3-day game jam in a shared 50s scifi world


#1

This will be an interlinked cheesy vintage 50s scifi game jam running from midnight on Thursday 6 August until midnight Sunday 9 August (all on the honour system in your own time zone).

Our protagonist travels from planet to planet having largely independent adventures.

Each person should be able to write their own independent game, but they’ll be stitched together afterwards (and a climax may be written after the fact, drawing plot strands together). A single-planet adventure is quite independent, but there are some NPCs etc outlined below so they can be either mentioned or used, as people like. It’s likely more will appear during the jam, and the planning. Outlines can be posted below outlining the basic plot and anything that might be useful to other writers.

EVERYTHING is negotiable, so if you hate something (or badly want something included) make sure you say so!

I will stitch the 50s scifi games together into one game afterwards (including balancing the stats), and TechDragon610 will likely write a climax. I have at least one other editor/beta reader lined up.

Necessary bits: I’ll write the first story, including setting the protagonist’s name, gender introducing the crew and spaceship. I’m happy to do that.

If people use {he}, {him} and {his}, that would make things easier. Also !{name}.

Please don’t use capitalisation in coding at all, and please use tabs rather than spaces. (If you don’t, I’ll likely convert them later.) When granting stats, use %+10 every time. That will make things simpler to stitch together later. When testing stats, set whatever difficulty you think fits the task…it makes sense to order stories based on difficulty later.

I’ll copy and paste a startup page below, and a choicescript_stats, so you can use them in your own game.

I still think it’s worth standardising our hand-waving techniques, so in this story the universe is run (benevolently… or is it??) by the Zork race, who are technologically advanced and have shared their tech freely.

Backstory: in an alternate 1950s, every ship is equipped with a “Zork box” that is a universal translator. They also shared their travelling tech, meaning that humans can now travel all over space and interact with other races (and any other tech that we’d like). Also laser guns, called “lazer pistol”[deliberate misspelling] that can be set to “stun” (green ray), “kill” (red ray) or “disintegrate” (purple ray).

The ship is equipped with “Dr Zork”, a wall-mounted panel (with lots of flashing buttons despite being voice activated) including a talking AI that dispenses a variety of coloured liquids that always heal whatever-it-is that ails one of our heroes.

The Zorks rule the universe, leaving planets largely autonomous. Very science-oriented, wanting knowledge rather than power or wealth.

The spaceship is a gorgeous sleek, finned design with lots of windows. The protagonist inherited from his/her/their father, and is therefore both owner and captain. It’s pretty small.

There are three other crew members:
Jim Bargle, the engineer who doesn’t understand how humans work (despite being human himself).
A rough, manly scruffy, older pirate type who is impulsive and reverts to violence and intimidation to get things done. He was hiding out on the ship to get away from a syndicate he owed money to. He’s learnt how to get the job done via experience and has little patience for book learning.

Hint, a robot (“female” - female in appearance and pronouns).
A humanoid robot whose face is vaguely cut out to look sort of human, and barely shuffles around when walking but somehow never fails to get from point a to point b. She is incapable of using contractions in her speech (“I can not do that.”)

Sam Foster, the intellectual (knows absolutely any plot-relevant fact off the top of her head) who was originally a stowaway.
A well dressed, slight young woman who is from a well off, well educated family, who forbade her to be a space explorer, since she was expected to follow in the family business, so after an argument she ran off anyway in an uncharacteristicly impulsive way due to being smothered and upset. Quietly spoken usually, prefers negotiation to violence, inexperienced although has a large amount of theoretical knowledge.

Joe Josephson. Literally an average Joe. [Feel free to develop him further!] He may end up being a secret traitor and villain. Or he may not.

If you want recurring characters, those might work. If you don’t, have an on-planet adventure.

Stats:
Reputation (based on trustworthiness and honourable decisions - causes others to trust the PC)
Wealth (can be negative :smile:)
Curiosity (increases your general knowledge so you know useful info as needed)

Health - usually as a temp stat (although a major injury due to epic failure makes sense) in each game (?)

And an opposed stat of Idealism VS Cynicism (?)

So idealism is good for making friends, and cynicism for spotting liars (?)

Lazer Pistol Skills
Flying Skills (applies to space ship manoeuvres and jet packs)

-Keep to a PG rating. Nothing explicitly sexual (although the character can choose to have a fling/romance if you like - let the rest of us know if it’s a crew member).

Anyone want to suggest a/some suitably ridiculous names for our intrepid captain? I’ll give a few naming options, plus an insert_text one.

[Keeping in mind we won’t use anyone else’s characters or worlds.]

I wrote this as my two small children arrived home with groceries and hunger, so I reckon I’ll come back and edit this as people give feedback (and I see my own errors). So if things get complex, come back here for the “final” (…most recent) word.

Some outlines of stories that are definitely written (you can play them via the link in the WIP category):
Felicity Banks – opening:
Plot: Due to mechanical failure (possibly sabotage by Joe, but if so the MC won’t know), MC is forced to land on Xenphuth IV, a planet even the Zork consider uninhabitable because of the large array of unusual and man-eating vegetation covering its surface. Our hero takes the robot Hint and plunges into the killer wilderness to find the elusive graxweed plant in order to repair the ship. A plant so useful is worth a lot of money if the MC can get more than the single strand required to survive. Of course, survival would be nice too.
Stats gained: Every stat will have at least one chance to grow.
Stats tested: None, since it’s the first “chapter”.
Other info: Hint will spend some time being all-knowing, indestructible, and overly literal.
Gender (he/she/they) and name will be chosen.

Doctor – en route to a bar:
Plot: while in deep space, the crew runs out of fuel and is set adrift. When going down to get more fuel from storage, they discovered a giant Space Bat had clawed it’s way into the ship through the gas tank. Lazer Pistols seem use-less against it, they must figure out how to remove it from the ship.
Stats gained: intellectual mostly, fighting
Other info: not yet

Adrao – starts in a bar:
Plot: while on a bar at a space station the MC is contacted by Xargos, an exile from the planet of Lautus. The MC is told that, while in the last stages to transcend into the next plane of existance, the cleaning robots employed by the Lautians became sentient and have now enslaved the Lautians. The MC is hired to go to the planet and attempt to activate the transcend machine, a large artefact that will extract the souls of the Lautians from their body into the next plane. If the MC accepts the mission he will go to the planet, attempt to land and try to find this machine, and then try to come out alive.
Stats gained: mostly fighting stats and knowledge stats, plus wealth can increase
Stats tested: fighting and knowledge
Other info: still thinking about the details…

Jacic - something involving nanobots

HornHeadFan - something involving brain leeches

Felicity again - add robot crew member “Fuzzy” to crew (a gift from a grateful Lautus), who immediately gets together with Hint.

Get attacked by a seemingly random ship trying to disintegrate you. (Depending on stats, you may get hints that it’s the Zorks running the show…they can be switched out for another villain if required.)

Stats given: Mainly flying and curiosity, plus some reputation.

Stats tested: flying.
Stats semi-tested (changes text): curiosity or cynicism, idealism and reputation, some of the experiences from adrao’s game.
You can spend 1000 on improving flying ability. You will lose at least 1200 in this chapter, maybe 2000 (I forget the exact numbers).


Group Collab Project Idea
#2

I mind what kind of genre 50’s stands for?

Diesel?

Vintage?

Bauhaus??


#3

For the three-day jam, some of us will work together on interlinked 50s scifi short stories (which I will do my best to bring together after they’re written - all of the details and discussion can happen here. ). Others will work solo.

We can do it :smile:

@Jacic all of the 3-day jam games will be set to your own time zone.


#4

I’ll pick a word from the dictionary to unite all the 3-day game jam games, and will announce it on the forums on Monday 3 August. It won’t limit genre or anything. Just a random word, and not something complex either.


#5

Vintage, I reckon. If it was a TV show, the sets would be cardboard and the aliens would have costumes borrowed from the store down the street.


#6

@Felicity_Banks
The whole intersex thing is sort of a turn off. Besides, why are we trying to short cut through genders? It’s meant to be a challenge, right? To me that means trying to speed up your normal process ×50 and just littering it with errors.

I do like vintage as well. After the fact we could add images showing these poorly made aliens to emphasize it


#7

If you wanted to use genders, @FairyGodfeather wrote a good script to deal with it. (Although if you want intersex as part of the script that’s fine, it’s just easy to get around otherwise). Just make sure everyone knows to either use a male or female pronoun for the mc in their writing otherwise it won’t work. (ie if you decide to use male: you’d use ${he} instead of he in the script. When selecting the mc’s gender the code would like like

Are you male or female?

*choice
#Female
*set he "she"
#Male
*set he "he"

Anyway just a thought.


#8

I would say that it’s impossible to do a send-up to cheesy Fifties sci-fi without chiseled-jawed manly men with ridiculous names in the captain’s chair and bridge bunnies in outlandish uniforms from the World of Tomorrow which, somehow, always include an impractical miniskirt. Using a wand made of space magic to eliminate that is taking away an important aspect of the iconography for no real narrative gain. (Or, at least, changes the thematics so much that it’s certainly no longer what it started out in life as.)


#9

I’m in full agreement. 50’s Sci-fi happens to be my genre of choice, and you simply can’t explore the medium without discussing gender. This was the era of Destination Moon and Forbidden Planet, where the spandex jumpsuit was considered beyond cutting edge and spaceships would be crewed by stoic, squared jawed Americans. Women were either doe-eyed naive romantic interests or pre-industrial fur-bikini warrior women who were somehow equally naive when it came to this strange thing you Earth-men call ‘Love’.

Stripping that out leaves the culture strangely neutered, its flimsy science and plaster-board aesthetics strangely barren without that 1950’s American certainty that there was a correct way to be for each gender.

To explore the genre, you don’t ignore that, you embrace it, and skewer it, and make all those preconceptions seem silly and deformed in the daylight of our hindsight.


#10

Okay, forget the intersex thing. I edited it above.


#11

Just a thought, I think the main characters need a bit more description (gender, appearance, age, demenor), other wise you’re going to end up with a stitched together book which is really inconsistent.

For example I might imagine Sam to be a rough, manly scruffy, older pirate type who is impulsive and reverts to violence and intimidation to get things done. He was hiding out on the ship to get away from a syndicate he owed money to. He’s leant how to get the job done via experience and has little patience for book learning.

On the other hand, you might imagine Sam as a well dressed, slight young woman who is from a well off, well educated family, who forbade her to be a space explorer, since she was expected to follow in the family business, so after an argument she ran off anyway in an uncharacteristicly impulsive way due to being smothered and upset. Quietly spoken usually, prefers negotiation to violence, inexperienced although has a large amount of theoretical knowledge.

See how the two people are going to react very differently in different stories?

Also are you having “you” as the main character (a separate entity, in which case would need a whole other back story,) or will you pick one of the three above to play? Or you have to play one in particular as the mc


#12

I agree the characters need more development. Is it okay if we officially use these for Bargle (the first one) and Sam?

Then someone else with an idea can write up a more descriptive bit about Hint that works for their story, and I’ll add that to the “official” bit too.

Of course other characters can appear more than once too - eg other travellers.


#13

Sure I don’t mind :slight_smile:


#14

Should we do this in an episodic way? Like each one of us participating would write a different episode where we explore our own little world or go on our own little 30 minute adventure (and that way what’s past doesn’t effect us as much? Kind of like the original Star Trek. You didn’t have to watch the episode before to get what’s happening, you just need to know the basics (who’s who, what’s what)


#15

Definitely!

The details above are just meant to be touch-points that people can use (or not) if they want to be more connected.


#16

@Felicity_Banks
Cool. So recap, to make sure I understand:
We have a crew of 4,
-The captain (mc)
-Bargle, the rough looking fighter type
-Sam, the quiet science officer type
-Hint, the pilot person

The Zork are aliens who rule everyone, are almost never seen, and like pollen.

Everyone speaks Zork because of pollen

The ship is very nice looking (from a 50’s standpoint… bring out the paper mache!). It’s probably smaller rather than large given the crew, so it may not be able to take tooo much damage?


Reccomendations:

  1. Let’s not call them blasters. To me that sounds like an 80’s scifi (Star Wars), we need it to sound more 50’s… Like “Beam Ray Pistol” or the ever classic “Lazer Pistol” (misspelled for more classiness)

  2. Hint. To me that sounds feminine, but it could really go either way. If it were up to me, I’d make her:
    A) a huminoid robot whose face is vaguely cut out to look sort of human, and barely shuffles around when walking but somehow never fails to get from point a to point b. Even if not Hint, I think we need a robot.
    B) an alien who looks completely human, with the exception of the way she moves and speaks (The goto 50’s shuffle and lack of contractions [I do not believe that I can do that]). A likely RO

  3. Let’s not add full customization, let’s add the option af a few 50’s scifi sterotypical characters to pick from, but let them choose their name to give the illusion of customization (because the mc acting away from the theme could throw off the whole feel off)

Tell me if you like these possible adds/changes and whether my recap is mostly accurate.


#17

Perfect recap.

Excellent recommendations. I’ll edit them into the top when I get the chance (and pick 2A because why not?)

Not sure what “customization” means on #3. I’d plan to have a few names to choose from:

Captain Squarejaw Handsomepants

Captain Swoony McMiniskirt

Captain Blorglux Xenthon IV

and an “enter your own” field.

But I don’t think that’s 100% of what you mean.


#18

@Felicity_Banks, those really don’t seem like 50’s style names, except for the third one, but I get what you’re doing now, which is pretty close to what I had in mind.

I think that all main human characters back then had fairly average names for the time period like “George” and “Barbara”, so speaking of which, what’s Bargle’s first name (assuming no one, especially in the 50’s, would name their child this), and what’s Samantha’s last name?

Also, I just noticed this, You say that Bargle doesn’t understand humans… does this mean he’s not human?


#19

Oh, a few more things (I’m really getting into this):
First, we now have an offset in women to men ratio if the mc picks male. This almost never happened that way in any kind of 50’s media.
And second, I don’t think Jack of all trades really fits Samantha’s background.

So my proposition is to add one more character.
We still don’t have the average Joe who only seems charismatic when compared to everyone else. That way Samantha can be left to doing research for 5he captain, and maybe basic medical stuff if they don’t already have a magic machine for (Which I highly reccomend the the use of a huge box-like machine which some how makes wound fade out of existence


#20

This is kind of what I was imagining, a bit of a parody whilst still holding to the old school sci fi genera. (Obviously without the “real world” interuptions). Over the top “futuristic” goodness, with over the top heroes and villians lol. I agree with @doctor, the first names did often seem to be fairly mundane/normal.