Author Topic: A non-gamer MCs for me  (Read 3240 times)

Paul T.

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A non-gamer MCs for me
« on: October 15, 2011, 02:17:11 AM »
I played today with a friend of mine (a non-gamer).

At first, he seemed unsure what to do, but as we read through the first we introductory bits, he just started narrating things. He would pause and think (or read) carefully in sections, but then come out with some really interesting narration and all kinds of details.

We were both very surprised by how intense and creepy the experience of playing was.

Some observations (I'll be back with more tomorrow):

* It's odd how the "player" does so little talking compared to the MC. I felt bad that I'd asked him to play this game with me... but it seemed like he was the one doing all the work, in a sense. I don't know yet if this bothered him or not, but it really jumped out at me.

* The "core loop" where I, as the player, had to choose Madness, Sorrow, Revenge, etc... it often felt like I didn't have enough information to go on, or was still in roughly the same situation I had been earlier.

Once a couple of the obvious choices were exhausted, it felt very awkward for me as the player: I had nothing to go on to choose other options. We'll see if this gets better/easier as we go along.

When I was instructed to "ask the MC questions", I often narrated character actions (for my character), and then followed up with "what happens?" or "how does the ghost react?". In one room, my "ask the MC a question" turned into "Can I pry open the crate?" "Ok, so what's inside?"

I'm not sure if that's in the spirit of the game, but it helped push things along until I felt like I had enough information to make a choice.

Still, it was frustrating to keep coming back to that page, because the options were disappearing very quickly, and it began to seem like none of the remaining ones fit (particularly because the situation evolved very little during that time).

* We played for almost an hour, and still weren't very far along (I'd seen two ghosts, both of which ran away or disappeared, moved through four different "spaces", and the MC had two face-down cards), so we had to quit. We've agreed to pick up where we left off tomorrow.

Since we both had to run, we didn't get to talk about it too much, except that it was a very cool and very creepy experience. As the player, I felt appropriately frightened and "in the dark" about what was about to happen.

The MC's main comment was that he found it challenging but fun. (I think the game was especially slow--it didn't FEEL slow, we were engaged, but slow-paced--because he really got into detailing his descriptions and would often pause to read his text or carefully come up with the next bit of description.) He was concerned, though, when we left off: "I get the sense that I'm supposed to build some coherent, detailed thing. But it feels like I'm just making up stuff at random." I told him it didn't feel that way to me, and explained why. We'll see how it goes tomorrow!

(Also: our game is pretty slow-paced--more like an investigation game--and neither of the ghosts have done anything terribly menacing or threatening so far.)

Paul T.

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Re: A non-gamer MCs for me
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2011, 03:16:26 AM »
One more thing:

I had fun coming up with background information about my character ("who is your biggest role model?" etc), but I found my gamer's instincts kicking in when I did so. I wanted to come up with something interested that implied things about my character and gave the MC things to build on.

I wonder if a "normal" person might say, "Oprah is my biggest role model," and leave it at that.

Secondly, it didn't seem like of that stuff (which was my main or even only source of input as a player) had any effect on the game. (We haven't finished, so it may come up later... but it seemed to me like I wasn't sure why I was saying these things.)

kamawell

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Re: A non-gamer MCs for me
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2011, 07:23:28 AM »

* The "core loop" where I, as the player, had to choose Madness, Sorrow, Revenge, etc... it often felt like I didn't have enough information to go on, or was still in roughly the same situation I had been earlier.

Once a couple of the obvious choices were exhausted, it felt very awkward for me as the player: I had nothing to go on to choose other options. We'll see if this gets better/easier as we go along.

I found something similar - I wouldn't say it felt awkward but there was definitely a sense of having to tailor my reaction to the remaining available options.


kamawell

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Re: A non-gamer MCs for me
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2011, 07:36:12 AM »
One more thing:

I had fun coming up with background information about my character ("who is your biggest role model?" etc), but I found my gamer's instincts kicking in when I did so. I wanted to come up with something interested that implied things about my character and gave the MC things to build on.

I wonder if a "normal" person might say, "Oprah is my biggest role model," and leave it at that.

When I had to tell my MC (14 yrs, not really a gamer) my role model I read the instruction out first and it surprised her.  Her first reaction was that she couldn't see why naming a role model would be relevant to what we were doing.  Once I'd named my role model and given a bit of explanation for the choice she got it but I think that had she been the player she might have been thrown by it.  Not sure why, just an observation.

Paul T.

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Re: A non-gamer MCs for me
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2011, 11:36:35 PM »
Oh, yes, one more note:

I was pretty lucky on the card draws. I never busted so far, not once.

If busting is related to being actually attacked by the ghosts... that would help explain why the game was a bit "slow". I haven't been reading ahead, so that's just a guess on my part, though--I'm enjoying being surprised by the game!

Paul T.

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Re: A non-gamer MCs for me
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2011, 03:01:11 AM »
We finished the game: it took another full hour.

Total play time: two hours. I think it was because the MC was very careful and thoughtful and, after thinking carefully, would narrate a lot of interesting and cool detail. Also, my lucky draws, perhaps.

I didn't feel like we explored the game all that much, really. I ran around, was threatened by several ghosts, and generally they all left me alone (due to lucky card draws, I guess).

When we got to four cards, we flipped and had three suits. On the fifth card, I got lucky and the fourth suit showed up.

I did finally draw a single bust towards the end of the game.

We had very good time: the game was surprisingly scary, atmospheric, and effective. I'll definitely be playing again! But, dang, two hours.

But I think the MC found it difficult to narrate around the various constraints. There'd be things like, "What do you do?" "I run through the door!" "Oh, wait, now I'm supposed to narrate a ghost attack. Can you not through the door just yet?" "Sure." Stuff like that. That may have had a lot to do with the slow pace of the game.


Some more specific notes:

#5 confused the MC player. "It says 'otherwise', but the checkmark means 'do this every time'. So do I do this or not?"

#44 "you've survived the ghost's attack, and it leaves you for dead." When we were narrating the ghost's attack, however, we didn't narrate a lethal attack, AND we didn't narrate the player character appearing to be dead, so this was a major hiccup: "So you dodge out of the way... [flip page] and the ghost leaves you for dead." "Huh?"