How can we transform Umineko into a Game? Establishing a basis for constructing Gameboards.

Hey guys, sorry it’s been a while since my last real post here. Various things, like Kazamatsuri.org for example, have been taking up my time lately, and to be honest, posting blogs here has become much less of a priority right now. It’s reached the point where my Rewrite reflections are on indefinite hiatus. If I don’t end up finishing them, it might be worth revisiting Rewrite from the beginning for Kazamatsuri.org in the future, but I haven’t decided anything yet. I apologise to everyone who’s been waiting on those – I’m just not feeling it right now.

Empty Chair

Anyway, lately I’ve been thinking about Umineko, and how its formula could be transformed into a game. It’s easy for anybody reading Umineko to imagine taking up the role of Beatrice and creating their own Gameboard to challenge someone with. I personally know a few fans of Umineko who have attempted to establish their own game, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a consensus of how to turn Umineko into a game. I’m writing here today in the hope of giving people who are interested in creating their own Umineko games a starting point; a basis to build upon. It should go without saying, but this post contains spoilers for all eight episodes of Umineko.

But if you want a relatively spoiler-free summary, click here.

After giving it some thought, I’ve identified three distinct types of games that could be constructed from the Umineko formula. Here, I’ve provided some basic rulesets that creators can build upon if they so choose.

1. Static Puzzle

A static, non-interactive game that can be solved by anyone in their own time. It is published by the Game Master in its entirety with all clues presented, read by the Challenger, and from the clues it is possible for the Challenger to reach a solution. An in-text example of this is Bernkastel’s Gameboard from Episode 8 with the purple text.

The latter two are interactive role-playing games, with one distinct difference.

2. Meta RPG

An interactive role-playing game where the Game Master invites one or more people to challenge her. The Gameboard can be presented all at once like the static puzzle, or gradually revealed over time, but the Challenger needs to be provided with the opportunity to cross blades with the Game Master; each side wielding the Red and Blue truth to force their opponent into checkmate. It is distinguished from the third type by the fact that the Challengers in this game cannot directly interact with the Gameboard in any way.

3. Real-Time RPG

An interactive role-playing game where the Game Master invites one or more people to challenge her. In this type, the Gameboard is presented to the Challengers in real time. The Challengers each control a piece on the Gameboard, while the Game Master narrates the events happening on the Gameboard to the Challengers, explaining everything they see and hear and giving them opportunities to choose how their piece will act on the Gameboard. At any point in time the Challengers or Game Master can pause Gameboard to interact on the Meta level, and exchange Red and Blue truths. Following the rules established by Lambdadelta in Episode 5, at the time the Gameboard reaches its end, the final battle will take place on the Meta level to determine a winner, requiring the Game Master to respond to all Blue with Red.

I think you’ll find that as we progress from the first to third types, they increase in difficulty to set up and play, but also in the amount of potential for entertainment they hold. I’ve tried to leave these different classifications as open as possible, so as not to place unnecessary limitations on anybody who might decide to use any of these as the basis for their game. Really, people can do whatever they want with this. It doesn’t have to be set on Rokkenjima, it doesn’t even have to be about a witch. What makes the Umineko formula so interesting to me is the meta, and the red and blue truth. But people could add all sorts of custom rules to their games to keep them interesting and unique.

Here’s a couple of ideas I’ve had in my head since establishing this basis. Type 1 seems to be the kind of thing you can publish anywhere and let people solve it, but Type 2 seems like a perfect fit for message boards to me. I’ve already seen an example of this online, but basically the Game Master would post their Gameboard on a forum, and invite anybody on the forum to attempt to jump in and add their own blue statements for the GM to respond to. The example I saw of this had the GM post the Gameboard in 5-10 segments, allowing Challengers to wield the blue truth at any time in-between, but you could just as easily post the entirety of the Gameboard in one post and let the Meta game unfold from there.

Type 3 seems like it would be played best in person or through real-time online voice or text chat, maybe with a map to visibly move pieces around, like Dungeons & Dragons and the like. But one idea I had was having the Game Master invite a single challenger to their game, communicating through voice or video, and streaming their game for the whole world to see. This could work for Type 2 or 3. You could even turn it into a Who Wants To Be A Millionaire sort of thing, where the Challenger can ask the stream viewers questions a limited number of times to gain some new perspective and ideas.

Type 3 has all sorts of custom rules you could put in place to make things interesting. Umineko itself has plenty of fodder for different ideas, like providing the challenger with tools like the duct tape or other special agencies to establish red truth without the consent of the Game Master. You could choose whether or not to incorporate Knox or Van Dine’s rules. Or you could decide on whether or not to allow the Challenger to adopt an EP6 Erika style of play, where the Challenger becomes the aggressor in an attempt to corner the Game Master into a logic error, conceding victory to the Challenger.

Or, another more exotic idea I had: you could mix up Type 3 even further by having an entire group of Challengers controlling pieces on the Gameboard, but one of the Challengers is secretly the culprit. They would be interacting with the other Challengers pretending to advance the story and corner the Game Master, but secretly working with the Game Master to throw the other Challengers off the trail. The trick here would be that any narration the Game Master makes about what the culprit piece sees or hears could be falsified. So for example, if the culprit piece splits off from the rest of the players on the Gameboard, the Game Master would be able to work with the culprit Challenger to construct a completely false narrative about what they did after they left, perhaps allowing the murders to take place in that time. As a result, the Challengers would need to spend time questioning each other to determine whether they can trust each other, while trying to determine which one is the culprit. I really like this idea, but it would probably be very difficult, and require a high level of competency from all players involved. It also shifts the focus away from the Game Master and more onto the Challengers themselves.

Of course, a simpler idea would be to incorporate something similar to the purple text rule in Episode 8, where only the culprits are allowed to lie to the Challenger’s piece. Throw in some detective’s authority and theatregoing authority too if you want to make things a bit easier on the Challenger.

Well, here’s just some ideas I’ve had. What do you think of my three types of games? Do you think they’re pretty solid, or is there room for dispute? Is there perhaps a 4th or 5th type I haven’t considered?

Do you have any other ideas of different rules you could use to create an interesting game from this basis? Please let me know if you have any more ideas, there’s bound to be an unlimited number of different rules you could add onto these three base games I’ve thought of.

Would you yourself consider using one of these three bases for constructing your own game? If anyone does decide to do so, please let me know, because I would love to see them. Or if you’ve even created your own game that doesn’t subscribe to these bases, I’d be interested to see it nonetheless.

All this talk about games almost makes me want to construct my own game…

About Aspirety

Australian J-geek with a passion for Gaming and Writing. Psychology student, Nintendo/Key/Ryukishi07 fan.
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4 Responses to How can we transform Umineko into a Game? Establishing a basis for constructing Gameboards.

  1. Kaust says:

    Tragedy Looper is perhaps a simple approximation of Umineko in board game form.

  2. Ian says:

    I’ve created my own games in the past. Long post, but here is the details.

    Myself and my friends first made a game on the fly, mid-way through our playing of the actual VN in a spur of the moment deal at a birthday party. It started off silly like, arguing about a wine bottle with red and blue. No real concrete rules, but we realized how fun it was.

    So, then we started again, this time about murder. Using the house we were sitting in as a setting, one person became the GM and the others became players, using blue to ask questions which the GM would respond with red, all centered around the unique aspects of the house. We had three games, one ended on logic error, and two solved. So the set up in concept two you described is possible.

    Later, on facebook, with my friends in a consistent group chat, we had games of single rooms. Like Erika vs Battler in the 8th (lets assume everyone who reached here has been spoiled), you got one room and simply killed someone in it over chat, simple, but that made it much harder for the GM. You used illusion too, mixed with truth. In that you described who went in, then their encounter with the witch, which lead to a death, followed the aftermath (which had to be truth, IE state of crime scene). Using blue, the player took it apart. Very short game similar to concept two again. Quick and easy.

    Myself and 2 of my friends have made full game boards like concept 2, however we have not yet had a chance to use them. Full in terms of 18+ possible culprits, 1 detective whose movement is narrated by the witch, and the POV from which all events are ‘seen’.

    We quickly learned its extremely difficult to make a board, in our cases we used our friends names + new characters in a similar umineko setting, simply for fun off killing off our mates. Mine was set out in a murder-mystery novel format, the detective was the point of all view, with a narrator system defining key details about the surrounding events (people leave, shown to have master key, etc). Much of the core details of a case however, had to be worked out through questioning and were not in the ‘novel’ itself. After each murder, a period would be given in which the GM/witch would battle the player, the witch could ‘give’ at any point, as could the player – they did not need to solve, or maintain, the mystery to move onto the next murder. The murder itself could be challenged again at any point by either side. When the game reached the final phase after all set murders, like the 6th a time limit is set and the player must uncover the culprits, and their methods. If one mystery remains, even if that mystery is simply method and not murder, the witch wins.

    As an aspiring author this was the most fun format for me. I loved making my characters up – then killing them, even motivations were fun. However its a game that would NEED to be played out face-to-face if you wanted it to be a fair field of play, as I came to realize even more so than when playing the VNs that complex games rely heavily on the ‘meta game’ of psychology. The witch (or, in cases the player) needs to be able to trick their opponent in ways that is near impossible through text alone.

    Furthermore a 3rd person would be required in all, but particularly the last, settings. This person, separate from the GM and the player is a referee of sorts, like Lamabdelta in the 6th. But they would see the game and its solutions before the start, this person would be trusted by both parties to look over the game and decide if it is workable, or breaks any rules. Then that person can also be a reference for logic errors and such. This does not mean the GM can’t change their game plan through the game, but it does help in the sense that GMs can make mistakes, and if we can avoid that early, we can have a much more enjoyable game.

    Well, those are my experiences in bringing umineko outside the VN itself.

  3. Ozaki says:

    “Static puzzles” or Classic style gameboards as I call them are the simplest, and work like you’ve said. GM writes mystery and posts it, then with consideration of any custom rules, they red vs blue battle until the mystery is solved. Your “Meta RPG” idea however I believe holds no difference to the first example, if anything it is merely a classic game that reveals the mysteries one by one instead. Ultimately the players (us irl) are the meta world already, for we look down on the gameboard from a higher plane.

    The Real-Time RPG seems far to ambitious. And by that I mean In my experience the more you make gameboards like a RP game the less chance of success you will have. “RP gameboards” as I blandly call them work perfectly fine on mediums such as forums, or more easily on private imageboards. Having real time game progression and voice chat is a bit much, for if you just have some text IM and update/post the game online then everyone interested can view it at their leisure(some people feel unease using voice chat online as well). In addition, the use of blue before the endgame can make the game too easy. Sure the GM can refuse to respond until the end, but that becomes limiting, and ultimately that was only used by Ryukishi in order to mislead or provide hints for a mystery that had none. Unlike Ryukishi, if you actually properly hint the howdunits and stay true to Dine’s 15th and Knox’s 8th(which every fan gameboard should) the bulk of the theory solving should be at the end(Blue usage is more commonly limited now since we expect a fair mystery), and the Detective is left to his/her own thoughts during the actual game.

  4. Miliguino says:

    I think I will try to play/make a RPG based on umineko :3

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