Archive for the ‘Theory’ Category

Playing Characters You Hate

February 7, 2007

I noticed at Dreamation, that I had a tendency to create characters that I didn’t really like when the story started, and yet I really bought into and liked those characters at the end of the story. I think it may be subconscious with me. I think that I start with a character that I hate, and I begin to plan out how I can make the character do things that I like. As I do this, I find myself becoming more sympathetic towards the character. So my characters tend to undergo a change from someone that I don’t like into someone that I do.

In the carry game, I played the snotty little shit new guy of the unit and he ended up an important member and went on to become a Congressman. As soon as I ran out of dice and got to refresh and switch personality profiles, I immediately moved to Soldier. Almost getting shot in the first firefight, led my character to reassess his role in the unit and start following orders. My next shift was to Accuser, which reinforced the shithead aspect of the character, but when I got an opportunity, I jumped him to Warrior as he developed into an honorable and more than capable soldier.

In Shock: Canny Row, I played a religious missionary trying to form a congregation. I intended that the guy had to go door to door or in this game can to can spreading his religion. Now I really have a problem with people coming to my door and impressing their religion upon me. I wanted him to fail, and yet he succeeded (at the cost of his own life, but still). Not only did he succeed, but I was incredibly satisfied with the result, because the things that he did within the story made the character very sympathetic.

In the HeroQuest game that I play on Monday nights, my character Teodric started as a stuck up, snotty noble (I’m sensing a theme). Within the first few sessions of the game, I had him realize that there’s a lot more to the world than he had previously imagined, and he started to amend his ways. We then jumped the timeline quite a bit, so I quickly accelerated him into a capable diplomat and important member of the community, because it seemed like the natural progression of his story.

All in all this is a technique that I will keep trying, and perhaps I can harness it later.

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Sockets, Goals, Payoffs and Design

February 3, 2007

If you haven’t read Mo’s post on the basics of sockets, goals, and payoff, then I advise you head over there now. Partly because Mo has good stuff that I think you should read, but also to save me the trouble of recapping it all here.

Now I don’t have a ton of design experience, but I have had a lot of ideas that so far haven’t materialized into what I want them to be. I do however have a design philosophy. I want to design games that I will enjoy playing. It would be nice if other people enjoy them as well, this being a social activity and all, but it’s not my first goal.

I would say that my problem up to this point has been understanding what I want from a game. A lot of this was caused by my discovery of Narrativist games. I identified this style of games as being what I was interested in, without any actual play experience. I gained some play experience online, but Dreamation really offered the full tabletop experience.

So post Dreamation, Mo and I started talking about my sockets, goals, and payoffs. I definitely have a primary story socket, with a secondary social socket. My payoff is experiencing an emergent story in cooperation with the other players. My goal is to achieve a state in which the group builds story and energy exponentially through the game experience.

Now here’s the cool part that just came to me the other day. Now that I know my goals and payoff, I can write my games to support my goals and help me achieve my payoff.