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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 204 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: The Universalis Arena  (Read 2570 times)
Christopher Weeks
Member

Posts: 683


« on: March 25, 2004, 10:32:13 AM »

Hi all,

Several of us have been playing an asynchronous game of Universalis on Clinton's RPG Laboratory site for a few months, under the name The Universalis Arena.

Over the last month, we have decided to wrap up the first game, make some changes to the structure, and start a new game reflecting the lessons learned.  If you are interested in playing Universalis with us, you can come see our home page and add your name to the player list.  We're working through the details of how to set the game up.  If you're interested in that side of things, now is an interesting time to get in, read, and contribute.  If not, you can still sign up now and we'll be into narration before you know it.

Some of the things I think we learned include:
    Wiki is a powerful and flexible tool that takes some getting used to[/list:u]
    There are a whole set of gimicks that make Universalis work asynchronously[/list:u]
    The way we had things set up, it was hard for a number of players who had to step away for a while to get back into the rhythm of the game.[/list:u]
    Theme has not come naturally for us.[/list:u]
    It is important to Challenge stuff you don't like, rather than letting it get away from you as a means to getting along.[/list:u]
    By tweaking Universalis so that we could easily accomodate any number of players, we made it easier for individuals to get lost when we ended up with only six or so players.[/list:u]
    Providing for a broad array of simultaneous narration subjects dilutes the player investment in each[/list:u]
    War, combat, and agression is popular.  (Our only scene that has had several people comment on being cool was the only
long, tense, violent sequence.)[/list:u]

We got 23 scenes played and hat a lot of fun.  I feel like it was a positive experience and puts us in a better position to craft a game that will run longer next time.

Prior to entering Tenet phase we came up with a set of rules to handle the medium, but it took lots of talk.  We have much of that already ironed out and the old set of rules and conversations stand as a starting point for us in going into the new one.  Maybe other groups in the future will have use for our ramblings, too.

I'd love to field questions and read comments and I'm sure my fellow players will be over here to throw in their $.02 in the near future.

Chris
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ScottM
Member

Posts: 221

Fresno, California


WWW
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2004, 03:51:09 PM »

Lots of talk characterizes a lot about the game. 23 scenes sounds impressive, but participation in the various scenes was uneven. (That was often a good thing; intimate scenes work well for a few people-- around a table top, I can imagine a lot of groans or extraneous characters being introduced to get everyone involved. In TUA, approximately the right number of people seemed to fall into most every scene).

Part of what amazed me about the game was the amount of OOC discussion.  Part of it was rules wrangling and accounting, but other parts were discussion about the direction to take a scene. Even the rules wrangling was often "should we do X" (introduce strange gimmicks, etc.), and "do you have a different view of this proposed idea"?

Another interesting phenomenon involved characters.  In the end, something like 50+ characters had been introduced and named. The characters who were popular in one scene weren't always the ones that got reused.  It was somewhat different from tabletop Uni, in that you might spend a month working with one character, then have someone take it over for another month.  Stress and violence are big for cementing a character as important or interesting, but they're no guarantee. Vivian Morales was an interesting character (from traits, etc.), and motivated a kidnapping... but she never really took off for me.  The reverse was also true-- some characters that I had no intention of treating as anything more than a role kept trying to do dramatic things, become stars.
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Hey, I'm Scott Martin. I sometimes scribble over on my blog, llamafodder. Some good threads are here: RPG styles.
james_west
Member

Posts: 292


WWW
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2004, 07:33:42 AM »

There were a -lot- of ways that the way you played seemed to be different from the rules-as-written.

I'm wondering to what extent this was motivated by the altered venue; for instance, while this wasn't an official rules change, there weren't that many challenges or complications. Do you think this was a result of the fact that these are more complicated than straight narration in this sort of  interaction?

- James
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Bob McNamee
Member

Posts: 685


« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2004, 08:31:04 AM »

A lot of changes were in response to the altered venue, and some from the lessons learned from the previous Uni wiki games with Mike Holmes etc from last year.

I thought there was one or more Complications in most scenes that went anywhere. Its not really clear exactly where in the narrations these occurred but they were there.

These are slower than in regular Uni...either face to face or over IRC... since you have  to wait for the otherses to read and respond, before resolving rolls and finishing up the Complication...and the scene stops while the Complication is going on. Thats an area we made some changes for wiki.

Partly the big changes were a desire for multiple concurrent scenes, and a fairly easy way to keep things moving in case of drop out that led to most of our changes. This was to help people be engaged in what interested them in case the current scene didn't.

"Challenges" seemed to be resolved with informal negotiation phases, although there was one or two formal Challenge negoiations inthe Tenets phase of the Universalis Arena 1.

In a way, all our current pre-tenet organizing is kind of one big informal challenge negotiation.
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Bob McNamee
Indie-netgaming- Out of the ordinary on-line gaming!
Christopher Weeks
Member

Posts: 683


« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2004, 07:07:08 AM »

What Bob said.  We had lots of complications and we talked through our few Challenge situations...sometimes avoiding the Challenge in utero.

The current state of TUA2 is one of very near readiness.  We expect to begin the framework tenets tonight at midnight, server time.  To see the rules as they stand, and our last minute discussion, click here.

Chris
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