Story Games Seattle Message Board What We Played › What We Played: the Signal (Microscope)

What We Played: the Signal (Microscope)

Ben R
thatsabigrobot
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 240
players: Sev, Martin, Terry, Ben

Terry had a great idea for a Microscope history he wanted to try: Earth picks up a radio signal from deep space and all of society changes in the wake of this revelation.

So awesome. We haggled a bit on the Palette and agreed that "the Signal" was never going to be understood. There would be people who interpreted parts (or at least thought they had found the hidden meaning) but the Palette actually forbade any "right" interpretation of the Signal or the aliens ever showing up. There was never going to be an answer to the mystery. In fact the story wasn't the mystery of the Signal at all, it was how humanity reacted to this inscrutable message from afar.

Cue scientific debate, messianic fervor, and a collapse of human progress as we know it. Why bother solving the world's problems when you can sit around and spend decades trying to unlock the secrets of the alien message… because THEY must have the answer.




I'm just starting the thread so you guys can jump in and discuss the splendid horrors of the hot seat and mock my excessive Occupy ____ analogs. Story games ripped from the headlines, yo.
sev (.
sevoo
Seattle, WA
Post #: 22
I found this a quite satisfying story -- and I wish we'd had time to do more. Like, what happened after "The Image Wars" ended? Did we never chase down what happened with Dictator Hex's legacy because that was boring, or because we just didn't have time?

Which bits did the rest of y'all want to explore more, if we'd just had the time?

Having all that responsibility for creation was exactly as scary as I thought it'd be. That's certainly not a bad thing -- it encouraged me to exercise creativity muscles that could definitely use the workout. "Splendid horrors" is exactly the right turn of phrase for what I was experiencing. My fear, which I never quite managed to characterize correctly at the table, is not so much "what if somebody laughs at what I make" and more "what if I keep creating things nobody likes, and then nobody'll want to play with me anymore?" Assuming that I'm not the only one with this fear, I'll share that: having created at least one insipid contribution, by the time I got to the end I had a better handle on what people found interesting enough to build on. Once we got into the game, I didn't feel like I was actually in danger of being dead weight. Also, it helped that other people could ask for clarification -- it meant I got at least some idea of which parts people found interesting enough to want to know about in more detail.

I found the Occupy* analogues evocative -- and not just of current headlines. (and how is it that I've somehow managed to find myself adjacent to three different riots?)
Terry F.
user 27520232
Seattle, WA
Post #: 2
I didn't see your "splendid horrors".

I think internally we're all going through the same thing. My mind is racing grasp the rules and be as creative while keeping on track.

You were in the unfortunate position of going first in new territory - always fraught with danger ;) Once you where in I felt we were all on. I liked your president - passing the buck along like that was great.

I would have liked to explore the "signal culture" period more - I think things would have been fascinating to see our culture warped by the signal.

I can also see filling out the first period where people are discussing the signal and what to do with it. The government must of had internal discussions about it - it could have been a long time between the initial discovery and the Baltimore crackdown. There could have been hits on scientists or other going public with the signal.

Then there's the last card. We can add events & scenes attached to that can't we? We can see what happens in the aftermath of the signal suddenly stopping.
Ben R
thatsabigrobot
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 241
That visceral terror you're feeling is just your brain's way of telling you you're doing something interesting. After all, most of us don't get called on to make big creative things on a day-to-day basis.

(You really should read the whole "How Microscope Works" afterword. It discusses exactly the experience of being in that creative hotseat and how the game is designed to make it safer than it looks.)

I wish we'd had time to do more. Like, what happened after "The Image Wars" ended? Did we never chase down what happened with Dictator Hex's legacy because that was boring, or because we just didn't have time?

Time is (ironically) the enemy. It's the nature of the (fractal, potentially infinite) beast. No matter how long you play, there's always more you could add if you had more time to play. So instead it becomes about prioritization: what interests me the most right now? I liked the whole break up of Europe / reunification under Hex, but I jumped backwards to the riots partially to avoid having the whole session stay in one topic, but also because I really wanted to explore the protesters vs The Man themes. Would someone jump back to Hex two or three games later? If they wanted to they could. It's not consensus, so each player has the authority to Focus on what *they* want.

There is a lot more I'd like to explore in this history, just to really mine the human reactions. I see a long slow decline. We didn't even touch on religion.

having created at least one insipid contribution...
What did you make that you didn't like? You better not be bad-mouthing the math renaissance.

It can also be weird in that even if people don't build on things directly, their existence changes our perspective of everything around them. Like the math renaissance. We didn't flesh it out, but because we knew the Signal had spawned academic progress it put the "Demand Truth" protesters in a totally different light.

And that's another really important phenomena: even if you add something that you personally think is weak, it can inspire someone else to build cool stuff on it, so suddenly your "lame" idea was the foundation for all sorts of great stuff. And there's no time limit on that: games later, someone could jump back and flesh out your idea.

I think internally we're all going through the same thing. My mind is racing grasp the rules and be as creative while keeping on track.
That's the "always play a game twice" rule. The first time with any game, you're busy learning the rules as well as playing. You can't be 100% focused on the fiction.

Then there's the last card. We can add events & scenes attached to that can't we? We can see what happens in the aftermath of the signal suddenly stopping
Yep, absolutely. They would be juicy. I could see some very Light "we're finally free!" moments.


Note to self: having everyone read from the book is fun. It's a more relaxed way to teach the game, for me anyway ;)
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