Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Kapcon 2

Inspectres. I won’t try to summarise the madness. Let’s just say that final mission, from The City to the Lightning-King’s Castle … and finally coming to rest on a beach in Mexico,was my favourite game of InSpectres ever. It’s also inspired me with two thoughts:

1) Play a hard core, grim in tone series of missions.
2) Our Tuesday night group should play three or four or five game-nights in a row of our ongoing Inspectres Wellington game. Let’s see what this puppy can do.

Then it was time to wrap up and hang out with Gino while we looked at all the amazing costumes. I thought Debz’ dress was awesome, while the Invisible Man seemed like the biggest crowd pleaser. I also regreat not seeing Nick Pitt in his Puck-horns.

I thought might get a good night sleep by not going to the LARP, and but instead Helen and Sean came round and we had a great time hanging out, drinking wine. I decided to get up early and do my prep – but it all went horribly wrong & I ended up having to sprint to the convention in order to make it to the morning presentations.

The second session of Lucky Jones turned into American Pie-meets-24. We had sleazy sex comedy coupled with an increasingly serious work situation that eventually involved the FBI and terrorists. We only got through one episode that session - and it was during those 3 hours that I finally started to get some understanding of what was and wasn't working with my game.

Things that surprised me:

- Lucky Jones is so much about the ephemeral moments of comedy. The system seems to encourage players to make jokes, introduce zany characters or one-liners & then to move on.

- There is an intuitive continuity to episodes - even while timelines were being stretched hard, they never broke. For instance, one player had a plot set over one night while another player's plot spanned a couple of weeks. Through judicious flashbacks and weavings, everything seemed to make sense. In fact, when things got quite tricky to connect, the whole table got together and collaborated to figure out a way to make it work.

- There was a fantastic moment when someone broke the PG-rating we were (implicitly) creating, another person yelled "Cut!", there was a little bit of discussion as if we were on the set of the sitcom while it was being shot and then I yelled "Take 2 " and we were back in the game.

- Even though the rules were a bit broken, I'm now convinced there's a really fun game in here.

There's an AP thread about it at the Forge.

In terms of rewrites, I found the second session extremely valuable. During that first game, I was just trying to wrap my head around presenting the rules and then watching it play. In the second session I was able to step back & ask myself questions about what was working or not. In fact, about halfway through that session, gameplay kind of disintegrated for a while as we actually analysed the process & pacing that Lucky Jones was creating.

Biggest discoveries:

The game takes too long to play. Ideally, I'd like there to be two episodes in a session with the first episode coming in somewhere between 45 to 90 minutes. Right now it's more like two to three hours. Restructuring the way you swap between tracks should go a long way to fixing that.

However, I have also discovered that there could be a long-term reward cycle (in the form of Penalties) operating in the game. Penalties are earned by failing to get what you want by the end of an episode. If I adjust how Penalties are used, so that you can either use it on yourself (giving yourself a slight disadvantage) or pass it to another person (giving yourself a slight advantage), then I think this will create a Fruitful Void.

That's the first time I've ever been able to sense what a Fruitful Void would feel like, so I'm quite excited! Basically, I think that being able to trade Penalties between players will force them to ask the implicit question "What sort of family are we?" Are they a group of individuals who'll crap on the people around them for some medium-term gain or will they suck it in and make sacrifices for each other?


I like that.

… Next Post: Universalis, a conversation with Morgue and Mike, prizegiving.

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