*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
December 17, 2014, 07:58:29 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 68 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [LEGO] Almost Roleplay?  (Read 1423 times)
ffilz
Member

Posts: 468


WWW
« on: October 11, 2006, 01:34:36 PM »

This past weekend I had an interesting experience that I'd like to explore a bit.

Since 1999, I have been collecting and building with LEGO, and almost immediately got into the gaming possibilities, particularly the role playing possibilities. I experimented with Evil Stevie's Pirate Game which has some role playing elements.

This past weekend, I attended a LEGO fan convention in Seattle. One of the displays I participated in was a 5'x30' unified castle display. I brought a big castle and a seaport along with the occupants of the castle. My castle and port were at the left end of the display (the foreground in this picture). As we were setting up, another guy was setting up his army across the water from my stuff (as seen in this picture[url]). We got to talking a bit and I realized he had the same two factions as I had occupying my castle. And that big ship in the middle was contributed by a third guy - and belonged to one of the factions. We quickly established a story-line. Other bits and pieces also started to fall into play with a couple other factions.

After thinking some on what transpired, I realized we had a shared imagination space (the story-line, who the factions were, etc.), that we were making creative contributions to, and coming to agreement on (Lumpley Principle in action). Really all that was missing was a long enough cycle to determine the reward cycle and potential creative agenda. We also were missing any meaningfull way to introduce adversity.

I have been slowly mulling over the possibilities to use LEGO in role play, not as a prop, but as a primary creative contribution. One thing I've been mulling over though is how to balance different participants ability to contribute. For example, I have a 600,000+ piece collection. How does my ability to contribute compare to somone with a few thousand pieces? Certainly folks could build with my pieces, but I'd like to see something where people who had their own collections would be free and welcome to make contributions from their own collections.

It's also worth noting there have been various fits and starts in the past to have group LEGO creative projects including developing story-line. I think in part these efforts failed due to lack of a coherent system and an agreed upon creative agenda. Being sort of virtual (primarily on-line sharing) also is a stumbling block.

As a side note, I was considering just the artistic aspect of building with LEGO and thinking that art certainly has a reward cycle (and really any human endeavor has a reward cycle), so could "artistic" be a creative agenda, albeit not a role playing creative agenda?

Frank
Logged

Frank Filz
ffilz
Member

Posts: 468


WWW
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2006, 01:36:04 PM »

Oops, I meant to preview that... Here's the third link linkified: (picture of army).
Logged

Frank Filz
DAudy
Member

Posts: 13


« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2006, 04:04:25 PM »

James (also known as Blankshield about these parts) has a tactical mini game for Lego.  While I'm not too familiar with it I believe he has it available on his website http://www.blankshieldpress.com/ (though he has been having hosting issues lately so it may not be accessible).

While its a totally different beast I suspect he would love to chat with you about using it as a creative contribution for roleplaying stuff.

-Dan
Logged
David Artman
Member

Posts: 570

Designer & Producer


WWW
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2006, 07:50:06 AM »

You said "LEGO"... I can't resist.

LEGO as System - I have played a number of Icehouse/Pyramid games which could be played with LEGOs as well. Pondering those interactions, it occurs to me that you could certainly use LEGOs in a system, be they resource counters, pseudo-dice, or even measuring devices or "stats" for a character (e.g. how many red pips are visible in your current stack = your "attack" rating).

You could use stacking (and exposure or obfuscation of pips from above) to make up a sequence of resource commitments.
You could let people bid pieces (1x2s, 2x2s, 2x4s) and "roll" them to count how many land pip-up.
A character could be a collection of colors and sizes, to indicate their "piece pool" for the above system elements.

Sky's the limit, I think.

LEGO as Setting - This is what you're doing now: building up actual locations and folks in them, using pieces, and then (I would presume) moving them per rules and attacking or what-not. In a similar manner, you could build up a game world's map, using colored pieces for factions (or terrain) and letting folks "add to" the world by committing their own pieces. Basically, something akin to a God Game would suit this well. [Hmmm... I have a god game going that needs some map management and unit movement; might be able to do this with LEGOs. ;-) ]

LEGO as Situation - One could abstract "setting" (making something more like situation)--similar to, say, a Dogs town or a relationship map--by having players snap various pieces onto others, next to others, and with 1-wide flats as connectors between them.
Or, perhaps, the size of pieces used to establish relationships could then inform the system, as limiters to how many pieces one could bid or roll or snap onto the world. EX: If the largest blue piece is a 2x8, then you could never bid a total of more than 16 pips worth of "blueness" in a challenge (no matter how one employs that "blueness" mechanically).

LEGO as Creative Ephemera - This falls in the realm of system or, perhaps, situation. I guess you could make it so that the play group votes on the aesthetic elements of a particular model or what-not, to use it in play. But HOW it would be used in play? As a "figure" or miniature? As NPC art or physical play area (i.e. map)? What else could one really do, with the concept of "art as a game element?"

This is a VERY cool idea.... I am mainly posting this spooge of ideas because I want to watch the development of your ideas (and make sure I don't step on them too much with my own applications--I LIKE this!).

As for your concern about piece contribution: that's sort of a non-issue, in my mind. I suspect any LEGO-heavy game would need to use a single contributor, just to avoid confusions of ownership or what folks have to bring to the game.
Further, I would encourage any game that uses LEGOs to be designed to run with a single "bucket" or "big set" without any real specific requirements (i.e. don't require Technics or Bionicle stuff, though one could find interesting uses for them). Better still, if you could actually make the game fit an existing set/bucket... and package it with your game, as a product tie-in with LEGO. ;-)

HTH;
David
Logged

Designer - GLASS, Icehouse Games
Editor - Perfect, Passages
Hans
Member

Posts: 576


« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2006, 09:17:40 AM »

LEGO as System - I have played a number of Icehouse/Pyramid games which could be played with LEGOs as well. Pondering those interactions, it occurs to me that you could certainly use LEGOs in a system, be they resource counters, pseudo-dice, or even measuring devices or "stats" for a character (e.g. how many red pips are visible in your current stack = your "attack" rating).

You could use stacking (and exposure or obfuscation of pips from above) to make up a sequence of resource commitments.
You could let people bid pieces (1x2s, 2x2s, 2x4s) and "roll" them to count how many land pip-up.
A character could be a collection of colors and sizes, to indicate their "piece pool" for the above system elements.

*sound of my head exploding*

this is just about one of the coolest things I have read in a long time.  I especially like the idea of "hidden" information, buried in the pile of blocks, that matters in the game.  You could see a Burning Wheel like combat system where each player encodes their desired actions into a Lego structure, or character traits encoded that become revealed as the game progresses, but are secret to all but the person who build the structure.  The mind boggles at the posibilities.
Logged

* Want to know what your fair share of paying to feed the hungry is? http://www3.sympatico.ca/hans_messersmith/World_Hunger_Fair_Share_Number.htm
* Want to know what games I like? http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/skalchemist
ffilz
Member

Posts: 468


WWW
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2006, 10:54:30 AM »

I don't want to get too deep talking about system ideas here. There are some neat ideas, and until I am ready to post to First Thoughts I realize there isn't a good place to capture these ideas other than this thread.

What I'd like to explore at least a little bit first is what actually went on. Sure, it's not a very big example of actual play, though I could also dig up some other examples. I'm also interested in others experiences (as they relate to mine - if they're wildly different, they probably belong in their own thread).

I'm also interested in thinking about the game potential at a very high level. Until I have a concrete idea of what I want to accomplish with a potential game, discussing specific mechanics is premature.

Now that said, there is a gem of an idea in traits being implied in stuff that's burried in the structure of a creation. In the various public displays we have done, we've been pretty open about details of our contributions. But I have used the secrets of construction bits in my Pirate Game play. In my very first game, I used several standard sets that had openable treasure chambers, and the players would "discover" them (mostly, because they were standard sets, people were aware of the secrets, but still the idea was there, and is definitely interesting). In a later game, one fellow, who ended up not playing, contributed an island with an Easter Island theme. He showed me how the statues were designed to be able to walk away from the island. So in play, one or two of the statues actually animated.

I believe this kind of contribution will be important to the game, especially in making the game feel like a "LEGO game." I have been active in the LEGO gaming community, and I am aware of Jame's Brick Battles. I should reference my blog post which lays out some additional thoughts I have and what I am aware of.

On collections and such, my plan is definitely not something that would be played with a single set, and I definitely want to address players bringing contributions from their own collections. I have only once or twice run the Pirate Game with exclusively my collection. It's always way more fun when others bring ships and islands. For my own purposes, I'm thinking big. I will soon have a 5'x10' table in my living room that will eventually be completely covered in LEGO, and perhaps would even expand some. Considerations for the game will include how changeable the display is, and how the game is handled session to session. I definitely want session to session continuity. That's one of the two major attractions to RPGs for me, not necessarily years of play in one game, but at least many weeks of play.

Now, let me add some more actual play. This time from the Pirate Game. Forgive me if some of it is vague because I haven't played the Pirate Game for a couple years now.

At Origins in 2004, I ran a couple battle games which don't really have role playing. I also ran one campaign game complete with the role playing. There were two islands that turned out to have the biggest role playing engagement. One island had an oriental temple. Two players interracted with this island, and ended up worshipping at the temple, and gaining allies. Another island had a bunch of mummies and other undead. One player landed on that island and offered himself (his captain) to the mummy lord. The mummy lord killed the captain (putting the player out of the game), and took over his ship. This response felt totally right at the time, but was totally a bummer as far as cutting a player off from play. I think the problem here was that the rules text didn't actually provide any support for the role play. The only rules the campaign option adds are: how much ship and crew upgrades cost, how to dig for treasure and some rough rules on what treasure is found (rules that I made more explicit as I continued to run the game), and some vague suggestions for what might transpire. Now people who had watched my games before would have realized the mummies would be total bastards, and perhaps one might even guess that undead would react differently than people at a temple, oh, and perhaps realize the fancy staff the mummy lord has might actually do something. In a sense, the game is very old school with the GM pulling all sorts of bastard tricks, but without something to back those up, it can totally come off as player or idea favoritism. It's no surprise some players never returned, and it's no surprise that players who had good experiences returned more frequently than those that had bad experiences (though it's also clear some folks totally get into the crazy style of the game, and enjoy it even when they're the target of the mummy lord's laser staff).

There have also been in game responses to player level things. At GenCon in 2003, one fellow was constantly kicking islands and ships. Each time he did so, the sea monster teleported to within range of his ship. Not necessarily anything wrong with that, but something that could cause clash of expectations.

In the end, what killed the Pirate Game for me was that the way to "win" (it's not 100% clear the agenda is gamist, but it sure has a strong gamist reward cycle) was to not engage. Players who quietly snuck around the edges, digging for treasure on the non-scenario islands, recruiting stranded pirates, and occaisionally swooping in for a kill after two other players fought it out and were weakened. Of course players who got into the crazy action could "win" for themselves from engaging, but clearly there were two different reward cycles operating.

What differentiates the Pirate Game from where I want to go though is the extreme imbalance in creative contribution. Sure, the players are able to make contributions, but the GM can veto them whereas the players have no real ability to veto the GM's contributions. The only real player option is to quit the game, which might be a minor downer, but with 10+ players doesn't have much impact. With the larger games, we also had multiple GMs with plenty of clash between them. There's also very unneven spotlight, and a player who comes up with a crazy idea that lights a GM's fire will get a lot more attention than a player who comes up with an idea the GM sees as stupid.

Looking back over these experiences, it's interesting to contrast how functional the castle display was versus the Pirate Game. But even modeling something more on the castle display, there is still likelyhood of innequal contribution simply based on LEGO model contribution. The guy who provides ten models to someone else's one or two models is going to have a larger creative contribution in that sense.

Frank
Logged

Frank Filz
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!