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A Lady's Journal
Musings of Improvement
[Cam] A Question to My Gamers 
14th-May-2009 11:50 pm
Painted Redhead
The success of a LARP is usually measured in its attendance. If 60 people show up to your game on a regular basis, you are successful beyond your wildest dreams. If 30 people show, you're doing really well. If 15 people are your regular attendees, you're not doing half bad. If 6 people come, you might as well pack up and start a table top game.

That being said, that is the measure of "success" in LARP. But what makes a good game, in your opinion? Is it the attendees? Plot? The quality of roleplay?

As my local Cam friends are already doubtlessly aware, this is partially in response to this. The quality of Sonoma Requiem has been called into question, and I'm curious to know people's opinions.

By all means, even if you are not a LARPer or a member of the Cam, speak up. I'm looking for all comers here.
Comments 
15th-May-2009 07:31 am (UTC)
I think a good game requires a compelling story, balanced with the structure of the rules involved. Rules come into it because if it were just a story, we might as well read it in a book or screen, but since it's a game, there's a system by which we can all interact with that story, and change it.

Since the story is made up of plot and characters (and here I mean both NPCs and PCs), it's necessary to have both good people behind the wheel and good people powering the boat.

Story (Plot and Characters to be specific) and Mechanics. These are my requirements for a good game.

The quality of roleplay is marginally important, but I think that almost anyone can act if they have a good sense of the character they're portraying, especially if they care deeply about that character.
15th-May-2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you. As usual, your answer is both helpful and well-thought.

To further examine this, though, there are players who prefer interpersonal character interaction more than they enjoy storyteller driven plot. In your opinion, which is more important, or are they of equal importance? And why?
15th-May-2009 07:15 pm (UTC)
In my opinion, interactions with storyteller driven plot is more important. The story I care about is what happens to my character, and frequently, other characters don't interact well with what I think my character is/does/says. JP isn't a bad example: I wanted to play an elder, but no one respected that aspect of him, for whatever reason. He was still very much an elder in terms of power though, and could do things that affected the plot of the story accordingly. That being said, I want to stress two things:

1. I love PCs interacting with PCs and think that's a great part of the game. JP would be nothing without Jacob, for example, and my one of my favorite characters, Dante, would be nothing without the Brujah he was Primogen of.

2. My tastes are not the same as anyone else, and if people have more fun with interacting with PCs than they do the plot of the story, then that needs to be encouraged as well.

My problem comes with that aspect though: When the PCs are playing with the PCs, it's hard to encourage that sort of interaction. Nothing the ST can do says "play with each other more."
15th-May-2009 07:49 am (UTC)
In my measure, success as a game is ultimately measured by how much fun is had by the people who attend.

A game is successful when the players come, play, have fun, and leave wanting to come back.

I just don't feel that with many of the Sonoma domain games anymore.
15th-May-2009 04:01 pm (UTC)
Can you define "fun"? What makes it "fun"? What aspects do you look for in a game that make it "fun" for you?
15th-May-2009 06:15 pm (UTC)
Fun for me is very loosely defined. Often by the mood, direction, and themes presented in the game. But usually it comes down to quality of roleplay, internal conflict, the creation and fulfillment of character goals, and the progression of the storyline.
Whether that story be the characters, the coteries, the game or the world.

I guess thats the reason I don't lik MMORPG's. Its not very easy to impact and progress a game with so many other people attempting to achieve the EXACT same goal. (Find specific treasure a. Slay monster b. Save princess c.)

This is of course for the rare instances I get to play. Because 9/10 games I'm in I run. So I feel obligated to try and speak as a Storyteller when I say that fun for me also comes from weaving a successful story. Painting an engaging tapestry. Creating missions, themes, and an overarching plot that players can interact with and complete with a sense of accomplishment.

Ultimately, i think every game's fun comes down to the quality of roleplay, dedication to a setting, and the sense of progress or conflict that comes with decisions and actions.

The tragedy is that far too many games sacrifice one or more of the above for the sake of another.
15th-May-2009 01:26 pm (UTC)
I agree with demonix99. OMG!? Anyway - I have been to a game with a handful of players where we were engaged and treated like special snowflakes each and every one of us by the storyteller and we had a really super time. We roleplayed our butts off, there were a few npcs actually portrayed by people not be the storyteller - they were in costume and the scared the bejezus out of us and when the time came to end the game, the ST asked if we wanted to quit or game on - we were all GAME ON!

We can all roleplay if we wish to with each other. The complaint I've got with the Sonoma game is that certain players actively shun others. I've been shunned for a long time, but now they have gotten to the point of seeing us "outsiders" show up and they don't come to game, they go to the game across campus instead.

Its not worth a 2 hour drive to be insulted like that. They don't seem to care enough to tell us to our faces we're persona non grata.
15th-May-2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
My statement that a game's success is measured by its player base is a generalization. I have seen some LARPs that have been a great deal of fun with only a few players, and some that have been terrible with a lot of players. However, when STs are counting coup and comparing their games to another; or, even when they are pitching their games to prospective players, the size of the game is one of the first three facts that comes out of their mouths. Body count measures "success" but not necessarily whether the game is "good", although the two can certainly be attributed to one another. If a lot of people show up every week, they're getting something out of it.

May I ask which players are responsible for the shunning? Feel free to reply via email (ma dot sabatier at gmail), if you like.

The devil's advocate argument is that in the last couple of years, Sonoma gets the SF crew occasionally, and the only time Sacramento shows up is if they need to kill someone. Last time I had a character killed by Sacramento, it was because I was the only one who sacked up and stayed at game, even after having gotten the warning that my character likely wouldn't survive the night. Knowing that people are coming specifically to kill your character isn't much of an incentive to come.
15th-May-2009 06:23 pm (UTC)
Amen Sandra. I have always enjoyed your company. And were it not for the fact that ICly, I find Tim's characters worthy of being set on FIRE. I'm sure I would interact with him more.

The problem isn't you. Its a perception. I can't think of many that appreciate power-scale difference in any setting with other PC's. To invest 3 years in 1 characters and then look over to see another guy that has double or more experience feels cheapening.

Personally, I would love to have you and Tim come up to our troupe games. (especially Hunter) But I know that a 2 hour drive for a game that isn't as a dedicated investment as the cam is daunting at best and disappointing at worst.
15th-May-2009 02:46 pm (UTC)
I've got to go with the 'fun' aspect as well, but 'fun should be further defined in order to be a useful metric.
And for me, 'fun' equals character work and good role play. There are supporting tiers--costuming helps maintain that illusion that I'm actually a golem spawned from an evil rabbi's laboratory or whatever, good plot gives me something for my character to react to rather than roleplaying hanging out at Chandni Bar and looking cool, other good roleplayers are essential because it's boring developing your character in a series of monologues.
But in the end, if I've had fun then it's probably because I've learned something about my character, or I've made progress in their development, or I've had a chance to really dig into them and play them hard.
You might have guessed. I came into role playing from theater.
15th-May-2009 04:15 pm (UTC)
So, for you, character development and player interaction are the parts of a game that make it fun? Where does game plot enter into it, or does it?
15th-May-2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
Game plot is definitely one of the supporting pillars--plot facilitates character growth, it encourages interaction with other characters, it provides a shared history for characters relating to each other, and it creates a history more likely to generate emotional depth to a character.
15th-May-2009 04:24 pm (UTC)
Having said this, I make an anecdotal remark about Size isn't Everything. The first non-WoD LARP I was in, early sessions had about ten players. And there was a lot of GM attention. And it was one of the best LARP experiences I've had.
Over time, more people heard about the cool game we were playing, the game got bigger, and it was less fun.
15th-May-2009 04:05 pm (UTC)
Whether it is 6 members at a game or 600, I have found that I enjoy myself when I get to role play and have my role play be challenging. Quality over quantity, perhaps?

I love the Camarilla because I have not been subjected to the stupidity of the Disney Princess or Final Fantasy character who happens to be a glittery hawt vampire as well. Of course, now that I've said that...

Well, there was the taco munching retard in Mage, but I gave that a wide berth.

I've played in table top games before and whether it was D&D, Traveler or Masquerade; I've found the role play to be minimal at best.

To boil it all down again, a successful game to me is the quality of the role play.
15th-May-2009 04:17 pm (UTC)
As I said to gothmom "success" works on a different metric than "good" or "fun." That being said, thank you for weighing in. I appreciate the input.
15th-May-2009 04:27 pm (UTC)
Speaking specifically of Vampire, in both incarnations, I've always found that the most successful of games generate their own plots. That is to say, the complex interaction of the PCs with each other, and the interconnectedness of everyone to everyone else can create a machine which fuels itself. Storyteller plot is injected sparingly to represent outside influence rather than a desire to steer plot in a particular direction.

15th-May-2009 07:19 pm (UTC)
I dont know..but I know there are times where I have worked damn hard to get involved in the gloabl game and plot...and the few times I got it..have it turned around and not run for me locally like it should be...was a huge dissapointment.
since it wasnt as easy thing to come by...
and then there is the problem with the local plots..being only directed to the same PCs over and over again...I think this in part goes back tot he Shunned feeling some mentioned.
I get how STs might know their friends PCs better and therefore can think of plot easier for those PCs...but that isnt fair to all the other players...who are there for the same thing and put in just as much effort.

16th-May-2009 12:32 am (UTC) - Always outnumbered. NEVER outclassed.
I'll take ten regulars who show up in costume and don't drop character and who can ACT over the sweat-pant wearing orc-horde of "You can't talk to me like that, I'ma Ventrue Elder!" players anyday.

To me, a good game is all about style and intensity. I want to FEEL like it's real. I want my adrenaline to flow. I want to walk into another world, and be another person...well..another being, anyway, for my time in-game.

What can I say. I have high standards.

16th-May-2009 06:19 am (UTC)
In practice, game size does not matter in making a good game. It looks good on paper, the more players there are the more opportunities for interpersonal character development. But if the players refuse to step outside their box and play with different people, or play different characters each time (as opposed to a different costume/accent but pretty much So-and-So being So-and-So [which admittedly I've been guilty of in the past]) you're not going to have a good game.

To me a good game is where change is the only constant. Where you have both players and storytellers willing to take risks with plots and character backgrounds. Where you have that feeling that your little vampire/mage/lost/whatever world can and will turn upside down if you aren't there to plot and plan and protect yourself. Like when there was the constant in-fighting with the Toreador clan, and we changed Primogen like a whore changing underwear. Or when (as a more personal plot) Daphne decided to diablerize Candice in order to reclaim her precious blood from a horrible mistake (never embrace the hooker), and the slippery slope of loosing humanity that got her there.

So I kinda rambled a bit, and I may have not made my point very well... and maybe no one wants to listen to it since I haven't played in a while, but I'll be opinionated anyways. :-) It's part of my charm, you see.
16th-May-2009 07:04 pm (UTC) - What makes a game good
Being a storyteller mostly throughout my cam life, I really wish that it was solely the plot and only the ability of the storytellers creativity that makes a good game. However, the reality of it is that it depends a great deal on it's attendees. Player driven story and conflict are far more interesting then random monsters that may show up, and even then the best story teller plot occurs when the players are brought to chose sides of grey area that have been created by the storyline (thus creating inter character player conflicts).

So yea, basically it's the players that make the game better,and the abilities of those players. That's not to say that the storyteller does not have a huge responsibility to provide entertainment for those players, he/she of course does. But if the characters do not react to the story, then there is really nothing going on.

-tony
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