Thursday, December 29, 2011

Next Game Ideas

I have a number of game fragment ideas floating around in my head, so I thought I’d blort them out here for future reference.

As I mentioned in my GameMarx interview, I had a great conversation with my boy Mark Harvey (CheckMark Games) about a game that involved learning a language.  I had this idea that a player could walk around the world and explore, say, ruins of an aboriginal civilization.  And on those ruins are pictographs, but we don’t know what they mean.  Maybe the player also comes in contact with natives who also use those pictographs (cuniform, hieroglyphics… I don’t know the proper word) in speech bubbles to communicate.  But the player doesn’t know what they mean.  Over the course of the game, the player would make observations and encounter experiences that would reveal the meaning of the foreign language, and then would be able to use the language to complete some quest or task or storyline.

At some point in time, I observed that all these Xbox Indie games (particularly the more amateurish ones, my own included) start off with all manner of splash screens and menu screens and loading screens that often serve no real purpose.  I had the idea of a game that simply starts off with the player in a jail cell or empty room with absolutely no instructions or direction.  The player would figure out how to move around, but still, with no obvious exits, just kind of wander around.  Maybe they wander around enough until they find a loose, squeaky board.  And under that board, they find, oh, some cheese or something.  Then, soon, a mouse comes in from a crack and if you give the mouse the cheese, he drops… something else.  Basically, I like the idea of a game that takes place in a single room, but gets more and more elaborate as time goes on.

I just watched Back to the Future, and I love the idea of doing a time travel game.  Braid, obviously, is the elephant in the room for this genre.  More than time travel, I guess, is I like the idea of the player being able to split off multiple versions of himself and act in parallel.  For example, the player goes and steps on a pressure plate, and a door opens across the room.  If the player leaves the pressure plate, the door closes.  So, the player has to go and press the pressure plate, and then go back in time, spin off a second copy of himself, and then start again.  One copy goes and pushes the pressure plate, and the second copy now can go through the door.  Very much like the flash game called “Cursor10”.  Go search for that and play it.

I was listening to a podcast recently where they were talking about Skryim, and particularly the books in Skyrim, and the collecting of sets of multi-volume books.  They lamented that they couldn’t email items to each other.  I had the idea of creating a game where set-collection was paramount.  Maybe you are exploring an old cave and collecting dinosaur bones, and you are looking to complete a T-rex set.  But you find a rare and valuable stegosaurus bone which is unusable to you, but certainly would be valuable to someone else.  I like the idea of being able to turn that in-game item into a text string, which you could then tweet or email, and someone could enter into their copy of the game to receive that item.

With elections coming up, I think there is a lot of opportunity to do an election game.  Basically a territory-controlling war game, but set in an election theme.  The country is made up of states, and various states have various issues that they are for or against.  You would travel around the country and try to win votes, gather supporters, earn money, and so forth.  I think this could be a lot of fun.

I think there’s a lot of meat on those bones…   Just waiting for the motivation to kick in and go with something.

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