4x larp Event Template

Communicating a game idea is difficult, especially before play testing. Perhaps my intro did not help explain the concept of the 4x larp. There are tons of details that need ironing out. It might be helpful to walk through a 4x combat larp event, as I envision it at the moment. First we’ll need to mention Event Write ups.

If you’re an event holder and are not familiar with an Event Write Up Template, then you’re missing a huge tool in the development of an event. Find a Simple Event Template here. Being able to communicate your event concept to another person forces you to clarify parts you’ve missed, refine the idea, and troubleshoot how the event is going to go. Figure out who among your larping friends, gives the most brutal feedback and have them read your Event Write up.

This guy gives the best feedback.

So here is the Event Write up for an Example 4x larp.

Rough Timeline:

Assume 8 am for most events.
Event Holders and Marshall’s arrive at event site.
Prep time, unpack gear.
Set up major locations (oceans, forts, etc).
Sort NPC gear.
~1 hour.

Players arrival.
Players sort their gear.
Event goes live.
Houses report their locations, and actions.
Event Holder determines rounds (some of this should have been done pre event), makes alterations to the schedule as needed.
~1 hour.

Set up first round. Summer Brooke attacking a location.
Play first round.
EH/Marshals record first round.

Set up second round. Byley Keep Exploration.
Play second round.
EH/Marshals record second round.

Break for food.
~1 hour.

Set up third round. Aldlake Pavilion Attacking a location.
Play third round.
EH/Marshals record second round.

Set up fourth round. NPC House attacks a location.
Play fourth round.
EH/Marshals record second round.

Other combats as needed or desired. But probably not because everything is going to run long.

EH writes closing to recap events, and mention possible outcomes.
EH gives closing recap of the event.

Everyone breaks down event site.
Site closes.
~1 hour.

Why are there no times for the combats? Well… mostly it’s because I don’t know how long things will actually take. And partly because Larp is best when getting away from a set schedule and a daily grind. It’s really tempting to block 15 min setup, 30 minute game, 15 min take down. Each combat is played in about an hour. Four per day. But before testing and for fun, I really don’t know and don’t want to fix how long things should take. To remove watches, phones, machines, timing, from the Marshal and the players makes a better larp. Also being flexible with the time frame means that one combat can go very quickly, and another may take longer, and that’s ok. There is probably a timing pattern that works best, but we’ll find that through experience rather than me guessing.

So there is a rough idea of a 4x larp played over a day. There are some (possibly many) decision points which require thought and creative decisions. Despite having a frame work Event Holders are still going to need to make choices on the fly, and with a lot of perpetration. Folks who enjoy improvisation are going to enjoy this format. People who like tons of planning and prep might get tripped up by what the players do. But that’s no different than any other larp really.

Does that make sense? Does that seem like a format worth trying? What do you think? Send me a tweet. Or leave a comment with Google Plus. Come join our practice and help build this thing.

7 types of larp battles

When transitioning from player to event holder, the event holding options available to you can quickly become overwhelming. Being able to narrow down the scope from completely pie in the sky ideas to something concrete is crucial. Usually this comes with time and practice, but there are shortcuts. Here are 7 types of battlegames you can use at an event to lay the foundation for role playing and interaction.

Adding battlegames to a practice can create a framework on which you add role playing. The easiest way to do this is to group players into ‘Houses’. Have them build banners, then allow the Houses to make choices about which kind of battle they want to participate in. These battlegames are the basic idea behind running a 4x combat larp.

Continue reading “7 types of larp battles”

Pax East 2013, attending my last Pax East.

Pax East 2013 was fun, and certainly enjoyable.  There were a lot of great things to see, and some neat swag to get (Got my Moga controller!).  But despite all that, there was no single game which really stood out.  No single piece of hardware or device which really piqued my interest.  This is most likely my last Pax East as an attendee…  But Pax East 2014 is most likely Dormouse Games first Pax as an exhibitor (if a lot of things go well).  We’re already planning and psyched to go!

I spent most of my time at the Indie Mega Booth!  Sorry about the bizzare movie size.  Blogger isn’t playing well with the script that embeds the movie.  If you look super close at 6:22 you can see Eric in the far right side of the video.  Eric’s is on polygon!  Whoo!

Gameskinny was one of the few things that caught my attention at Pax East 2013.  And it did not live up to expectations.  Yes obscurity sucks, but poorly design UI sucks worse.  Claiming to ‘save a draft’ and then not allowing you to recover it has driven me away from using Gameskinny to focus on this blog.

There was a Pax East 2013 post written up.  It was written on Gameskinny, and saved as a draft.  But that draft is apparently unrecoverable.  Mostly because there is no button on the site to recover from a saved draft, or view saved drafts.  So that platform is still new and needs some tweeks.

For that matter there were very few games which really caught my attention this year.  Guns of Icarus has stuck with me.  Although not usually a FPS player, Guns of Icarus addresses many of the issues with FPS gameplay.  Check it out if you are looking for some teamwork based steam-punk shooter.

One of the really interesting games from the indie RPG section of the event (a place which FAR too few computer game developers visit) was a game called Dread.  A horror tabletop game which uses a Jenga tower as the resolution mechanic.  This is brilliant.  As the game progresses the tower becomes a visual representation of the heightened tension in the game.

There were a couple games which have gotten some press in other places.  Rays the Dead is doing well for itself.  The mechanics in Zombie Tychoon 2 are excellent considering its an RTS on a console.  Definitely an inspirational game at least for mechanics.

Of course I played some more Lords of Waterdeep.  In an official WoTC game, with my DCI number and everything.  And got a demo of Ascension, a fun deck building card/board game.

Breaking in by walking in.

Are you breaking into the game dev industry in the Boston area?  Working hard on prototypes but not making any headway?  You need to be attending some of these events.  I’ve been to a good number of Boston Indies and Boston Post Mortem events.  This year I would like to add WIG attendance.  The networking at these events is top notch.  You can find mentors, contractors, employee’s, good advice and most importantly feedback on your game.  The topics are almost always worth learning about.  Even if the law isn’t your cup of tea.

Pick an event and go!

Event: Smart Money in Gaming

A current and future look at monetization strategies in Retail, Mobile and Social Gaming

Last night I went over to the Microsoft NERD center (still love that) and hung out with Dave Bisceglia (from Tap Lab) who was a panel member for the event.  It was moderated by Marco Mereu (uCool), and included  Jeff Goodsill (Stomp Games), Chris Rigopolous (Harmonix), and Layne Ainsworth (TapJoy).  As the name implies they talked about making money with games, and I soaked in as much information as possible.  I went with a burning desire to find out if anyone is monetizing HTML5 games on the web or mobile and how they are doing it.

And the answer was surprising   HTML5 does not really change how people are monetizing games.  At least it hasn’t yet.  Mostly because it is still an evolving set of standards and no one is really sure how it will work out.  Also HTML5 is almost completely invisible to the end user.  Unless you don’t have it.  Companies are very worried about disrupting the monetization method of their game.  Which means few new innovations just because of HTML5 adoption.  There are very few games relying on HTML5, and therefore very few special products or services offering special monetization strategies unique to the platform.

Monetization ties much more closely with how you build your game, not what platform you use.  Jeff Godsill really stressed that the monetization strategy needs to be ‘baked in’ to the game.  I would add “in a way that does not violate verisimilitude“.

Here is a TechRepublic info-graphic that might seem random, but helps tell the story.

The State of Play

The state of play‘ was a New England Game SiG event held at the Microfsoft NERD Center on Oct 2nd 2012.  It was well attended by all kinds of developers, designers, and even the CEO of Kickin Kitchen, an educational website looking to open up a game platform to their existing audience.  The presentation and talks evolved from a panel discussion into more of a ‘town hall meeting’.  There was some good back and forth between the panel and the audience, and even some great interaction between audience members.

The big issue, raised by the brilliant Caroline Murphy, is the lack of funding to game development companies in the Boston Area.  Boston has incubators, game developers, great students, and great start-ups.  It’s almost a perfect atmosphere to build game companies.  Except Boston Angel and VC execs rarely come from a game design background, therefore are hesitant to fund game companies.  The Boston Indies scene was created by and supports tons of great bootstrap start-ups that develop games.  But save a very few examples, there has not been much VC support.

There was one problem with the night, microphones always seem to be in short supply in the NERD Center. But ultimately not a big deal.  Mike, look into that for next time.