Dramagame Technology: Velvet Sundown

By Adam Smith on July 24th, 2014 at 8:00 am.

a game about sentient hairstyles and their human hosts

As soon as I read the press release, it was inevitable that I would be spending time inside Velvet Sundown‘s ‘roleplaying game’/’social experiment’. It is the first in the ‘brand new genre of Dramagame‘ and I want to be one of the first actors in that genre. Sadly, I’m far too busy to dive in right now but the game is available, for free, on Steam. Set on board a luxury yacht, it’s a roleplaying game in all of the ways that The Crew isn’t. No action sequences, no power-ups, no collectibles – just a group of players attempting to perform the roles they are assigned. Like Spy Party, except up close and personal, and therefore open to all manner of immersion-shattering behaviour.

The ship setting makes sense because it’s an enclosed space – no passers-by or intruders – and it also brings back memories of Cruise For A Corpse and… The Ship. Prepare for romance, mystery and maybe a murder or two.

In the beginning of each game you are assigned one of the 11 readymade characters at random. Each character has their own unique agenda to pursue, as well as a randomized goal to strive for. Fulfilling your objectives might not be as easy as it seems though: as everyone else has their own secrets, some of the people aboard might not be as willing to co-operate as you would like. It is up to you to use your cunning, wits and social skills to get what you want and avoid spilling your own secrets.

I want to play this. I recognise that I’ll probably need to gather a group of friends willing to go along with the conceit rather than bunny-hopping around the ship and shouting about the state of their genitals. The Steam forums already contain the anguished cries of players who have been banned for (apparently) typing too quickly, among other things. Think of playing as an improvised performance with rules that govern the boundaries of what is acceptable.

The whole thing might be a complete disaster but it will at least be an interesting one.

The scenarios are always multiplayer and require a minimum of 4 players, which means that every character you see is played by a real person. This also means completing quests always requires freeform chatting and interaction with the other characters.

That’s how Dramagame technology works. Interaction and freeform chatting. I suspect when I do find time to hop aboard, I’ll find out what happens when Dramagame technology doesn’t work.

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27 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    DrollRemark says:

    One of the characters appears to be Eddie Izzard.

  2. Low Life says:

    Watched some gameplay of this, and the game seems ridiculous. I can imagine it being very frustrating with a bunch of random people who don’t take it “seriously”, and apparently the ability to play a private game is locked behind a paywall.

    Still, if nothing else the concept is intriguing.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Melody says:

    The Dramagame trailer confuses me. I want to say it’s a parody trailer, like the Aperture Science trailers from Portal, but if it is, it’s definitely not funny enough.

    And if it’s a real, “serious” trailer… well, it looks and sounds like a parody of itself.

    Besides that, yeah, it’s an interesting idea, but it’s too complicated and vulnerable to abuse to be played with “the internet people”. And I don’t have any friends to play on a private server with D:

    • Premium User Badge

      tumbleworld says:

      I have a horrible feeling that they’re absolutely serious.

    • The Random One says:

      Business trailers always sound like parodies of themselves. The first time you see someone earnestly using the word ‘investment’ to mean ‘price’, you never recover.

  4. Spacewalk says:

    My secrets involve dumping people who learn my secrets over the side of a boat. Is it possible to buy your way to moderator status?

  5. Malarious says:

    I was actually really worried about people acting like imbeciles, but I gave it a shot anyway. My three matches went amazingly well. It’s pretty much just a game about lying your ass off, if you want to “power-game” it. Trick people into trusting you, take their things, and then fulfill your objectives. If you can get the tazer guy on your side (or better yet, convince him to give you his tazer) then you’ve already won — you just have to hope he isn’t as conniving as you are.

    If you happen to spawn with the tazer, then you’re basically God. You just need one accomplice (who can be anyone, and who you can betray at the end) and you can acquire all of the money and prevent anyone else from accomplishing their objectives too, with ease.

    I mean, trying super hard to “win” kind of defeats the purpose of the game, but I’m not a great roleplayer unless I have a clear objective in mind, and judging from post-game chat, a lot of people are kind of fascinated by the duplicity that goes on.

    • BooleanBob says:

      That sounds fascinating. Maybe you could walk us through what happened in one of your games?

    • hilltop says:

      I, too, would love to read about one of your run-throughs – although I suppose it may constitute a spoiler for the experience.

  6. Wytefang says:

    Sounds dreadful or at best somewhat boring. But at least it’s a novel take on things, to some extent.

  7. baozi says:

    Perhaps if you can’t mess it up, it’s not really a role-playing game, but just an »RPG«. Haven’t played, but am intrigued.

  8. Turkey says:

    Do you even have time to have a checkered past if you’re a professional tennis player?

  9. Megakoresh says:

    So its like The Ship but it takes itself seriously. Lame.
    You just wait till people fuck it up and put it on YT. Moonbase Alpha also took itself seriously. N3vr frg3t.

  10. statistx says:

    I was excited and intrigued by the concept.
    I loved murder mistery games ala Laura Bow and one C64 cruise ship game with some detective, which is not the one mentioned above. Same goes for Agatha Christie btw.

    Here’s why I still didn’t play it though:

    I talked to 3 people I wanted to play with. Hooray, I was able to get 3 more people excited and reach the minimum player count.
    Download, Install, Login and then…..
    .) only 1 out of 3 scenarios is free, the other 2 you have to buy,
    .) no lobby system, which means you have to play with random people and hope that the ones you know get into the game with you,
    .) a waiting counter like in your usual MOBA,
    .) accompanied by a lobby chat that equivalents 4chan or Twitch chat niveau.

    No thank you. Give me a private game option and I will at least try it, but before that I will just let it rot in my steam library, cause I know damn well from MMORPGs that roleplaying is something that is too easily fucked up by people who don’t get the concept.

    • yonder says:

      Hi statistx! Thank you for comments. My developer reply would be:
      .) The free scenario rotates. So each week there is one scenario free.
      .) Private lobbies are coming
      .) The counter is already gone, it only appears if 4-5 are in q but game starts immediately when 6 fills up. This was “left-over” from closed beta.
      .) On the second day the chat was somewhat more decent than on the first day, but yes internet is internet..
      I hope you’ll give us a chance when private lobbies are there if not earlier :)

      • statistx says:

        Thanks for the informative reply.
        The rotation is an ok solution, depending on how the different scenarios are. Can’t say much about that yet.
        Now that the counter is gone, I might as well try it, but I sure will when the private lobbys are in.

  11. Burzmali says:

    Sounds like Space Station 13 with modern graphics, but with more assholes, or at least less effective moderation.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Big Murray says:

    My first game someone said “stop acting so much” and followed it up with “are u a boy or girl? im a boy”.

    So yeah … this is why we can’t have nice things.

  13. Premium User Badge

    caff says:

    Dramagame.

    Kitchensinkdramagame.

    Melodramagame.

    Dramaface.

  14. Durandir says:

    Vinny over at Giant Bomb did a pretty good live video of this yesterday. You can watch the archive here if you are a premium member.

    It seemed… pretty crazy. I was surprised about how few people just went straight to talking about fucking, but that might have been because Vinny went straight into RP mode. They are most likely going to do a proper QL of it later, so they should have a video up for non-subscribers.