It's a talk by Corey Anderson, a survey of this year's talk theme: games run more than once. Simulcasts, replays, and the like. My rambling asides are in italics and I take some pretty egregious summarize|rephrase|totally-change-meaning liberties with other folks' words, too. E.g., nobody joked about being "Down with Other People's Puzzles," but that doesn't mean I wouldn't sneak such a joke in here.
- Oh man, I can hear Corey but I can't really see him. You know, when we were setting up this talk, I drew the easy job: triggering the automatic recording of the talk. Except the "automatic" talk-recording magic didn't work, so I had a nervous time IMing with an AV tech so that he could manually trigger the recording... And this is what we get? When I scroll down and see stills from the Seattle talks, they look good because you can see the speaker. I think thats because Curtis hauled a camera to those events instead of relying on Google's video-conferencing system. Should we go back to hauling a video camera to these things? Who has a video camera? Oh man. Anyhow. What's Corey saying?
- Running things in two places at the same time. Running things different times, maybe in two places or maybe the same time.
- Corey talked to some folks who'd been "original" GCs and folks who ran simulcasts, replays.
- Corey is cheating: He got a head start on this topic. He's been tricking large herds of geographically-scattered but technically-focused nerds into working together for a while now.
- Sharing things between GCs
- What Gets Shared?
- Paper puzzles. Version control can get tricky, especially for simulcasts. That last-minute fix, does everybody know to get that latest version? Oh man for Zombie BANG (a simulcast of Zombie SNAP), this was a worry. We Berkeley recasters of the Seattle Game, we weren't quite sure—is it time to print up this puzzle? Not long before the game, but fixes still going in, and we weren't sure how "final" the changes were.
- Physical Objects. If it's a re-run in another city, maybe you mail everything and hope it doesn't break. Or maybe remote city builds their own.
- Yeah, for Bust ANother Ghost, we SF folks went to Berkeley for build parties. Yay for being nearby; especially since I learned a lot being in those build parties with folks who know how to make books. And crumple up little slips of paper.
- Maybe the "other" GC wants to build stuff. Nerds like to build stuff, that's cool.
- Notes if you write good notes for volunteers, then remote GC will love you. Maybe the lesson is: write notes as if someone who doesn't know this puzzle will be at the site, even if the puzzle author will be at the site. Kinda tough to motivate the puzzle author to write such good notes, though.
- "Hats off to Shinteki, they do a great job of that." Yeah. You should volunteer for Shinteki sometime to see the notes that they give you.
- Mechanics of Sharing
- Google Sites - good at organizing pages, but not for files: it doesn't handle versioning well.
- If you have too many pages (more than a couple of dozen), Google Sites isn't even good for organizing that. I could see using it for a short game; I'd switch over to some other wiki for a longer game, tho.
- Dropbox is good for files! Yeah!
- File formats: if one site uses Illustrator, JS, and Apache and another site uses MS Publisher and Silverlight, you might not be able to collaborate so closely.
- Getting a .pub file the day before the event is stressful if you have no idea what a .pub file is for.
- Sort it out ahead of time
- I forget how this went for Zombie BANG. Maybe the original GC always sent us things published to PDF? Or maybe Alexandra and Joe dealt with weird file formats?
- Conference Call walkthrough After original GC does the big dropbox-share or mails boxes of puzzles, set up a conference call to talk over the contents. Oh hey good idea
- Also, it's a good excuse for a conference call in general. And you know that you want to have some kind of friendly voice-conference before the email starts flying. Avoid the flames of thinking you're emailing some faceless idiot. Get to know and like that idiot ahead of time.
- Google Sites - good at organizing pages, but not for files: it doesn't handle versioning well.
- Money If someone turns a profit, how to split between remote GC and original GC? Ha ha, since nobody ever turns a profit at this hobby, this is a question for the philosophers.
- Talk about money ahead of time, though. People get weird about it.
- Setting Expectations "Talk about _____ early on." is gonna be a theme for the rest of this talk. What gets weird if you wait until the last minute to talk about it, let false assumptions fester?
- Editorial Control Remote GC might need to change some things, want to change some other things. Original GC still feels ownership—some changes could make them mad. Talk about this early on.
- Original GC might not think that remote GCs "improvements" are better. Remote GC might insist on only doing stuff if they can impart their own stamp of elegance.
- Rerun or Inspired by Original Event?
- How close to conform?
- Example: WHO: NorCal has different locations, so you can't be 100% the same. But it was supposed to feel the same.
- Example: BANG28: here are glowy things that look cool at night, use them as you will.
- Because long games typically have a narrative, players want the narrative to be the same.
- Shorter games are more loosey-goosey. If you change the metapuzzle at the end, probably nobody's going to kick too hard.
- Because Zombie SNAP used environmental data, we ended up designing some "replacement" puzzles for Zombie BANG. Since the players' other choices were: shlep up to Seattle or play a truncated game, it felt like the right decision. (Although if we'd known it was going to rain so hard, maybe a truncated game would have been better?)
- For Viking SNAP/BANG, Bay Area folks bought flags and flagpoles to copy "data" for a Seattle site-specific puzzle.
- What about the SF Mini-Game, which used a lot of San Francisco context? What about that one BANG28 puzzle which you could rewire for a location other than Community Park, Morgan Hill, CA, but... maybe it's just easier to remind players that's where the original took place.
- Is it easier? Maybe
- Puzzles have been playtested many many times
- But there's more to it than just puzzles.
- For a BANG, maybe you're just choosing some streetcorners to pass out puzzles and a location for an end party.
- For a longer game: locations, parties, volunteers, schedules, permission from locations, playtest in new locations... There's still plenty to do.
- Still, it's a way to get into running a game even if you've never
designed a puzzle. All that organizational stuff is hard, but maybe
it's things you already know how to do.
- Oh man, logistics is so much harder than designing puzzles.
- Set Expectations (reprise)
- Time for questions!
- Debbie Goldstein
transfering knowledge between GCs, including scouting? What on earth
would GCs have to talk about for scouting? Like, presence of restrooms?
- Corey Oh yeah, I didn't mean it that way. But if you have a sheaf of pre-made puzzles in hand, that changes your scouting approach. E.g., WHO's glass puzzle was inspired by the Tacoma-area Chihuly museum's glass bridge. NorCal doesn't have one of them. But the bay area recasters had a cool glass puzzle which inspired some far-flung location scouting, bringing teams to Benicia, of all places. Instead of location inspiring the puzzle, we had a puzzle inspiring the location.
- staticy voice from Seattle (who was this?)
You said that re-casters might want to re-build something?!? Citation needed.
- Corey Sure, remember the telephone system from that one puzzle in the WHO game? The bay area folks re-worked it. This allowed a small tweak—but probably the main motivator was that a particular nerd wanted to play with a phone-menu system, and this was a chance.
Wait, I remember BANG28. That had tons of custom electronics, el-wire,
arduino, Android apps... As a professional technical writer, I assure
you it's impossible that you boxed all that up, mailed it to Seattle with
some written documentation and that anyone could ever figure out
how to deal with it.
- Corey Big props to the Team Los Jefes and Silly Hat Brigade Folks up in Seattle who received a box this tall, chock full of mad science, and figured out what to do with it. Our "written documentation" was final puzzle files, notes for volunteers. But the conference call was vital. After unpacking, Seattle had a living room full of pieces, with no indication how they went together
- peanut gallery The Ikea of Games
- Corey ...The conference call helped a lot. "You should be looking at a big roll of plastic fencing interwoven with el-wire. That goes with the Arduino controller." "Oh, now it makes sense."
- different staticy voice from Seattle (who was this?
sounds like someone who's learned from experience)
If you're the "original GC" but you're open to a
re-cast/simulcast/whatever, figure that out early on. That
"other team" is great for playtests, early advice, etc etc.
- Corey Yeah. Finding playtesters can be hard. That "other GC"
is probably a cohesive team instead of a ragtag band coming
together for just one game.
Contrastwise, tho: One survey respondent was glad that they were "puzzle-complete" before talking to simulcasters. Past some point (five people? seven people?) bringing in more people doesn't help when designing something, but more slows you down.
But yeah, we had a tough time finding playtesters for BANG28. If we'd known that awesome Seattle folks would do a re-cast, well, that would have been nice.
- Corey Yeah. Finding playtesters can be hard. That "other GC" is probably a cohesive team instead of a ragtag band coming together for just one game.