*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
June 16, 2019, 09:31:33 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 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: In Search of a Metagame  (Read 4134 times)
Jonathan Walton
Member

Posts: 1309


WWW
« on: March 29, 2003, 05:59:23 AM »

So, mechanically, Storypunk is almost finished (though some playtesting still needs to happen, and then I have to sit down and write the damn thing), and I was discussing a few design issues with my brother, when he said something that seemed to collapse part of my house of cards.

He said, "You don't have a metagame."  Which is completely true.

In Storypunk I know what the characters are going to do.  I know how they're going to do it.  I know how they're going to develop as a side effect of doing what they do.  I know the culture that exists around all this "doing."  I've playtested the "doing" portion, so I know that it works.

However, I don't really know WHY the characters do what they do.

In the playtest, it didn't matter.  The players I recruited were interested in the system just because it allowed them to tell interesting stories.  They didn't need any other motivation, and I thought it would be sufficient.  Is that enough motivation both in-game and out-of-game?  Can the characters want to tell interesting stories, and that be enough to get them to do what they do?  My brother's comments have made me suspect that, no, it's not enough.

However, Storypunk is about characters jumping from story to story, so if I have a larger metagame story that explains why they travel between stories, how do I make it compatible with all the different types of stories people will be jumping into?

Imagine Universalis with a metaplot.  Say the players are actually gods or powerful magicians or people who have gained supernatural control over stories and story elements.  Stones are a measure of this power.  The player-avatars are then bickering amongst themselves about who will ultimately control the narrative forces, because control provides some sort of metagame reward or advantage or bragging rights.  Now, that changes the way everything feels doesn't it?  Universalis wouldn't be about the stories anymore, it would be about this metagame conflict.  When people asked, "What's Universalis about?"  You'd say, "Oh, there are these godlike beings vying for control of stories."

So, the lack of metagame isn't going to work for Storypunk, I don't think.  But I also don't want a metagame that will overshadow the point of play (traveling between stories and exploring themes that connect them).  Is this possible?  If so, how?
Logged

Jack Spencer Jr
Guest
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2003, 08:00:40 AM »

Jonathan,

I'm not sure how to say this, but the way I see it, you do have a metagame. Or at least I think so. Let me explain.
Quote from: Jonathan Walton
However, I don't really know WHY the characters do what they do.

In the playtest, it didn't matter.  The players I recruited were interested in the system just because it allowed them to tell interesting stories.  They didn't need any other motivation, and I thought it would be sufficient.  Is that enough motivation both in-game and out-of-game?  Can the characters want to tell interesting stories, and that be enough to get them to do what they do?  My brother's comments have made me suspect that, no, it's not enough.

I only think you may have a metagame because I am a little confused by the sentence "Can the characters want to tell interesting stories, and that be enough to get them to do what they do?" The Characters, I believe, may or may not want any part of an interesting story. The Players on the other hand appear to definately want that. It's a simple confusion but it may indicate a problem you're having when laying this all out for yourself. You can say "yeah, well, that's what I meant" but yeah, well, it's not what you said. Just something to think about there.

But this is metagame as I have come to understand it. Involving the Players desires and motivations for what occurs in the game. That is definately there. You may lack a Metagame mechanic. I haven't really looked at previous Storypunk thread. I appologize for that.  But I don't see the need for such from what you say here.

I would advise against the idea of a metaplot. What you had described feels tacked on. It might make for slick marketing, but slick marketing rarely = substance. I encourage you to go for substance Also, don't confuse metagame with metaplot with metagame mechanics. Suck is the view from my seat.

However, Storypunk is about characters jumping from story to story, so if I have a larger metagame story that explains why they travel between stories, how do I make it compatible with all the different types of stories people will be jumping into?

Imagine Universalis with a metaplot.  Say the players are actually gods or powerful magicians or people who have gained supernatural control over stories and story elements.  Stones are a measure of this power.  The player-avatars are then bickering amongst themselves about who will ultimately control the narrative forces, because control provides some sort of metagame reward or advantage or bragging rights.  Now, that changes the way everything feels doesn't it?  Universalis wouldn't be about the stories anymore, it would be about this metagame conflict.  When people asked, "What's Universalis about?"  You'd say, "Oh, there are these godlike beings vying for control of stories."

So, the lack of metagame isn't going to work for Storypunk, I don't think.  But I also don't want a metagame that will overshadow the point of play (traveling between stories and exploring themes that connect them).  Is this possible?  If so, how?[/quote]
Logged
Spooky Fanboy
Member

Posts: 585


« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2003, 08:01:18 AM »

Quote
So, the lack of metagame isn't going to work for Storypunk, I don't think.  But I also don't want a metagame that will overshadow the point of play (traveling between stories and exploring themes that connect them).  Is this possible?  If so, how?


Loosely based on the Incarnations of Immortality series:

Ever felt out of control? Ever felt that life is a tale told by an idiot? Ever feel that some things just happen without reason, or that the loonies are right, and a shadowy conspiracy controls everything?

You could be right.

Sometimes, events are so steeped in importance, in resonance, in impact, that forces Backstage have to guide events to a satisfying conclusion, one way or another. The Directors (PCs) are the ones who are charged with beating meaning into the chaos that surrounds us, in the desperate hope of entertaining an Audience they cannot see or hear, but nonetheless promotes them or punishes them.

But the Backstage is a rough place. Sometimes Directors get banished due to poor performance, the memories of what they've done erased. Sometimes they do it to themselves voluntarily, to be free from the grueling pressure of keeping the Audience entertained. A few times, Directors have simply disappeared for reasons unknown, and a new person has to get pulled Backstage to fill the vacancy.

The players have just gotten pulled Backstage, because of a large number of vacancies that have opened up. The perks are obvious: while Backstage, the characters are immune to 'the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune' like death, hunger, sleep, etc. And, of course, they get to play with people's lives on a grand scale. But the price is having to do it well, over and over and over... Are they up to it?

Note: Not only does this provide a metagame, but it calls for a reward/ punishment system to rate how much the Audience approves of their work. How that would be judged, and how the rewards/punishments would affect the characters during play, requires more thought than I can spare right now.
Logged

Proudly having no idea what he's doing since 1970!
szilard
Member

Posts: 260


WWW
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2003, 08:02:32 AM »

Maybe I am misremembering, but wasn't there something like this for Coyote & Quixote?

Stuart
Logged

My very own http://www.livejournal.com/users/szilard/">game design journal.
Jonathan Walton
Member

Posts: 1309


WWW
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2003, 09:16:27 AM »

Some great comments, guys.  Thanks.

Jack, you're completely right in that I do have a metagame of sorts.  I guess what I meant more was a metaplot, which you seem opposed to, and I'm still divided about whether I want/need one or not.  On the one hand, I think I need something to tie all these stories together, a reason for the characters to travel between them besides just wanting to explore different stories.  In "Sliders," the main characters were trying to get back home.  In "the Matrix," the characters go into the Matrix because they're trying to free the people inside of it.

The example I gave for Universalis really wasn't a sincere proposal about the kind of thing I would do for Storypunk.  It was mainly to show how a metaplot could negatively affect a game, which is what I want to avoid.  But I think a positive, pro-active metaplot might support the premise of the game and encourage certain types of play.  In the end, I might end up deciding against metaplot, but I want to be sure about that decision before I make it.

Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
I only think you may have a metagame because I am a little confused by the sentence "Can the characters want to tell interesting stories, and that be enough to get them to do what they do?" ...I haven't really looked at previous Storypunk thread. I apologize for that.


Actually, that sentence has a lot to do with Storypunk itself.  Don't worry about not reading previous threads.  There's been so many Game Design topics recently that I haven't been able to keep up with them either.

Storypunk has a kind of double-removal going on, kind of like the play-within-a-play that Shakespeare uses in Hamlet.  The players play characters who are, themselves, actors of sorts.  The characters jump into a story and take it over, becoming various story elements and personae.  My question was whether the players' desire to create good story would carry over to the characters, who could also have the desire to create good story as their chief motivation.  As opposed to fighting some ultimate metaplot enemy or just suriviving or finding their origin story or saving stories from being forgotten, etc.

Hope that clears it up.

Quote from: szilard
Wasn't there something like this for Coyote & Quixote?


Yes, there definitely was.  When this idea started it was all about escapism and trying to leave the story that you were trapped in (i.e. your life).  What I'm hoping to do is get some of that metaplot back, but make it work with the game system I've developed for Storypunk, which is somewhat different than the engine that powered Quixote & Coyote.

Quote from: Spooky Fanboy
The Directors (PCs) are the ones who are charged with beating meaning into the chaos that surrounds us, in the desperate hope of entertaining an Audience they cannot see or hear, but nonetheless promotes them or punishes them.


Wow.  That's... brilliant.  Not exactly what I'm looking for but damn close.

A core theme that you touch on here, but don't actually say is one of "maintainance."  The PCs would be maintaining stories that already exist, performing some corrective surgery, supporting some themes, and then jumping onto the next story like a group of traveling story-plumbers.  They would be drafted from their home stories and sent out to make sure this whole story system keeps working like it's supposed to.

Interesting.  That's the first idea I've heard (and I've been asking a bunch of people) that might actually work.  It's not intrusive enough to destroy the tone I already have, but does provide some structure and motivation.  Still, it's not quite perfect.  Maybe after some serious tweakage...

Let me explain the little metaplot bits that I've got so far, so you guys know the foundation that I have to build on:

-- the time/place between/outside of stories is called the After-Once, because it comes between "and they lived Happily Ever After" and the next "Once Upon a Time."

-- the After-Once, in mechanical terms, is important because the characters have to discuss the social contract, distribution of responsibilities, and the like between stories (yes, the characters have to discuss the social contract; this is all IC), so they can get ready for the next one.

-- I don't really know what the After-Once should look like.  Maybe a featureless plane.  Maybe a sailing vessel on the "Ocean of the Streams of Story," and the characters simply dive into another tale when they're ready.  My brother suggested an infinitely large castle with doors to open and step inside, each holding a different story.  Maybe I should allow groups to come up with their own metaphor?

Keep the comments coming!  This is really helping my brain get moving again.
Logged

Jack Spencer Jr
Guest
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2003, 10:37:50 AM »

Quote from: Jonathan Walton
Storypunk has a kind of double-removal going on, kind of like the play-within-a-play that Shakespeare uses in Hamlet.  The players play characters who are, themselves, actors of sorts.  The characters jump into a story and take it over, becoming various story elements and personae.  My question was whether the players' desire to create good story would carry over to the characters, who could also have the desire to create good story as their chief motivation.  As opposed to fighting some ultimate metaplot enemy or just suriviving or finding their origin story or saving stories from being forgotten, etc.

Interesting. This muti-leveled concept player >> character >> character in the story idea might benefeit from a metaplot or perhaps a metaconcept to explain why there is this rather strange division. I can see a couple options here.

You couple come up with some kind of concept for this yourself. This would make your game "about" something since otherwise it's just the concept of story creation, which is so varied it could mean anything. However, if you do this, it had better be good ;)

Or you could outline way the players could cook up this bit on their own. This would keep the game concept flexible as it is now, but would also remain somewhat generic.
Logged
Jonathan Walton
Member

Posts: 1309


WWW
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2003, 11:45:44 AM »

I know it has to be good.  That's my I'm asking you guys ;)

I had considered leaving the motivation unstated and letting the players invent the metaplot, but that would be somewhat hypocritical after the advice I gave Kester in this thread.  Personally, I'd prefer it if a game designer game me a default motivation/premise, even if s/he made it clear that I could change it.  Paladin and Sorceror are great examples of this kind of structure working.

However, Storypunk doesn't really resonate on the same universal themes that Paladin and Sorceror rely on.  If Storypunk was just about jumping between various story worlds, it could be a template for running games in the style of Sliders, the Matrix, Rifts, Everway, Gatecrasher, Multiverser, TMW, and other world-hopping games.  But it's more specific than that.  It involves jumping to other worlds and taking over them completely, which doesn't have the same tropes to latch on to.

That being the case, I really think I need a metaconcept to tie everything together, but specifically state that groups should alter it if they have better/different ideas.
Logged

RobMuadib
Member

Posts: 230


WWW
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2003, 07:06:20 PM »

Quote from: Jonathan Walton
I know it has to be good.  That's my I'm asking you guys ;)

I had considered leaving the motivation unstated and letting the players invent the metaplot, but that would be somewhat hypocritical after the advice I gave Kester in this thread.  Personally, I'd prefer it if a game designer game me a default motivation/premise, even if s/he made it clear that I could change it.  Paladin and Sorceror are great examples of this kind of structure working.

However, Storypunk doesn't really resonate on the same universal themes that Paladin and Sorceror rely on.  If Storypunk was just about jumping between various story worlds, it could be a template for running games in the style of Sliders, the Matrix, Rifts, Everway, Gatecrasher, Multiverser, TMW, and other world-hopping games.  But it's more specific than that.  It involves jumping to other worlds and taking over them completely, which doesn't have the same tropes to latch on to.

That being the case, I really think I need a metaconcept to tie everything together, but specifically state that groups should alter it if they have better/different ideas.



Johnathon

Hey, thought I would weigh in with some clarification of my games overall premise/purpose and perhaps provide some more thought on developing a recursive metaplot/mythos in general, in hopes of helping you with your idea.

First, the goal of TMW is a bit different from the games/concepts you lumped it in with. It is first focused on the creation of unique, invididual worlds, and the playing out of "archetypal" stories within those worlds, by the group of players acting collaboratively. (Both of our games share some common ground in terms of play concept.)

I decided it would be best to mirror this play goal within the games mythos/universe. I took Moorcock's Million Spheres as my inspiration. Thus thrusting the players, at the highest level, into the role of agents of the eternal cycle, in charge of the creation and destruction of the worlds of the game universe, as the meta-game. I call this recursive premise, in that it gets back to the original "what do they players do" premise element on the larger scale. You can read some of my work on the Million Worlds universe mythos stuff in this thread

It lays out the primal creation myth, along with the groundwork for the idea of the eternal cycle, as well as the basic tenets present in all the worlds. Basically, I feel it provides a focus for the specific thrust of the game. It operates on several levels. At the highest level you have the players cooperating and collaborating on the creation and design of worlds, as agents of the Eternal cycle, as it were. Then you have the players collaborating to stage individual narratives, again acting as the primal archetypal forces in the games they stage. Finally, at the lowest level you can play characters tied to this premise, in the form of Omyraen Incarnates, or Eternal Avatars.  At the same time, you can have flat worlds, isolated from the rest of the universe, etc. So I have this broad mythos that recursively reflects each level of play, which is what I believe you want to develop.

Enough of my "what I did" stuff, I definitely like Shreyas' concept of 'Cosmic agents" and archetypal themes, which is present to an extent in my game universe.

Anyway, hopefully this will provide you with some ideas on how to cook up your own mythos deal. But, I think the recursive game premise is good in that it can appeal both to player and character interests.

HTH
Logged

Rob Muadib --  Kwisatz Haderach Of Wild Muse Games
kwisatzhaderach@wildmusegames.com --   
"But How Can This Be? For He Is the Kwisatz Haderach!" --Alyia - Dune (The Movie - 1980)
Jack Spencer Jr
Guest
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2003, 11:57:45 AM »

OK, Jonathan. You're asking for inspiration and ideas. I've got one for you. Use it as you will.

I'm thinking of Clash of the Titans, particularly scenes of showing the gods on Olympus toying with the mortal's lives like an obscene chess game. I see something like this.

Who are these game masters? Where are they? What are they in relation to their playthings? What is their relationship to each other? I see all of this as being user-definable a la demons in Sorcerer.
Logged
deadpanbob
Member

Posts: 201


WWW
« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2003, 11:00:24 AM »

Hello again Johnathan...

Been watching the development of Q&C -> Storypunk for a while now, and it seems you've come full-circle from a game with at least an implicit meta-plot in the original formation of Q&C to one without it in the latest incarnation of Storypunk.

Seems to me that you might want to revisit the ideas of the Origin stories or the Myth of the Real ideas from the earlier incarnations of the game.

I think that if you begin to ask the classic questions like Why are there these Troupes of Players who Hack Stories?  Where did these Troupes Come From? Who can Become a Member of such a Troupe?  How Do Troupes Form? etc. - you might lead yourself into a Metaplot.

One of the things I keep thinking about in relation to this game is the CRPG Myst and it's successors (Riven is the second, I never played the third) - where the central concept was a man with the power to create and populate entire worlds and allow entrance to them via the Linking Books - but somehow he needed to keep working at the contents of those books to keep the worlds alive.  It kinda combines the aspects of having the power to hack stories and the maintence of stories ideas mentioned above (or in another thread).

Whether or not that's of any use, I'm unsure.

You might also circle back and think about the "Damn the Man!" sensibilities that were tied up in your earlier incarnations of this game.

Perhaps when the Troupe is created, it could be considered as a unit to consists of all of the Themes of the Players.  But along with the creation of this Given Troupe, Storydom creates a natrual Anti-Troupe or Antithesis for the Troupe that amounts to a shared/recurring Nemisis that is bent on preventing the exploration/promotion/evolution of the Troupe's themes.

How you'd mechanically link this in to an essentially GM-less game is beyond me right now - but perhaps this will provide you with some food for thought.

Cheers.
Logged

"Oh, it's you...
deadpanbob"
Jonathan Walton
Member

Posts: 1309


WWW
« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2003, 12:17:52 PM »

Thanks for the thoughts, Jason (it is Jason, right?).

I'm definitely trolling though my earlier metagame concepts, but lately I've been more attracted by this "maintainance" concept, since it's related to Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories, one of my chief sources of inspiration.  Take these excerpts:

Quote from: Salman Rushdie
"Think of the Ocean as a head of hair," said Butt the Hoopoe, helpfully.  "Imagine it's as full of Story Streams as a think mane is full of soft, flowing strands.  The longer and thicker the hair, the knottier and more tangled it gets.  Floating Gardeners, you can say, are like the hairdressers of the Sea of Stories.  Brush, clean, wash, condition..."

"Certain popular romances have become just long lists of shopping expeditions.  Children's stories also.  For instance, there is an outbreak of talking helicopter anecdotes..."

Plentimaw Fishes were what he called "hunger artists" -- "Because when they are hungry they swallow stories through every mouth, and in their innards miracles occur; a little bit of one story joins onto an idea from another, and hey presto, when they spew the stories out ther are not old tales but new ones.  Nothing comes from nothing, Thieflet; no story comes from nowhere; new stories are born from old -- it is the new combinations that make them new."


Members of a Troupe, then, would handle both of these duties: straightening out horribly messed-up stories and messing up other stories in ways that made them interesting, different, and new.  Mess management, in other words.  This could also lead to interesting themes, because concepts like "Origin Story" or "the Real" would be pretty relative, since stories are constantly changing and interacting with each other.  As for "Damn the Man," who gets to decide when a particular mess is good or bad for a story?  Certainly, some traditionalist think stories have to take certain forms and follow certain guidelines, while others want to experiment with very modern story forms (like microfiction!).

Still trying to work this out, but all of you have been very helpful.  I just need to spend some time thinking and work out a mythology that I'm happy with.
Logged

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!