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Further thoughts on Intertwined

Started by Meguey, December 11, 2007, 04:18:41 PM

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To recap: It's a game for two players, with a overt goal being to arouse and be aroused, sensually. There's lots of touching hands, but players otherwise don't really touch, and they stay fully clothed. Characters are lovers through time, and you play one incarnation of these lovers. There will be some sort of obstacles to overcome.

For making containment, you sit touching knee-to-knee facing each other or thigh-to-thigh beside each other. You make the original lovers and agree on the time and place of the next life. 

Containment's going to be pretty important to make this work. Must think about this more.

Sit facing back to back while you make the current incarnation of your character, details as yet unresolved. (You can explicitly switch gender between lives, so the original lovers may have been any two people and they may now be any two people.)

To start play, sit facing each other, knees touching, hands easy in front of you, finger tips very lightly touching. There's got to be some signaling here, as part of the narration, that escalates from an open palm, and eventually winds up at one set of hands palm-to-palm. This would signal a new level of intimacy, because trust would already be established between the characters.  As narration happens from here out, eventually you get to a point where there's a "what if?" type of question or statement.

"What if I was a pirate?" or "Hide me! I'm actually in the resistance" or "I have enough money - we can run away together" - the implication is 'is that sexy to you?' Then you get to answer by lifting your palm away from mine and touching just fingertips, according to how sexy that is to you, on a 1-not very much to 5-damn insane sexy. Then it's your turn to narrate for a bit until the next "what if?'

"And I was your first-mate?" or "I lead you to a hidden room where you will be safe" or "I show up on your doorstep in the morning with my backpack" - I signal back how sexy I'm finding that scenario, and it's my turn to narrate

"And we were shipwrecked on a lush tropical island?' or "And I show you proof of my efforts against our common foe" or "Do you like airplanes?" - etc, etc

While one person is narrating, they maintain fingertip contact, but the other person may use any free fingers to caress the free fingers and hand of the narrator. You can step down as well as step up, so if you've got three fingertips touching, and the next thing steps it down for you, you can go to only two fingertips touching.

If you get to all five fingers touching, then something else happens, but I'm not sure what yet. Ideas?

I also have some questions to answer:

Quote[I'm wary] about forming intimacy as it's appears used here - it's not learning about it, it's just doing it. There's no distance to grant perspective on the matter. <snip> I think distance is a mechanical issue involved with this.
Yes, as is proper containment. This isn't a game to break out at the bus-stop to kill time. There must be a gradual steady building of trust, intimacy, and arousal, or it's going to track crap all over people's discomfort. No jumping in and narrating steamy sex as the first thing. Hm. Time to go read Bacchanal again.

Quotewith the focus on arousal, what two persons are you imaging saying:  lets play a game of Intertwined.?

Certainly only two persons willing to risk it! Arousal is a tricky thing, and not to be messed with. I'm totally Not saying 'Hey, here's a fun party game to play with your grandma!" I'm seeing this as a game for people who are open to being in an emotionally delicate place with the other person, but I'm not intending it to be exclusively for a romantic couple. I can think of a handful of male and female friends I'd play this with, if they were into it. I'll probably tap some of them for playtesting.

The ideas behind the "through time " and "incarnation" are these:
I've always liked the notion of reincarnation, the idea that love might survive death, and that some people are somehow destined to be together, even though all the odds are against them. So if you play two people who you know are destined to be lovers, who perhaps have been lovers in other lives, the challenge is to figure out how that works. Playing characters who are drawn to each other but there's some barrier to overcome is more interesting than just 'they meet, they fall in love, no problem'.

I read Time-Traveler's Wife in the past year, and that probably figures too - the idea that love is worth waiting for, and it's complicated, and sometimes the two people are not in the same place, physically or emotionally, for it to be smooth.

Closing the game will be really important, too, to avoid sexual bleed-over.

Eero Tuovinen

The way I see it, the incarnation thing is the dramatic essence of the game - somebody asked about why it was in there (Ron?), but it seems obvious to me: a game about arousal also needs to have a dramatic frame (sexuality being cultural and all), and lovers meeting again and again through time and space is a theme well-used for this exact purpose in lots of literature and film. It is also an excellent narrative context for the players to be able to re-hash different phases of seduction and intimacy as desired - the "same" characters can become strangers again as desired, or jump right towards intimacy on the grounds of their mutual, psychic attraction. Also nice to be able to die tragically and unfulfilled without too much hassle. Makes perfect sense to me.

Are you sure that you want to start the game with the original lovers, by the way? I might be looking at it from a too dramatic viewpoint, but there's lots of mileage in revealing who the "original" persons were through play as well. That's how movies about this kind of thing usually work: a modern couple, when their intimacy deepends, finds out that they are not the people they thought they were. Interestingly enough, novels seem to go the other way around... I guess both ways have their benefits.

When the five fingertips touch, are you looking for ideas for the ritual mechanics or the narration mechanics? Also, what happens if the hands go completely apart? Does this particular incarnation still have a chance to reunite, or will the story move forward?

Also, you need to playtest the base mechanic to make sure that people are able to keep to an absolute scale in this. I could well imagine that there'd be a pressure to signal subjective ups and downs by increasing or decreasing the fingers, instead of re-setting them at the appropriate level. So if we were at three fingers and I liked your narration a bit, I might go to four instead of staying at three or even going down to two, only because I wanted to message acceptance, not because the narration really was a four. Not necessarily a problem, but if one player were sticking to an objective scale and one weren't, it might get slightly chaotic.

A random thought related to social distance: perhaps you should have some early game-ending conditions that could be used to gracefully end the game if it's not working for the players. Ideally it could even be something that would make the game passably enjoyable even if the "lovers" never get to very high levels of physical intimacy. This kind of thing isn't that useful for players for whom the premise obviously works, but it'd make the game friendlier for pairings who are not quite 100% sure that they can play the game. People do, after all, go into all kinds of stupid things where they shouldn't.
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Meg, you were talking about a string mechanic at JiffyCon. Maybe when you get to five fingers touching, that's when the hands get bound together? You seem to be aiming for rather leisurely pacing for obvious reasons, which I think is cool-- maybe having the string represent being actually, ahem, connected would help, in case a couple people concerned about being overly supportive of what the other person were offering got to 5 fingers pretty quickly. And I agree with Eero, a nice "get out gracefully" clause would be ideal; hard to imagine one though, since it's not like one exists for extricating yourself from non-game intimate situations!

Also, since this is a really tactile game that might start with a certain amount of inhibition, have you considered suggesting that the players play with their eyes closed?

David Artman

In the interest of only having one "in design" thread, I'll echo here what I wrote in the other, older (resurrected, I now see) thread:

Quote from: Meguey on December 11, 2007, 03:07:43 PMIf you get to all five fingers touching, then something else happens, but I'm not sure what yet. Ideas?
I am guessing the game ends. After all, this game seems very interpersonal and requires an existing relationship of some kind (or the beginning of one); so if both players' "sexy quotient" is ramped to eleven (err, well, five) then I reckon the rule that "players otherwise don't really touch, and they stay fully clothed" is going to be quickly broken.

Then again... maybe it could be about arousal and frustration? Maybe--I dunno--the all-five-fingertips moment signals a complete reversal? You immediately stop touching, and narrate a series of complications in the relationships which (somehow, mechanically) take several gameplay minutes to resolve, and during which there's no touching allowed. I'm seeing it as a cycle of build-up to "full" contact (fingertips) followed by separation and difficulty, which when surmounted allows a return to the build-up.

Hehe... folks could post "scores" of how many cycles they could complete before losing control. :)

Of course, now I read that there's a notion of folks who aren't really lovers playing--you must know some interesting folks, because no one with whom I've gamed would touch this with a ten foot pole, except existing couples--and an end game other than irresistible sex. Those are definitely the tough nuts to crack, if you're going in that direction--I have to give more thought to that vis a vis what would end the cycles I propose above? Hmmm... a binary end-state: eternal bliss as their lives utterly synchronize, from life to life, versus utter entropy, as they never are born to the same era again...?

As for (Euro's) signaling problem--upgrading or downgrading to signal approval, rather than objective sexy quotient--I'd say that's going to be a non-issue, so long as you don't take Elizabeth's advice about playing with eyes closed. Folks can do a TON of things with smiles, eyebrows, nods, etc to signal approval, while staying at the three-fingertip (or whatever) level, to signal relative arousal. Heck, I can see facially (or verbally) signaling approval of a narrative stroke of genius while even downgrading ("Wow! VERY cool idea..." **one fingertip removed** "...but it's a downer, to be sure").

As a closing question, could you re-explain the basic touching procedure? As I read it, it seems to go like  this:
1) Palm-to-palm of one hand, no fingers.
2) After a sexy narration, palms separate and only fingertip(s) touch.
3) Fingertips increase or decrease.
Ya? If so... well, I dunno, it seems *backwards*, to me. Palm contact is a bit more intimate (again, to me) than one or two fingertips. And what does the other hand(s) do? Rove around, apparently? Talk about intimate! While the "sexy signal" is a fingertip or two or four, this other rogue hand is going to be stroking nerves all over the hand and (presumably) wrists and some of the forearm, ya? Frankly, I'd hardly notice a fingertip here or there, next to that... or even as compared to palm contact; i.e. the first fingertip causing loss of palm contact would almost seem a punishment (again, to me).

Can you clarify? Or perhaps, now that I put it like that, do you see a better means of "build up" without the initial distancing (loss of palm) and distracting non-mechanical caresses?
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Quote from: Elizabeth on December 12, 2007, 09:05:59 AM
Meg, you were talking about a string mechanic at JiffyCon. Maybe when you get to five fingers touching, that's when the hands get bound together?
Also, since this is a really tactile game that might start with a certain amount of inhibition, have you considered suggesting that the players play with their eyes closed?

For the first, interesting. For the second, Ack!Scary!, but probably worth trying sometime. Vincent and I tried a bit of the very rough mechanics, and it's got potential.

The reversal thing David, I like that! Not sure if that's where I'm going, but it's cool.

About that roving hand, and why I'm thinking of starting palm-to-palm. When hands are p-t-p, the fingers can't slide along the other hand, brush the sides of the hand, toy with the other fingers, tease the palm, etc. I agree that p-t-p is intimate, but I think it's part of setting the containment of the game. Putting hands p-t-p is like saying 'I have no weapons and I trust you", and also "I support and encourage you" (high-fives, yo!) before we get into the fiction of this sexy game. Also, I'm not sure what the 'spare' hand does. Maybe something else that's significant mechanically, like rock/paper/scissors? Hmm.

I do think there might be a time when hands don't touch, when forearms and so on come into play, but that's still turning in my mind.