Remember I am no longer updating this blog until I finish Storyteller:

It has nice pictures like this one:

New Website and Gameplay Video

I decided Storyteller deserved its own website instead of being here on my personal blog.

Also, since explaining the game through text is kind of hard, I decided to record a very short gameplay video. It is kind of rough on purpose, since I want to make it clear that the game will change quite a bit before release!

New Storyteller Website

NOTE: apparently all DNSes have not updated yet, so if you see a parking page, try again later!

Update your subscriptions to the new site, since I won’t be updating this blog anymore…

And remember to follow development through facebook, twitter and the dev blog on the new site!

Pax 2012 (with pictures)

Last week I was invited to show Storyteller at the Penny Arcade Expo as a guest of Spy Party‘s booth.  It was the first time the game is playtested publicly and it surpassed all of our expectations: people enjoyed the game and most of them played it through.

All the recent changes to the core mechanic of the game succeeded in making it way easier to understand and more interesting to play. I collected a lot of feedback and observations and ideas this trip and will spend the next weeks working on them. Now I feel way more confident that I have a solid game and it just needs work to get there.

Storyteller was also selected to be part of this year’s “official selections” at IndieCade, which means that the game will be part of the event without competing with juried games. I will not be able to attend in person this year, but the game will be playable!

A crowd gathers around Storyteller

A crowd gathers around Storyteller

A crowd gathers around Storyteller

A crowd gathers around Storyteller

Storyteller Playtest at PAX

Next week I am traveling to Seattle to attend PAX as a guest for the Spy Party Booth, where Storyteller will be publicly playable.

It will be the first time the game is shown in an environment with gamers instead of developers, which is a bit scary!

There are 25 stories to play in the current build and my TO-DO list still has 30 small items I want to work on before PAX. I think this is going to be the best and most playable version of Storyteller that ever existed.

Big thanks to my PR advisor, Chris Hecker!

Storyteller Design Problem

I have a big problem with Storyteller’s design right now…

There are just too many rules.

The first stories are simple and most people have no problem going through them, but as more and more characters are introduced, it becomes harder to predict what is going to happen when you place the lover next to the angry villain that just secretly killed his wife out of jealousy.

Examples of Rules

I fall in love with the closest character if:

  • I am compatible (nobles like rich people, heterosexuals need opposite sex, etc.)
  • I don’t feel remorse about something I did to him (lovers don’t care)
  • I don’t hate or dislike her (lovers don’t care)
  • I am not already in love and as far as I know my partner didn’t die (lovers don’t care)
  • I am not envious of this person (lovers don’t care)

I spent the past two months rewriting, debugging and adjusting the rules that govern character behavior, hoping that it would fix the problem, but I got stuck going back and forth without making significant progress. Some designer friends suggested I should proceed to make the whole game with the current mechanics, hoping the process of producing the actual game would reveal the proper mechanics to use.

The build I am preparing for PAX has 25 stories in it and I started noticing a structure underlying the whole mess of character-defining rules. When placing characters in frames, you are trying to create scenes (i.e. theft, murder, crush, abandonment, etc.) that satisfy what the story is asking of you. Could I implement a higher-level mechanic that deals with whole frames instead of individual characters?

I will consider this when I come back from Seattle.

Interesting changes I made to the game:

  • Each character only has one nature, making things simpler than the old version
  • Max three characters are allowed per frame, this is easier both for players and the code
  • Some things can only happen in quiet frames: you used to be able to fall in love during a bloody murder. Not anymore.
  • Introduced the Gift and Mina the Vampire