Transantiago Basics

October 21, 2007

Another month, another design contest. This one’s called Make Game$ Fast and it’s based on phrases pulled from spam email. I really, really like the format because there’s no unnecessary restrictions, just pure inspiration.

The game I’m writing is called Transantiago and it’s based on some interesting conversations I’ve been having recently with a couple different people about the capitol of Peru and its terrible, overcrowded subway system. It’s also got a bit of Dr. Who (the new one), Neverwhere, and this game that John Harper organized called The Line. There will probably be some speculation about Nazca lines too.

Here’s me explaining my plans so far to Shreyas:

me: so Transantiago
7:15 PM each player starts out with a pawn of a primary color
7:17 PM the movement of that pawn, initially, defines the track of the metro line of that color
Shreyas: okay
me: each player starts out on an arbitrary space on the map
which is a station of their choosing
7:18 PM they then move in one direction until they come to the End Of The Line or switch to another line
which means crossing onto a line defined by another player
7:19 PM Shreyas: mhm
this is starting out pretty boardgameish
me: yes
that's the base i'm building on
7:20 PM so… i want each station to be a combination Key, Dharma Path, and Lore Sheet
like the stars in Firmament, which this is a test run for
7:21 PM each one is a mystery that can be unlocked to allow the players to do different things
like build new lines
or connect distant stations together
which eventually opens this weird Nasca Line mystic chakra thing and ends the game
Shreyas: and that puts me in mind of Neverwhere
7:22 PM hold on for 2 minutes, i have to move my computer
me: okay
7:23 PM Shreyas: okay, i'm back
7:27 PM so, a station is a mystery, hm
that's interesting
what does one look like?
7:28 PM i'm thinking about how key/dharma/lore are kind of different ways to dissect the same kind of story organism
7:31 PM me: yeah
i'm not sure yet
i want them to evolve
7:32 PM and the design contraints mean i have a couple options, since i can't make a "monster manual" of them
i can have examples
or they can be really brief
or maybe i can offer the first few and then have the players invent them from there
i imagine they are characters or locations or other bits of setting to interact with
7:33 PM but ones that are bang-like in demanding the players' attention
but maybe they aren't triggered if the players are already dealing with too may problems
like, players could have several slots for problems
and, if they have an empty slot, a new one triggers when they encounter it
7:34 PM Shreyas: yeah, i think that is a good thing
me: i also want players to be able to trade off problems, so different players can complete different "stages" of the problem
i'm also not sure about people accomplishing things together
or whether there's always a point person
7:41 PM Shreyas: hmm
i'm trying to think of what makes mysteries interesting
7:42 PM but all my exposure is like to agatha christie, who is stylized in a really particular way…
7:43 PM where there is THE BIG MYSTERY, which is usually a smokescreen for some subtler crime, and some obvious suspects, and some clues that JUMP OUT at you as you encounter them
7:45 PM me: right
i definitely want more complex situations to arise from seemingly straightforward ones
7:46 PM Dharma Paths do that well
Shreyas: mhm
7:49 PM me: i guess i'm not sure how to structure them yet
also, i'm not sure if the mysteries are location specific
or player specific
do you carry them around like burdens?
or can you only work on them in the space in which they are happening?
Shreyas: my urge is to say they are local
7:50 PM which is probably agatha talking again…
me: right
i'm also unsure how to handle movement between stations
this is an attempt to complexify the chakra
Shreyas: i can imagine that some of them are more personal
i'm just not at all sure how that would be executes
7:51 PM me: maybe you can carry the mystery if you it becomes your own person problem, if you promise to solve it
Shreyas: yeah, sure.
7:52 PM regarding movement…i think maybe you might be able to move around pretty freely, except that you can be intercepted at a station if something problematic enough is going on there?
me: sure, that's possible
i had one idea, but i'm not sure how it works
it's like this: everyone has a clock
or a watch
when they do stuff, you move the watch to represent how much time has passed
7:53 PM Shreyas: mhm
me: when you switch turns, it always moves to the player with the earliest time showing
when two players meet each other, they "syncronize their watches"
playing out whatever events happen between them and changing their watches to match the same time at the end
7:56 PM Shreyas: hmm
then how do you decide which of them goes first next time around?
unless one of them meets up with another character in the meantime
8:00 PM me: well, they'll either still be together or they won't

if they're still together, they go together
if they're not, you just pick one, i guess

One Response to “Transantiago Basics”

  1. John Harper Says:

    Wow. Wow.

    Yeah. This is hot. We hit on something cool with The Line, but it wasn’t exactly TV, and PTA didn’t totally support us all the way through to the end. I can already see that this is headed in a real good direction for the kind of mystical mystery thing we were trying.

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