After getting my ass kicked in this year's Game Chef I figured maybe I wasn't cut out for this RPG-story-game design thing, but I just won "Overall Favorite" for a "solitaire RPG."
I was up against some hot designers from the story games community ... people whose work I really respect ... so I'm a little in shock.
The game is called Storyleaves. I was looking for a way to make writing fiction as compelling as playing an RPG, and in the process it became less about the fiction and more about just having fun.
"Solo RPG" is almost an oxymoron - you might almost call it daydreaming. But when I think about it, I have to ask - why is the lonely fun we might have daydreaming a story any less worthwhile than the lonely fun we have playing a videogame?
There's another problem with Solo RPG's, and that's what the story games community calls the "Czege Principle" - if you create and then solve your own adversity, that's boring. This is something videogames fix - they provide the adversity for us to solve. If we try to take the computer out of the mix, and empower the player to create the story, how do we solve the Czege Principle?
By building the adversity into the game rules, which is what I tried to do with Storyleaves. Unfortunately, I have to admit it's broken - half the time the adversity is strong and tough to beat, the other half the time the protagonist sails through - imagine a TV show where the hero beats the antagonist in the third scene. So I'm still working on it.
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