12 October, 2015

My #Threeforged Debrief (Part 1 - Design)

Now that the winner has been announced (congratulations to 15131 - Field Work), I can start talking in more detail about my Threeforged Journey.

I was involved in 3 games, two of them made it to completion.

I'll describe my thoughts through the various design stages in this post, and my next post will be more of a reflection on the metacontest (the actual "ThreeForged" procedure, and the review community that developed).

Stage 1 - 1520 (unfinished)

I specifically did here one of the things we were told not to do. I entered one of my white whales in the hope that other people's input might provide some ideas about where to progress.

I've discussed the idea of "Apocalypse Diaries" before. The idea is a self moderated game where you weave the tale of a lone individual whose world is crumbling around them. This uses an oracle format to provide twists to the narrative, and it plays out in three parts... 

First, the everyday world, wher the player goes through one oracle to help define the backstory of their character and the relationships important to them over the course of a couple of days. 

Second, the Apocalypse. This may occur in a single day, or it may occur over a number of days as the character's life crumbles around them. The original oracle is partially replaced by new potential results. For some events the character's life seems normal, but for other parts of their life things get more surreal and dangerous. They lose friends, they lose their house, they start to use up their possessions.

Third, the post apocalypse. The entirety of the oracle is replaced by a new oracle. In this stage of the game, the character tries to use everything they've accumulated in the first two stages to remain alive as long as possible.

Each day a single significant event occurs... Each day the player writes in a physical diary about the unfolding story of this character.

I saw a whole lot of interesting components to add to this when I did my reviews of this year's Game Chef entries... I tried to add some of these concepts into the game, but just didn't have the word count to get my full ideas across. 

I'm sure that whoever got my entry in round two saw a glorious trainwreck, and simply had no idea what to do with it.

Stage 2 - 1581 (finished as "Zen Flashback Battle Zero")

Thankyou, Jeff Ricks, for giving me such a fun toolkit to work with.

If I consider the parts you gave me to be a Lego kit, I tried to use a lot of the pieces, and I tried to keep the overall shape of the completed kit, but there were certainly some gaps and a few areas where I thought I knew of a more elegant solution. I like to think of it like this...

I was handed a partially assembled kit-bashed 4wd dune buggy. It's a lean machine that needs a bit more work, it has a general purpose that can be a lot of fun, but even when the partial machine is finished with the parts given, I wouldn't drive it on the road. I threw away some of the parts that didn't see the direction I saw things going... I modified the suspension, pulled off the bullbar, tuned the engine, added proper doors and windows, generally made it street legal but still a tough 4wd capable of taking to the rubble and dirt. I turned it into a Batmobile, but didn't paint it or install weapons. I tried to give some instructions for how to finish it off, applied weapon mounts, scribbled paint details over the shell, then passed it on.

Thankyou, Kurt Dankmyer, for finishing off the project in the way that you did.

I wanted to add in some play examples, and that was great. I wanted to add in the idea of formatting the various cards used in play, perhaps 8 to a page (in pocketmod format), or 9 to a page (in three rows of 3), just to make the game a bit more accessible to those who might be reviewing it. But as it was, I went above my word count limit, and was trying to pare back as much as possible...which meant instructions like this got left out.

Kurt took my proto-Batmobile and finished it off. He left it predominantly black, but added some red to it, and instead of bat logos he added a bird motif. It's now an awesome crime fighting vehicle for Nightwing to confront the villains of Gotham, but not quite the Batmobile I had in mind.

I'm happy with the way the game has turned out, but I just want to "paint it black", add the modifications that I originally envisioned (as well as taking a lot of the great work done by Kurt), then release it into the wild.

We'll see how that goes.

Stage 3 - 1530 (finished as "Q")

I'm sorry.

I recieved this from Samuel Briggson (stage 1) and Josh Crowe (stage 2). The state in which I recieved it was more of an unpolished gem. It didn't particularly look like much, but it looked like with a bit of work I might be able to turn it into the kind of game I'd like to play. 

Now I've looked at the first stage for this game ("A Bard's Tale") and the transformations that were applied to it to achieve the second stage ("Quiet Night"), I'd actually be really interested in a refined incarnation of the first version. 

I wanted to make the final product look like a document from the setting, with a scrawled handwritten font, burnt parchment backgrounds, I wanted to fix grammar, to stramline the rules and make them more coherent in regard to the setting. I would have wanted to spend hours on this, but time just got away from me. I did what I could on the final night, then had computer issues... Leading to a half missing title, a crappy background watermark, a font that didn't transfer across and not enough time to fix things up. I should have gone through all this a couple of nights before, then had a second look a few hours before sending it in (just in case there were issues).

I'm really annoyed that I hamstrung this entries chance at getting to the finals. But based on the review process, I don't think it would have gotten far anyway. The kind of game I was aiming for just wasn't the kind of game that reviewers were interested in. I think my second game was in this situation a bit too.

Everyone wants their games to do well, and I really thought my second round entry might be different enough to stand out...but it seemed to stand out in such a way that people just didn't know what to make of it. I honestly didn't expect much from "1530 - Q" but that falls on me. 

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