Things We're Working On

Published on 2018-03-14

This post is a sort of peek behind the curtain, the first of many. I'm particularly interested in your thoughts on these games-in-progress and little ideas. The things we work on, polish up and release are driven by a few different factors, and now your interest and enthusiasm is one of them. Thanks in advance. Here are three games we're playing around with:

Welcome Guests 

This game is a larp about a family of cannibals that invite their next meal home for dinner. It has a humorous premise but plays out like a pretty hardcore family relationship drama - this is another game where the characters (the family; the visitors) love each other and want what's best, but probably aren't going to get along. The true fun of welcome guests is the delicious friction between complete transparency - you know damn well what is going to happen - and playing with the situation in the moment. As a guest you know you are probably going to be killed. As a family member you know that, too. As a character - well, all bets are off at this dinner party. This juxtaposition between player and character knowledge was the thing I wanted to explore as a designer, and it has been fun to watch people parse it. Welcome Guests is effectively done and has actually been played a lot. We'll definitely be releasing it to you, and I hope you'll get some people together and try it out!

A Green and Narrow Bed 

This one is a small, intense game about grief, vengeance and forgiveness. It's basically a tabletop game but occupies the grey area on the edge of live action, because the system is front-loaded and in play you just do stuff. You play widows whose husbands were killed, and the entire game revolves around your character's encounter with the man who did it. It's a weirdly focused game that emerged from my interest in exploring the idea of how we structure play. Most games (mine included) default to a cinematic model of scenes, usually in sequence, that build on one another. In A Green and Narrow Bed there is basically one monumental scene for each character, and each player is going to make a single not-very-nuanced choice that is freighted with meaning. It is almost complete and I've played it a few times - I think it would benefit from some more play and critique, but the core is exactly what I want it to be. This game is so narrowly focused I don't really know what to do with it, but I think it is interesting as both a design exercise and as thematic exploration.

Deep Love 

This is another live action game for four players based on William Beebe's groundbreaking bathysphere dives off Bermuda in the 1930s. I'd known about Beebe for a long time, but he swam back into my awareness when I was reading about oceanic cryptids - on his deep dives he described a few animals that have never been seen again, and that he probably made up. That alone fired my imagination, but reading up I learned that his Nonesuch Island expeditions were also romantic and sexual adventures between Beebe, his wife, his assistant, and the guy who built the bathysphere. Everybody was more or less cool with whatever and they had a sort of polyamorous fling each summer. It's a nice story, and also a little melancholy, and delicious fodder for a feel-good larp. It's structured so that two people are in the bathysphere and two are on the surface at any given time, so you get to have these heart to heart conversations in dyads, interrupted by scientific work and arts and crafts (you get to draw the wonderful, bizarre benthic creatures you observe). I like this game because it brings intense relationship drama among friends - nobody wants to hurt anybody, but nobody is going to get exactly what they want either. Deep Love needs a little tweaking but has been well playtested and is a fun game, if you are into its premise.