Game Chef Reviews Are In!

Reviews are always good for this kind of thing because it is unfinished; they give you ideas on where to go next. My responses in italics. Dragonfly is available here.

Review 1:

WHAT DID YOU LIKE?

The flavour and backstory for this game is very unique and really compelling. The medium of twitter is also very interesting and satisfactorily fulfils the theme. A micro-game with a smaller time commitment that can be played anytime you have an internet connection is something that would appeal to a lot of people, and could be easily played while other games are going on. The audience involvement also takes full advantage of this medium and adds a new level to it which has a lot of potential. The mystery and countdown mechanics also enforce narrative order and cohesion in a way that would be normally difficult to do through this medium.

WHAT DID YOU FIND CONFUSING?

I think the mystery mechanic could backfire. Establishing a mystery in every tweet and answering it in the next one seems like it would produce confusing and disjointed stories, though I suppose it would reflect the nature of a dream? Exactly how the mysteries work isn’t clear through the example of play either.

Good point, wish I’d had a chance to test it…maybe I will one day.

WHAT SEEMS LIKE IT NEEDS MORE WORK?

Maybe some play-testing would tighten up the mystery mechanic. I also feel like there could be a little more done with the backstory and flavour elements to get them across – I’m not sure how, but the flavour is so concrete yet has no real presence in the actual game.

I like this idea too – the dragonfly tech/corporation is neat and I’d love to find a way to explore it further. Maybe not in this game. Maybe it’s a TV show or something. Other reviewers mentioned this too.

Review 2:

What I liked: The setting, and the premise of the game both strike me as a world I would like to play in. It is well developed, and is enhanced by the choice of medium (Twitter). I also liked the clear-cut ritual phrases which called out the start, and end, of the game, and also the participation of the players. It appears very well thought out. The game is simple enough that anyone could pick it up, even without any story-gaming experience. It’s also presented very well – points for layout.

What I found confusing: The game’s text was quite clear, offering examples for any game mechanics that were not easy to grasp. The only part of the text I’m unclear on, is what the moderator’s posts between “I awoke…” and “… and they are remembered” are supposed to look like. Are they summary posts, which call out what truth the moderator is accepting from the submissions? Or are they “I dreamt…” style posts? An example would clear this up.

What I thought needs work: This game deserves a quick-start text that could fit in 140 characters (or maybe two tweets at the most), enabling players to run their own games quickly with as broad an audience as possible. Anyone should be able to post it to their feed, and start the game with little more than a hashtag at the end (or beginning: #IDreamt).

Yeah, I’d love to invent a continuous story mechanic/parlour game that everyone can play on their own feeds. That’s kind of where I wanted to go but it didn’t quite land.

Review 3:

I am always a big fan of games that try to integrate online play! I also like this take on asynchronous play. I also enjoy the setting, and the ritual phrases.

There isn’t any guidance for the GM on which posts to accept. I suppose it’s because this game belongs to you, and perhaps you have no interest in anyone running another one from a different handle. I’m also not a huge fan of games where the user may have to play to the GM to get their posts accepted, but I’m not sure if there’s a solution for that.

Very good point, I didn’t include that. The main point of the filter mechanic is to keep the story from fracturing from “hang on, which one is true?” which happens all the time when we do continuous story-telling online. I was coming from an assumption of only getting a few answers; if you got a lot and you were at risk of playing to the GM the answer would be to choose randomly.

Review 4:

I loved the concept of the game, and I think the random number in the first post is a brilliant mechanic for pacing, which was my first concern when I started reading it.

It is also a brilliant fusion of the “dream” and “dragonfly” ingredients, and a clever way to address the theme: it’s not common to roleplay/storytell in the social media.

If anything should be not perfect in this game, it is that the concept of a company developing this dragonfly technology is not exploited in the mechanics; I would’ve loved to see something like that the zero (0) post has to be an announcement of the company, echoing maybe the great Ubik novel, by P. K. Dick. The colour of that would’ve been awesome, and maybe some rules for starting paranoid threads about this ubiquitous company that manipulates this connection we have with this otherworld…

A great idea but it kind of goes against the whole everyone can play this parlour game thing. But it’s great how many people have loved the creepy setting I created in just a few paragraphs. If only that was a marketable skill, but it doesn’t appear to be. 

Review 5:

The idea to game over twitter is quite unusual and I must say it really fits the premise of this game. Although it might be hard to find players for this particular medium, I think that it has the potential to build a great community of storytellers.

The rules are simple and easy to follow, and the story-building potential is right there. It’s great to see example gameplay, as it makes it very clear how this game would look like and how the story should progress through mysteries and questions until some clear picture emerges. The idea of random numbers limiting the length of the story was a little bit confusing at first, it may be the phrasing of that paragraph (it is a bit overwhelming to a player who has never used twitter before, like myself), but it made sense in the end. Although the number does seem rather small – 17 sentences is not terribly much space to tell a complete story.

To sum up, it’s a great idea for a fun game, although it very much depends on a devoted community of players. I do like the choice of medium: the limitations of twitter tie really well with the in-game limitations of the in-game fictional technology.

Given how little time I had for this – like a day – and that I took the first idea I had and ran with it, I’m happy people are digging the idea. I think I’ve communicated how GREAT twitter is for storytelling, even if this isn’t the game to unlock that.

There’s also this lovely review by Mr Wenman (whose game Dragonfly Brewing Company I found quite excellent) touches on the same points: the setting is neat, twitter seems great for this, but it still isn’t 100% there – and it’s hard to know what the next step might be. I offer this to you, internet: figure out how to make a twitter parlour game of story building really sing.

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