With the arrival of the pandemic, almost all LARP except that which was conducted via video chat went on hiatus, including a game we'd been planning for a couple of years.
However things kicked off again for us on the weekend of 3-5 September 2021 with an 'anthology event' that consisted of several short games. After a chat with one of the game organisers I agreed to set up some stuff to round their Cyberpunk themed game out.
We play on exclusively outdoor sites, almost always with no access to mains power or permanent Internet service so everything needs to be self-sufficient for the duration of the game. Also with only a couple of hours of setup time available it needed to go out quick and dirty right beforehand.
I put together several elements that got included in the game, spread across three different locations on the site.
Video calling from an "A.I." NPC
Co-operative "Netrunning" mini-games and tasks
- The first 'Netrunner' had to enable the 'uplink' by playing a version of 'Simon says' repeating a sequence of button pushes back.
- The second 'Netrunner' had to stop the I.C.E. countermeasures deployed against the first by playing 'Whack-a-mole', clicking any button that changed colour. This accelerated, the longer the first player played 'Simon says'. If this player 'failed' the first player got thrown out of the system.
- The third 'Netrunner' had a set of data to delete and control of the 'power node' that provided power to lighting and the CCTV security system etc. There was no 'game' here but different tasks/options in each location.
These two things were to give feedback to the non-Netrunner players on the progress of the hack. They could look up and see how things were going.
Power distribution nodes
As an evening game in Autumn, we needed a way to light significant locations and make them usable for play. The sun was down by 19:30 and the game wouldn't start until at least 20:30. I made two different styles of lighting.
What went well
- The lighting was very effective, perhaps more effective than expected
- All the mini-games and tasks worked
- The CCTV footage was downloaded
- We had multiple interactions with the 'A.I.' NPC
What didn't go so well
- It took a long time to set up, even with quite modest expectations for the amount of lighting we used. Cutting and running the lighting cabling took the bulk of the time.
- A Raspberry Pi 3B+ just isn't fast enough to run Motion Eye (or more specifically the 'motion' daemon) without lots of slowdown and artefacts on the stored video. It did produce footage that could be shown but it was a bit rubbish
- The Wi-Fi reached further than expected so by the third location, the 'Netrunner' players were looking for the systems to hack well before the player group were within sight of the encounter. This was OK but meant the activity got a bit detached from what the other players were doing. Their working at the limit of connectivity also made the interactivity a bit patchy until they moved closer
- The uplink antennas weren't very conspicuous so I don't think anybody really saw or paid attention to them
- The 'cyberdeck' with LTE coverage had trouble accessing the mini-games when connected to LTE so I had to get the player to swap between that and Wi-Fi manually before and after the mini-games. This is something I failed to check before the game due to time pressure
- Cellular coverage at the site was patchy (we knew this) and the video calls were unreliable, but they did work after a couple of attempts
- It took the players a couple of goes to become comfortable with driving the mini-games and on a short game like this, it was over by the time they'd got into the swing of it