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