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sealed with a kiss

experimenting with running a play-by-mail game · By droqen

Theme? Story? Concept?

A topic by obskyr created Mar 24, 2016 Views: 344 Replies: 8
Viewing posts 1 to 5

Of course, the game is currently very abstract and undefined. However, as this community seems to be a bit about defining it, I'd like to talk a bit about what the theme and the story of the game are going to be! The story concept kind of dictates the gameplay, too (or the other way around, I suppose: a story could also be written to fit a gameplay concept), so there probably isn't much point to keeping them separate - at least initially.

So how about it? What will / can the theme be? The concept? It's going to be interesting to see where this goes!

I know Droqen's talked a bit about a desire for a sense of discovery. I think that sounds like a wonderful point to focus on! I absolutely love uncovering information, being surprised and interested, and thinking like crazy to find out or formulate theories on new things. The way I'm thinking this could work is through some sort of mystery. Something that needs to be dug into, to be dissected and investigated.

Or maybe the game could start normal, with nothing too out of the ordinary going on, with strange and engrossing things popping up and growing over time? A bit lonelygirl15-esque, I guess, if that helps (not that I've ever seen it or anything; only read about it and thought the concept and execution sounded interesting).

A point of discussion these two thoughts also raises is one of a goal - should there be a goal you're (at least initially) working toward? When I think about it, there kind of doesn't have to be. Maybe discovery is enough.

Either way, it's got to be kind of ARG-ey, right? Or maybe not? It feels like a mail-based game with a story has to be by definition, but maybe I'm missing something.

I was thinking about this aspect, and the first thing that popped into mind was the Hogwarts letters from Harry Potter. So imagine a mail-in game (I'll just call it a MIG?) where all the players are remote-learning "students" in an academy. All coursework and correspondence is handled through the mail for some as-of-yet undetermined plot reason. :P That setting gives you a lot of parallels to draw from for inspiration. (Grades for progress, assignments...)

Concept in progress, I'll post more after I've given it more thought. :)

Developer (2 edits)

I almost called this game "wax seal", but I wanted to leave things open.

The way that I expected to run the game was going to be, I think, primarily mechanical with *some* narrative, with players managing something from a distance.

One of the concepts I had been considering was:

--> Each player is an orphaned child of a king, a queen, or some other noble, sent to live in safety in a distant tower. They can't go back home because their country is in turmoil and they have too many enemies there, so they rule from afar, vying to make their country safe for them to live in again (but also, every other player has their own country, and if your country is overrun... well, you'll have little to return to).

I had only idly been thinking of ARG-ey-ness. It'd be cool, but limiting?

I'd be interested to hear (as usual) what people think - do you want something ARG-ey, or is it okay if it's more clearly fictional?

edit :: posted this before i read ploogle's post! that sounds cool! getting report cards :)

I think I'd enjoy something without ARG elements more. Being part of a story or interacting with a world is more compelling to me than straight puzzle-solving. I like puzzles too but I don't feel the need to uncover a hidden world through math and analytics.


I guess when I say ARG, I don't mean... the traditional mechanics of ARGs, more like, pretending to exist somewhere in the real world.

That pretty much makes it an ARG just by itself. I dig it! 😀

I think you might be a bit confused as to what an ARG is...

(1 edit)

I'd love it to take on an ARG spin. It would make the mail-in factor more impactful, I'm pretty sure, as you're no longer "just playing a game" by mail (though that would no doubt be fun too), you're instead taking part in something bigger, something "real" by sending your letters.

I don't think it would be very limiting either, except in the area of setting the player's role. It's way harder to give the player a backstory (like "you left your country"), since each player will of course have their real memories. It can still be done, however, with some memory loss thing or maybe a backstory the player wouldn't know about ("when you were a baby you were moved..."). Except that one point, though, an ARG format would probably not be especially limiting.