Monday, March 14, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane and the Mystery Misdirection

I saw 10 Cloverfield Lane this weekend. For those of you wondering if it has anything substantively to do with the 2008 found footage monster film: the answer is "no." There are some easter eggs, maybe.

That's about it. For those of you who don't care anything about that and think the trailers look intriguing: you should see it. It's a decent thriller in a confined space with a couple of twists. In brief: Melissa (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is driving--well, somewhere--after a breakup. There are odd news reports on the radio, but before she can register any of this given her personal drama, she's in a car accident. She wakes up in an elaborate bomb shelter built by Howard (John Goodman) who tells her attacks have come from well, somewhere, and everyone else is dead.

Needless to say, Melissa is not immediately convinced that her captor is telling the truth or that his motivates are altruistic.

 From gaming perspective, you could say the the underground bunker in which Melissa finds herself is a variant of the mystery sandbox--or more accurately, a version of the mystery terrarium, because there are two mysteries in 10 Cloverfield Lane and only one is the protagonist (or PC) initially aware of. A game in as small a space as the film would likely need to be very shorter than the usual mystery sandbox or even mystery terrarium, but it show's the way those sorts of campaign set-ups can be made to work longer, by distraction with another, more momentarily pressing mystery.

Doing something like this, you get more time in a campaign before the Big Discovery. The danger is you build in too many "mysteries of the week" that the big reveal doesn't seem so big when you final get there.

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