Tag Archives: we are flat

The Status of My Games

I have no idea who I picked it up from, but I came down with a cold the day after I got back from GenCon. On the plus side, I also came back feeling inspired about gaming in general, so it’s time to look at my various back burner projects and figure out where I am and what I need to do. The most important thing, unquestionably, is that I need to make much more of an effort to playtest the stuff I create.

Raspberry Heaven
Today I finally finished typing up the descriptions of Quirks. I need to fill in a few things here and there, but at this point the only thing I really need to to for playtesting is have a single episode write-up ready to play. I actually slipped some elements of this game into a weird dream episode of my Divine Machine campaign (a long-term dimension hopping game using OVA), but the rules never really came into play. I’m trying to do a “Bonus Indie Gaming Night” kind of thing with my friends, and I think the first real playtest of RH will come after The Mountain Witch.

Anime Dreams
I looked through what I currently have the other day, and I’m thinking that I’m closer to having it testable than I realized. Mostly I need to work a little on how I’m presenting what I’ve already got, and maybe do a little bit of trimming. The game is essentially a conflict engine, a diceless version of games like DitV, FATE, PDQ, TSOY, etc., and while the setting creation rules have the potential to be really interesting, they’re a distraction from getting the engine running.

I also want to come up with a more evocative title. In no particular order, here are some titles and bits and pieces thereof that I came up with:
Anime Stars
Defenders of Tokyo
Dreaming of the Sunrise
Round Zero
Zero Saga
Zero Requiem
Zero Spark
Sea of Miracles
Starlight Breaker(s)
Raging Heart(s)
S, R, J, Super, Z, A’s, Zero, 1/2, +

Tokyo Heroes
I think I mentioned this before, but Filip sent me literally 8 pages of feedback. I know more or less what I want to do with the game — an overhaul to make it much, much less handwavey — but it’s going to be pretty time-consuming. The main thing is I’m going to delineate game session structure according to kishoutenketsu as mentioned before, which in turn will require retooling several other widgets in the game to match. In particular, I want to take a cue from the GUMSHOE system and put the emphasis on when and how PCs find clues, rather than rolling dice to see if they figure things out.

Slime Story
I came up with this setting idea ages ago (and even put it in an episode of Divine Machine), and I’ve been wanting to do it in RPG form, either as a setting or an independent game. Right now I’m thinking I want to create a game that uncomfortably marries simple hack-and-slash with hippie/story game stuff about the protagonists’ hopes and dreams in the face of a bland reality brightened only by the monster hunting hobby that they’ll eventually have to give up. It’s still very much in the preliminary stages, and I honestly have no idea how I’m going to tackle the latter part of the game’s concept.

Thrash 2.0
The eternally delayed, hope to do it some day second edition of Thrash. Every time I get even remotely motivated Real Life starts dumping stuff on me, plus my tastes have changed enormously since I wrote Thrash in my first year of college, and while I still want to make a game-y hand-to-hand combat thing, I find assigning lots of points to be bland and cumbersome. I’m thinking that characters should just have set selections of maneuvers (say, 3 Special Moves and 1 Super to start with), and applying similar simplification all the way through. I’ve lost count of how many total rewrites I’ve done, but if I go this route it’ll be yet another.

we are flat
This is intended to be an anthology of three short-form games inspired by Superflat: Moonsick, Magical Burst, and Black Hole Girls. Right now it’s WAY on the back burner. Each game is going to be radically different from the others, and require its own development cycle.

Moonsick Stuff

So, one of my weirder RPG design projects is called we are flat, an “anthology” of three short games inspired by the superflat art movement and what it represents for otaku culture. The first of these is an experiment called Moonsick, which is going to actually require some pieces of artwork to function. Here are the first few bits of artwork:

Moonsick Part I

I sort of “accidentally” wound up working a bit on Moonsick, one of the games in my planned trilogy of Superflat-inspired RPGs, we are flat, owing in part to having finally bought Takashi Murakami’s Little Boy book, and in turn getting inspired to pull out Junko Mizuno’s Pure Trance (which is very unlike any other manga I’ve ever seen, and a bit weird even compared to her other works). The thing with Moonsick is that I’m finding it surprisingly easy to control my writing style in the same way I do when writing pure prose. I think reading Schauermärchen and especially Lacuna Part I did a lot to help me get there.

Lacuna does certain things that could put off a casual browser (some of which I intend to avoid), and I didn’t bother checking it out until a forum post tipped me off to why the game is the way it is. It’s called Part I even though Sorensen has specifically stated that there will never be a Part II (Second Attempt notwithstanding), it was the inspiration for the unfunny (IMHO) April Fool’s joke that got him banned from RPG.net, and everything describing the game is full of vague, leading questions and almost nothing solid. Nothing about the city in the collective unconscious or that there’s a fascinating set of game mechanics dealing with heart rate that’s central to the game, just cryptic stuff about Spidermen and the Blue City. The thing is, reading the book doesn’t actually answer all that many of those questions. There’s no such thing as a “right” way to play any given RPG, and in the case of Lacuna Part I that’s even more true than usual because it very deliberately forces anyone who plays it to fill in some gaps on their own. The back of the book gives hints, but even the GM doesn’t know what the designer intended the true nature of the Girl to be.

Moonsick is about girls who can’t grow up, who live on the moon and look down at an irradiated earth and wonder if the world was ever something different. It’s about feeling powerless and having a hard time making meaningful choices. The works of Junko Mizuno, Aya Takano, and Chiho Aoshima (amongst others) inform some of the game’s feel. The wording of the text, which stays rooted in this fictional world as much as possible, treats readers of the players’ section like children, and the game mechanics force them to make several choices right off the bat that seem pointless and aesthetic but are potentially significant in a purely arbitrary way. The number 28 matters in Moonsick for the same reason it’s significant in Akira.

The other thing with this game is that I’m winding up wanting to use visuals in very specific ways. The “rabbits” the game constantly refers to are not cuddly leporids (I’m not 100% sure what they are just yet), but the game text is not going to explain what they are, period. Instead I’ll have an illustration of one. Similarly, the fact that the girls on the moon all wear the same kind of white slip will only be shown in pictures, and one of the choices in character creation will be to pick out a hairstyle from a chart. I’m considering doing something similar with the various mutants on earth (like the Meltyplane and Prettyhead), purposely making it so the GM holds up a picture when the thing appears in the game, because it’s as close as he’s got to a description himself.

I have some vague ideas, but I really need to sit down and think about what rules the game needs, and what I want them to do. I think I’m designing a narrativist game, but I also suspect that simply designing a game about girls who live on the moon with rabbits that aren’t rabbits would be a better use of my time.

Do I post too much?

Halo: The Covenant War is coming along nicely now that I can spare some time to work on it. At this point I have a few more rules to fill in, and I need to finish statting up some generic NPCs (both UNSC and Covenant), and I’ll be ready to hand it over to some friends for preliminary checking before I throw it out onto the internet. Then it’ll finally be time to actually try out the game. :3

The aforementioned we are flat idea is coming together better than I would’ve expected, and at this point I’ve pretty much decided to go with simple, forgey original systems for all three games to be contained therein. Tenatively, the three games are:

  • Magical Burst: For a long time the world was without magic, but one day the magic started to come back. The people of the magical worlds can’t survive in the human world themselves, so they would recruit humans to fight for them, to become magical girls. Only, the magic won’t stop coming. Magical girls are becoming a nuisance, and the more of them there are, the stranger and more dangerous they become.
  • Moonsick: Earth was blown up, so we all have to live on the moon, with the rabbits. Some day we’ll find a way to fix the Earth so it won’t make us sick, so we can go back, but until then the moon won’t let us grow big. Are we even human now?
  • Spores: Mommy always told you not to eat wild mushrooms, but for some reason you didn’t listen. The mushrooms don’t like you, not at all. Can you get home alright, or will the mushrooms change you?