Monday, February 15, 2016

Five or So Questions with Andrew Medeiros on The Forgotten!

I have an interview today with Andrew Madeiros on his new game, The Forgotten, which is currently on Kickstarter. The Forgotten sounds like a fantastic game, and I'm excited to see it played by my friends and fellow creators. It seems like a really emotional experience, and those can be amazing!

Tell me a little about The Forgotten. What excites you about it?

Of course! The Forgotten is a live action game that tells the story of people trying to survive while their city is torn apart by civil war. Some of them are family, friends, or strangers who are living day-by-day together. It takes about two hours or so to play and is broken down into day and night scenes. Day scenes last fifteen minutes and are essentially free-form role play, and night scenes take just a few minutes and involve a few of the players drawing event cards to see how their night of scavenging and guarding resolve.

What most excites me is the hope that this game can teach people a bit of empathy for those who have to live through war, specifically noncombatants. The events in the game are a mix of tragic and heartfelt, but they never glorify war; something I feel I see too often these days.

Is there anything that you do in the game to separate the day and night with mood or scene, and in either case, how do you think the use of or lack of that kind of technique influences The Forgotten?

Great question! The game uses a customizable soundtrack that acts as a timekeeper and ambiance for the players. During day scenes, the players will hear anything from quiet days, to rain, or distant gunfire. The night scenes are signaled by a musical track that tells the group that the sun is setting and it's time to transition scenes. We've found it to be very effective in play testing and many players have reported that it was one of their favourite aspects of the game.

Do you think that, while dealing with such an emotional subject matter, there is a benefit to a shorter game?

I think shorter live action games are always my preference, they feel punchier and more satisfying in the end and leave me with plenty of time to digest and process my experience. I think the game continues even after the end, while you're contemplating it all in the following hours/days/weeks.I know a lot of people prefer longer run time games because it gives them a ton of time to truly immerse themselves in the experience, and I totally respect that, but it's not the sort of play I am looking to enjoy or offer. In short, both approaches seem to have their advantages, but I went with my preferred style for this one.

What were difficulties you encountered writing a game with a theme that is, while quite common, very often ill-designed or insensitive?

I think I was my own worst enemy on this front. My first version of the game was very bleak; many of the event cards were catastrophic and only highlighted the terrible things people can do when desperate. After doing a lot of research I came to find that people living in these kinds of dreadful conditions are more often than not just regular people like you and I and tended to act accordingly. In my following drafts I made sure to include events that not only challenged the morals and ethics of the player's characters, but also showcased the good of those living around them. It's a tough balancing act, as I wanted to offer a game with both hope and tragedy as themes. I've strived for that, and I hope I've pulled it off.

Would you talk a little about the event cards that players encounter in the night scenes?

I'd love to (this is my favourite part!). Events come in three decks of cards: Guard, Play It Safe and Take a Risk. The Guard deck is drawn by the player who was chosen to stay up and stand watch over those asleep in the shelter and they include events that take place at home; attacks, help from neighbors, people looking to trade, etc. It also includes the game end card, which triggers the final day of play for the group.

The other two decks are for those chosen to head out to find food, medical supplies, etc. (they do this at night because moving around during the day is dangerous due to snipers). Each scavenger chooses if they want to look in relatively safe places or take a chance by searching high risk locales. The pay off for taking a risk is much higher but so is the danger, and so we leave the severity of the game completely in the players' hands. This all happens within the three or so minutes of the night scene and once the music ends, the next day scene begins as people are returning home from their tasks.

If you could describe the ideal outcome for what people think about The Forgotten in three words, what would you say?

Worthwhile and powerful.

Thanks to Andrew for an excellent interview! I loved hearing about the game and the challenging elements to make it a great experience. Check out The Forgotten on Kickstarter today!

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