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[PUBLIC] Masks at Brandeis - The Cover Story
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Mon, Dec. 3rd, 2007 09:11 am
[PUBLIC] Masks at Brandeis

This weekend I was off in the most recent run of Masks at Brandeis. There's traditionally an implicit gag rule on these weekend-long games to prevent potential future players from learning too much about the plot and characters before playing, and this game seems to undergo less revisions between runs than your regular LARP, so I'll keep myself safely in the meta for now.

Many familiar faces there, both from Intercon and the recent TMA run at WPI. witticaster, gizmo224, zapf, juldea, darkmika, emp42ress and many others were in attendance. The game itself suffered from a few classical LARP problems in terms of blocking and deadlocking events, characters entering zombie states, and resource management issue (note: I'm using all the prior as metaphors to their CS definitions. Write what you know.) I had a good time, but then, its hard for me not to have a good time in a fun crowd I'm comfortable with. Especially when I have a cape.

One of the more fascinating turns of events was that former-President Clinton is coming to speak to Brandeis today, and we're told yesterday the Secret Service was vetting the campus for possible threats. Good day to be running around in masks hurriedly talking about bombs and destroying hotels and saving the President from assassination and other traditionally superhero-ey things, eh? Fortunately, as far as I know, nobody was hauled away in cuffs or disappeared or had any other form of official sanction taken against them.

I'm told that next February there's a weekend-long running at RPI. I forget exactly what the premise was, but it had the word "empire" in the title, and that sold me. What, me, shallow? In the mean time, I'll be hunkering down here and trying to wait out the ice storm before the hills of Worcester become even more of a threat to body, mind, and property.

Tags: , ,
Current Location: Worcester, MA
Current Music: Great Big Sea - Recruiting Sergeant

15CommentReplyShare

endlessgame
endlessgame
EndlessGame
Mon, Dec. 3rd, 2007 03:16 pm (UTC)

If you find actual info about this empire larp, let me know?


ReplyThread
juldea
juldea
-=juldea=-
Mon, Dec. 3rd, 2007 04:03 pm (UTC)

I have this flier I got from Masks' Dead Dog, but I can't find its online version and don't want to retype it all here. ;) That said, the casting questionnaire is at http://empire.foambrain.com, and you can poke at zrealm/andrewATfoambrainDOTcom for information.


ReplyThread Parent
juldea
juldea
-=juldea=-
Mon, Dec. 3rd, 2007 11:17 pm (UTC)

Actual info!

http://www.foambrain.com/downloads/Empire2007.pdf


ReplyThread Parent
juldea
juldea
-=juldea=-
Mon, Dec. 3rd, 2007 04:03 pm (UTC)

Possible car pool? :) I don't know yet if I CAN go, but one of my major hindrances is lack of car.


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elenuial
elenuial
A. Nakama
Mon, Dec. 3rd, 2007 04:30 pm (UTC)

If I end up going, you can almost definitely carpool with me (if there's not another carpool that accommodate us both :).


ReplyThread Parent
juldea
juldea
-=juldea=-
Mon, Dec. 3rd, 2007 11:12 pm (UTC)

Sweet. :)


ReplyThread Parent
bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Mon, Dec. 3rd, 2007 04:31 pm (UTC)

You'll have to ask me again when we're closer to zero-hour. My logistics are sometimes wonky.


ReplyThread Parent
juldea
juldea
-=juldea=-
Mon, Dec. 3rd, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC)

Ok! londo explained to me your work situation, so I can see how you wouldn't know this far out in advance.


ReplyThread Parent
elenuial
elenuial
A. Nakama
Mon, Dec. 3rd, 2007 04:34 pm (UTC)

From what I've seen, a lot of game design jargon is borrowed from CS land, since so many of designers have a background in programming, if they aren't primarily outright programmers.

Still, problems you describe as "classic" are something I've come to see as intrinsic to the paradigm of LARP, and the far easier question is minimization rather than elimination. They're not design flaws so much as standard issue problems -- just like tabletop has its own fundamental problems you work around rather than try to eliminate, and so on.

But, uh, since when was "zombie state" a CS metaphor? :P


ReplyThread
bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Mon, Dec. 3rd, 2007 04:59 pm (UTC)

A zombie state is when a program or process enters a mode in which it is no longer actively working toward a terminable goal, nor is there any meaningful way to interact with the program. It is traditional to kill a process that has entered a zombie state.

The metaphor I was trying to make was that due to the deaths of some characters in the game, other characters had their plots permanently derailed and either spent a significant section of the game trying to insert themselves into other players' plots, or, if they didn't realize what had happened, just waited for a hook that never came.

Anyways, the problems here may indeed be intrinsic to the medium, but as with a properly monitored computer, they can be swiftly dispatched during runtime by a skilled administrator. I understand that very few games run in a window in which all plotlines can be expected to be resolved, or in some cases, even started, but idle players who aren't just taking a break are things that need to be dealt with aggressively.

To put the prior more concisely, the writers can only take the LARP so far -- once the run has begun, the plot, for better or worse, is in the hands of the GMs, and they need to be prepared to modify and alter it to fit the run.


ReplyThread Parent
elenuial
elenuial
A. Nakama
Mon, Dec. 3rd, 2007 05:41 pm (UTC)

In any endeavor involving writing is a pre-production activity, whatever the writers come up with is really just a blueprint. That's just standard. In LARP, the GMs are more often arbiters than drivers of the game, but that doesn't mean they're unable to be creative on the fly. In fact, in a 48 hour game, I imagine it's *necessary* for them to do so, as I can't see the game-state being self-sustaining that long without an outside injection of some sort.

After all, because LARPs are so player-driven, almost every player has a moment of "I don't know what to do/I have nothing to do" at some point. Again, the point is minimizing it as much as possible, and good writing usually has to shoulder the burden. Otherwise, addressing the problem usually becomes a manpower issue -- especially if poor writing makes it prevalent throughout the game.

Still, you're right: player idleness is something that after a certain point DOES need to be dealt with aggressively by GMs, but I think some small amount of it is acceptable, especially as it allows a nice spot for players to take a break without feeling they've missed something. More often than not I've appreciated that as a player.

On a side note: when did they allow player death? Was it an all-weekend thing? If so, I can definitely see how that would be a major problem with derailing the game. Player death in general kinda sucks, except when it doesn't.


ReplyThread Parent
juldea
juldea
-=juldea=-
Mon, Dec. 3rd, 2007 11:15 pm (UTC)

bronzite's first character died approx. 3 hours into game. Mine died Saturday night. I hung out Sat. night and observed, then helped NPC Sunday, while bronzite just got a new character. How well that worked for him, I assume he'll answer to.


ReplyThread Parent
bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Tue, Dec. 4th, 2007 02:33 am (UTC)

The new character worked out fine for me, especially because I got rolling so early on in the game (people who missed Friday and got in on time Saturday had more of a delay than I did on my second character). The problem was that at least one player had 2 plots, one of which involved a character who was constantly busy, and the other involved my short-lived first character. The poor young woman got almost nothing done the whole weekend.


ReplyThread Parent
emp42ress
emp42ress
Dybbuk
Tue, Dec. 4th, 2007 02:27 am (UTC)

It was fun interacting with you. Not that Bedlam interacted much with anyone . . .


ReplyThread
bronzite
bronzite
Robert Bronzite
Tue, Dec. 4th, 2007 02:34 am (UTC)

I enjoyed interacting with you, too. I'll see you again at Intercon, if not sooner.


ReplyThread Parent