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Subject: Making Games that tell stories rss

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Eric Pietrocupo
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In video games, there are 2 ways that the game tell stories: Either it's a scripted story with single or multiple path, or either it's a story machine that creates stories you can tell. In board games, it is more between Story machine and no story at all. In few games, there are scripted story besides story based games.

Now one think I like in games are story machines. Which means games that creates a story that you can tell and remember years later. Now I was trying to find the criteria that makes a good story machine. On first thought you might say that story based games like Arkham Horror are the only story machines available, but its not entirely true.

I have interesting stories from games that are not story based. For example, my civ game that ended up in a nuclear war which resulted in a world flood. My Pacific Theatre of Operation 2 game that ended up in building an airpot in montreal to attack new york in order to capture washington without using te panama canal. Or my game of london 1888 that endup up in finding jack the ripper son the fist action of the first turn of the game. Or when in Twilight Imperium I decided to put all my resources to attack a single player which cought everybody by surprise.

On the other hand, it seems that there is little story to be said about abstract game. It seems you need some thematic base is necessary in order to build up a story in your mind. It's like in catan where 4:1 sheep to brick trading is illustrated as compressing sheeps in a machine to make bricks. Without a theme on those resources, it would be impossible to make a story out of them. Historical games also seem to have a strong story telling aspect if a lot of bifurcation from the original history is possible.

So do you have an idea of what element is necessary to make a goo story making games? The goal is to make the game create a story (or an series of events) that you could remember and tell others.
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W Scott Grant
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I think there are two components:

Setting and Immersion

Setting: Even an abstract game can have a setting... Some games are build around an existing historical or literature-based setting that people are at least somewhat familiar with. Placing a game in a setting is the foundation for story telling.

Immersion: This refers to how well the players connect with the setting. Sure, stories can be told without this, but this component makes the settings come alive.

Do you feel more or less immersed in Risk compared to Axis and Allies? I would wager that in Axis and Allies, you feel more immersed because (a) the game is historical and (b) the players are taking on the roles of various national leaders. Whereas in Risk, the game isn't necessarily historical, and the set up is mostly random.

Sure, you can tell stories about your experience in either game, but I think stories derived from Axis and Allies are more fascinating because of the context.
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Charlie Theel
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For a game to tell a story it needs:

Conflict - Aggression, clashing of forces, contesting the playspace

and

Drama - The mechanics need to foster unpredictable moments, scenes of absurdity, vast maneuvers out of left field, moments and plays of sheer power



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Eric Pietrocupo
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You both have an interesting approach.

Quote:
Do you feel more or less immersed in Risk compared to Axis and Allies?


I would say axis and allies, also for the pieces which are unit specific and visual. Compared to older version of risk which were abstract pieces.

The "faction" you are playing even in a non historical context does add to the roleplay and behavior of the player.
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Mario Lanza
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charlest wrote:
The mechanics need to foster unpredictable moments...


I second that. The game needs to include some randomizing element (could be the players themselves) to allowing things to unfold differently from game to game. When situations start to feel "samey" I imagine it's hard to evoke a sense of story.

When someone joyously says "remember the time when..." it's because things unfolded in some non-routine manner. Something about one particular playing of the game felt different from every other.
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Charles Cue
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Charlie nailed it.

Also, some games have emergent storytelling. Talecraft allows players to create their stories and vote for the best one. Sometimes, players craft a story on their mind with what happens in the game, like The Game of Life.
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TTDG
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Sligo wrote:
Do you feel more or less immersed in Risk compared to Axis and Allies?


I'd say that depends on which Risk it is. Risk: Star Wars Original Trilogy Edition has lots of theme leading to some noteworthy stories (damn that Deathstar!).

I'd also say that Drama can be the careful culmination of a plan, particularly if overlooked by other players. So, it may not have been dice, but distraction that aided the story (or a really good bluff).

I'd like to hear more about what the OP means by Story machine, in the context of board games.

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Eric Pietrocupo
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replying to both threads at the same time.

Quote:
I'd like to hear more about what the OP means by Story machine, in the context of board games.


I think what makes a game a story machine is the interest in remembering and telling the story. It has nothing to do with the game beign a story based games. I played a few Arkham Horror games and there actually none of them that I do remember. And if I did remember, it's not the text on the card that I would remember but rather the outcome of the game (Remember that time when I was alone in the city and fought 5 monsters on the same space)

Quote:
I think what would be best is if the story is conveyed not by long event cards, but in a nonlinear fashion and without having to rely upon scenarios. Story games that are scenario-based have next to no replay value.


Quote:
I disagree about there not being boardgames with a scripted story. Ambush! is an extreme example, but (as hinted at already above) any game with scenarios will tell a scripted story of some sort.


True, I have not thought about this. All historical games seems to be scripted. The stories you make out of them seems to be the historical variations you create which again, returns to the idea that stories are created from randomness and surprise (for example, in my PTO game, on the 1st month of war, 5 based captures and 90% of the american fleet is sunk. 2nd month, invasion of hawaii, 3rd month invasion of US). So this outcome is very different from the original historical outcome making it a good story to tell.

Quote:
In general I think the least abstract a game is, the more simulating it is, the better stories you will get.


True because you have a thematic structure to base yourself on.

Quote:
I second that. The game needs to include some randomizing element (could be the players themselves) to allowing things to unfold differently from game to game. When situations start to feel "samey" I imagine it's hard to evoke a sense of story.


Yes, making the game unpredictable through randomness and variety could be interesting. It just makes the game harder to playtest because you could end up with many outlier.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

So from all the comments I compiles, I think it could be summarized as:

- Stronger theme

- Surprise elements

I would add variety, which creates somewhat an element of surprise. For example, in Arkham Horror, the fact you have so many mythos cards makes every game a new surprise.
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Rob Harper
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I think most good games tell a story. More specifically, they have a narrative arc, i.e. a beginning, a middle and an end. If you want your game to tell a story, that is probably more important than any amount of theme, flavour text or artwork (though all that helps).

At the start of the game there is a period of establishing the groundwork and introducing the story that is to be told. That is often the initial building and choosing of basic strategies.

In the middle, the strategies develop. Players may be coming into direct conflict, or competing for resources, but either way they are looking for a way to come out on top when it all shakes out.

And finally there is an endgame, where the preparation all comes out to decide an eventual victor, whether that is a final race for the last few victory points or an assault on a rival's homeland.

The problem is that for the game to make sense as a story, the proportions have to be right. There is no reason why Risk can't follow this sort of narrative, but often the endgame drags on, and may slide back into midgame as a bid for a win fails. Chess tends to either have an extended endgame where one side grinds the other into the dust (unless the loser resigns) or ends abruptly after the midgame, when one player delivers a quick checkmate (the game might have actually been in endgame for one player while the other didn't realise!).

Just some rambling thoughts.
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John Cosgrove
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This is a topic of increasing interest in the board game design space and has really been catapulted to the red-hot zone of design with the recent award of Kinnerspiel to Legends of Andor, a game which firmly straddles the OP's defintion of 'scripted' and 'story machine'.

This is also a perennial topic of video game design, especially as the visual capabilities and budgets of that medium become increasingly comparable to film.

I also highly recommend that those interested in this topic review the truly amazing Ignacy Trzewiczek's blog 'Board Games That Tell Stories', which he recently collated into a book via a Kickstarter. His recent release 'Robinson Crusoe' is another must-play for those interested in exploring the narrative analog game design space.

I would also just like to prop up the discussion by quoting some of the (very extensive and insanely long winded, but theoretically brilliant) theories on this topic dreamt up by the old 'The Forge' RPG writing community. They had a very neat little triangle of 'game styles' which helped a great deal in describing the narrative game space:

* Simulationist. A method of designing a game which focuses on creating a system with interdependant rules designed to realistically emulate behaviour in specific detail. Attempts to drive immersion and narrative through detailed world laws and behaviour emergent from their interactions. I believe this is probably the best fit for the OP's 'Game Machine' idea - games which spit out fragments of pre-built story are a better fit for this paradigm than the next two I think.

* Narrativist. A method of designing a game which focuses on the development of player-owned narrative storylines which interact with one another and which drive the actual game rather than operate as a backdrop. This methodology gave rise to a massive renaissance in 'indie' RPGs and is most famous for the invention of 'mechanics' which incentivise direct human player interaction, acting, improvisation and narrative consequence. The games which arose in the indie-RPG space for this are many levels above most board games when it comes to scripted narrative, but this paradigm probably best aligns to the 'scripted' example from the OP. Although I think Battlestar Galactica was so successful because it actually managed to tap a little into the 'incentivised interaction' idea, while straddling the gap with 'Gamist' (see below).

* Gamist. A method of designing a game which focuses on the mechanics of resolution itself as the source of engagement and player investment. Attempts to drive immersion and narrative through the interplay of tactical situations and the banter which naturally arises between players as dice are rolled and conditions are checked. This is the best fit for 99% of the games on this site... this is the 'Catan' example the OP gave.

I believe we are now seeing a sharp rise in easily accessible 'Narrativist' games, such as [Insert Werewolf Clone Here], Coup, Avalon, Resistance, Blood Bound precisely because the analog game space is very STRONG on direct player engagement (much better than video), which is why it worked so well for indie pen & paper RPGs.

However, the real heavy-hitters (like Vlaada, Ignacy, everyone who works at Fantasy Flight) in the narrative analog space are all rushing towards the simulationist space.

I have a personal theory on why this is.

The bulk of board gaming from 2000 onward has been driven by a massive surge in 'european' style board gaming. This involves highly detailed, often quite literally 'economic' (by which I mean stock-and-flow) game models. This is the very definition of a 'Gamist' approach and is hugely successful in the 2-3hr analog gamespace and heaps of fun.

However, there is now an increasing wave of gamers entering the analog game space who have spent the last decade or two living in the overheating video game space, and who are now conditioned to expect, if not NARRATIVE from each game session, at least IMMERSION (which everyone here points out is directly related to each other).

Video games have achieve immersion by focusing on the pairing of SIMULATIONIST and NARRATIVIST. They literally build 'physics engines' and then populate them with storylines.

The default position of a 2 hour board game with cardboard and meeples is GAMIST. It's about dice and cards and checks and balances and investment and return and risk.

If you get really really good at pairing GAMIST with NARRATIVIST, I think you wind up writing a pen and paper RPG. Personally, I'm still interested in exploring board games which go here better, but it's tricky. My perfect example of this lofty dream? Android. But that's a conversation for a different lynch mob.

Pairing GAMIST to SIMULATIONIST? Now that's a much more viable idea. You COULD have another Agricola clone. OR you could dial up the severity of the resource drain, add modular geography, add a crafting tree, weather effects and wandering monsters, plus a morale indicator and a series of scenarios, wrap it all up in PERFECTLY CONSISTENT THEME and you'd get... Robinson Crusoe.

Or Mage Knight.

Or Descent.

Or Twilight Imperium.

Or Legends of Andor.
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Eric Pietrocupo
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If I get it right it could be sumarized as:

Simulationist: Try to reproduce reality. For example, sacrifice playability for more realism.

Narrativist: Try to make a story with a hook, progression, and climax like any other book or movie.

Gamist: Try to have a game where mechanics force them to make interesting decisions in order to get strategy.

--------------------------------------------------------

My first thoughth is that board games should have a bit of each.

Simulationnist: For being coherent with the theme.

Narrativist: For the game's progression and ending.

Gamist: For having interesting decision to make while playing.


Any lacking an element will make either make the game repetitive, dry, or mindless.
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John Cosgrove
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Close, but not quite Eric, the interesting one is Narrativist.

The RPG guys define that not as simply creating a narrative flow - D&D 4th ed has narrative flow, but it's widely considered 'gamist'. Narrativist is where you introduce mechanics which incentivise direct storytelling, ie. storytelling IS the core of the game. Again, the closest things to this in board game space are things like werewolf, Resistance, Avalon, etc. Even How to Host a Murder. The indie RPGs which focused on this literally introduced mechanics which require players to interact narratively with each other (often via direct PvP conflict) in order to progress the game state. Ie. you might literally recharge mana by introducing danger and conflict into the storyline of your fellow players.

In practice, of course, most games have a dash of each of the three elements, but I find it's remarkably robust for categorising the PRIMARY elements of an analog game's player experience. I don't know of any tabletop games which it could be said actually achieve all three equally - and I would suggest that is due to the overhead in calculations and maintenance implied by analog game space management.

Video games get closer to managing high levels of all three. Something like Skyrim probably gets close, but you can see how the Simulationist elements in Skyrim starts to erode the Narrativist element.

- Omni
 
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John Cosgrove
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I'd also like to add that personally, I see a game 'script' as the simplest 'mechanic' to incentivise storytelling. So yeah, hence why I see the introduction of a 'script' style narrative flow (like in Mansions of Madness) as a dash of the 'Narrativist' approach.

But it really is the absolute bare minimum of what is intended by that term. The ultimate incarnation would be a system which supports and reliably creates groups of players which simply rotate and stream together the role of storyteller and actor, with almost no reliance on physical laws or game resolution mechanics.


- Omni
 
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Eric Pietrocupo
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In RPG, I always preferred a story/acting based game rather than a mechanic based game. With my first GM, the rules where only there for support the story.

While in my 2nd group, they were setting up tactical map for battle resolution. This was just plain boring, because I had the impression I was playing 2 separate game, a board game and a role playing game.

Something remarkable that Skyrim brings that most other RPG don't do is the freedom to go and do what ever you want. It's looks almost close as a single player table top RPG compared to other video games that tells you where to go and what to do.

I think this is one of the reasons I have played because it reminded me of some older table top RPG session I did in the past.
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What of the way some games make the story morphed by the game or the players actions? Which of you three might that be considered to fall under? Like Android. Players do not so much tell a story as score points and gain things that change their story and others for worse or better and have an affect on the overall outcome of the overall world story which is the murder case.

"Story games that are scenario-based have next to no replay value."
- they also have a much more cohesive story that makes sense, typically. Piece meal is hard[er] to chain together into a story that isn't absurd.
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Eryk B
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larienna wrote:

Quote:
I'd like to hear more about what the OP means by Story machine, in the context of board games.

I think what makes a game a story machine is the interest in remembering and telling the story.
Quote:
I think what would be best is if the story is conveyed not by long event cards, but in a nonlinear fashion and without having to rely upon scenarios.

All historical games seems to be scripted. The stories you make out of them seems to be the historical variations you create which again, returns to the idea that stories are created from randomness and surprise (for example, in my PTO game, on the 1st month of war, 5 based captures and 90% of the american fleet is sunk. 2nd month, invasion of hawaii, 3rd month invasion of US). So this outcome is very different from the original historical outcome making it a good story to tell.
Quote:
In general I think the least abstract a game is, the more simulating it is, the better stories you will get.

True because you have a thematic structure to base yourself on.

So from all the comments I compiles, I think it could be summarized as:

- Stronger theme

- Surprise elements

I would add variety, which creates somewhat an element of surprise. For example, in Arkham Horror, the fact you have so many mythos cards makes every game a new surprise.

But that doesn't mean historical games unplayable. Also having players take different decisions doesn't just give you alternative scenario version. I think this depends on depth and game theme as pointed below.

Omnisiah wrote:
Pairing GAMIST to SIMULATIONIST? Now that's a much more viable idea. You COULD have another Agricola clone. OR you could dial up the severity of the resource drain, add modular geography, add a crafting tree, weather effects and wandering monsters, plus a morale indicator and a series of scenarios, wrap it all up in PERFECTLY CONSISTENT THEME and you'd get... Robinson Crusoe.


Do those apply to board wargaming?
I can only imagine simulationist approach here as detailing the game by using minuatures/dioramas and more detailed hit tracking (like body damage maps) , thus narrative approach would just give more detailed scenarios.
Is there a strictly narrative wargame? Would such game need a game master?
Omnisiah wrote:

However, there is now an increasing wave of gamers entering the analog game space who have spent the last decade or two living in the overheating video game space, and who are now conditioned to expect, if not NARRATIVE from each game session, at least IMMERSION (which everyone here points out is directly related to each other).

I am perfect example of immersive boardgame seeker. And i want a wargame.

My point is : Is setting more rules and detailing game elements for to achieve better thematic experience is a SIMULATIONUS approach or is it more GAMING approach because it also makes the game heavier and more abstract? Is it simply a matter of balance?
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Matt Pierce
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I've mentioned it before in another thread, but I love when every die roll can be interpreted within the narrative. Zombie dice is an incredibly simple game, but every die result means something for your story. if your roll a bunch of brains, you must have come across an unguarded hospital or something. If you keep rolling feet, and then suddenly it's all shotguns you have people running away and then blowing your head off as soon as you turn the corner right into their trap.

The resolution system I Use for RPGs (which is literally just rolling two opposing sets of d6s against eachother) allows for success, and failure, but also any 6s rolled count as crits for whatever side rolled them, so it's possible to succeed at something but still have something bad happen in the process (or vice versa). This leads to some really interesting situations beyond the boring 'you make it' or 'you don't'.


As an example of this done badly; after hour 2 in Arkham Horror passes, it's really hard to feel anything for the die rolls. I'm just rolling dice to see if I get killed or not. The number of dice or specific results on the dice themselves don't really add anything to the narrative, which makes the boss fight at the end unbearably dull. For a game with so much theme, you really don't get much of a feel that your character is really doing anything.
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Eric Pietrocupo
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Quote:
The resolution system I Use for RPGs (which is literally just rolling two opposing sets of d6s against eachother) allows for success, and failure, but also any 6s rolled count as crits for whatever side rolled them, so it's possible to succeed at something but still have something bad happen in the process (or vice versa). This leads to some really interesting situations beyond the boring 'you make it' or 'you don't'.


That concept could be summarized as a complication or a bonus effect. For example, you succeeded, but you are now wounded and walk slower. So it's a new complication you need to deal with.

Bonus effect, you be an additional beneficial effect you would receive but that was not part of the original plan. I succeeded, but it blew up something that prevented enemies to pass. So a bonus unexpected effect.

It is also somewhat an element of surprise. It seem like an interesting concept because it gives 2 facets to success and failure.
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Trevor Lehmann
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There is a concept in gaming known as emergent gameplay, where story and narrative are derived from seemingly simple game elements intermingling (often in inadvertent ways) in a form that sparks the imagination of the player.

A recent example in board games Chaosmos. A good summary of how the game's elements work provide a basis for stories, but don't force feed the player the tale can be found here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ecc/chaosmos-as-the-uni...

Excellent thread by the way. Always good to get into these deep discussions.
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Ian O'Toole
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I think narrative cohesion and a sense of narrative consequence are both very important.

Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island achieves both of these to great effect through the adventure card decks.

The adventure decks are based on which action you're taking, so you're not going to read some flavour text that has nothing to do with what you imagined your character to be doing. This creates cohesion.

The fact that adventures often offer you a choice, before being shuffled into the event deck to possibly come up later and present the consequences of that choice provides so much narrative flavour.
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John Cosgrove
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katzi wrote:


Omnisiah wrote:
Pairing GAMIST to SIMULATIONIST? Now that's a much more viable idea. You COULD have another Agricola clone. OR you could dial up the severity of the resource drain, add modular geography, add a crafting tree, weather effects and wandering monsters, plus a morale indicator and a series of scenarios, wrap it all up in PERFECTLY CONSISTENT THEME and you'd get... Robinson Crusoe.


Do those apply to board wargaming?
I can only imagine simulationist approach here as detailing the game by using minuatures/dioramas and more detailed hit tracking (like body damage maps) , thus narrative approach would just give more detailed scenarios.
Is there a strictly narrative wargame? Would such game need a game master?
Omnisiah wrote:

However, there is now an increasing wave of gamers entering the analog game space who have spent the last decade or two living in the overheating video game space, and who are now conditioned to expect, if not NARRATIVE from each game session, at least IMMERSION (which everyone here points out is directly related to each other).

I am perfect example of immersive boardgame seeker. And i want a wargame.

My point is : Is setting more rules and detailing game elements for to achieve better thematic experience is a SIMULATIONUS approach or is it more GAMING approach because it also makes the game heavier and more abstract? Is it simply a matter of balance?



Good questions, let me clarify a bit.

Simulationist and Gamist are absolutely the dominant modes in board game space. Because 'Narrativist' does NOT mean simply telling a story or even 'has an immersive story'. Narrativist means the game mechanics themselves, the entire 'game space' (which is a term referring to all the elements, relationships, classes, rules, orders, players and possibilities arising from the game principles) is designed to propagate, incentivise and support story telling. Fiasco and Winter Tales are examples of this type of game. There are a lot more examples in the RPG space, because it's much much easier to create a simple game space which uses dialogue as a mechanic. For example, the amazing RPG 'Polaris' effectively has a mechanic (and I'm simplifying here) where your ability as a character to do something cool is dependent on you agreeing to a bargain with the devil (one of the other players) which will cause narrative havok to befall your character in some other way (and, inevitably, actually lead to their demise).

Now, I'm also an avid wargamer. And I love my wargame to be immersive. But immersion in a wargame is really about three elements:

+ The actual physical setting
+ The simulation created by the ruleset
+ The emergent story created by the conflict between the players

I'm prepared to say that a strictly NARRATIVIST wargame is impossible. Because 'wargame' has a definition and a genre and it is predicated on simulation. Wargames are actually the quintessential definition of the 'simulationist' approach. All of what we now call 'RPGs' were spawned by the same company that was originally making detailed tactical simualtions of World War II. So much so, in fact, that the first editions of what went on to become Dungeons & Dragons were considered a 'dungeon adventure simulator'. Thus, RPGs began life in the SIMULATIONIST world, but quickly unlocked wider potential.

GAMIST differs from SIMULATIONIST by virtue of what the gamespace is trying to achieve. In a simulation, the gamespace is complex, dense, highly conditional and usually has a powerful internal adherence to a set of universal conventions or settings. This is NOT how you would describe Killer Bunnies. Or 7 Wonders. Or Alhambra. A GAMIST approach is about making the game about the mechanic itself, usually by making a few key mechanics which are easy to play and lots of fun INTRINSICALLY. Nothing about resolving a Warhammer melee combat is INTRINSICALLY fun - the cumulative outcome of resolution (position, timing, equipment, leadership, resolve, special abilities and buckets of dice), which is to provide a realistic simulation of a complex situation, is what you derive the fun from.

Story in GAMIST environments are also usually emergent, but they tend to be at a more abstract level (given that abstraction is probably the one word which best summarises the difference between a GAMIST and a SIMULATIONIST approach). There are stories when playing The Red Dragon Inn, but they're not terribly detailed ones...

Again, bear in mind that these are three categories designed to discuss ways you achieve GAMES WHICH TELL STORIES. They are are not designed to be universal templates of game design.

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John Cosgrove
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Thorsmitersaw wrote:
What of the way some games make the story morphed by the game or the players actions? Which of you three might that be considered to fall under? Like Android. Players do not so much tell a story as score points and gain things that change their story and others for worse or better and have an affect on the overall outcome of the overall world story which is the murder case.



Ahhhhh... now I did mention that asking me to talk about Android in the context of board games and narrative theories was going to be dangerous


I love Android. Because of so many things.

I love Android because I'm a collector and she is unique.
I love Android because I'm a designer and she is bold.
I love Android because I'm a poet and she is Kevin Wilson's Illiad.
I love Android because I'm an explorer and she broke new ground.
I love Android because I'm obsessed with analog story gaming and she fused GAMIST and NARRATIVIST like noone else had or has since.

But I do NOT love Android because it gets played all the time. Because it NEVER gets played. Because it's FLAWED.

But I still love her If I was allowed to save only a single game from the fire, it would be Android, knowing that she wouldn't get played.

Because Android is a work of art. And it managed to achieve "The Gamist Narrative".

The use of Light and Dark cards was GENIUS. It's the only time anyone has actually done true GAMIST-NARRATIVIST in a game, as far as I can tell. In my previous posts, I've mentioned that Narrativist RPGs were all about the breakthrough that if you create simple mechanics which force players to tell stories, you get better stories. In Android, the only way to play cards which advance your character to a positive resolution is to hit your opponents with cards which devastate their own personal narratives. Playing negative cards on others is the ONLY way to charge up your own store of positive points. So it's not personal, it's THE GAME. The game is incentivising the players to drive conflict and failure and loss and sadness into the story of the other people at the table. Who in turn, must do the same to power the cards which will bring them to resolution. It takes getting used to, but one thing you WON'T hear people say about Android is that it lacks compelling character stories.

This all goes up a level when you then consider the murder mystery, which is the way you win the game.

It's not a mystery. There is no killer. Everyone is innocent.

Your job, as a PLAYER, is to rig one of those suspects so that they resolve as guilty at the end of the game. Which one? The one your CHARACTER was secretly dealt at the start of the game as their personal hunch for the case. Again, as a player, you have NO CHOICE but to rig the case. That's THE GAME. But your character and the characters of the others at the table experience it narratively as though they were working it out.

We go up ANOTHER level. The Conspiracy. The murder is just part of a bigger picture. The powers that dance in the background story text of the characters are also represented in a web around the murder, using a FREAKING JIGSAW PUZZLE. The game has an actual jigsaw puzzle in the top right corner. You play pieces of the jigsaw to connect the murder to the conspirators who caused it.

Just read that sentence again please. Go on.

THAT is GAMIST NARRATIVE. You just read the description of a MECHANIC which sounded exactly like the blurb for a new thriller movie. But, once again, there IS NO CONSPIRATOR. AS a PLAYER your job is to connect the dots the way which will make you the most points. Your CHARACTER experiences it as a mind-shattering revelation.

And then, because none of this works without it, the THEME. The entire game universe was dreamt up by Kevin Wilson, the designer, and it's SO FREAKING GOOD that it's gone on to become a property they can use in other games and on one of the most successful CCGs in the world.



And.... it doesn't get played. Because it's flawed.

How? Simple:

+ It goes for 4-5 hours
+ None of the above is apparent to a first time player
+ The core mechanic is actually a giant euro Victory Point Salad... which should not take 4-5 hours
+ The only way to properly anticipate what could happen to your character as a PLAYER is to have read and understood almost every card in the game
+ If you haven't done that, some of the Dark cards played against you aren't just bad from a narrative perspective. They will lose you the game. 90mins before it's going to end.


But she'd still be my pick. Because of one last thing I didn't mention above:

Of all the games I own, it's the ONLY one where I can remember EVERY story we've ever told each other playing it.


- Omni
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Rob Harper
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Man, after that love letter, you're really making me want to play Android now, though I'm not sure I'd get the right group of players set up any time soon. It's real love when you know the flaws but still love...
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Eric Pietrocupo
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Quote:
I think narrative cohesion and a sense of narrative consequence are both very important.

Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island achieves both of these to great effect through the adventure card decks.

The adventure decks are based on which action you're taking, so you're not going to read some flavour text that has nothing to do with what you imagined your character to be doing. This creates cohesion.

The fact that adventures often offer you a choice, before being shuffled into the event deck to possibly come up later and present the consequences of that choice provides so much narrative flavour.


Hmm! very intersting. Good mechanic ideas for an adventure game.

Quote:
I love Android. Because of so many things.


It's true that there are innovative mechanics in this game like analog movement.

But when I learned that discovering the murderer consisted in voting for who you want to be the murderer, it killed the game for me.
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John Cosgrove
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larienna wrote:


It's true that there are innovative mechanics in this game like analog movement.



I forgot that bit!!! That's one of the best bits!!! AGAIN, it's a MECHANIC which is intrinsically NARRATIVE! You literally jump across the board in your flying car. How far can you go? What's the size of your car's arc?! It's subtle, but narrative mechanics ARE subtle. It all contributes.


larienna wrote:

But when I learned that discovering the murderer consisted in voting for who you want to be the murderer, it killed the game for me.


I completely understand. That was the case for so many people. But if you're interested in player-driven narrative, it's still worth a shot because it WORKS. But you have to come for the CHARACTERS, not the murder story.

- Omni
 
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