We played The Name of God - a strange 'nanogame' in which you play gods who have come to be confined in mortal bodies, having forgotten their True Names.

I felt throughout that the way we built and contributed to scenes was relevant to my game design - there is a sweet spot in GMless games when it comes to scene authority and player/character autonomy. This game straddled the line between group creativity and that awkward push-pull of people adding aspects to others' scenes (and they are still shown as having scene ownership) and therefore distorting a player's vision for their character.

The game did not strongly enforce a cohesive vision between the players, and we should have solidified our idea for what the setting was before we started. If we had done so, perhaps people's ideas would have gelled better and the setting would have been less surreal. As it was, the real meat of the game came from this creative challenge of expression versus antagonism - not fictional positioning antagonism, or tactical, but of disparate cohesive .

This is not a failure in the game. I think we came to a very colourful, expressive, thoughtful place, because of the spaces the game left us and because of the nebulous growth of ideas and objectives. However, this is not what I want to see in Or The Whale, because I want an overarching consensus.

So what I think I've learned is that there are weak spots in GMless scene-framing, and this is something I've come across to some degree in other GMless games - Fiasco,
Lovecraftesque, Downfall. Not so much in Microscope, however. There is a clear reason for this. Microscope formalises the setting and does not allow players to encroach on each others' scenes. It does this at the cost of 'flow' and roleplaying however, which are aspects I would like to include in Or The Whale., at least there will be more roleplaying in scenes than Microscope.

Setting - strong, solidified, formalised before the scenes begin.
Scene Framing - Does not compromise a player's ideas of their character. Engages something the player would be interested to see from their character. This could be a wonderful feeling of us working together to achieve the story.
Playing the MC - Needs to be focused, not too many free ideas, controlled/reasoned influence.


The game worked conflict resolution by having one of the 'Eyes' (the non-protagonists of the scene having MC roles), declare that an action was 'difficult', 'perilous' or 'both', which lead to a dialogue-based resolution system. With more practice this system would be much smoother, and it doesn't seem inherent that one would falter at this step. Though we did a bit, I think because we didn't confirm the setting more at the beginning. I think that as long as the point of a scene, its stakes or the character's aim are clearly apparent, resolution coming from a player's judgement that an action is worthy of resolution would be acceptable in a scene.

I have some bristling and excited feelings about all our characters and their stories but that's for another time.


 


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