When screenwriter and tabletop game designer Spencer Stark suddenly lost her mother in 2016, she immediately shouldered the emotional burden of her father as well as her grandmother and aunts. Bowing down like this, he explained in an interview, left no emotional oxygen for his own grief.
that came later, when stark designed alice is missing, a collaborative storytelling RPG set in a fictional Pacific Northwest town where a group of friends search for their missing friend. The mystery, told via cards and set to a bespoke playlist of moody indie tunes, twists the familiar by restricting players to nonverbal, indirect communication: no speaking, no noises, no physical gestures, only text on a cellphone.
Now, Stark is gearing up to crowdfund Alice Is Missing: Silent Falls, an additional collection of cards – clues, locations, suspects, and more – that almost double the original number and complicate Alice’s search. Players can add as many or as few of these cards as they want to the core deck. Nothing is superfluous, and each addition is designed to fit seamlessly into the little box that became a surprise hit when it launched in 2020.
Many of these new ideas floated around from the beginning and were shaved from the original production. alice is missing to what Stark refers to as the MVP, or “most viable product,” for Kickstarter.
“Ever since the game launched, I’ve been tweaking the cards in detail to give people a chance to tell new stories with the game and provide an extra level of narrative challenge,” said Stark. “It was a game I never thought people would play because it’s weird and emotional and type-2 fun. But it comes from a very real place.
alice is missing After the disappearance of Alice Briarwood, a Northern California high schooler with a group of friends – created and embodied by players – hellbent on discovering what happened. During a single, roughly three-hour session, players discuss via one-on-one text conversations what they think happened as more clues are revealed and potential culprits are revealed. Guided by card cues and an always-ticking timer, the group will explore how someone’s absence can tear through a community, revealing uncomfortable truths along the way.
,[The game] was basically born out of this desire to make a game that captured the emotional landscape during that time, which is why you’re not going to solve it on your own,” said Stark. “Playing the game Is. You are not going to take this to Sherlock Holmes. It is purposeful.
Stark said he has always been drawn to “emotional, indie video games” such as life is strange, free from oxen, And fire observationAnd alice is missing The familiar Strange, consciously pulls on “cozy but messed-up” vibes to build its atmosphere of a cracked mirror through which you can see your past. not so much the rug as a mechanism for vulnerability, alice is missingIts tendency to evoke surprisingly strong responses while sitting dead quiet in a dim room has earned it quite a reputation within the tabletop community.
silent falls The expansion is designed to deal with groups after a few sessions playing the main game. He doesn’t agree whether this comeback should be called his director’s cut or the definitive version. He generally doesn’t enjoy re-touching his creative works after they’ve been released into the world and into the hands of an audience. But this project feels different, Stark said. The timing was right.
Players will meet three new suspects who may be connected to Alice’s disappearance, and each throws a wrench into how veteran players understand the social fabric of Silent Falls. The first officer is Prescott, the town’s sheriff, which by implication means that players cannot turn to the police for assistance. Another, Alice’s estranged father, John Harwood, raises the specter of domestic trouble and rotten family dynamics. Last is a new student who quickly befriends Alice and ingratiates herself with the group, upsetting the vibes and forcing everyone to consider their ties to the now-missing girl.
Stark is clearly interested in interrogating the power structures through Simulacra, the small town of Silent Falls. What does it mean when people you directly trust are using their position of power to cover up a heinous crime? How do traditional family roles affect a relationship due to long-term resentment? What do we think about those close to us, and what are they afraid to reveal, lest we judge them?
Stark said that re-watching Silent Falls should be expected to ignite a fire in players. Even after all the plays, feedback, and iterations, he feels more nervous than ever when designing a native experience. It is an electrical energy that he seeks to derive from the creative process.
“The stuff that scares me is the stuff I get most excited about. If I’m not, I haven’t done my job. I haven’t pushed myself,” Starc said. “It’s going to be really exciting for me to see people use the prompts I give them to tell stories. I’d love to have that chance again.
Alice Is Missing: Silent Falls Launches on Kickstarter starting February 14th and will be hosted by Responsible Company publisher Hunters Entertainment kids on bike, Altered Carbon The Role Playing GameAnd Outbreak: Undead,