Archive for July 29th, 2009

Murderland Reviews: Pie 20

2009 Jul 29

20. Mark Villianatos – Carrion

Premise: An educational game that can best be described as “musical chairs + smallpox,” set during the smallpox epidemics of post-contact North America.

Thoughts: I really like that Mark wrote a “serious game” for a design contest, something that we unfortunately don’t really see very much. I would have to see the game played to know if there are any issues with the mechanics or whether everyone would die in two rounds (maybe that’s the point?). My chief concern is how complex and confusing the mechanics are for determining who contracts smallpox. You count how many smallpox tokens you have, then add one if you are near an infected person, subtract one if you are alone, and then add one for a number of different circumstances… all in your head, without talking about the calculation and with, hopefully, no cheating (which might make it harder to play this game with youth). It seems like, with that mechanic, Mark might be trying to model a few too many things all at once — basically, all the different ways you might be more susceptible to smallpox infection. I would suggest, maybe, making a little printed card for playing the game, which people pick up and then use to secretly tally their infectedness each round. With that small addition, I think the game would flow really well and you could even use it to jot down a bit of info about the Fur and Crow tokens.

Conclusion: Browned, but just needs a little tally card to be baked.

Geiger Gamma Outline

2009 Jul 29

This is inspired by conversations with Ping, Ben Robbins, and John Harper last night. If you’ve played a previous version of the game, you might be able to play the Gamma version with just this list, even though Gamma doesn’t exist yet :) In any case, when we eventually get together to play / playtest Geiger — since all of us are invested in having the game finished relatively soon — we’ll probably work from an outline something like this.

01. Explain the Basics
02. Pick a “Ship” (Setting) and “Crew” (Why are the characters there?)
03. Pick a Menace (only generally)
04. Pick a Director
05. Brainstorm Character Archetypes (at least 2x # players)
06. Pick a Friction / “Signal” (Why is shit about to go down, w/o menace?)
07. Brainstorm Character Goals (= # players?, write on separate sheet, unassigned)
08. Pick Potential Survivors (slightly more than # players)
09. Cast the Survivors (and others, if you like)
10. Pick Character Names
11. Pick Survival Dice
12. Pick Initial Advantage Dice
13. Run Trailer
14. Pick Working Title
15. Explain the Director’s Role
16. Run Prelude
17. Explain Menace Dice
18. Assign Initial Menace Die
19. Explain Confrontations (including the Final Confrontation)
20. Explain Conditions (and adjust if necessary)
21. Explain Gaining Advantage Dice
22. Explain Gaining Survival Dice
23. Explain Achieving Goals
24. Run the Game
25. Explain and Run Epilogues

Also, if folks haven’t seen Jake Richmond’s new game, Ocean, you should check it out. It seems very similar to Geiger Counter in many respects — though I haven’t read it yet — but is also doing something a bit different, since the main characters have amnesia. It’s like Geiger + Penny for My Thoughts / PsiRun or something. As evidenced by Jake also working on the 16-bit-inspired Magical Land of Yeld, we’re clearly sharing some sort of unintentional hivemind.