Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Game Chef 2010 - First Impressions

So I'm going through all the games that were submitted, before the final cut and I'm going to give some quick, twitter thoughts in regards to the ones that I've managed to read. There are over 50 of them so anything more than 140 characters is going to give me a headache. Some of them have even been up on Twitter, imagine that.

Note, they aren't in the same order as they were on the Game Chef page.

1. Pub Crawl by Samuel Briggson

The Good: Pub Crawl looked like a lot of fun. Totally something i'd want to play which I didn't think when I first looked at it.
The Bad: Fudge dice? What's with all the Fudge Dice everywhere? Did Grey Ghost bribe everyone and I didn't get the memo?
The Other: A little like Penny for My Thoughts, with booze and many more stories being told about what happened.

Would I play this? Most certainly.

2. nowhere ROAD by Jamie Firstrom and Mark Nau (black/white stone mechanic)

The Good: Yay open design? Actually the map bit is really nifty and I like the idea of the road movie.
The Bad: Dear nowhere ROAD. Can we drop the self congratulated tone in the writing, please? It doesn't add to the game and looks wankerish. Kthksbai!
The Other: Totally use the other people choose your real need, what you actually want to learn from the road trip. Really nice idea.

Would I play this? i'd like to like it, but the writing kept throwing me off. I know its a draft, but it kept pulling me out.

3. The Chaos Lords and the Desert of Death by David Best

The Good: Epic Death Scenes? Robotic Abraham Lincolns? High powered ridiculousness? Yes please!
The Bad: A d30? Really? Roll percentile and reroll 70% of the time if you don't have a d30? Um ... maybe not
The Other: Keeping the Epic Death Scene. Death will not make it past us!
The Other 2: Excellent use of Keeton. folks will be proud! ^_^

Would I play this? Yeeeeees? I'd just take a d6 and go 1=0, 2-3=1, 4-5=2, 6=3 and avoid the many, many rerolls but I so want to play Metal Jack Black taking on Death.

4. Cosmic Journey by Krista White

The Good: It is full of awesome. From concept, to execution to the charitable donation request on the front. One Great Rock Show to Save the Universe.
The Bad: Lots of little fiddly bits, like printing lots of cards. On the plus side there are instructions on use.
The Other: I think that @kristaewhite had a darned good chance at winning #gamechef and I'm only five pages in.

Would I play this? Yes. Very Yes. You should to. Any way you want it. That's the way you need it. Any way you want it.

5. Going Home: an Urban Power Fantasy by Mikael Andersson

The Good: You weren't kidding when you said it's Falling Down the RPG. Totally got flashbacks of being a kid watching this.
The Actual Good: I like that the scenes are driven by asking questions, and that your antagonist's goal is to push you towards answering it.
The Bad: A little on the confusing side. I think I'll need to read it again ... again. That way I can make sure I got it.
The Other: It always heartens me when people try to address moments of privilege in RPG books, we need more of it, and kudos for throwing possible problematic stuff in there.

Would I play it? Yes, but right now only with Mikael. Since he doesn't live too far that's not that hard for me.
Would I play it 2?I think it would be rather epic.

6. In Skin City You Need An Edge by David Wendt / Doc Blue

The Good: Really? Crosswords? That's gotta by one of the niftier mechanics out there. Who is going to make the Sudoku RPG?
The Bad: Seems that with high rolls you could get less bad things, maybe I'm just an asshole when it come to resources.
The Other:I will be amazed at the map mechanic for the rest of the month.

Would I play it?Totally, it seems like something you can get done in a couple of hours if you're good at dealing with words.

7. Danger Mountain by Jason Morningstar

First thought: Unrelated to the game, self-discovery seems to be the sub-theme this year.
Second thought: It seems that secret stuff is also coming up again. It's an interesting idea.

The good: Looks like an amazing good time. Easy to pick up, easy to play, great stories told.
The bad: I also like it when it was called Fiasco. Very, very similar play feel except that it's got more fixed characters and questions
The other: This is still awesome and is going to certainly be in the running for best game to play.

Would I play it? Yes please. Several times in fact.

8. Paths of the Resolute by Jonathan Janssen

First Thought: I almost did the same thing, where I had different bonuses be used for different parts, but reading this makes me glad I didn't.
The Good: I love the tatoo idea, where you put stuff on the character sheet that says what you believe in. It's got a great feel to it.
The Bad: It's really a game about setting rather than people. The cool part is the traps and how you get past them.
The Other: Note to self and others. Don't do funky background colours, it makes it a pain to print out.

Would I play it? Probably at least once. I'd have to see afterwards what it was like.

9. The 7 Symbols of San Rio by Joe Jeskiewicz / Artexercise

The Good: Two pages. Good job at condensing it down!
The Bad: Maybe a little too good. It's kind of dense and a little confusing.
The Other: The text box that says, "This game is incomplete. I needs you to fill in the blanks." Makes me say, "certainly it feels like it."

Would I play it? No. It looks like it takes a lot of work that I don't particularly want to do at this point in time. Maybe if I was really in the mood to design a game around a game while in the midst of playing the game.

There are the first nine, only lots more to go.


Mikael Andersson said...

Thanks for reading my game (Going Home), Jonathan! I think you were the first, and maybe the only one, that's done that. :)

I'm the first to admit that the game text is confusing, especially the contest resolution parts. Those parts needs a good couple of editing passes and several examples to make sense of. It's all clear to me, of course, and I assure you that regular contests are straightforward in play. Confrontations between travellers are trickier. I struggled to keep it consistent but failed - confrontations really need to feature different mechanics in order to drive home the point of the game and make outcomes less predictable.

Regarding addressing privilege, I'm assuming you're referring to the AWM comments towards the end of the text? I'm maybe hyper-sensitive after other Game Chefs, but when I write a game about real people in real situations, it's very difficult for me to write from any other perspective than my own. At least now I'm conscious that I do so, so rather than attempting to strive for ultra-inclusiveness I try to include caveats to illustrate that I've thought of these implications, and you the reader should too. To be honest, the game (as well as Falling Down), should feature racism, misogyny, narrow-mindedness, class issues, and rage. It just shouldn't revel in them.

Falling Down has been likened to a litmus test for AWMs and I think it's true. People who love the film often identify and agree with D-Fens, cheering him on, ignoring the last part of the movie where we see him as a fundamentally sympathetic but ultimately destructively insane person prone to knee-jerk reactions against everything no matter how discordant with his previous actions and belief system. I wanted to make sure that type of person would be appropriately challenged by the game and the other participants to revisit their beliefs, rather than making it a go-to game for living out a pointless power fantasy.

I'm absolutely game to play both my game and yours at some point. I need to visit Toronto and its gaming community more often.

Dave said...

Thanks for reading my game (The Chaos Lords and the Desert of Death). I'm already making notes for the revised edition, and I appreciate the comments.

I cringed a bit at not having a decent back up for a d30 (no, I don't have any either. :)), but I wanted something to match the curve of the way the d30 is read. The only way to match the distribution that I could think of at the time was d100. I'll have to think harder about it.

I will definitely be replacing Grundar the Viking Warchief with Grundar the Heavy Metal Star at some point in the future. The Heavy Metal Jack Black feel is exactly the vibe I was going for. Not including a sample character like that is a massive oversight.

Thanks again,


Unknown said...

@Lachek - Totally what I was talking about when you said "Hey, possible privilege moment." By bringing things up, like the fact that Falling Down is the litmus test for AWM, you draw attention to the fact that you're being conscious about some of the problems that the game might have.

It's when people don't show that they're being conscious is where I have a problem. For instance, I love what you said here "To be honest, the game (as well as Falling Down), should feature racism, misogyny, narrow-mindedness, class issues, and rage. It just shouldn't revel in them."

Yes, we totally have to play stuff more often than at Hammercon and at Fan Expo. Besides, if they both make the cut then we'll need people to play games.


GRUNDAR MAKES METAL! *cue air guitar*

Seriously, I did love the way the game had successes and was over the top. Just ... d30 ... *shudder*

pstmdrn said...

Thanks for the critique! I'll have to think about layout better. I was trying to use colors to evoke that 'deserty' feel. I never thought about how it might print!

Jamie said...

Welp, you and J. Walton both were rubbed the wrong way by my that's 100% of readers surveyed. I can see how people would take the "This is what makes nowhere Road different" line the wrong way - really I was just trying to say with that line that it was the *only* thing that made it different, and everything else was theft. Mind if I ask if there were other specific bits that bugged you?

Thanks for reading it!

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