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.
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…