Gigacrawler

Zak Smith got back to me, and asked for a post summarizing what I’ve done of my Gigacrawler game.


Introduction

It is the last age of the universe. There is no such thing as a planet, a star, or space. The universe is filled with tunnels of stone, glass, metal, and stranger materials. This may be because of hyper-urbanization and eons of alchemical warfare. It may be that our ancestors uploaded themselves into software, and what we call the universe is produced by a now-corrupted computer. It may be that God is senile.

To some, the repeated cities are the surest sign of the madness of the world. These are identical copies of settlements from Earth’s past, which appeared apparently all at once and throughout the entire universe: the 19th century frontier town of Black Creek Wyoming; the first city, Ur, with its alien ‘gods’; Atlantis at the height of its power; and the greatest city of the Age of Three Suns, Telelee.

Gigacrawler is a single-player adventure game. It works in a similar way to the Choose Your Own Adventure series and other gamebooks: players will choose from a number of decisions, which direct them to different paragraphs in the game. Unlike most gamebooks, the universe is different every time, and the best decision will be different depending on the player’s character. This means that the game doesn’t lose its interest after a player has won. The players will explore the setting, winning the game if they find true love for themselves and their companions, gather enough wealth, or uncover the true origin of the state of the universe (which may be different in each game). They might bargain with the Devil, become their own lover or their own arch-enemy, or freeze themselves for a thousand years and hope things get better.

Gigacrawler is a setting by multiple Ennie award winner Zak Smith, of the D&D With Porn Stars blog and the video series I Hit It With My Axe. The game is written by James Hutchings, creator of the online game Age of Fable.


The game’s system is a simpler version of the one on Zak’s Gigacrawler page.The classes are different (and your character’s class is decided by their highest attribute), there aren’t any high-tech body modifications, and magic is mostly used to move around the board. Combats (which are very rare) are decided with a single roll rather than having a round-by-round combat system.

There are two main ways to win the game. Firstly you can work out which of four groups who claim to be angels are telling the truth. This is done using a similar process to ‘knights and knaves’ logic puzzles. The clues and the answer are different each time, so you can play again after you figure this out once.

The second way to win the game is to find companions, help at least three of them find their true loves, then either find your own true love or perform a major act of heroism. The companions are named characters from literature or history such as Conan.

I’ve currently written just under 50,000 words.


Playtests

Playtesting a game usually goes through three stages: playtesting oneself, having others test it but being there to help them, and finally giving the rules to people for ‘blind playtesting’ ie testing without the designer being there.

I’ve done three short playtests (all of which I blogged about). My girlfriend is going to test it with me there to help. After that, I want to open it up to blind playtesting. There should be several rounds of blind playtesting, as I make changes and add new material (I’m aiming for about 100,000 words in total).

The playtests that I’ve done are linked below.

First playtest (vampire character):
Part 1
Part 2

Second playtest (Atlantean character):
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Third playtest (robot character):
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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