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Succession Game

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A Succession Game is a form of Meta Multiplayer gameplay where, instead of competing against one another, the players take turns controlling a single faction. It is most often found in Real Time and Turn-Based Strategy games, particularly 4X games. It often goes by the name "hotseat", with the person currently playing said to be in this seat, though this term is also used for when players are each playing their own game or faction on the same machine.

Although some games (such as Super Mario Bros. 3) have this functionality built in, a Succession Game is usually started by a player posting a topic in a Message Board identifying the game and asking for other interested players. Once enough players have been recruited, the group will then decide on:

  • The order of play (usually this is the same as the signup order, with the thread-starter going first).
  • The length of each player's session. This is usually done either one of two ways:
    • In games where the faction's leader is represented by a character, such as the Total War series, the character will continue playing for until his character dies or is otherwise removed; in other words, each player plays as if he were that leader.
    • The other method is to agree on a certain predetermined length of gameplay, such as a number of turns or an in-game year.
  • What, if any, Game Mods should be used.
  • What, if any, Self Imposed Challenges all players should adhere to.

Once all this has been determined, the actual gameplay begins, with each player playing out his session and then handing off the save file to the next person on the list. Each player will also typically post a writeup of his turn in the game thread, thus turning it into a sort of collaborative After-Action Report.

Succession Games are popular for a number of reasons. First, they allow players to compare techniques and tactics through a firsthand example of their results, thus allowing players to refine their own playing styles. Second, it can serve as a means of easing newer players into the game by giving them an essentially premade scenario to experiment with (and also the reassurance that whatever mistakes they may make can generally be corrected by a more experienced player later). Finally, working together with others to put something together can be fun in and of itself.

Notable examples:

  • As noted above, the phenomenon is most prevalent on gaming forums. Good examples can often be found by looking in the "Stories" section (if it has one).
  • The Minecraft mod ChainWorld.
  • Clockwork Empires is partly being designed with this in mind. No surprise, given that it's supposed to be a more approachable edition of Dwarf Fortress, and Gaslamp knows about Boatmurdered.
  • Dariusburst Another Chronicle has Chronicle Mode, which is a variation of this trope. The goal is to liberate a system of planets by completing missions; doing so adds to the liberation percentage and unlocks surrounding missions. Rather than completion percentage being tied to each player, it is tied to the entire arcade cabinet, so one player could clear a mission then the next player can try their hand at completing one of the missions that get unlocked as a result. For the consumer versions, since you are unlikely to have lots of players coming over to clear Chronicle Mode together, you instead can assign yourself to one of several dozen cloud-based "virtual cabinets" to contribute progress on.