Monday, May 8, 2017

An unspoiled game about building a community

Our Life by the Ocean is both a sweet and interesting little narrative RPG and one that I have a lot of trouble commenting on.

That is because it is a GM-free game with hidden information from all the players until a turning point in the game. Yes, I cheated and looked ahead. Frankly, I'm not sure how anyone 'hosting' the game can avoid doing that. 

Having said that, I think that the game can still be effective if the host still commits to the game. I do think that the game will have the maximum impact if as few as people as possible have cheated though.

It is a super simple storytelling game, where you use a tiny deck of relationship cards to establish a community. Who everyone is and how they relate to each other.

Then, you use story cards to develop the community. With every card, you vote on who was the most entertaining and they get the card.

And that is about all I can really say about the mechanics of Our Life by the Ocean.

The game has a definite Norwegian feel for me. The goal is to create a realistic, not fantastic community, grounded in the emotions of the players. While I already know some folks who wouldn't handle this game well, one way or another, I also know that it would work really well for some folks.

And I think that there are some very interesting details in the mechanics that are subtle but would play out very well. In fact, while I think the game would have the most impact on its first playing, when folks no all the mechanics, I think it still would actually be rewarding to replay. As long as folks are willing to commit, the game should work.

So much to my amazement, it's listed as having a 15 to 30 minute playing time. Man, with people who I would want to play with back in the Midwest, even with the incredibly light rules, I can't imagine playing this in 15 minutes.

I have looked at a ton of tiny role-playing games, ones that are only a couple pages long. Our Life by the Ocean, with only two pages of rules and a few pages of cards, is a remarkably complete game. I am very seriously considering how hard it would be to play a game of it on Google hangouts.

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