All the ones thus far have been started and managed on ifMUD.
That makes sense. I guess I'll be hanging out on #ifwhispers to try to gauge interest.
I kind of half wonder if some of the problems may be avoided by basing the game around one large static concept that each contributor builds off of, rather than the linear progression from one scene to the next used in past Whispers. For example, the first person creates an empty map with X rooms, one of which is well-implemented with a lot of interactive objects and a puzzle or two; each person after that fills in the details of one of the empty rooms, adding maybe a puzzle to a previous room with an item found here, and some objects that have interesting behavior elsewhere. You'd have an idea what might be in Greenhouse or Assembly Line, say, based on the room name, but unless the person before you was assigned that room you'd have no idea of the specifics.
There's been some discussion before about doing things this way, and at least one project started along these lines; sadly it got stalled quite early on. But this approach has the potential to be a lot more interesting than another exquisite corpse, I think.
Other structural approaches I can think of:Central interaction mechanic
. From the outset, establish the PC's main ways of dealing with the world; participants can come up with riffs and variations on this core skillset, but shouldn't go off in a totally different direction.Binding worldbuilding mandates
. This is a story-RPG technique from games heavy on worldbuilding (though it might well have been lifted from some other realm), Each participant gets to declare X positive and negative facts about the world's premises, and other players have to respect them. E.g., "no magic, hunger puzzles, quest-object girlfriends; yes unrealistic heroic violence, TALK TO conversation, polytheism." (I've not seen this technique applied in groups larger than 4 or so, though, so I dunno. It relies quite a lot on trusting the other players, too; you might need a way to deal with a Yes subject that everybody else hates.) This would be one good way to restrict the surreal dream-journey logic that IF Whispers gravitates towards.
I especially like this last idea. I kind of worry that it might force the game to go through a pre-planning stage before any can start writing, to negotiate the premise. Unless everyone only proposed their rules when they made their submission, and they only applied from that section on.
I'm not sure how to resolve the hated-rule problem. Anything like a voting/veto system wouldn't really work considering the asynchronous nature of communications.
What about something like this: Everyone can set up to five positive or
negative rules, one of each of: A) world/setting/background facts; B) the player character; C) other characters; D) actions; E) plot/goals/obstacles. Or, a participant can forgo adding two rules to unmake any one previous rule (or forgo 4 new rules to unmake 2 old ones). Any sections written in between would be unchanged; the new ruleset would take effect from that section on. Does that seem too chaotic, or should it contain the crazy well enough?
matt w wrote:
I have an idea for one, which would probably be a lot more work than you want, and might require a very firm hand on the tiller:
Only if it's actually an alternate reality game that requires the player to physically perform those tasks to advance the plot