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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 181 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Medical Hospital] Arts and Crafts  (Read 3729 times)
Jason Morningstar
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« on: June 18, 2007, 04:53:08 AM »

I got to playtest Medical Hospital, my game about medicine and hospitals, ay Mayacon last Saturday.  It was pretty interesting.  Medical Hospital is going to be a modular game with distinct scene types (comedy, romance, drama, surgery, trauma, diagnosis for starters) that can be combined in modular ways to emulate different sorts of stories.  Right now I have a really good idea how surgery and trauma work, and that's what we tested.  They are tactile scenes that rely to some degree on player skill, and they are super fun.  Using office supplies as your surgical tray, you perform operations.  Here's Dr. Hicks starting the radial craniotomy.  Close-up, with clamps.  There's a gloss of roleplaying, but it's basically a physical exercise that serves as a system-less prompt.  During surgical or emergency procedures, there is a bit of game going on, though.  Trauma takes place under the gun, with card draws every ten seconds that may complicate things (either for the patient or for the doctor in later scenes).  Surgery has a similr structure, but the complication draws come at particular points in the procedures (every instruction to clamp or suture, for example, causes a card draw).    Doctors can bank cards to counter-act complications.  It works great and is big fun.  Roleplaying seems to emerge quite naturally in the operating theater, and I suspect when procedures are interleaved with drama, comedy, and romance it will be more so, because we'll have had a chance to get to know both doctor and patient.  Remi was skeptical and viewed the manual manipulation stuff as gimmicky, saying that you could achieve the same goal by crossing items off a list.  I can't argue with that technically, but it really is fun and compelling, and I think it will be a really refreshing break from straight scenes that people will look forward to. 

My biggest problem is figuring out how to handle the complementary roleplaying scenes.  Right now the "arts and crafts" bit works like a charm, but all my ideas for comedy, drama, etc. have been excessively complicated - I literally saw eyes glaze over as I tried to explain it to my testers.  I wanted each scene type to have a unique set of requirements, essentially its own mini-game, making cards valuable or worthless depending on the current game.  This is way to complicated, as I learned at Mayacon, so I'm back to square one.  I'm thinking now that I'll pick a unified mechanic and use trump suits to distribute value based on scene type. 
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Remi Treuer
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« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2007, 04:55:34 PM »

Hey Jason, I'm still skeptical, but I realize I came around in the middle. I like the trauma system, though, as it seems to actually have a game associated with it (beat the clock).

I didn't see any bad things happen during surgery. If it does, do they have to go back and re-do a step? Is there a way that, if they take too long on a step, they get a double-card draw? Just some way to increase the tension on the surgery itself (things always go wrong in these shows).
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2007, 02:44:08 AM »

Thanks, Remi!

The piece I'm still puzzling out (and would like ideas about) is assessing "quality" - there should be some penalty for sloppy cutting, and some bonus for elegant work, but I can't see a way forward without some measure of arbitrariness. 

By the way here's a video of the trauma game in action.

In the video you can see Lisa being very careful and using custom sutures instead of hacking away and slapping down post-its right and left (like I am wont to do).  It takes her longer, and there is a penalty for that, but no reward for fine work.  What I'd like to see is a bonus or penalty to surgery (where the trauma patient is rushed, of course) based ont he trauma doc's performance.  But how to assess that?
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Remi Treuer
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« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2007, 05:58:18 AM »

That's really tough, because you're essentially making an aesthetic call to give a bonus, and I know how you feel about those. Maybe if a majority of the other players vote that it's a 'good' job as opposed to 'sloppy', there's some kind of bonus? I think I see where you're bumping into trouble, you don't want people to get trapped into a 'perform for bonus' thing (especially those with poorer craft skills than Lisa), but you want to reward good work.

It might be one of those 'know it when you see it' things.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2007, 06:25:38 AM »

Good points, and I really don't want an aesthetic judgment if I can avoid it.  Maybe the "traumatizer" outlines the surgical path with a highlighter.  You can inspect it afterward, and deviation = penalty.  Better trauma surgeons get wider highlighters. 
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Mark Causey
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« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2007, 06:38:34 AM »

The way they handle precision on the Wii game is, as time flows, two things can happen:

1. Creates complications for the patient
2. Drops the 'vitals' - heart rate/HP of the patient

Whenever a mini-procedure is done with skill, it gets a Cool rating, which gives points.

After a while, if the surgery is just getting worse and worse, something weird happens and a pentacle is drawn on the screen. Time slows down to a near stop and the surgeon has all the time to save the patient. But they're bewildered at what happened and it becomes a story element. This does cause a huge loss of points, though, if I remember correctly.

Finally, based on all that, the points are added up. Then the surgeon is giving a ranking (S, A, B, C, D, with +/-). That is where the points come in.

Jason, not sure if this helps or not. Let me know if you want to see what the games is like on the Wii.
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--Mark Causey
Runic Empyrean
Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2007, 06:55:03 AM »

Thanks Mark, that makes me want to get a Wii.  I know there are surgery games for the GBA, too.  Apparently medical-themed games are a Nintendo thing.
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Mark Causey
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« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2007, 06:58:27 AM »

I believe it is the same game for both.
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--Mark Causey
Runic Empyrean
Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2007, 07:05:10 AM »

I should note that I've got the "crashing vitals" thing down - if you watch the video, that's all the cards flying around.  Ideally, in play, the card handler (who needs a name ... who monitors the vital signs?  The anaesthesiologist?) would be making comments about the patient's status in character as she draws good or bad cards. 
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