Thursday, December 01, 2005

Graveyards are the new payphones

Originally uploaded by misuba.

Tombstone Hold 'Em player-created art has arrived!

I am stuffing EVERYONE's holiday stockings with these genius shirts. Thanks, Cortana and Misuba!

FYI: The line "Graveyards are the new payphones" was coined by a Tombstone Hold 'Em player in our Last Call Poker puppet master chat last night. For those of you curious for some behind-the-scenes game design chatter, the complete transcript is here.

Also, if you missed it, one of my favorite articles on the graveyard games: "Last Call Poker Celebrates Cemeteries" from CNET's Daniel Terdiman.

In all of the high-profile drama about the big city live events, you may also have missed the subtler, modular game missions that were sending players to historic and local graveyards anywhere and everywhere. A dozen live-action puzzles and 20 persistent real-world missions (completed over 500 times by players all over the world) made up the other two arms of the pervasive campaign for Last Call.

Designing the "anytime puzzles" in specific locations and "anywhere missions" that could be accomplished in any culture's local cemeteries was as challenging as creating and executing the Tombstone Hold 'Em supergames, and in some ways even more satisying. During the design process, I got to work most closely with the game's lead writer (Sean Stewart) on the anywhere missions; I designed the actual gameplay action, and Sean found game characters whose personalities, psychologies and backstories best suited each mission. And during the game itself, the modular missions, especially, gave players more creative freedom to interpret and game the whole notion of cemetery play. I love the personal risks they took as a result-- the inteventions they made, and the way they touched the serious spaces with heartfelt play.

You can still see both the anytime puzzles and anywhere missions, along with player submitted photos and documentation of their gameplay, here. Just click on the cemetery name for the puzzle, or the mission name for the instructions and player-submitted solutions.

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