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After Kaiju - make a heterodox documentary that overturns the official kaiju attack consensus

A topic by Speak the Sky created Apr 11, 2019 Views: 181 Replies: 5
Viewing posts 1 to 6
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Here's a summary of what I've put together so far for my entry-in-progress, After Kaiju, in which the players make a low-budget documentary about the origin and aftermath of a kaiju attack (think Japanese kaiju film, not Pacific Rim, but the game can take place anywhere and really could be about anything). The design goal comes in with how the people featured in the film and who see the film are split into three Ages: the Young who were born after the attack, the Adults who were Young during the attack, and the Old who were Adults during the attack. DISCLAIMER: This game is in no way meant to be a realistic depiction of film-making and doesn't necessarily use terminology in the industry way.

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Part 1, Setup: The players collectively draw the kaiju while answering questions about its origins, attack, and aftermath. They take it in turns to pick an age, answer a question from their perspective (questions roughly like "how soon were people allowed into the exclusion zone?", "when did the government take decisive action?", and "what human activity happened near where the kaiju emerged?", but probably more pointed), and then draw a feature of the kaiju (like its atomic breath, impenetrable scaly hide, or mechanical brain) that's linked to their answer somehow. They also add a feature to that age group's style (use of colour, shape, annotation, text, or texture) to build up a visual style for each age group. Ideally this ends up making something creatively insane like a giant gorilla with a robot heart, a spider face, chitinous claws, and so on.

After some number of turns, setup ends with everyone (secretly?) picking one answer to doubt/challenge.

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Part 2, Shoot: From now on, the players are a small creative team working on a low-budget documentary about the kaiju attack. The shoot takes place over one day (because hiring professional gear costs money), and is where the main physical/geographical map-making takes place. The map starts off blank, but it'll cover the whole range from where the kaiju emerged to where it died/left earth/met some other fate, ideally in one city. The film crew starts off somewhere and Players take turns to either:

  1. Record A-roll using both sound and camera (e.g. the main interview footage).
  2. Record B-roll using sound and camera separately (e.g. random other voiceovers, panoramas, closeups - anything optional added on top of the A-roll).
  3. Travel somewhere new on the map (e.g. from a suburban residential area to a university campus or CBD or the exclusion zone or a residential area from a different economic class).

Each piece of footage is, for the most part, an interview with one or more people who belong to an age group the active player chooses. That could be anything from a pretty impromptu interview with some parents watching their kids at a playground that overlooks the path of devastation, to a formal interview in an academic's office to discuss the science behind the beast. Camera footage lets you draw a visual cone of the map from the team's current position (so your arc is limited but you can draw things that are near and/or far); sound footage lets you add sounds to the map. In either case, they're drawn/written in the style of the chosen age group. That aside, each piece of footage gets its own index card with the visuals and sound (or just one for B-roll). For camera you write down what the camera shows in that shot (both the things you see and other visual details like light/shadow, movement, focus, etc.). For sound you write down just one sentence or sentiment - the most important one that sums up the recording. If you choose A-roll you can also do a longer Q&A with 1+ other player(s) acting as the interviewee(s), then pick the best answer. Through all of this, each player keeps their doubt in mind and steers the film accordingly.

Taking any one of these actions costs 1 point (ideally represented by 1 coin, with a stack/pile of coins representing your scraped-together funding). At any point, if everyone's on board, you can end the shoot.

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Part 3, Edit: You get a new supply of cash, plus whatever was left over from the shoot, to edit the film together. This works a little bit like Microscope, in that you're shuffling around index cards representing moments or periods of time. Players carry on taking turns and spending points/coins, but this time their options are:

  1. Edit a piece of footage into the documentary (A-roll (camera+sound) or one piece of B-roll). You can edit in footage over the top of other footage (e.g. pair together some B-roll or put some B-roll video with A-roll audio etc.). Either way, move the card(s) into place in the film's timeline.
  2. Go out to record some more A-roll or B-roll, but with lower-quality personal gear. This works as before, except everyone can change 1 word by 1 degree per piece of footage (e.g. change it to one with a similar, but not identical meaning). If you choose this you might also have to write it poorly, I haven't decided.
  3. Reveal some B-roll you recorded earlier (either camera or sound, not both) using the high-quality professional gear.
  4. Find some archive footage, which is either A-roll or 2 B-roll based off one of the answers to the questions from setup (alternatively, A-roll or 2 B-roll made collectively by the other players based off a prompt/suggestion/request you give them). It probably won't be exactly what you want.

Editing ends when you run out of points/money or when everyone agrees the film is as good as it'll be. Lastly, you add narration to tie each piece to the next, on separate index cards.

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Part 4, Showcase: This is where things get hazy at the moment, but here's the general idea: going through the finished film timeline piece by piece, the players say how each age group sees and reacts to that part. Control rotates, so for one part you might have complete say over how the Young react, then the next how Adults react, then how the Old react, then back to the Young. This will involve making another artefact (on top of the kaiju drawing, shooting map, and timeline), a second map that shows how people respond to the documentary and how society develops into the future as each age group grows older and passes away, drawn on tracing paper over the first map.

As I typed this up I realised it'd might work better to have a realistic-ish or stylistically consistent first map during the shoot, then return to the age group styles for the second one.

Submitted(+1)

This sounds really cool! Excited to see it develop.

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Adorable! I'd love to see the final work!

HostSubmitted(+1)

Love the concept and the structure of the game!

– Antonio

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I finally managed to run a playtest with someone else and it turned out to be incredibly helpful, even only as a partial play-through of the first half of the game. I'd already updated the rules a bit from what's here, but even during the playtest we were chopping and changing mechanics to focus and streamline the game and I've still got more updates to make.

Probably the biggest single change is replacing the interview mechanics in part 2/the shoot with the questions and answers from part 1/setup. It's almost seamless, since both mechanics are just questions and answers with people from different age groups, but it dumps an unwieldy creative burden (the playtest actually stopped dead in its tracks at the first interview) and lets players establish and challenge the backstory/official narrative at the same time.

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Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to finalise the design and put something together in time for this jam, but I'll continue working on this and release it some time soon under the same license.