Afterword

a game about literary imitation for handsets and tablets

Players are shown the title, author, cover art, and last sentence of a book, and (in the style of Fictionary or Balderdash) must write a convincingly fake first sentence for the book. Players then vote on the first sentence they believe to be the correct one. Each player receives two points for a correct guess and one point for every player fooled into voting for their answer.

Afterword is based on a parlor game of indeterminate origin. The concept has been implemented several times as a board game, including one designed (I swear I did not make this up) by Daryl Hannah.

The good

Testers of a literary bent had a very positive emotional response to the strongly physical interaction metaphors (shelves, dog-eared pages) in these sketches. Take that, flat design!

The bad

The rules of the original parlor game, if implemented with remote networking, are a poor fit for multiplayer turn structures:

  • Synchronous gameplay, either with a timer or without, seems unworkable. Even if the timer was magically set at the exact length required by the slowest player, the fastest players would likely become bored.
  • Turn-based asynchronous gameplay in the style of Words with Friends would be limited by the speed of the tardiest player.
  • Long countdowns for each phase are a possibility ("answering will end in four hours"), but would result in slow and choppy gameplay due to the game's three-phase "everyone finishes writing, then everyone finishes voting, then everyone views the results" nature.
  • Strictly local networking via Bluetooth or WiFi is a possibility, but that would make Afterword a play aid to the original parlor game rather than a game unto itself.

If implemented with remote networking, cheating would be trivially easy. Players could look up the text of the book to either get a better feel for the author's style or even to copy down the actual first sentence outright.

Lessons learned

None so far. This one hasn't been prototyped in software yet.

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