Monday, June 6, 2016

Gaming Materials: One Missed Call (First Impression)

One Missed Call is one of those things I didn't expect to find.  Sure, I haven't played it.  I read it.  It's easy to do.  It's really short.  It just shocked me with how interesting it sounds.

It's a game for two players.  The page describes it thusly:

"One Missed Call is a story game for two players about loved ones separated by space, drifting apart or growing closer. It takes about thirty to ninety minutes to learn and play. It’s free, so please download the PDF and give it a try!"

Yeah, free is part of it.  OMC intrigues me because of one mechanic I like.  A list of phrases each player can use.  The game ends based on whether these words have been used.

The idea is to work those phrases into the conversation going on.  Its recreates the conversation, while giving players the tools to structure it somehow.  Without a script.  But with a script.

That interests me, although I still need to actually play the game a time or two.  This isn't a review per se.  It is more of a "this is neat" post.

This is one of those things I feel like stealing parts of the idea.  I love the premise.  The central idea puts in mechanics to do something that most tabletop RPGs don't do.  I don't think it could be used in every sitch, but I think one could adopt and hack it.  That hero versus villain confrontation at the climax of a melodrama?  The classic villain "explains" their plan trope?

This feels like it could play into recreating those RP-kind of moments.

One of the things I tend to do as a GM is to have players play NPCs.  Giving them a list of key phrases spoken by an NPC by itself seems better than doing any sort of script.  A checklist is handy because it gives a player some sort of goal to aim for.  Like how scenes work in Microscope, where they are questions the players RP to find the answer for.

RPGs benefit from tools like this.  Especially for things that aren't about combat.  They can help players with less RP savvy, to give them material to lean back onto.  It can give more experienced players ways to help the less RP-savvy players to adapt to RP.

Most importantly, they give us defined "ends" for RP.  Roleplaying has this side effect since it tends to be improv, to last longer than necessary at times.  It's hard to sure what the end state to an RP conversation should be.  After all, you can't RP every moment in a characters life.  Some conversations, some moments never come up.  They shouldn't when they aren't about what the story is about.

But it's hard to know what is and isn't good for the story when you don't have an idea of what the endpoint is supposed to be.  Worse, as a GM, I understand the constant worry of giving away the big secret.  That big surprise that makes a twist work.  But that adds vagueness to the conversation, which hinders what everyone is doing.

One gets lost in the details, I think.  OMC feels like it avoids that by forcing some specificity that forces RP to end.