it's crew are undertaking the voyage to a mysterious new world (finishing up with the bit where a new world is created). Then for the second session we'd gather together two or three of the groups who undertook that voyage in the first session, we'd sit in a circle with 15 participants divided along factional lines, or run it as an Aussie Freeform. The whole thing would tell a more grand and epic tale. But I could also see it being played straight, perhaps setting up the history for a sci-fi campaign. I'm getting all sorts of ideas from looking at this.

Completeness: 7
There's a lot to this design, but does that actually make it complete? In this case, there's certainly enough to get the game working, but  think it really would have benefited from a character sheet for the AI, and a planetary detail sheet (both of which have various numbers to keep track of). Maybe name badges for the delegates in various roles, especially since the players might be portraying a variety of different individuals over the course of play. A few play examples wouldn't have gone astray either. These issues aren't insurmountable, and probably would have been fixed if the author had spent the whole contest period working on the design, rather than just the second half.

Innovation: 8
I like the idea of the spin dice. It's similar to several die reading mechanisms I've encountered over the last couple of years (like the advantages and disadvantages in D&D5), but it's different enough that I can say it really feels innovative and fresh. I haven't specifically seen this before and I could see it being adapted into other games quite easily. I like the idea of the competing teams or roleplayers, and haven't seen this often in an RPG (it's not new, but it's uncommon). I also think it's interesting to have the basic GM/Arbiter role portrayed in the game world as the terraforming AI. A few novel ideas in amongst the mix of standard stuff, presented in a way that looks more like a research paper than a game.

Output Quality: 6 [Language (3), Layout (2), Imagery (0) +1 Bonus for having references]  
The language is fine, the layout is decent, with titles, line breaks and 1.5 line spacing like all the academic work I've been doing recently. Nothing notably bad about it, but generally pretty ordinary. Some images would have spiced it up and made reading a bit more easy. But as I've said previously, that's just a personal preference.

Overall: 72% Credit [30+8+6+14+8+6]
This is pretty standard gaming fare, but it's got some great innovations in it that I could easily see ported across to other gaming designs. A few play examples, and maybe some more background fluff or imagery might make the whole thing a bit more readable, but on the whole this is a pretty solid effort for something that was basically started once the contest was already half over.
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