Frankenstories is live!

It's taken months but it's finally here: FRANKENSTORIES!

A cute little guy!

Shut up and let me play!

If you want to jump in straight away, skip this and go to frankenstories.writelike.org.

If you want context and explanation, read on.

In a nutshell

Frankenstories is a fast-paced, multi-player writing game in which players compete for control of a story (or simply contribute their best ideas, depending on the group vibe).

It's super fun, accessible, and stressful in a good way.

It doesn't require logins, emails, accounts, or anything—you can just jump in and play with your class or friends. And you can be up and running in <15 seconds.

It can be played with any number of people: solo, pair, small groups, or whole class.

Where Writelike lessons are deep and deliberate; Frankenstories is fast and furious.

Example of a game

All players get an identical randomly-generated prompt:

Frankenstories sample prompt

Each player has approximately 90 seconds to write a response:

Frankenstories writing a response to the prompt

Once everyone has submitted—or when the timer runs out—the responses are jumbled up, anonymised, and distributed among the players.

Each player gets to vote on their favourite of the ones they are shown:

Voting on replies

After voting, players get to see the winning snippet for the round, as well as the other popular snippets:

The winner is...

The winning snippet is stitched into the story spine and the next round begins, with all players now responding to the locked-in snippet.

At the end of five rounds (or whatever you set for the game), players are presented with the completed story:

Seeing the final story

And that's it! It's lots of fun!

Playing and learning

The dynamic that emerges in play is basically 'try to steal the ball'.

Everyone competes to write the winning snippet and take control of the story for a round.

Almost every group has someone who is a better writer than the others, but what we've seen in playtesting is that all the other players hone in on that strongest writer and start trying to copy whatever makes them popular—players learn and adapt through the raw market forces of competition and currency.

It also means that one person rarely dominates the story. Even the best writer in the group tends to be knocked off the spine for at least a round or two.

A caveat: the default settings can be too fast for players who need more time to think or type (happily, you can customise them to suit your group).

INSTRUCTIONS

Setting up a game

Each game needs a host who sets up the game, invites players, and commences play.

Game setup

  1. To set up a game, go to frankenstories.writelike.org and type your name (can be anything).
  2. Copy the Invite link and email or DM to your players/class. (Or you can write the game URL on the board: frankenstories.writelike.org/game/ABC123 👈 update the last six characters to match the URL of your game.)
  3. While players are arriving, you can adjust the game settings.
  4. When everyone is in, click Start to launch the game.

Note: Currently the host also has to play, and everyone can only play one game at a time.

Also note: If you want to play with smaller teams (perhaps to balance abilities) then you'll need to verbally assign team leaders and ask them to host games for their teams (and perhaps read their team's story at the end).

Adjusting game settings

The default settings are pretty intense and result in a ~20 minute game including all the voting rounds.

You can adjust these settings to speed up, slow down, compress, or extend the game.

Custom settings

You can control:

  • Number of writing rounds (default is 5)
  • Time limit for writing in each round (default is 100 seconds)
  • Character limit on replies (default is 250 characters
  • Number of replies displayed in each voting round (default is 3)

You can choose from three types of prompt: character, relationship, and situation. (The differences are to do with the syntax of the written prompt and the number of characters in the image. Play a round of each and you'll get the idea.)

You can also choose whether or not to display the leaderboard at the end.

Revisiting completed stories

Once they've played a game, players will see a My Frankenstories link. This will display all games the player has participated in.

My Frankenstories view

Note: Currently, this gallery is linked to the browser—so you can only see the games you played on the specific browser you are using.

Also note: Each Frankenstory has a unique URL so a link to the story can be copied and shared with other people.

Limitations on the current version of the game

  • Can only play one game at a time.
  • Host has to play.
  • Not integrated with Writelike in any way (so you can't save games in Writelike, can't see responses outside of the game view, can't assign games to groups, etc).
  • Doesn't work on mobile.

What's up next for Frankenstories?

We'd love it if you and your class (or even you and your friends) played it and gave us feedback.

In the meantime, we will work on integrating it with Writelike so that teachers can do things like create multiple games and assign them to specific players in the class, have games appear in the My Lessons view like lesson cards, and see what each player wrote in a reporting view.

(And we'll get it working on mobile devices.)

What's up next in normal Writelike-land?;

Lots! We'll send out another newsletter shortly, but in brief:

  • We published Change, cause & effect.
  • Point of view will be out shortly.
  • Clauses and complex sentences is progressing well.
  • Response feeds are now an optional setting: you can turn them off in Manage Group if you want.
Frankenstories News