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Doug Ruff

Hi, and sorry for being very late to the party - it's been a long week.

Thanks very much to my reviewers, who gave great feedback, Also congrats to the finalists, I think there was a lot of creativity and diverse approaches this year, and some excellent games as a result.

I got asked some questions during the reviews which I will attempt to answer here:

The surgery instructions - the three rules listed are the only rules. So you're not confined to using scissors. Also, moving the threads is fine - you just can't touch them "directly", as in with your skin.

Codewords - a lot of these are red herrings. In fact, there are several bits of extraneous information which is mainly there to give a glimpse into the world the characters are in, rather than because it will help solve the puzzle. (What is operation LIMIT BREAK? Why call people "Citizen"?)

How do we know if we got the message right? The right solution should give you unambiguous message. I can't really tell you what that is without giving spoilers.
The interview - the main purpose of the interview is to give the other players a chance to realise that the Envoy is behaving differently, before the final puzzle.

Because the final puzzle isn't just about deciphering the message, it's about getting the Envoy to co-operate with the rest of the team, and some of the surgery results can make that complicated.

Theme and ingredients - I try not to be explicit in signalling the ingredients and theme - either it comes across or it doesn't, and in this case it looks like it didn't. The borders in this game are between the characters (information is heavily compartmentalised), between humanity and the Xiph, and a lot of what happens to the Envoy is about breaking down boundaries (for example, between truth and fiction, or between individuality and the group).
As for ingredients - yarn is most referenced, cut is lightly referenced (mainly as the directive not to cut the yarn, ECHO is a throwaway reference to the name of the facility (I wouldn't expect this to count for anything, it's more of an "Easter egg") and smoke isn't used at all.

I'd be happy to take any more questions, feedback, criticisms anyone might have. If someone really wants to be spoiled with the solution, then I'm happy to do that by private message, but please don't spoil the solution for anyone else by sharing it publically - this is a puzzle game and giving away the answer removes the main point of the game.

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It's done! I wasn't sure I'd be able got get involved this week, but I had an idea early on and I just couldn't put it down.

Here's my entry for this year:

It's about employees of a government agency trying to decipher an alien message. It's also the first game I've used simulated brain surgery as a task resolution mechanism.

Now it's done, I'm looking forward to catching up on some of the other entries, a large part of the fun for me is seeing what other people have come up with using the same constraints.

To anyone else out there who's still working on their draft - good luck, I'm cheering you on!

This is the first draft of my second entry candidate. It's a bit less serious...

Kazooki Theatre

You’ll want at least five players, each with their own kazoo. Use of other musical instruments is at your own risk. Set yourselves in a circle.

Agree the starting situation and elect a starting player.

The starting player says one word to begin the story, the next player says the next word, and so on. Keep going round one word at a time.

If a player is stuck for a word, or if they want play to go faster, they can pick up their kazoo. From now on they no longer speak but can play their kazoo at any time in order to support the unfolding story (please try not to drown out the other players.)

Each time a kazoo is picked up, the remaining players should aim to advance the plot and/or escalate the situation until only two players remain. The final pair should bring the story to a conclusion with the rest of the players providing dramatic musical support!

The two remaining speakers should then bring play to a close by speaking in turn the words “the end”. Then everyone should play a final musical flourish with their kazoos.

So I have a bunch of different drafts at the moment, but I think this one is my favourite so far.

My Imaginary Friend

There are three players: a Child, their Friend, and the World (everyone and everything else).

Only the Child can see the Friend.

The Child wants: to have fun, rebel, be noticed, be believed.

The Friend wants: to have fun, to be loved by the Child, for the Child not to grow up.

The World wants: to nurture the Child and see them grow, to educate them, to help them conform.

Each scene the World sets tasks for the child or asks them what they are doing.

The Child describes their actions and the World responds. The Friend should offer suggestions, temptations and distractions.

To resolve a challenge: the Child says what they want to happen. The other two players can agree or offer a different outcome.

If all three players agree, that’s what happens. Otherwise, each rolls a die, highest roll gets to say what happens.

On a tie, something else unexpected happens and the first person to call dibs gets to narrate it – but must do so immediately. Don’t call dibs and then dither!

Play until the Child outgrows their Friend, or until bedtime.

Here is the 2016 Game Chef bar, where designers can grab a quick fortifying drink before returning to the fray, or relax and bask in the glory of a job well done.

I've turned my entry in early - working tomorrow and didn't want to spend the weekend panicking over last-minute changes.

Kudos to the organizers, I think the choice of theme and ingredients this year was fantastic and I've really enjoyed working on my entry as a result.

If you've finished, then please share your experiences! And if you haven't, I'm cheering you on from my very comfy armchair! You can do it!

Game chef entry submitted! I can go live a normal life again or whatever. I expect this involves sleeping more often.

Really enjoyed this year's theme and ingredients.

4,003 words! Arrrrgh! Although some of these are bullet points, they totally don't count, right?

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I've managed to throw together my first draft for this year's Game Chef! If anyone is interested (or helpful) enough to give it a quick read and some feedback, I'd be really grateful.

At this point I'm particularly interested on whether there are any issues which make the game unplayable/unfun, or anything incomprehensible or outright daft that I've said. But any comments at all are very welcome.

The Sun Will Not Lie

- a game about photography and the American Civil war

This is me officially throwing my hat in the ring - I haven't finished yet but I'm up to 1,800 words already and this will be my entry!

Use of ingredients: Sunlight + Sketch + Technology = Daguerreotype photography

Players take on the role of soldiers fighting in the war and a photographer accompanying them. They will use their smartphones/tablets to create a journal documenting their experiences (this is the default way to play.)

Future updates will be here and not on the thread that I accidentally started on my personal feed because I'm too stupid to use Google+ properly. (What the theme for this year again? Oops.)

Here's some text from my first draft - don't know if it will make the final cut, but thought it would be fun to share:


If a player soldier dies during the campaign, the photographer should take a photograph of their body to document their demise. The player of the dead soldier should assume a suitable pose – as it was not uncommon for dead soldiers to be dramatically posed for these photographs, the photographer can give them directions for how to pose if they wish.

As shoes were in very short supply during the war, it is recommended that the player of the dead soldier removes their shoes beforehand."

Anyone else got something that they'd like to throw out there?
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