Apr 292019
 

Alone Among the Stars is a creative writing game by Takuma Okada. You play a lone space explorer visiting strange new planets. Through a system of six-sided dice and a deck of playing cards, you generate random things to explore. For each place generated, you write a log entry. That is it.

The random prompts generated are very vague and intentionally so. The suit of the card determines what you find and the card value determines where you find it. That means I can pull a card and get something like, “Creatures by a gentle river”. What kind of creatures? Are they hostile? Are they fish, people or monsters? What is the river made of? That is for you to decide.

At first the vagueness bothered me. I wanted more detail but after playing a few days, I see where details could turn into something repetitive. Creatures by a river could mean lots of things, and perhaps it is best that you do the heavy lifting in a creative exercise.

My favorite moments in video games is discovery. I enjoy exploring places more than I enjoy fighting things in those places. The problem with a video game is that there is a finite amount of discovery because everything needs an art asset. This game fixes that by using your imagination.

Personally, I play one session a day of this game, before my usual writing. It is a nice little exercise to warm up with as well as just being fun to do. There are times when I am looking forward more to the game than my actual writing, which is okay. It helps me segue easier than the stuff I should be writing.

I will admit that after one playthrough, I began to tweak and modify some of the rules. I also changed the space setting to one of magical plane exploration. Apparently I am not alone in wanting to alter it as there are dozens of variations out there inspired by Alone Among the Stars. Heck, I will probably be adding my own variation to the mix before long.

Is there any better compliment for a creative writing game than inspiring others to make their own? I don’t think so.

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