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#821440
Fri 24/07/15 14:50 UTC
Fri 24/07/15 14:50 UTC
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 11,454
nemarsde Offline OP

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INS now joins the Hall of Fame, a message game of survival horror, set in the Alien vs. Predator universe and based on a one-sheet adventure (The Salvage of the USS Kaine) found in the Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition RPG.

Inspired by Pandemonium's CotB and KenSeg's LGO, it was intended to be a short run of around 8 months. In the end, it ran for 10 months before reaching the conclusion of its story.

It has 1184 game posts, giving an average of around 4 posts per day. And word count was also surprisingly high at 98 words per post on average. Those aren't one-liners, see the lorem ipsum below for an example. So the word count for INS would come in at around 107,744, putting it on par with a best-selling thriller.

However, INS is perhaps most notable for the player character fatality rate. 7 PCs started the game, only 3 survived to the end! More player characters died than survived.

The GM, nemarsde will answer any of your questions here.


#821441
Fri 24/07/15 14:51 UTC
Fri 24/07/15 14:51 UTC
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 11,454
nemarsde Offline OP

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Curabitur sodales metus sed nisl iaculis ultrices. Aliquam tristique maximus porttitor. Quisque in magna sed libero venenatis pellentesque non vitae eros. Aliquam volutpat, ex non venenatis laoreet, est diam tempus lectus, ut ultrices justo ipsum eu nisl. Etiam lacinia ultrices eros quis bibendum.

Pellentesque auctor scelerisque ipsum id suscipit. In vel magna eget tortor commodo elementum vel vel justo. Cras sollicitudin mollis urna, ac sodales urna efficitur non. Ut velit ligula, viverra a erat vitae, fringilla varius erat. Aliquam vitae eros quis sem commodo consectetur. Vestibulum nec lectus est. Class.

#821442
Fri 24/07/15 15:08 UTC
Fri 24/07/15 15:08 UTC
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 5,643
Wolf Offline
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that's a better survival rate than most Alien/Predator films

#821445
Fri 24/07/15 15:22 UTC
Fri 24/07/15 15:22 UTC
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Posts: 11,454
nemarsde Offline OP

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Hah, yeah! On survival rate, we did pretty well in comparison. wink

I figure we had 11 named characters in total, 3 or 4 make it out alive. 27 to 36% survival rate. Not bad!

14% survival rate in Alien, 25% in Predator, 25% in Aliens, for example. Others become harder to figure, because there are too many redshirts. Hmm, possibly one of the reasons the sequels started to lose their punch.

#822070
Fri 31/07/15 11:38 UTC
Fri 31/07/15 11:38 UTC
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nemarsde Offline OP

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So, here's a summary of the back story for anyone who hadn't pieced it together. I've included links to Xenopedia for some of the more obscure references.

***

After the events of Alien3, Michael Weyland (Bishop lookalike who tried unsuccessfully to persuade Ripley to turn herself in on Fury 161) returns to Lv-426 with the Company and quarantines the planet.

Weyland-Yutani Special Services contoct a cover story for the destruction of the colony of Hadley's Hope (in Aliens).

Officially it was destroyed by a volcano, and a no-fly zone later established in the star system by the US Colonial Marines, under orders from the Extrasolar Colonial Administration, to allow Weyland-Yutani to recover proprietary terraforming technology from the site.

Unofficially, Special Services set up a research base on Lv-426, recovering what remains of the Derelict. This is Origin Special Project (featured in Aliens: Colonial Marines).

We-Yu learns more about the Engineer species that built the Derelict star ship and the black mutagen that spawns the Xenomorphs. See Alien and Prometheus.

In time, We-Yu detects an alien ship taking off from one of the offworld colonies in Gliese 667. They trace it across hyperspace to 10 Tauri.

Special Services believe this is the Engineers, covertly monitoring human civilisation, and mount an expedition to 10 Tauri, using Origin staff and a refitted fast transport, the Chenault. The expedition is run under the cover of a We-Yu agribusiness in Korari, India on Earth.

Hence, when the expedition finds a goldilocks planet in 10 Tauri, they name it Korari.* It's a binary planet together with a smaller, Venetian-like planet, and both are moons of a gas sub-giant.

The planet is heavily forested, with no life forms more advanced than arthropods and molluscs, due to frequent extinction-level meteor impacts (every 5 million years compared to 20 million years for Earth).

The planet is also littered with wreckage of ships from a centuries old orbital battle. They don't appear to belong to the same alien civilisation as the Derelict.

The expedition find old hunting camps on the surface, with many non-indigenous alien trophies, and the scientists suspect that they've stumbled across a game preserve planet of some kind.

In one of the hunting camps, they discover a live alien specimen, caged and left for dead. It's a Predator, captured by a rival clan, making the planet is the same one as in Predators.

The star ship We-Yu traced wasn't Engineers, it was Predators abducting 'live game' for the hunt.

The expedition rescue the comatose Predator and study it. They swiftly realise its blood could have life-saving medical applications, as per Predator: Concrete Jungle. The Predator's condition deteriorates, however, and they decide to rush back to Origin.

They doubt the Predator will survive the journey, and it's at this point that their leader, Lech, betrays the rest of the expedition.

Acting alone or under orders from We-Yu, and not wanting to miss the opportunity to experiment with the Engineer's tech on another sentient life form, Lech exposes the Predator to a facehugger specimen they brought from Origin.

He does this after the rest of the crew are in hypersleep and having 'murdered' the ship's android, Witt. When the time is right, Lech then opens the hypersleep chambers, and uses an escape pod, abandoning his colleagues to their fate.

A Predalien (a la AvP: Requiem) spawns from the Predator and it starts to build a hive, carrying the sleeping crew down to the engineering deck. Here it infects them with the black mutagen in its sting, transforming them into facehugger eggs that can lay dormant for hundreds, possibly thousands of years.

Lech's plan would have had the Chenault arrive back at Origin as a neatly self-contained experiment, but one of the crew, the cyberneticist Hansen, wakes up before she can be killed. She sabotages the ship but is unable to destroy it, due to We-Yu reprogramming the ship's computer during its refit (to prevent another Nostromo incident).

And so the Chenault ends up in a fixed orbit around the gas giant. Realising she's transforming or perhaps impregnated, thus doomed, Hansen commits suicide, shooting herself in the head with a revolver. The Predalien takes her body below, but she's left the message "We were wrong".

This might refer to Origin's theory that the Engineer's black mutagen is designed to create an organism best adapted to its environment. They actually designed it as a bio-weapon to wipe out humankind. It might refer to Origin or Special Services as a whole and all of their subterfuge and malfeasance. Multiple interpretations.

Either way, this is when the Duke receives the job to find and assist/recover the Chenault and the game begins.

The game ends with the survivors of the Duke landing on Korari, with Michael Weyland's black ship, the Patna searching for them. On the surface they're suddenly targeted by what's presumably a Predator.

*Korari is the name of a planet in AVP2. It's a heavily forested world and site of a We-Yu research outpost in the late 22nd Century. This might indicate that We-Yu establishes a semi-permanent presence on the planet. It's later attacked by Predators, making it a good candidate for the unnamed game preserve planet in Predators.

#828568
Sun 04/10/15 18:09 UTC
Sun 04/10/15 18:09 UTC
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 11,454
nemarsde Offline OP

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Hello ship-mates, officers, roustabouts, roughnecks and robots! And lurkers too, be they human, alien or space chimp, welcome back to the 1st year reunion of the crew of the UCSS Duke (registration 967349781)!

This time last year we were getting in mind of Hallowe'en, and inspired by Alien: Isolation's success, we started to put together an Alien message game on DreamLyrics. It was called In Space No-One Can Hear You Scream, or "In Space..." for short.

The crew was assembled, and the roster looked something like this:

Captain Casey
Executive Officer Dietz - played by Muddy
Chief Engineer Fettis
Engineering Technician Hunter - played by Wolf
Navigation Officer Salandra* - played by Art in the Blood
Electrical Technician Madison*
Salvage Officer Murakami - played by Gypsy
Construction Mechanic Roysden* - played by Exter
Equipment Operator Scaife* - played by Pandemonium
Equipment Operator Jung
Science Officer Tomich - played by MikeD

*Survived till end credits wink


(And let's not forget Bernie, the Automated Recovery Vehicle.)

Just these 11 working joes vs one ghost ship, corporate skullduggery and hostile outer space. And yes, one homicidal alien killing machine.

So began a ride that took us through Winter, Spring and into Summer, finally completing its run in July 2015.

Message games haven't stopped running since then, so one year on, what have we learned from INS?

As a player or lurker, what do you remember most about the game? Who was your favourite character, or favourite moment?

Was there anything INS did well that could be applied to other message games? Is there anything it didn't do well, that other message games could avoid?

You can read all about INS in this thread

So break out the Motion Trackers and chestbursters, and let's reminisce and talk sci-fi, talk horror, maybe both at the same time.

#828570
Sun 04/10/15 19:05 UTC
Sun 04/10/15 19:05 UTC
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 5,643
Wolf Offline
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*survived?

... you have a very strange definition for that word ...

#828575
Sun 04/10/15 20:57 UTC
Sun 04/10/15 20:57 UTC
Joined: May 2009
Posts: 12,098
Pandemonium Offline
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Well they might not have continued to do so, but at a snapshot in time, some did.

I for one am happy with where it ended and how it went. But I am still curious...

#828577
Sun 04/10/15 21:22 UTC
Sun 04/10/15 21:22 UTC
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 11,454
nemarsde Offline OP

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Hehe. It's a fair point, Wolf! Edited to "Survived, by end credits".

I suppose for me, that was one of the most memorable things about INS. Having to push push push to endanger the PCs, when normally GMing's all about presenting balanced encounters.

It felt a little old school actually, Gygaxian, like running D&D when I was at high school and trying to kill the PCs every session. But in INS it was stil co-operative, which is interesting. (Pretty sure back in high school, none of my players would've co-operated in me killing their characters!)

But in INS, the players were all game, and hid behind the curtain of chainsaws when the story called for it.

One thing that I did learn, is that killing PCs requires a lot more co-operation than keeping them alive. Most game systems are heavily weighted towards keeping the PCs alive, for good reason. Even Savage Worlds, in its hardest mode, it was easier to maim the entire party in one fell swoop, effectively a TPK, than it was to kill a single PC, due to quirks of the mechanics.

So I used time pressure to keep the PCs moving and unable to rest, recoup, re-equip, etc. The players all seemed happy to be on this speeding train, heading towards the end of the tracks, even if their characters weren't so enamoured with the prospect. wink

What other lessons did I learn? That a message game can be even shorter still, and be fun and satisfying. I think you can run a decent game in an 8 month period, but it has to be planned from the ground up, for a short run.

I learned that outer space is terrifying. Forget aliens, for me, the alien in INS was not nearly as scary as researching outer space. Just don't call me up for astronaut duty until they commission the Enterprise.

And that makes hard sci-fi hard to write imo. It's a very constraining, restrictive environment, and handwavium only gets you so far before holes start appearing in your continuity. I probably wouldn't run, or write, hard sci-fi again. Or more precisely, not set in outer space. I think it was very challenging for the players too.

But short-run games, I'm very interested in, and am currently using the model for my 13th Age game. I may not start another game this Hallowe'en, but I could definitely run some survival/horror/survival horror again.


#828583
Sun 04/10/15 21:50 UTC
Sun 04/10/15 21:50 UTC
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Posts: 12,098
Pandemonium Offline
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I have had a serious hankering for zombie Apocalypse again. I had hoped other games might have gone well, but as these things sometimes do, they died. So that is my vote if you end up doing a short one.

Though the twist I had been considering... should I spoil it? Nah, not yet. Let me see if I want to run one first. smile

I agree hard sci-fi is quite difficult to both play in and run, but that is part of the charm for INS.

#828589
Sun 04/10/15 22:44 UTC
Sun 04/10/15 22:44 UTC
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 40,095
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MikeD Offline

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Shouldn't that be 'survived =till= the end credits'?? <weg>

As to your killing us indiscriminately ... I think we all knew that was the end game from the beginning, so no hard feeling here. Tomich might have a different take, however <chuckle>

And if you decide to 'try again', go ahead and set it on a planet this time. I'll be there if possible <wink>


MikeD
#828597
Mon 05/10/15 00:51 UTC
Mon 05/10/15 00:51 UTC
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 46,267
Exeter Offline
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I guess I'd have to say Hunter was my favorite character since he died giving my battered construction mechanic a chance to survive.

I learned the necessity and the difficulty of visualizing the exact surroundings at all times, something that I've seldom had to concentrate on in message games.

#828601
Mon 05/10/15 02:18 UTC
Mon 05/10/15 02:18 UTC
Joined: Jul 2011
Posts: 5,643
Wolf Offline
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heh.

Roysden gave Hunter the ability to have the absolute best last words wink

So I'm greatly appreciative!

#828610
Mon 05/10/15 11:04 UTC
Mon 05/10/15 11:04 UTC
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 66,232
Gypsy Offline

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It was fun! grin Favourite characters: Roysden & Scaife - but then I played with them for longer. smile

#828635
Mon 05/10/15 18:05 UTC
Mon 05/10/15 18:05 UTC
Joined: May 2000
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nemarsde Offline OP

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There you go, MikeD. Edited. wink

One of the things that took me entirely by surprise was how much more enjoyable the hard sci-fi aspect was to work with than the Alien franchise.

I quickly realised that the Alien franchise doesn't have a whole lot more to give us. The creature is iconic, and I love Alien and Aliens, but horror does need an element of mystery.

Hard sci-fi on the other hand seems to be just coming into its own. Gravity, The Martian (showing now, go see it, it's great) are amazing films and really capture the real terror of space.

So I think INS leaned towards the survivor/disaster genre more than once, and I even remember saying to friends, "Wouldn't it be cool if there was no alien? If it turned out to be disaster movie, not a horror movie!"

Alas, that would've been false advertising, but I was tempted. lol

Another thing I enjoyed thoroughly was watching the players play flawed real working people, unexceptional average joes.

The players were all quite familiar with playing rounded characters with backstory, strengths, flaws, etc. Most modern RPGs highlight this to some extent, and the PCs will turn out to be exceptional in some way. But in INS we even avoided backstory; it was more to help the players get in-character or build rapport. Because real working people <looks in mirror> may have backstory, but it's rarely very interesting (since it isn't contrived for drama).

You don't look at Brett in Alien and think, "Well now, who's this man of mystery!? I wonder what bearing his murky past has on current events!"

So in INS the players were playing characters who were average, flawed, not always likeable, who didn't always get on together, who often struggled to agree, who had no notable backstory, who's only point of interest was really how they responded to the crisis situation.

That was the players at work. It gave the game an authentic flavour, and it was a pleasure for me to watch them at it.

#828644
Mon 05/10/15 18:38 UTC
Mon 05/10/15 18:38 UTC
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Wolf Offline
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Actually hard SF has always had its place ... and an emotional impact.

"The Cold Equations."

Last edited by Wolf; Mon 05/10/15 18:38 UTC.
#828661
Mon 05/10/15 20:17 UTC
Mon 05/10/15 20:17 UTC
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Posts: 40,095
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MikeD Offline

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Actually, I agree that it =really= could have been a hoot if all the panic and what have you was all for nothing and there was just the 'mundane' concerns of meteor showers and ship failures be delt with.

But I agree that the story we played was a blast and probably more fun than the alternative might have been.


MikeD
#828815
Wed 07/10/15 17:55 UTC
Wed 07/10/15 17:55 UTC
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nemarsde Offline OP

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So, question to all, do you think you'd play in a game again, where you played average working joes? Is anyone currently playing in such a game?

#828824
Wed 07/10/15 19:22 UTC
Wed 07/10/15 19:22 UTC
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Posts: 46,267
Exeter Offline
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Yes, definitely. I'm playing an average sorta guy in OAHE at the moment, but one who has a magic cat he doesn't come close to understanding.

#828833
Wed 07/10/15 20:27 UTC
Wed 07/10/15 20:27 UTC
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Posts: 40,095
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MikeD Offline

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Ultimately it would depend on the game's story, but probably yes <g>


MikeD
#828864
Thu 08/10/15 05:17 UTC
Thu 08/10/15 05:17 UTC
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Posts: 12,098
Pandemonium Offline
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Agreed with Mike. I usually don't, but I would.

#828879
Thu 08/10/15 11:35 UTC
Thu 08/10/15 11:35 UTC
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Gypsy Offline

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Oh I would! I like the idea of the ordinary coping with the extraordinary. smile

#996307
Sun 02/08/20 15:50 UTC
Sun 02/08/20 15:50 UTC
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nemarsde Offline OP

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I should've posted these sooner, but last year was the 40th Anniversary of Ridley Scott's Alien and Fox celebrated by commissioning a series of sci-fi shorts, released on YouTube.

They're high quality and expand the Alien universe without the pollution of Prometheus and Covenant.

Alien 40th Anniversary Short Films

I particularly enjoyed Ore. It had that same 'working man' feel as the original movie. "Ordinary coping with the extraordinary" as Gypsy said above. smile


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