Thursday, July 20, 2006

Steal this Game Design: Extra

I'm sorry to be late this week, but I wasn't home for most of the beginning of the week, and didn't have practical access to the Internet (yes, such places DO exist! You just have to look very hard!)

Anyway, here's a quick idea for now. Next week, there should be a much more fleshed-out design, something very different and original (I'm already working on it, but it's just not ready for the "prime-time" of this blog.)


When the tables are turned, can you still survive?


In "Extra", you're an extra in various videogames. Sometimes, you're a baddie, and sometimes, you're an innocent bystander. In both cases, try not to get shot or blown up by the hero who's plowing through the game!


The game fluctuates between a first-person and a third-person perspective, depending on which context works better at the moment (this is not under the player's control.) Before each "mission" (or "job") you are given some directives as to how to behave.

If you're a baddie, this might be to try and shoot the hero, or to push an obstacle into his path, and not get killed in the process.

If you're an innocent bystander, your task might be to walk through a dangerous environment without getting killed by the hero or the other baddies.

Here are some games you might end up in, and some sample tasks to go with those:
  • WWII First-person shooter: you're one of the nameless nazi soldiers the hero may or may not shoot down.
  • You're one of the other drivers in a racing game. When you're behind, you get an unnatural boost to keep you in the race (CPU drivers always cheat!) but the hero car tends to drive a lot more recklessly, so try not to get pushed off-course or into a tree.
  • You're one of the cops in a GTA-style game: try to arrest the "hero" before he shoots you down.
  • You're one of the ho's in a GTA-style game: try to get the "hero" to do YOU instead of the other ho's.
  • You're one of those turtles in a Super Mario Brothers-style game. Try not to lose your shell!
  • You're one of those evil aliens shooting at the hero.
  • You're one of those zombies in some survival horror game.
I'm sure any gamer can come up with ten more like the ones above.

One interesting thing is how to reverse the gameplay of boss stages: sometimes, if you play well enough, you get a chance to play out a boss fight! Just imagine, you're the huge dragon spewing fire at the hero, or you're driving the giant tank that's shooting at the player, or the giant mutant monster who might squish the hero.


The graphics should always try to emulate, or even better, exaggerate the style of game the "Extra" finds himself in. The visual perspective should always strive for maximum impact: if it's more impressive to see the hero charge you head-on, a first-person view imposes itself. For situations like boss fights where you're much bigger than the hero, there'll be more impact showing everything in third-person view.


Again, sounds should correspond to the game and environment you find yourself in, but with a twist: game music follows THE HERO. Since the music in regular games tends to be indifferent to the position and orientation of the player, from the extras' perspective, the music follows the player!

Also, before and after the hero goes by, the other extras might banter with you about "the job", mostly for humorous results, but also to give hints about how to play better.

In the end...

If you go above and beyond the tasks assigned to you, either by getting rid of the hero way ahead of when you should have been able to, or by marshalling all the other extras to so completely overwhelm the hero that the he or she is forced to give up, then the game turns around, and you can play through that stage as the hero yourself, somewhat like an interception during a football game, which turns into a touchdown.

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