Making of the Game
Towards the end of the year 2000, Istanbul LARP was on the rise again after a long period of silence and half-hearted projects. Trpgroup, main discussion forum for Turkish larpers, was alive with heated discussions, untested theories and ideas. During these discussions, we, the designers of Krachfeld Satosu'nda Bir Gün (A Day at Castle Krachfeld), figured that our views about LARP were similar. So we decided to make a game to test and support these views. But since we lived in different countries all we could do was to send e-mails to each other about the hyphotetical game and LARP theory. The actual project came into being when we met in Istanbul in September. Because we had limited time together (less than one month in total), the game had to be minimalistic, quite different than what we envisioned months earlier. Yet we cared about experimenting more than we cared about perfection and decided to proceed. The design and preparation took two weeks, and we ended up with a totally new game.
Our main goal was to make a LARP in which the players would have extensive control over their characters and the game itself. The characters were not to be detailed. There would be no hidden plot to be unrevealed later in the game. The action and the situations were to be created during the game itself, by the players, not before the game and not by the gamemasters. The game world would not be detailed to give players space for creativity. In other words, we wanted to minimalise the text base. We tried to get rid of everything that was not directly related to actual gameplay. We also wanted to make a LARP without ‚special effects'; supernatural powers, rules systems, gamemaster previlages, violence and open conflict.
All these points;
Playing the Game
The characters consisted of a name, an occupation and a possibly incriminating secret (in total one paragraph long and not in written form). The Castle Officers got only names and occupations. During the game we supplied files about the players and the Officers interrogated the players according to the information in their files, which mostly coincided with their secrets. We created a sense of bureaucracy through use of props (like stamps and forms) and basic processes. The players were encouraged to fill in forms to complain about others and encouraged to testify against other players.
Where we Succeeded?
The game was an overall success. No player voiced overtly negative views. After a slow start the game ‚ran smoothly' to quote a player, even without plots, detailed characters, or a setting. We effectively demonstrated that it was possible to make an interesting LARP without the aforementioned elements.
Where we Failed?
As expected, the freedom proved to be too much. The minimal textbase (everything written for the game add up to 3 pages) affected the performance of the players negatively. For the future we decided to supply more information in one of the aspects of the game, probably the setting- to improve perfomance. But still not so much to imprison players' imagination.
Another set of problems arised from the fact that we were not able to contact some players beforehand to explain our goals and vision clearly. This was mainly due to a lack of time. Again because we had limited time and needed players desperately we were not very strict about the props, the décor, and the costumes, and as a result these elements were not good as desired, but they were passable by Turkish standarts.