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Subject: [WIP] Brainstorming a new theme? rss

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Brendan Riley
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Hi All,

I've got a game I've been working on for a long time called SOMETHING WAKES IN THE FOREST, in which players take on the role of evil spirits/demons in the forest murdering and corrupting clueless campers who stay in the cabins around the lake. As if you were the evil spirits from THE EVIL DEAD.

It's an area control/ hand management game with heavy theme.

During a playtest this weekend, I had at least one player who said he'd enjoy playing it again but would never buy it for his home because of the demonic elements in the game. In talking with my design partner, we wondered if the theme, which I find very amusing and a big draw, would turn off more people than it brings in.

So I wanted to brainstorm a bit about how other themes might fit the mechanisms. Here are the rough outlines of the game's mechanisms:

0. Most game actions require players to play a card, which they get back after a one-round refresh period. Players get 2 cards in round 1, and one more in round 2. Any cards they recruit come into play on the next round.

1. Players control areas on the board that hold cards, and more easily take control of the cards in areas they control.

2. Players can spend their points to add influence to cards.

3. Players can convert cards into more points OR recruit cards into their hand/deck.

4. Cards from the hand/deck can later be converted to points.

5. Win by accumulating enough points to take the "win" action.

There's a lot more to it than that, but I'm curious if any themes spring to mind when you think about players struggling for control of areas and choosing between immediate gain by converting cards or long-term gain by recruiting them. Also, it's key that players spend their points to do most actions.

Thoughts? Thanks!
 
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maf man
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You described your game as having heavy theme could you give an example of how that theme is currently coming through in an example play or whatever?

The general impression I'm getting from your outline is players fight for control and fight with the balance of getting better or just cashing in for points. I think thats a fairly open concept but I do see how it relys heavily on theme.

Politics come to mind, I'd suggest having a local focus else you might end up with the same problem you have now. Politics of the busness world would work fine for a spin on that too.
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James Clarke
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I like your theme.

Something Awakes in the Forest would be an improvement on your title though.

Or maybe, Something Awoke in the Forest
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James Fitton
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Something about influencer marketing maybe? If you're wanting to keep the idea of clever forces manipulating others, there's the whole business of how corporations recruit "influencers" in music, fashion, design whatever, and get them to promote their products.
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Vincenzo Cappelleri
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Hi Brendan.
Although I find your original game theme rather amusing, reading your original description another theme immediately jumped to the front of my mind.

I live near a popular tourist destination: Venice, Italy. The city is crammed with stalls selling various (rather trashy) souvenir items. Alongside the authorised stalls, there is a plethora of peddlers ("venditori ambulanti") whose goods range from selfie sticks to counterfeit bags. I was wondering if you might want to turn your evil spirits/demons in souvenir retailers and your clueless campers in... well... clueless tourists! Cards may be used to acquire novelties to be sold, or "marketing" techniques (e.g.: "shout louder!" or something in that spirit). Thus the whole concept of adding influence to cards (point 2 in your description) would make sense also in this other setting. Needless to say that such a theme should be much lighter than the original (nice) one.
You can search "venditori venezia" on google images, just to get an idea of how many sellers you would encounter just strolling around the streets of the city.

Let me know what you think about it and forgive my poor English!
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Kurt
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As a rule of thumb, anything about horror or fantasy can be pretty easily converted to a nature theme. If you want something original, I think the zombie fungus that possesses ants would be pretty fun. More info here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophiocordyceps_unilateralis

As far as the original title goes, I have to disagree with James... "Wakes" definitely works better than "Awakes" here.
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Brendan Riley
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Thanks, everyone! Great advice all around, and lots to ponder on.
 
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Jon Vallerand
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wombat929 wrote:
Thanks, everyone! Great advice all around, and lots to ponder on.


I mean, a simple change could be to go from demons and spirits to just "monsters", if he opposes the demon imagery for religious reasons. If he doesn't want to spook his kids, then either (a) this game is just not for them, or (b) you could make it cartoon-y, if the horror aspect is not something you want to push as much, even more so if the game is family-weight.
 
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Brendan Riley
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JVallerand wrote:
wombat929 wrote:
Thanks, everyone! Great advice all around, and lots to ponder on.


I mean, a simple change could be to go from demons and spirits to just "monsters", if he opposes the demon imagery for religious reasons. If he doesn't want to spook his kids, then either (a) this game is just not for them, or (b) you could make it cartoon-y, if the horror aspect is not something you want to push as much, even more so if the game is family-weight.


We're trying that, along with a move away from "real" demons mentioned in ancient texts toward a set of demons whose names I've just made up by pulling archaic terms for the seven deadly sins. Now, instead of drawing a demon with a major sin and a minor sin, you draw one major sin and one minor sin and put them together, making a portmanteau name. Here are a couple examples (with hyphens to show the separate names):

Purfle-moil (Pride and Avarice)
Gobber-gulch (Gluttony and Sloth)
Bingle-reave (Sloth and Gluttony)
Pelf-keek (Avarice and Lust)
Fipple-bane (Lust and Pride)

I'm also toying with adding a set of special power cards that give an individual power to the player. There would be, say, 10 of them and each would add a title, like "the Bloodthirsty" or "Bard of Nightmares"
 
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Jon Vallerand
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Again, my point is just: think of who your target demographics is, and what would attract them most. If you're going for family-level gameplay, go for family-friendly theme; if you're going for hardcore gamers, then you can go in darker places. However, regardless of your choice of theme, you're going to turn some people off and attract others.
 
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