Alba – Dreaming of an untold story
When the world was overtaken by the pandemic, and lockdowns were brought into force in the UK, it seemed the best thing to do for Alba was to put a pin in it – to press the pause button until this was all over and we could pick up where we left off. The next few games were plotted out and written, the props made – we boxed them up and put them away, awaiting the time when we could simply unbox and get going again.
It turns out, the world doesn’t work like that.
While Alba stood still, the real world kept turning. A word which was once simply a Scots Gaelic word, has become a banner for the sort of far-right nationalist politics that we do not support, and so Alba has to change. The name, that is. It is sad for us – but the effects of doing nothing, of consenting through silence to the knowing winks of fascism – is worse. It took us less than five minutes to agree that is had to be changed – but what to change it to? That was harder.
Finding a name for a game is hard – harder when it’s a new name. Naming the game the first time round took a lot of time and thought, a lot of discussion. This time around it took just as long, if not longer. We wanted a word that would call up something of the spirit of the game we are making, and like our last name we were not averse to search through other languages on the British Isles to find one. We tried many words, translated them into the other languages, but in the end we settled on a word that has no direct English translation. We will follow up this post with another post – and a revamp of the website – soon, explaining and presenting the new name to you all.
We hope you will like it as much as we do.
Change isn’t only for bad reasons, though – while the game has not been able to run, our minds have never stopped returning to that first event, and to what could be improved. No game is ever truly finished – it can always be improved. I strongly believe that games are an evolving entity – they evolve with the writing, the plotting, the players who play them and the stories they want to tell. No game survives first contact with the players – and nor should it, their fingerprints deserve to be preserved in the making of the game as much as the writers.
The games team have discussed several possible changes and improvements to the game, the inevitable changes that occur when a game first meets the players, and the uptime space. What the pandemic has allowed us to do is really drill down into the game, and to think long and hard about how to make this game better – to improve the player experience, to really answer the question “What do the characters DO at events?”
The broad brushstrokes have always been there, but the pandemic has allowed us to focus in on the smaller elements, to examine the nuts and bolts of the everyday lives of the characters, to help us think about the little moments and the little motivations – and to give players and characters alike the tools they need to dream, to imagine, to build the stories they want to tell.
None of the changes we have planned right now will mean needing to restat characters or rework backgrounds – though you are of course welcome to do so if some of the redefined roles “fit” better – and we’ll work with existing groups and backgrounds to make sure everything lies flat once we’ve finished off and launched the new changes.
These changes will be added to the wiki, with blog posts to explain and introduce both changes and additions to the game, in the coming months.