Talk:Grudge Mansion

Talk:Grudge Mansion

From Ludocity

Revision as of 16:55, 21 October 2015 by Kevan (Talk | contribs)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

Old forum comments

(The Ludocity website previously had integrated forums, but they fell into spam-covered decline and were shut down in 2015. The comments in this section have been automatically converted from that forum.)

I've been wanting to design a good murder game for a while. I don't know if this is it.

I've kept it fairly simple, so that it can run as an ambient game without too much cognitive load from each player. And I think there's probably enough room for emergent mechanics (there's no scope for handing a weapon to an accomplice to perform a murder on your behalf, but you can persuade other players - or non-players - to coax your target into the kill zone).

What do people think? --Kevan (talk) 2009-09-03 18:36:13

Looks like a familiar mechanic - I think this "traditionally" runs over a very large area over a space of days/weeks. I guess the main strategy will be trying to form enough alliances to work out who your killer is, so that you can avoid them, without accidentally meeting them. --gwyn (talk) 2009-09-07 09:12:08

Yes, the "Circle of Death" target mechanic is an old one - it seemed a neat way to let an ambient game moderate itself. The thing I wanted to explore here was the slightly creepy predestination of the murder location - that you're sitting innocently in the bar, when someone hands you a card telling you that your death in the bar has been hanging over you for the past hour, and has now happened.

I suppose alliances can work without breaking the game. Even if it comes down to two surviving players, both of whom know the exact location they're going to die in (because they shared the information when they were much further apart on the circle), then there's a grim stalemate where they both hang there until the end of the game. Which would hopefully be amusing to experience (persuading your friends to go to the bar and buy you a drink, because you're paranoid about being poisoned) rather than annoying (standing in the rain because you know you'll be dead if you step back into the lobby).

I might give it a run at the next Sandpit, if I can make it a bit more interesting. It'd be nice to have another vector in addition to "location", but I get the feeling that would just overcomplicate it, and risk the game breaking. (It's already a little precarious, if one player drops out or loses their card.) --Kevan (talk) 2009-10-04 22:49:24

Ooh, I'd missed that. Very Final Destination. I like it. --gwyn (talk) 2009-10-09 09:05:56

I ran a test of Grudge Mansion at Go Play Northwest, an annual story-gaming convention in Seattle. I wasn't familiar with this year's venue when I was putting it together, so I could have prepped better, but it went really well.

Before the con began, I posted about the game on the associated forum to gauge interest; I got five people interested immediately, so I created sixteen sets of nametags and death cards. There were three large rooms reserved for con use, and I knew their names but nothing else about the arrangement of the venue, so I just cycled through them as I created death cards, ending up with a 6/5/5 distribution. I sealed the cards, tags and a small rules sheet into regular white envelopes and handed them out on request over the course of the first gaming slot on Friday evening. People could open them but not murder anyone before midnight. At 11:55, I had two envelopes left, so I announced as much and they were quickly claimed. The first kill happened right in front of me at 12:02.

As I mentioned, the con had reserved three large rooms at a conference center. What I didn't know was that one room was over twice the size of each of the others, and a plurality of the games took place there, which meant that people whose "death room" it was got picked off early. People who saw someone coming for them in the smaller rooms, on the other hand, could lunge for the safety of the next room and then just avoid playing games in that room for as long as possible. This led to a long slow period from Saturday at lunchtime onwards, once the large-room victims were gone and the canny survivors worked out which areas to avoid. There was also a hallway outside that led to the restrooms, and an outdoor atrium space where people ended up playing quite a bit; if I'd known the layout I would definitely have made them murder-enabled areas.

The game was scheduled to end on Sunday at lunch, but by that time there were still six survivors, so I announced to as many people as possible that the game had been extended--but that the room restrictions no longer applied. The message didn't get to everyone, unfortunately, but it achieved the desired effect. At the next break (4:00) I was counting up the totals on the leaderboard when the last survivor ran up, panting, having just had to chase his victim pell-mell down the hallway to claim victory. In fact, that victim could have turned on him--as the last two players, they each had each other's cards--but neither of them knew the game was almost over, and the hunted didn't have time to check the hunter's nametag. I think that's fantastic, although if they had bothered to do a leaderboard count like I did, they might well have ended up killing each other simultaneously.

I awarded a souvenir prize pack to the winner and posted the kill shot to twitter. The players' reaction was very positive. People enjoyed themselves, and the endgame seemed to genuinely reward playing well: the winner tied for most kills with another very committed player who was eliminated not long beforehand. I was worried that someone would drop out and forget to return their paraphernalia to me, but happily no one did.

There wasn't a lot of alliance-building, which I think could be a fun mechanic, as stated above. However, the winner did rely heavily on intelligence gathered from his victims: as soon as he killed each of them, they were happy to point out who their former target was in real life. Even I didn't know which pseudonym corresponded with which attendee, since I'd just handed them out blindly. Things I'll change if I run it again:

1. Have two prize packs, one for the winner, one for the most kills. 2. State up front and put in the rules that if there are multiple survivors by deadline X, the location restrictions go away and we'll check again at deadline Y. 3. Create a gossip deck ("PUCE hates KEY LIME because of etc. etc.") and distribute it at random among the envelopes, making sure that no player got a gossip card that actually related to them or their would-be killer. I'm not sure if I'd make it all true or sow in some misinformation, but I think that it would allow for fun negotiation over information-sharing, especially since most pairs of players wouldn't have reciprocal gossip. --BrendanAdkins (talk) 2011-07-11 22:33:55