Experiments in Ontological Relativism

and Other Brain Farts

Posts Tagged ‘games’

Jason’s Wiki Game That Needs a Better Name: Rules (First Draft)

Posted by Jason on April 10, 2012

In a previous post, I discussed my thought process and inspirations for designing an asynchronous, collaborative, semi-competitive worldbuilding game played using a wiki. Now it’s time to get down to the delicious crunchy bits and actually lay down some rules.

But first, fun with caveats! This is my first draft of these rules. They haven’t been playtested or reviewed. They’re probably full of holes and bits that don’t work as well in real life as they do in my head. Also, though I’m a long-time avid gamer, and rules make me squeal with boyish delight, this is my first attempt at writing a game of my own. Parts of it may not make sense to you and may need further refinements, but that’s what the comments box is for, right? Last, I also tend to over-caveat everything. Uh… hm. Maybe I should have put that one first. Anyway…

Setup

1. Accumulate a group of players.

You don’t want too large a group, as things will quickly become difficult to keep track of, but more players means more opportunities to build on. I’m going to guess you need at least 3, and probably no more than 10.

2. Set up a wiki.

This isn’t terribly difficult, and there are lots of good instructions around the interwebs. If you don’t have your own hosting site, there are a number of very good free wiki hosts (e.g., PBWorks, Wikia, Wikkii).

3. Decide on a genre and general theme.

I was tempted here to steal adapt Microscope‘s palette creation rules here, but I’m not sure that something that formal is necessary. If you are familiar with Microscope and wish to use those rules, please feel free! The important thing, though, is that the group collectively decides on a genre for the game — for example, science fiction, high fantasy, Lovecraftian horror, space opera, pulp, noir, spy thriller, and so on.

If there are any specific elements that anyone would or would not like to see included, note those too. I’d also recommend choosing a general theme or mood for the game, whether that be serious, silly, gritty, tongue-in-cheek, dispassionate, or some combination thereof. This gives everyone an idea of what to expect and can probably help avoid problems later on. This may also affect whether you…

4. Choose In-Character or Encyclopedic style.

See below for more information on these two styles of play. I had originally envisioned the Encyclopedic option as being the default, with In-Character as an optional rule. But the more I considered it, the more I realized that there is a lot of fun to be had either way, and it’s largely a matter of preference. Choose as a group which one you will pursue. Alternately, if some players strongly prefer one and others strongly the other, it is possible to mix and match with some players writing in one style and others in the other. Again, it’s up to group consensus as to whether this is allowed.

5. Generate the seed text.

The seed text is a sentence (or a few sentences) which gives a jumping-off point for the players to begin writing. Let’s look a little bit more at that…

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Posted in Games, Non-Fiction | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Jason’s Wiki Game That Needs a Better Name: Background

Posted by Jason on February 10, 2012

For a while now, I’ve been kicking around ideas for an asynchronous, collaborative, semi-competitive worldbuilding game played using a wiki. At this point, I suspect you’ve either gone cross-eyed or else have gotten really interested. For the non cross-eyed among you, I’m going to take a stab at creating just such a game. I’ll put the rules in my next post, but first let me talk a little bit about my inspirations and goals–because I know how much the ladies love that.

To put first things first, I should give credit where it’s due. I’ve been intrigued by the idea of using a wiki as a gaming platform since I stumbled onto Lexicon years ago. For those who are not familiar with it, Lexicon involves the players taking the role of scholars writing an alphabetical encyclopedia on some fictitious topic. Each round is indexed to a letter of the alphabet, and the entries for that round must start with that letter. There are also rules for linking back to other articles and adding “phantom entries” for others to fill in. I’m not going to go over those in depth here, largely because I will be stealing adapting some of them for my own game.

Perhaps even more influentially, I found a competitive variant called (I believe) Smacktalk that since seems to have disappeared from the web–or at least which my Google-fu is not strong enough to find. As I recall, after each Smacktalk round, the audience voted for their favorite entry of the round, and the player with the fewest votes was out. This was repeated until there was one person left, who presumably then took a victory lap around the wiki.

The last major inspiration came when I stumbled onto Microscope. Microscope is a game of collaborative worldbuilding, where each turn a player adds something new to an existing timeline. It’s essentially an elaborate variation of “Yes, and…” but with a focus toward developing a fictitious history. One of the things that particularly struck me is its non-linearity; on your turn, you can expand on any point in the timeline, leaving you free to jump around in your chronology at a whim. The things you create can vary in scale from an entire era down to a particular scene, which is role-played by the group.

Each of these games is great in its own right, but still not exactly what I was looking for:

Posted in Games, Non-Fiction | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »