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CGD1 Brainstorm: Book Plots

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FastLearner
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Now that some core ideas are out, let's spend some time discussing them and pseudo-brainstorming about them.

It would be great if you'd take a moment to at least:

  • Mention something you like about the idea,
  • Mention something that you don't care for or are concerned about regarding the idea, and
  • Put out anything else about the idea you'd like, including any basic implementation ideas.
Please don't go into great detail about how you think such a game would work, trying to refine a bunch of mechanics or anything. Rather please keep it pretty basic. Once we pick one to move forward on then more details would make sense. Note, too, that whatever we go with we can still work on some of the other ideas later, of course.

Here's one of Scurra's thoughts:

Quote:
I want to pitch a game based around famous book plots. This was mostly inspired by Jasper Fforde's fantastic "Thursday Next" series of fantasy detective stories (I don't think he's very well known in the US yet, but he will be!) Anyway, the premise there is that Fiction is an alternate reality, and what we read in novels is merely the actions of a bunch of actors who do other things when they aren't needed in the narrative. However, there are trouble-makers who want to interfere with the stories: people who think that Heathcliffe should be killed, or that the rude bits should be excised from the Canterbury Tales and so on. So there is a whole department called "Jurisfiction" devoted to making sure that the plots remain intact; one of the original gags in the first book was the murder (in our world) of a minor character from David Copperfield who now doesn't appear in the book any more...

So the game would involve either the players trying to affect the plotline of a famous book (to insert their own characters or to change the ending to one that suits their hidden agenda), or the players having to try and stop external events from changing the plot of a book by "patching" the mistakes. As you can see, the game hasn't exactly been thought through yet, but it seemed like it had potential.

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FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
CGD1 Brainstorm: Book Plots

I've not read these books, but they sound really great! I'll have to pick at least one up. Very cool.

As a game I see real potential. It seems like it could be really fun (and potentially funny), as well as educational. I really dig the idea of learning about the plots of famous books I haven't read, too. :)

A potential downside would be that it might turn people off -- the idea of literature scares a lot of people (even me a bit and I'm pretty well read). I think this could be overcome, though, in presentation and marketing.

From a basic functioning standpoint I think the idea of the characters trying to affect the plotline to their own "nefarious" ends would be cool. I can see a series of cards or tiles laid out in a pattern that shows the basic plot of the book in question. The players would then have something like hidden goals and would manipulate the plot by moving/replacing cards/tiles.

The rules might come with the plots for something like 20 classic books, and more could be published on the web or in expansions. Cool and fun idea.

Scurra
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CGD1 Brainstorm: Book Plots

I did think of pitching it as classic movie plots instead, which might even make a playable game, given than there are more people involved in making a film.
With a book, the author is generally the only major input (with some from the editor).
With a film you get the writer(s), the director, the producer, the studio, even the star all sticking their oar in.

FastLearner
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CGD1 Brainstorm: Book Plots

The advantage of classic books is that their names and their plots are in the public domain. Not so with movies -- I don't think there's a recognizable movie title that's in the public domain yet, thanks to the US Congress extending copyright every time Disney asks.

jwarrend
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CGD1 Brainstorm: Book Plots

I really like this idea, although I'm afraid that it will be difficult to do it well, and it may be too ambitious for a first try.

I like the "alternate reality" model, and I think that makes books the preferred medium over movies. I just saw a movie called "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", and the gist there is that a bunch of 19th century British characters (Alan Quatermain, Dr Jekyll, Dorian Gray, etc) have to band together to stop a super bad guy. I am not advocating such an approach for a theme so much as saying that this might possibly be the kind of broad concept you're talking about: there is an alternate universe where famous book characters live.

I could envision each player being an author, and having to balance actions in the "real world" and spending time "writing" actions for their characters to take in the alternate reality world.

Very hard to execute properly, I'm afraid, but potentially a very unique and original concept! I love it!

-Jeff

Scurra
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CGD1 Brainstorm: Book Plots

FastLearner wrote:
The advantage of classic books is that their names and their plots are in the public domain. Not so with movies

Oh yeah, I knew I'd forgotten a major reason why I didn't use films!
Jasper Fforde has admitted that he wanted to use "Eeyore" as a character in his latest book, but Disney wouldn't play ball. Which is absurd when you think about it.

Anonymous
CGD1 Brainstorm: Book Plots

As a board game I really can't picture this as it does seem to be a story in it's own right. I havn't known to many board games (if any at all) to have that much required narrative in it.

However as a video game I see this as an awesome idea. Either a first person shooter, or an RPG.

As a matter of fact, that idea is so firmly planted in my brain I can't seem to focus on how it would translate to a board game.

Perhaps a pen and paper rpg would be the closest thing I could come to it.

Great concept though.

Scurra
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CGD1 Brainstorm: Book Plots

Bandecko wrote:

However as a video game I see this as an awesome idea. Either a first person shooter, or an RPG.
(snip)
Perhaps a pen and paper rpg would be the closest thing I could come to it.
Great concept though.

Actually, an RPG would obviously be the best way to do this (I wonder if anyone has started on a Thursday Next GURPS sourcebook yet? :))

As a video-game...well - it certainly has potential.

As a board game - more likely a card game - it was only an idea. Sometimes you can make these things work and sometimes you just struggle to get anywhere. That was partly why I put this one up in the CGF, because I thought that someone else might have the one bright idea that would bring it all together.

Scurra
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CGD1 Brainstorm: Book Plots

I suddenly realised how to make this work, and the first prototype version of this game is now done and dusted, with a test session planned for tonight. The mechanics are very simple (score points by protecting bits of plots whilst sabotaging other player's attempts) with a nice simultaneous play system, some bluffing tricks and a bit of tactics. Certainly more towards the "chaos" than "control" end of the spectrum, but that seems to be the right sort of area for it.

more details (posted Monday 1 Sept)
The playtest went surprisingly well. There wasn't as much direct interaction as I was expecting, but then there's too much hidden information for that to be really possible. However, most of the mechanics worked as I had intended, and, once we'd stripped a fair number of the "attack" cards and replaced them with other action cards, the second run was very lively.

Each book has 2 major characters and 5 plot cards. Players add "guards" to the cards and, when there are enough attached to a card, the player who played the lowest numbered card wins the card. Sabotage cards remove guard cards, allow the players to steal plot and character cards, and even change the book the cards are going to affect.
Lower-point value cards are won first, so it is important to judge when you want to maximise your score, but there is sufficient chaos in the game to ensure that "perfect" play is nowhere near possible.
It seems to have the right feel for the level of game it is (nearer the beer'n'pretzels end of the spectrum) without losing the quasi-educational aspect I wanted - if you know the book in question, you'll recognise the plot scenes, but the cards don't give the story away, which might provoke some interest.

Web-link (posted Wednesday 3rd Sept)
http://www.scurra.com/jurisfiction/

NB Please don't circulate this as I'm still waiting to hear from Mr Fforde about copyright issues. Thanks.

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