Monday, February 21, 2011

Movie Mashup 2011 - Review - Fist Full of Darkness

Since I'm involved in a contest that doesn't end until June 1st, 2011, I figured that I would do what I did with Game Chef and do reviews for people who have put forth entries into the Movie Mashup 24 hour RPG competition. I put my game up already, but since I'm not really going to review my own stuff, I'd rather get feedback from other people, I turn my attention to those the other contestants.

I'm doing this because I know that feedback is important, and that it is rather notoriously hard to get. I offer free copies of a book to people who will do a review of the PDF and I still haven't gotten any reviews that fit the contest (though Ed at Robot Viking did one, which is always appreciated).

Anyway, I'll be doing this review using most of the criteria put out by the contest. Copying from the thread here are the criteria for judgement.

Poor you! Our panel of monkeys will be judging you on:
Must include an NPC called Keeton
Proximity: How close to the two films is it?
Complete: Is it complete? Could you run it?
Attractive: Is it attractive to look at?
Professional: How much effort went into layout and style?
Extras: Did they include actual cover, index, character sheet or any other cool things you get in a proper RPG?

Don't worry too much about the Keeton part. That's a running joke on the site.

Next on the docket - Fist Full of Darkness by Gryffudd

Fist Full of Darkness is a game that is striving to take The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly and Dark City and combines them into a single entity. I will admit that I was pretty excited by the sheer possibilities of this concept. A Western that deals with what Dark City deals with. That's pretty sweet, or it could go horrifically wrong. It all depended on what was going to happen on the other side of 24 hours.

Proximity: The game does a really good job of taking Dark City and making it Dark City at the OK Corral but it doesn't really feel a lot like The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Not that this is generally a bad thing, I think taking a game and turning the genre on its ear can create some awesome game design moments. The problem is that you're trying to mash up two movies into a game, and this feels more like a drop from one was taken and put into a drinking glass filled with the other. It provided a little bit of flavour, a little bit of setting but not much more. I was hoping for a little bit more grit in my alien controlled city.

Complete: It's got all the rules that you need to know in order to play the game. You're always rolling 3 stat blocks worth of dice, which can make for some hand-fulls of dice situations if you've got your two highest stats being pushed against a really high resistance. It uses the DRYH idea of Dominance without the success part which weakens the suspense on the rolling. If you know that you only have to roll high, not get a good number of successes and high dice, and there are no consequences of using your other dice then it's functional, but again in a 24 hr RPG functional is what you're aiming for.

Attractive/Professional: I was jazzed when I saw the cover. I think it's one of the best covers in the competition so far. Really got me into what was going to be inside the cover. Hell, it even made me ignore the coloured paper, which usually annoys me to no end when it comes to RPG books. The border really adds to the Western feel of the game and is really pleasant to look at.

The problems happen when the text constantly runs overtop of the border. That's something that's easy to deal with and should probably be avoided. I know that the author has 24 hours, which is why I don't comment on things like typos or editing mistakes because you've got a limited time, but this is something that you can catch and fix with the basic functionality of whatever application that you're using. When this is one of the criteria I'm gonna mention it.

Smaller quip, would be to try to not have the images be a block of white behind them. It's a problem when you want to use images and coloured backgrounds. Again, it just detracts from the overall look of the book. Also, the two "Indian" images probably shouldn't be there. I use the term "Indian" intentionally, goodness knows I haven't talked about appropriation here, because the western that the author used didn't include any type of appropriative of caricatured depiction of First Nations people in the text, so including the use of said images just makes me sad, really.

Extras: There is a really lovely character sheet in the back filled with the same stylized border, but done in black and white. I think it's a nice book end to the game.

Would I Play It?: Yes. It's still looks like a fun time, and the mechanic is totally playable. Would it be my choice to win the competition? No, but that doesn't mean it isn't a fun concept.

NOTE: Kenisis missed a great opportunity to have it be all sorts of stuff. Pyro, cryo, tele etc.


Anonymous said...

Hi there. Thanks for the review. Posting from my phone, so forgive me if this response ends up messed up.

The mashup is actually Dark City and Fistful of Dollars. It was supposed to be The Good/Bad/Ugly, but just before I started I realized I couldn't think of want to do with it. A Fistful of Dollars gave me a bit more I could use. Primarily the two factions, Rojo (Roho? Not sure of the spelling) and the Baxter, and the idea that both are villainous. The idea of using them against each other isn't specifically mentioned in the text, though. It definitely is more Dark City than AFoD, though.

The page backgrounds I liked, but they did get in the way of the text some. And I didn't think about B&W printing or using up colour cartridges until after it was submitted. D'oh! I plead lack of sleep. And the block of white thing bothered me, but I didn't have time to do anything about it. Something else to fix in a later copy. :)

Hm, I can see why the use of images of natives might be considered inappropriate for AFoD, since the movie involves whites and Mexicans rather than native Americans, and probably I should have based it it the southern states rather than the west coast. Given where I did base it, however, I believe it's better to have pictures of a variety of possible characters, rather than only showing one particular group. I can certainly understand other people feeling differently, however. If it ever gets to a sellable version, it'll be something to take a look at.

Thanks again for taking a look at it. I appreciate the input.

Another month and I may try one using Bladerunner. For now, though, I'm back to trying to hammer Air Patrol back into shape (and maybe think up another name for Familiars, since Steve Jackson's already using that one).


Unknown said...

Hey Pat,

Let me make those changes in the review. I went off of what was posted in the 1km1kt forums and I clearly missed something in one of the posts. Thanks for the heads up.

Again, if it was going to be printed by a computer, then yeah the coloured background tends to be annoying. However, if you're going to get it printed somewhere you can totally use that kind of background. It's just something most people don't think about when doing free stuff.

I'm thinking of doing another one two. A really out there one and see if I can make it work.

Anonymous said...

No problem. I really should have changed the title to reflect the change of movie, but I'm used to being on forums that don't let you edit stuff.

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