From drought to flood. Days without ideas, and suddenly a whole lot hit at once. I apologise for anyone reading this on Livejournal or Dreamwidth; this is their third syndicated post in a row. But it’s got to beat another bloody recipe, no?

Anyway. Through. That’s the winner as the new name for TGFKATTEG. It’s good. And now I’m wondering what font to render it in to make a decent logo, and whether that could scale down to be an inset font for just the game’s title throughout the text. The unholy joy of playing with fonts.

But I’m not here to talk about fonts. I’m here to talk about something that I’ve just had an idea for, that ain’t going to come to pass.

The Through Object.

The Through Object is an artefact of information. While the PDF would be Creative Commons licenced, the hard-copy of Through would include a single-use code for a website, which would let the owner set up a Through Object for her group. She signs up, invites all of her players (none of whom need a code), she can create a game, record what happened, record character details, it’s got hand-holding for new players to step through conflict resolution, open- and privileged-channel communication (a reasonably big thing in Through), you can record every little detail or tell it to ignore some details. A thoroughly tailored website just for the game.

The site would have two types of account. Ones created with a code can create unlimited Through Objects for their games, and can invite other people in. Invite-only accounts can only have one Through Object at once, and can’t invite any others. Want to upgrade your account? Buy the book. Bought the book second-hand? Cool. Send me evidence of you with the physical book, and I’ll give you a full account upgrade.

Effectively, I’m talking about making a highly-tailored social network for Through that’s useful at, away from, and instead of the table. The Through Object isn’t the anaemic dictatorial model of DDI, providing a clunky interface to the latest Holy Word of the Text, and it’s not the hexagonal washer of most RPG campaign wikis, because they’re not designed specifically for both the mechanical and social requirements of a specific game.

Game-related social networks can be a really great thing. Back before Ning realised that they liked money, I ran a simple network for a dozen or so Geist players who brought elements of their home games together to create a real-world analogue of the in-world Twilight Network. It was great for me as someone who had helped put Geist together, and from all that I read and heard it was great for the players, because they came with things from their own tabletop games and left with other people’s ideas to take back there as rumours. Which is fantastic.

While Through isn’t particularly mechanically complex (at least at present), it does go back to some ideas that have pretty much been discarded, and something to specifically take care of all of that would be a great thing.

Naturally, this is a pipe dream. I know enough web programming to know how hard it’d be, and any indie game I release will not make a tenth of what I’d have to pay someone to write the site for the Through Object. It remains a dream I had in the shower, a dream of a somewhat better world.

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2 Responses to The Through Object

  1. Colin Morris says:

    The problem I can see with that is that sites like the Obsidian Portal are set up to support any RPG with common elements (campaign, characters, social media, the like). You’d have to come up with some pretty awesome components to have the Through Object desirable enough for purchase. Not to mention, given the prevelance of web-code-skill and time that people who don’t have to work for a living have (*cough*kids*cough), they could likely create free versions very easily.

    You say you’ve web coded before (yay!), have you thought of making a few test components as ‘plugins’ rather than the full social site? Things that could easily be embedded in Facebook or OP or anything? It’d be easy enough to make a character generator as a trial.

    • Stew says:

      I can’t help but feel that you’ve got the wrong end of the stick, here.

      The Through Object is not for sale. It isn’t a supplement or a product any more than dice are. It doesn’t come with the PDF because the PDF is a Creative Commons file designed to be shared. If you put down money for the book, you get the Through Object as part of it. If you don’t pay, anyone who has can invite you, and you have full access (limited to not inviting others, and only running one game at a time).

      This is because I see the Through Object as an integral part of the game, not an add-on. The Obsidian Portal is precisely what I was thinking of when coining the term “hexagonal washer”—it’s not doing what I want it to do on a more fundamental level.

      Obsidian Portal is an adjunct to existing games. It’s a sidecar on a motorbike. The Through Object is there to get tied in very specifically with Through, to give pretty much every game a strong web presence. It’s the bike’s suspension.

      Much of the benefit of the Through Object is in integration. A character creator is pretty pointless–creation’s really no harder than Don’t Rest Your Head. A dice roller is similarly pointless. A wiki or forum or journal would be a much better start, to build on tropes taken from online systemless gaming. One of the game’s main conceits is all about who gets to know what information about a character, so additional privileged channels, available in realtime or not depending on how people feel. Mechanical bits like character trackers and dice rollers are trinkets. I’m after something to capture the meat of the game. Because it’s so integrated, geegaws like a character generator or a dice roller have no real use without the rest of it on the back-end.

      Think of Google Wave tuned hard around a hippy story-game, rather than the usual conception of a game-wiki.

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