Announcements - [Never to Die] Game Chef 2010

Posted by: James Mullen On: Sep 17th 2010 edited

I'm going to enter a game for this years Game Chef contest and I'd like some constructive feedback before Sunday if anyone has the time. This is the first draft but I'm already well underway with the second. Some warnings though: first, it is rated '18' for strong language, violence, alcohol/drug references and sexual situations. Second, it is extremely British, though not in the way that 'A Taste for Murder' is; this game occupies the opposite end of the social scale from Graham's.

Never to Die is a game about a lad's night out in a typical British city; the player's take on the roles of the lads, who look for fun, test their courage and strengthen their bonds with their mates. The GM is the City and portrays everyone, everywhere & everything the lads encounter. It's like a chav dungeon crawl, but it ends in a tragedy when one of the lads goes too far and something happens that ends not only that night out but all their nights out together as lads.

Each lad is based on an archetype and they interact with each other by giving dice to or taking them from other lads when they roll to do something; this can cost a lad something or give them a bonus. The City has a limited amount of challenge to face the lads with it; when it runs out, the tragedy occurs and the game wraps up.

EDIT: fixed link and pitched the game.

Posted by: Andrew Kenrick On: Sep 17th 2010

I'll try to take a look James. Which bits are you struggling with? What bits need a careful look?

Also: pitch me on the game!

I noodled some ideas for this year's GC, but instead decided to finish up Lost Days of Memories & Madness – my entry a few year's back – ready for publication.

Posted by: Andrew Kenrick On: Sep 17th 2010

Fixed your link too, as 1km1kt doesn't allow direct links to files.

Posted by: James Mullen On: Sep 17th 2010

The main thing's that concern me are:

- Do you 'get' the archetypes for the lads? Is the name for each one enough or do they need more detailed description? Or is it better to leave it to the player's own knowledge & imagination, inspired by the names?

- Is it ok to have no rules for direct confrontations between the lads? They get a lot of interaction with each other, but there's no direct way of getting another lad to do what you want or even just hurting them. However, as a player, you can say stuff like "If your lad does X, I'll use my Habits to help them/hurt them"

- I'm a bit concerned about the cycle of gaining and losing points for Moods; there should be an inevitable upwards trend, leading to a crash when they hit 6 in any Mood. On the one hand, the game relies on the players for a certain amount of willing co-operation to push each other upwards, but on the other hand, some of the Habits could make the players feel deprotagonised, e.g. "If you do that, I have to do this." So, is it a good balance and will the mechanics push lads to gain Pain for the endgame?

Posted by: Andrew Kenrick On: Sep 20th 2010

Hope this feedback isn't too late! Anyway, I'm loving the tone - you caught the feel just right. Feels a bit like Human Traffic and its ilk. Like it.

I get each of the archetypes - I can think of someone who fitted into each category when I was growing up. They're a bit lacking in habits though! I guess you'll sort that.

I don't think it's a problem not having rules for confrontations between the lads - they might fight and mouth off at each other, but they're still mates, right? But I'd make sure you say so somewhere - be explicit, so people don't go looking for sommit that isn't there.

I'm not 100% sure I get the core mechanic - it's not helped by the fact that in the example there are no matches. Maybe have a second example of success? Also, why does 2 matches end up with more bad shit happening than 1 match?

When do moods go up? Only when you hit 3 matches? Any other time? If it's just the former, then I'm not sure there is that inevitable upward trend, especially as you can reduce your mood voluntarily. Otherwise, be more explicit, lay these things out so we can see what's what easily.

Couple of final thoughts: you should suggest ring pulls as counters! Or cigarette butts, but the former is less skanky.

Also should it be the Town rather than the city - after all, you go "out on the Town."

I wonder if you should be more explicit up front (or at the end) about which Game Chef ingredients you've used - sometimes it helps avoid comments from the judges that it didn't fit this criteria or that criteria. Oh, but that's why it has to be the city not the town... of course!

And if you publish this, you have to have a burberry cover. Or else.

Posted by: James Mullen On: Sep 20th 2010

Made some updates now: I put in a bit more explanation about the lads and the City, changed the intro to better reflect the ingredient of 'edge' and slipped in at least one more subliminal mention of the word 'skin.'

The thing to remember about the mechanics is that the more dice a lad rolls, the better the chance he has of succeeding at what he set out to do and therefore avoids the hard choice of losing a point of Mood or failing at what he tried to do. For one match, he succeeds but that's all; for two matches, he succeeds and gets a point of Mood (I decided 3 matches didn't come up often enough and could lock the lads into stasis if that was the minimum requirement) but also gets a slight downside: in other words, more matches makes the night out more interesting, but not neccessarily better for the lads. Getting 3+ matches makes the night out really interesting 'cos they get all they get for 2 matches, plus they get to act like they meant for the slightly bad stuff to happen, plus 1 counter gets added back to the City's bag, so the night is still young...

Here's the latest draft:

Posted by: Scott Dorward On: Sep 22nd 2010 edited

We just had a game of NtD at the club, and I really can't remember the last time I laughed so much during a game. The mechanics hang together beautifully, and the setup is immediately accessible and a recipe for inappropriate fun.

As I mentioned to James afterwards, my one suggestion is to lower the number of dice for the City slightly. I reckon the game peaked after about 2 1/2 hours, but we played for 20 minutes longer than that. The last part wasn't weak by any means, but the fact that I could breathe properly for it meant that we'd definitely slowed down a notch.

Posted by: James Mullen On: Sep 22nd 2010

The first playtest of Never to Die took place last night; I went for a bag of 90ish dice, which worked perfectly in the 2-3 hour timeslot we had, but feedback suggested the game would be better if it was a bit shorter, so I’ll go with 75ish dice next time.

The line up for the game was:
Anthony as the Fist
Jef as the Fixer
Sam as the Brain
Neil as the Alpha
Scott as the Ferret and
Robin as the Nutter

The lads started out in their local boozer but the Nutter was so unhappy over the quality of the drinks that he set the bar on fire! As the police and fire brigade arrived, the Brain tried to stick up for his mates but had to be saved by the Ferret, allowing the Nutter to steal a police car that they all drove to the clubs. More mayhem followed, with the Fist breaking open a fire door to skip the queue and the Nutter & Alpha running into a girl they had both shagged who was now pregnant... which didn’t stop the Brain from copping off with her too!

The mechanics worked brilliantly: despite not rolling any dice, the Alpha was the first one to clock one his Moods up to 6 and take the Pain. He managed it purely by manipulating his mates, just what the Alpha is meant to do. Most of the archetypes worked like they were intended to, so just a little tweaking of Habits is required to get rid of some deadweight.

The night out heated up and ended with the lads scarpering from a stolen bus that had had a narrow miss with Dixon’s in the high street, while coppers blocked off each end of the road. The Ferret distracted the coppers by hurling electrical goods at them, but his pissed ex-girlfriend Sharon (yeah, and the pregnant girl was called Tracy, of course) decided she wanted a turn at bus-driving and reversed it over him! He went splat right in front of his mates, as a result of which:
the Brain went on a permanent bender, dancing his lonely nights away in the corner of the club, shunned by all
the Fist and the Nutter both got religion and joined a Christian Evangelical movement that had been plaguing them all night
the Fixer kept using until he finally OD’ed
and the Alpha ended up looking after the Ferret’s loved ones as they mourned his death.

It was a top game and Scott has volunteered to run it for the Pompey Crew at Indiecon!

Posted by: Andrew Kenrick On: Sep 22nd 2010

James Mullen:It was a top game and Scott has volunteered to run it for the Pompey Crew at Indiecon!

That sounds like it could be messy...

Posted by: James Mullen On: Sep 29th 2010 edited


Never to Die is through to the finals!! I am stoked!! :-)

Anyway, the judge's review of the game is here and this link will take you to the most recent draft of the game.

Posted by: Andrew Kenrick On: Sep 29th 2010

Congratulations! So the winner is decided by whichever game is played the most?

Posted by: James Mullen On: Sep 30th 2010

Yeah; there's due to be an official thread on the Game Chef site to log & register games played, but I don't know when that will be made available or what form it will take. There are still more than half the entries to be reviewed!

Posted by: Joe Prince On: Oct 2nd 2010

Congrats James!

I love the playtesting stipulation this year.

Posted by: James Mullen On: Dec 8th 2010

Game Chef enters its final week and Never to Die is only one game ahead of its closest competitors, so if you've been putting off playing it, now is the time!

Posted by: Sebastian Hickey On: Dec 10th 2010

My game is "one of its closest competitors."

I say root for the underdog!

Posted by: James Mullen On: Dec 20th 2010

Victory! Never to Die is the winner of Game Chef 2010!

Posted by: Andrew Kenrick On: Dec 20th 2010

Congratulations James! What are you planning on doing with it now?

Posted by: Joe Prince On: Dec 21st 2010

Yes, congrats James, and to Sebastian who placed third.

It would be really cool if this year the top game chef games went on to be published.

Posted by: Gregor Hutton On: Dec 21st 2010


I echo Joe's comments. I'd be delighted to see published games (in any form, pay-for or otherwise) come out of Game Chef this year.

Good show!

Posted by: Andrew Kenrick On: Dec 21st 2010

I'll third Joe's comment - and remember, it needs to be printed with a burberry cover :-)

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