Archive | March, 2011

More Ritual, More Drama Principle

31 Mar

More observations from solo games..

I noticed the Principle of Immersive Actions at work: doing something during the game (writing, rolling, sketching, etc..) anchors moments of fiction in your memory and your emotions.  If you don’t do it the experience feels somehow muddled.  You don’t recall the scene, you don’t care about it, and you feel generally detached from the fiction.

The More Ritual, More Drama Principle states: the more ritual actions and crunch you perform, the more the fiction becomes detailed, with twists and turns, despair, recovery and elation.

I noticed this several time.  If a conflict can be resolved with a single action, it gets done quickly and you associate it only to a short piece of fiction in your mind.  If the conflict is multi-roll and calls for some decision making in the middle (use hero points, change action type, escape, etc) then your mind will automatically start building a narrative around it.  I find this is interesting, as it is somehow counter-intuitive and goes against the trend in minimising the crunch in story-games.

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Principle of Immersive Action

31 Mar


courtesy of th5 at deviantart

In the past 6 months I have been experimenting with solo story-game techniques, and I was happy to see the story-games community also moving in that direction with the RPG Solitaire Challenge.

These are some notes on what I saw working for me.  They might apply only to me, but I’ll state them as principles, making it easier to quote them and challenge them.

The Principle of Immersive Action states that: all the normed, explicit actions that you perform within a game, make you feel more immersed in the game and make it more real and emotionally connected to you as a player. Short, easy, obvious actions with a minimal amount of player-generated-content work better than long actions requiring creative engagement.

When playing solo games, you are often asked to imagine a situation or a dialog. Well, it doesn’t work for me.  If I am asked to write it, it works though.  If I am asked to write it in generic terms, either I don’t do it, or it doesn’t work.  If I am asked to do it within a very specific format and I don’t have to put too much imagination into it, then it works.  When I am asked to perform some ‘ritual writing’, even if it is something simple like ‘give a title to the scene’ or ‘give a one-line description of a character’, then my imagination is engaged and it fills the gaps with narrative emotional elements.  If I am asked to directly engage the imagination like in ‘write 200 words describing the character’, then it doesn’t work and it feels heavy and contrived. It feels like I am writing literature and not playing a game.

Have you played solo story games? How does it feel for you?

Lovely lovely Valencia

30 Mar

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