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(see previous post on test-driving story games.)

So, starting with the one we didn't finish:  Faust & Friends, by Mendel Schmiedekamp.  Schmiedekamp writes chewy game theory articles and comes out with at least one game a year that seems designed to highlight some particular aspect of gameplay/game design.  This one's clearly about relationships.

my experience playing the game )
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Lately I've been hanging out with a couple of people from the Story Games Seattle meetup & we've been test-driving story games. Thanks to yearly events like GameChef, the landscape of free titles in indie gaming is strewn with titles in their first revision, with only a handful of playtests under their belt. Some of these games go on to do great things, but most of them languish. (the titles available for sale are sometimes higher-quality, but there are no guarantees!)

I'm not temperamentally suited to writing my own games. When I'm engaged in a creative endeavor, I subconsciously expect the step where I show other people what I'm working on to be at the *end*. That's not a good match for, y'know, playtesting? I find I lose interest right around the same time everybody else does (and maybe for the same reason). I get maybe one more version past the first round of playtesting, and then I'm bored. So I can't fault all those v0.1 or 0.2 games out there -- I do the same thing, except I'm too shy to put my efforts up on the internet.  I think I'm going to enjoy playing a bunch of other peoples' unedited works than I would creating my own. 

I'd like to write up a bit about my thoughts on the games we've played -- at the very least, now that we're past three, I keep finding myself missing one whenever I try to make a list of what we've played so far. These commentaries may end up pretty shallow -- for one, they're solely from my perspective. I may see if I can get my co-conspirators to weigh in, but this is primarily an exercise in keeping my thoughts organized.

Anyway, watch this space. No, I'm serious this time, I'm actually going to post something!

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(continued from the previous post).

And with that, they move on to the next letter: Henry Clarkson writes because his wife, Claire, has been thrown into prison for stealing from her employer. The letter is sparse with setting details, so the players do a quick scene-setting: Claire's employer is "Death By Chocolate," a candy factory, and Dulac Penitentiary is made entirely of sweets.after arriving... )
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Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple is a slapstick fantasy storytelling game. Players each control a "pilgrim" with a particular talent for getting in trouble. The pilgrims travel across a silly universe, helping people who'd been desperate enough to write to the Flying Temple to ask for help. The gameplay results in an actual written story (though rather shorn of detail, as we played it), which I've transcribed here with varying degrees of fidelity.

Cast of Characters:

  • Pilgrim Dreamy Thumb (Laura), who gets into trouble by daydreaming, and helps people by causing plants to grow or follow her around.
  • Pilgrim Enthusiastic Spike (Cheryl), who gets into trouble by overdoing things, and helps people by speaking sharply.
  • Pilgrim Tender Breeze (Martin), who gets into trouble with her need to please everybody, and helps people by moving quite rapidly.
  • Pilgrim Warm Python (Dave), who gets into trouble by forming fast friendships with bad people, and helps people by holding tightly & never letting go.

The Pilgrims set out from the Temple to answer a plea for help sent by one Hazel Harrington, chief mechanic of an amusement park who's just contracted to become the universe's first "Cabbage-Friendly" park ... only to have the Coleslaw Front threaten retaliatory mayhem.
transcript follows. )
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This morning four-year-old Lila and I played two games of "Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple" with her imaginary friend, Salamander. (Salamander has been Lila's chief imaginary friend for several years, now; it's happy coincidence that her name was so appropriate for this game.)

For those of you unfamiliar with the game, it's "a slapstick fantasy storytelling game about helping people and getting into a universe of open, endless skies. Many tiny worlds orbit around the Flying Temple in the center of the universe." There's a detailed description of play here if you want an explanation of how we did what we ended up doing. We ran two ten-target-word stories (most of the stories have twice that many targets), and if the stories we created sound a lot like the sort of story a preschooler would tell...that may say more about the players than about the game. :)

I played "Pilgrim Muddy Squirrel," who gets into trouble by making messes, and helps people by collecting things. Lila played "Pilgrim Bopping Catcher," who gets into trouble by hitting things and helps people by catching things. Salamander played "Pilgrim Screaming Salamander," who gets into trouble by being too loud, and helps people by playing with fire. Lila picked her and Salamander's names with a little prompting from me -- mostly describing how she wanted them to work, and giving yea or nay to my suggestions as to the names.Read more... )


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