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Author Topic: Who Do You Play?  (Read 7357 times)
Mike Holmes
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« on: September 01, 2005, 07:37:28 AM »

Hi Joshua, nice meeting you at GenCon.

I'm hoping that the question in the thread title is answered in the text somewhere. I didn't get a copy of the game, but I did get a demo game (along with Em and another gentleman), so I'm not sure. I was having fun with the game, but the thing that struck me was that I was never sure what it was that I was supposed to be narrating at each step of play.

Theoretically I have this character that is a stuffed toy, representative of a potential person that the child might be. But largely, unless I'm mistaken, the abilities in question just serve to give me narrative control? That is, when narrating, it seemed that people could narrate either the child having the traits in question and using them to overcome the conflict, or the toy having these traits and overcoming the situation, or any combination that leads to an appropriate resolution.

This wasn't made clear in the demo at all. That is, even if the rule is what I surmise it to be above, it would have helped to have had that stated explicitly. I felt that at times the players alternately felt as though they were supposed to narrate from a toy perspective, or from child perspective. Or the child uses the toy perspective. I was never sure if there was some direction on this. If the other players didn't feel this way, I certainly did.

Anyhow, is this all covered in the text? Could just be that I just didn't get it somehow in the demo.

A similar problem had to do with what was decided along with activations of traits. That is we seemed to fumble a lot trying to understand what it was we were supposed to decide when activating traits (and the adversity dice pools). There seemed to be a lot of "planning" like, if this works, then this is what'll happen. And then you win and narrate what you'd planned. That seemed odd to me. Were we playing that right?

I have some other comments about the game as well, but I wanted to ask about these elements. BTW, if the answer is "yes, these things are covered in the rules," and you don't want to give away too much about the game here, that'll suffice. I'm just curious to know if the rules do address these things.

Mike
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2005, 08:55:12 AM »

Hello,

Ditto.

Or rather, only a little different. My impression from the game text as well as from the pitch is that we are playing the toys. One group got really pervy and seemed to switch over to playing the kid, and I'm not really sure what they did regarding some of the rules. I asked about this and the larger implications for "purpose of play" in the relevant thread.

So anyway, for purposes of this thread, I want to throw in my curiosity, or confusion, along with Mike's.

Best,
Ron
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2005, 12:24:24 AM »

I'll go read the text and see what impression I'm left with after that - I'll try and post here again in the A.M.  But based on the demo I was in (which Greg Stolze dropped in to, and which needs a write-up - I'll start one soon if someone doesn't beat me to it): you play the traits (on the cards).  Each toy has three traits, and you "want" the child to exhibit your toy's traits.  So you narrate the child and/or the toy taking actions in line with various traits, as allowed/required by the rules.  You-the-player are "your" three traits, regardless of whether that shows up in the child or the toys.

Joshua may prefer talking about it in a different way, and reading the text may change my thoughts - but that's my one-longish-demo impression.
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2005, 11:37:02 AM »

" . . . when it's your turn, you can say that your Toy, the Child, or some combination of both are acting." (pg. 7-8)

So yeah, my impression remains the same.  The Stakes for the overall story and for each individual conflict are always defined in terms of the child.  But when a player wins a conflict (confronting it for/as the child, possibly via the toy), their Favoritism increases (or they can take another Characteristic), so: whether that Favoritism is really about the toy, the Characteristics (child-aspects? toy-aspects?), or some blend is pretty group/situation-dependent.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2005, 08:42:11 AM »

" . . . when it's your turn, you can say that your Toy, the Child, or some combination of both are acting." (pg. 7-8)

Thanks, Gordon.

Yeah, here's my secret game designer take on toys vs. kids: I don't care! It doesn't matter mechanically and the rules support doing it either way. Here's my secreter game designer statement: you're only ever dictating the actions of the Child. The toys represent psychological states of the Child, and maybe multiple personalities, but they're not real. Obviously, toys can't talk and act on their own! That's crazy! Only little babies think their toys are really people! What are you, a baby? You're a baby, aren't you?

Quote from: Valley Advocate, Monday, Sept. 5, 2005
Graphic Designer Joshua Newman was found dead today in the house where he had been babysitting the children of fellow game designer Vincent Baker. "It looks like he was attacked by some animal, maybe a racoon or something... but what we don't understand is why there are Lego bricks embedded in his head." The Baker children are now missing, along with two broom sticks, handkerchiefs, a jar of peanut butter, and an assortment of favorite toys.

I don't mind giving away the game, so long as it encourages you to buy it!

Quote from: Mike Holmes
A similar problem had to do with what was decided along with activations of traits. That is we seemed to fumble a lot trying to understand what it was we were supposed to decide when activating traits (and the adversity dice pools). There seemed to be a lot of "planning" like, if this works, then this is what'll happen. And then you win and narrate what you'd planned. That seemed odd to me. Were we playing that right?

Hm, well, no, I don't think so. The Opposition's traits are things like "Eats children",  "You have to listen to Mom", "Pointy Teeth", or "Invisible". They can certainly be desires that the phenom has, like "Beats up the younger kids". Does that answer your question?
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2005, 06:44:44 AM »

I think that I have a better handle on it now. That is, the rule does seem to be explicit in the book as to allowing the player some variation in what they can narrate. And I understand, I think, the aesthetic behind this choice. That is I don't believe you when you say "I don't care," I think you're going for something very specific by leaving things ambiguous (and you're just being kind sneaky about it). Or, at least I hope that the idea is that the ambiguity has some meaning itself.

Because otherwise, I worry that play will seem disjointed. That is, had I understood better that you were explicitly allowed to narrate any of the three ways, I think I could have played into that. As it was, I felt like there were expectations about the choice of the three types of narration possible that were being established that I was lagging behind. Things seemed somewhat disjointed because my aesthetic choices kept changing to try and match the rest of the group's expectations (or my flawed perception of them).

I think that what happened in terms of "planning" was that there was this validation process going on where somebody would say something like, "What about Trait X?" and people would suggest what sorts of narrations might happen as a result of using such a trait to validate the use of the trait. Which has the odd effect of often causing the player, on success of their side, to narrate something like the validation statement. In fact, what often happens is that they try to make the narration different, but really don't have a different idea, and then you get an uncomfortable moment where basically you feel like the player is saying, "What he said, but different." The player in question not wanting to simply parrot the suggestion of the other player. This can be very hard, however, because if the player didn't have enough of an idea of how to use the trait in narration that they had to ask for validation, they probably don't have anything else in mind other than the validation statement. Not to mention that I think that when somebody makes such a suggestion that it can tend to shove other thoughts out of your head. If you know what I mean.

I'm not sure that the game can or should do anything about any of this. Just noting it. Generally, however, who has final say on when a trait can or cannot be used? I think this is key to the problem. That is, there's a notion in play that you can't simply activate all traits, they have to seem appropriate somehow. And that you may have to make some statements to back that up (or get help from other players to do so). Well, when the chips are down, who has final say on what they can or cannot use? Is it the player making the call? Or can other players veto somehow?

Mike
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2005, 07:41:06 AM »

I think that I have a better handle on it now. That is, the rule does seem to be explicit in the book as to allowing the player some variation in what they can narrate. And I understand, I think, the aesthetic behind this choice. That is I don't believe you when you say "I don't care," I think you're going for something very specific by leaving things ambiguous (and you're just being kind sneaky about it). Or, at least I hope that the idea is that the ambiguity has some meaning itself.

I'm a sneaky guy! It's true!

Which one you're playing matters deeply to the game. Every game will hash it out for itself, though; you don't need me to tell you which one to do, because I'll be wrong 2/3 of the time. Play what's appropriate. Read your friends and figure out what you all want to do. If you can't figure it out, ask.

Quote
Because otherwise, I worry that play will seem disjointed. That is, had I understood better that you were explicitly allowed to narrate any of the three ways, I think I could have played into that. As it was, I felt like there were expectations about the choice of the three types of narration possible that were being established that I was lagging behind. Things seemed somewhat disjointed because my aesthetic choices kept changing to try and match the rest of the group's expectations (or my flawed perception of them).

I think that what happened in terms of "planning" was that there was this validation process going on where somebody would say something like, "What about Trait X?" and people would suggest what sorts of narrations might happen as a result of using such a trait to validate the use of the trait. Which has the odd effect of often causing the player, on success of their side, to narrate something like the validation statement. In fact, what often happens is that they try to make the narration different, but really don't have a different idea, and then you get an uncomfortable moment where basically you feel like the player is saying, "What he said, but different." The player in question not wanting to simply parrot the suggestion of the other player. This can be very hard, however, because if the player didn't have enough of an idea of how to use the trait in narration that they had to ask for validation, they probably don't have anything else in mind other than the validation statement. Not to mention that I think that when somebody makes such a suggestion that it can tend to shove other thoughts out of your head. If you know what I mean.

I'm not sure that the game can or should do anything about any of this. Just noting it. Generally, however, who has final say on when a trait can or cannot be used? I think this is key to the problem. That is, there's a notion in play that you can't simply activate all traits, they have to seem appropriate somehow. And that you may have to make some statements to back that up (or get help from other players to do so). Well, when the chips are down, who has final say on what they can or cannot use? Is it the player making the call? Or can other players veto somehow?

All these questions and more are answered in my publication, Under The Bed, available at fine website everywhere!

Alternately, of course, you can borrow a copy. But just give it a read-through. It's a teeny tiny book!
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2005, 01:26:45 PM »

Well...if it always hashes itself out, then why didn't it in the game I was playing? Because it was a demo? If I don't need you to tell me how to play, then why do I need to buy the book? Isn't that the point?

In any case, I'm glad to hear that the traits stuff is covered in the rules. I don't have anyone nearby with the rules to peruse, so I may just buy it anyhow. It was worth it just from what fun I did have in the demo.

Mike
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2005, 07:30:21 PM »

Well...if it always hashes itself out, then why didn't it in the game I was playing? Because it was a demo? If I don't need you to tell me how to play, then why do I need to buy the book? Isn't that the point?

That's because so few had read the rules. Don't worry. The rules tell you the procedure. They just don't tell you what to say.

Quote
In any case, I'm glad to hear that the traits stuff is covered in the rules. I don't have anyone nearby with the rules to peruse, so I may just buy it anyhow. It was worth it just from what fun I did have in the demo.

Excellent!

Those demos were kickin' my butt. Too short to get in the gnarl and fun, and certainly difficult to develop any trust with your fellows.

Were you playing with Tony, author of Capes, perhaps? He ran some demos, but I never really got a chance to find out from him how they went.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2005, 08:31:58 AM »

As I mentioned above, it was you, me, Emily and another fellow. The game was about a kid who was up against a social worker who turned out to be a witch who was going to cook her in the microwave. And her foster family who didn't love her.

Mike
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2005, 06:03:27 PM »

As I mentioned above, it was you, me, Emily and another fellow. The game was about a kid who was up against a social worker who turned out to be a witch who was going to cook her in the microwave. And her foster family who didn't love her.
\

Oh! Right! Of course! That was fun. We showed that social worker who's boss!
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
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