An improv/writing game for 5-20 players. Players form pairs and try to read each other's minds while building a story together. Each round of Story Swapper has new team-ups, new genres, prompts, and special word insertions that help you write up the wackiest, or the most appropriate story with your partner.
Who has the creative chops necessary to impress the judge?
Three things I like:
- Right from the first playable prototype of the game, the playtesting sessions were a blast. It helped that the game was based on a familiar creative writing exercise, but it was also a challenge to figure out-through playtesting-how to encourage people to think creatively and read each other's minds. Even when the game wasn't clicking on all fronts, the base game was fun for people. That left a challenge in terms of reading between the lines with tester feedback, but it was nice to have a game be so enjoyable to develop from the start.
- As mentioned above, I had both a head start and a handicap basing this game on a familiar creative writing exercise. This was also compounded by the fact that I normally work on single-player video games, but I appreciated the chance to design for players looking each other in the face. There are a number of different considerations, including how to make sure everyone is involved and participating fully, but I think I did well in teasing that out with my mechanical additions.
- Once I figured out how to add things like genre themes and special bonus cards to encourage players to write more cohesive stories, I still had a good challenge on my hand. These cards changed the game deeply and each one had to be written with that potential impact in mind. Every story prompt had to work with every possible genre, and special words had to be general enough to be used in multiple situations. Executed poorly, these restrictions would have made the game more restrictive and less fun, but my latest tests seem to indicate that I've done OK balancing these pieces.
Three things I don't like:
- There's no getting around the basic requirement that the game needs at least 5 people to work, and probably wouldn't be exciting with less than 7. I've had the rare pleasure of playing it with that many, but as anyone not in school will tell you, it's pretty hard to get that many people who like each other in the same room at the same time. Someday, I'd love to see this game played in a school or camp setting, as I think it would be great for creative young folks, but it remains pretty limited. Maybe I should develop a 2-player version with just the basic mechanics.
- The other thing that can make the game impossible is that some people seem allergic to creative writing or making fools of themselves. The game definitely works best with groups of people who are comfortable around each other, but that might just be a reality of 'party games.'
- As I said, analog games are new for me, especially the creation of physical pieces like the card-sheets you can download above. And while it was fun to make that stuff, I think any game that requires people to print, cut, and possibly laminate or protect the pieces is going to have a limited audience. I will definitely make more analog games in the future, but I think something that can be played with common tools like tokens or pen&paper might be a better bet.