New Version of In This World Is Ready

Updated rules for In This World has gone out to playtesters!

If you signed up and didn’t get an email, scream and shout! (Unless you just signed up in the last day or so, in which case you get a link when the next batch goes out in a day or two) And if you are interested in trying it out but haven’t volunteered, now’s your chance.

My plan for this update was just to clarify some bits that tripped a few groups up, but then I dove in and polished lots more text, because clarity is key and I cannot resist it.

So get playing everybody! There may be a few more treats coming up later, because more alternate ways to play keep popping up. Honestly it’s been kind of surprising how (so far, knock on wood) every weird variant of In This World we’ve tried seems to work great. I think I know why that is, but that’s a whole other discussion.

Ben Robbins | January 15th, 2023 |

More Playtesters!

I’m preparing a new revision of the In This World rules. No major changes, mostly clarification and text tweaks. I’m also opening up the playtest for more volunteers. So if you want in, sign up!

Playtest Sign-up for In This World

If you signed up for the last round, you don’t need to fill in the form again. You’ll get an email with the new version as soon as it’s ready.

Because in this world, we do more playtesting.

Ben Robbins | January 12th, 2023 |

Santa Walks Among Us…

The Sunday night crew took a break from Kingdom to playtest some In This World. Our topic? XMAS!!! So much fun! And only 50% dark! Check out this write-up by Caroline:

less than three blog: In This Christmas

And next xmas eve, remember to douse the holiday lights so Santa can’t find your house and steal your toys!!!

Ben Robbins | January 3rd, 2023 | ,

In This World, Two Things Collide

We playtested a slight variation on the rules for In This World: instead of just picking one topic, you pick two that relate or intersect, then make statements about one or both of those things. For example:

family + nations
war + technology
food + ecology

I think there are generally two cases you’d see. One is where the two topics are pretty closely related, so by including both you’re getting a tighter focus on a particular subset of the subject matter (like war + technology). The other case is where the two topics are less obviously connected, so by including both you stretch and think more about how they’re interacting in ways we might not normally think about (like family + food). Both are good!

We were a little skeptical but in play it worked… great? Like I keep expecting hiccups, but no, like everything else In This World, it just works great.

I’m still sorting out the boundaries of when In This World works and what topics it can be used for, but so far the answer always seems to be “yep, you can do that too”.

Ben Robbins | December 31st, 2022 | ,

One Missing Corner

Game design metaphor time, because what game designer doesn’t like metaphors? Are not all our games metaphors??? Anyway.

When I’m stuck on a design, it almost always looks like this:

a square missing one corner

I’ve got a solid idea of what I want the game to be (it’s a square!) and I’ve got most of the procedures that create that thing (three corners are set!). But then… there’s a missing bit. The last corner. I know the exact size and shape of the gap, but I’m not quite happy with what I’m putting there to complete my square.

And of course if I put the wrong thing in, I don’t get a square at all. No matter how solid the other corners are, if that last corner is wonky I might wind up with a totally different experience than I intended for the people playing the game.

squares but with one corner gone wild

Fast forward months or years of me poking at that one elusive corner. That’s my curse. It happens with just about every game I make to some degree or another. Some designers might just go “meh whatever” and send it out with some spackle over that hole. And ironically, I’ve seen games that were accidentally genius, because some part of the rules did something the designer never anticipated, but that’s not in my genetic code. I want to know what my game is going to do.

A square makes a nice graphic, but it also implies the missing bit is a full quarter of the design, which is generally not true. So pretend the graphic is a pentagon, hexagon, or most accurately a shape with a whole bunch of sides. But the concept is the same: no matter how many corners you have figured out, if one is messed up you don’t get the shape you intended.

For bonus points, look at my different games and see if you can guess what singular element remained mysterious and unknowable long after everything else was settled! Relive my nightmares!

Ben Robbins | December 22nd, 2022 | , | 6 comments

In This World, You Can’t Stop Thinking

I love how after you’ve played In This World, just hearing real world statements gets your brain juices churning:

Pet owners outlive their pets
Priests believe in god
Food is made of plants and animals
Space is mostly empty
People apply for jobs

Those are totally innocent, factual statements. But once you’ve got In This World in your head, when you hear them you can’t help but ask “yes, but what if..???” Statements become questions. Simple observations become springboards for examination.

That’s what I’ve been doing for months and months while I’ve been developing the rules. Just walking around every day, looking at facets our world and society and going “hmmmmmm…”. I’ll just write down statements that cross my mind: “Sports teams play to win. Suspects are innocent until proven guilty. Songs have set lyrics.” Even without going through the process of actually making up other worlds, I look at things differently, because I’m thinking about the things I saw but didn’t think about before.

Should I put a warning label on the game? “Side effects may include uncontrolled examination of the world around you”.

Ben Robbins | December 14th, 2022 | | 1 comment