Monday, September 25, 2006

No game design this week

When I came back to my appartment last night, I quickly found out that I'd been robbed.

They took some big, seemingly expensive stuff, and they also took my main desktop PC all while trashing the place. I have to do some clean-up, which will probably take me all week. I also have to try and get a new DSL modem from my ISP (dial-up just doesn't agree with me.)

Isn't it ironic that my last game concept was a security/surveilance game? Oh well, hopefully I'll get everything sorted out and get back to my old routine soon.

Meanwhile, if there are any visitors coming here this week, leave some game ideas as comments! I'd love to turn this thing into a dialogue, at the very least.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Steal This Game Design: Security

A quick one, this week. I had some actual, paying game design to do today, and I kind of lost track of time. (Was fun, though.)


You're responsible for the night security in a building that contains all sorts of valuable, sensitive or dangerous materials. You don't know what it is, and you don't care. All you care about is keeping everyone out.

You're the only human there (presumably) but you have enough technology on your side to fend off an army of burglars and terrorists:
  • many strategically-placed cameras, which you can control
  • many unarmed robot drones you can control by remote, switching between visible, night-vision, and infra-red cameras. These also have big manipulating arms that can be used to move furniture around, in case you need to build barricades.
  • some 2-inch-thick steel doors to block off certain sections
  • motion detectors in every room and passageway
  • one armed drone you can control by remote; the weapon is non-lethal and taser-like. it's used to immobilise intruders
You can also go out and patrol for yourself. Your only weapon is also a taser, but it's a new kind of taser that shoots an x-ray laser which ionizes a slender beam of air, letting it conduct an electrical impulse that can stun as well if not better than most tasers. In effect, you have a "phaser" that's permanently set to "stun".

Each day, you repel or try to prevent unwanted intrusions. The better you do, the more your reputation grows, which can lead to promotions. You start on the bottom basement floor of a forty-floor building, and with each promotion, you're moved up a floor (you're only responsible for one floor at a time.) The higher you get, the more valuable or dangerous the materials on your floor are, and the more insistent the criminals are.

You'll spend half of your time in your security office with multiple monitors used to monitor all the main entry points, control your drones, etc. If you plan your stuff well, you can complete some nights without leaving your office. But some nights, the bad people can get more persistent, and you may need to leave your office and patrol on foot, stunning any burglars/terrorists/industrial spies you come across.

If any bad people succeed in stealing or destroying anything significant, you can get demoted (if it's really bad, you can get demoted down more than one floor!) or even fired, if you're bad enough.

And if you're bad enough, you might even get killed.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Steal This Game Design: Survive This!

A short one, this week, as I'm still not clear on the details for this idea. Not to mention that I'm only partially familiar with the genre I'm targeting... Let me know what you think...

Survive This!

This would be a survival horror game, but with a major twist: the player will get no effective weapons, whatsoever. The horror will be enhanced by never being able to fight back.

So, what can you do, then? Your only choice is to run away, but there are still many choices involved: you have to decide where you want to run to, pick passages, etc. Anything you pick up which may seem like a weapon might not hurt the creatures and apparitions you see, but you can still use a baseball bat to break a window, or an axe to cut through a locked door, or even a sledgehammer to... well, break stuff.

So while there may be no way to directly fight back, you can still use the environment.

For example, maybe ghosts can move through wood, but not through stone or metal, so you can try to find ways to smash stones to block a ghost's passage.

Each creature type can have its own characteristics, which the player must learn to effectively avoid them.

There should generally be more than one possible way to avoid a creature, unless the only way to avoid the creature is very obvious.

There would be no "boss fights", but there would be major setpieces that the player would need to get through, sometimes involving unique creatures.

Basically, the pacing would be:

- open with a quick action scene, almost like Dragon's Lair
- some slower-paced exploration, with easy-to-avoid enemies, giving the player a chance to plan his way out
- a mid-level action scene, perhaps some sort of chase, if possible not on any rails.
- the chase unlocks objects and places that weren't accessible before, so, more exploration
- trying to get out of the "place" causes the "place" itself to fight back, which culminates in a setpiece scene (as described above, this replaces an actual boss "fight".)

Repeat with some variation along the way.

Oh, and the player is never told that the weapons in the game are ineffective. The game may hint at it subtly, but generally, the moment when the player realizes this should be a major revelation, something that makes the player go: "Oh, so THAT'S how this game is supposed to be played!"

Monday, September 04, 2006

Steal These Game Designs: Rapid Fire Mode

I was sick last week. I spent most of my time trying not to think too hard, as it made my insides hurt more. And then, later in the week, when I was feeling better, I finally got a Nintendo DS development environment running properly and started exploring that. (You can get what you need at, just check the first section of the walkthrough, which shows how to install everything.)

So you can expect to hear/see some DS stuff I'll be working on soon. Hopefully.

In the meantime, and because I don't have any major, fleshed-out ideas to share right now, I'm going to share a bunch of small ideas in a rapid-fire fashion. Hopefully, the amount of raw "ideage" will compensate for the lack of depth, as well as the delay in posts.

Idea 1: 2nd-person game

How about a violent game where the player views the action from his victims' perspective? I know this would be particularly hard to control, but it could make for some very intense, visceral experiences. Plus, it might help shed new light on the whole "violence in videogames" debate, by having the players experience what they do in games from the victims' point of view.

Idea 2: Wargame/RTS where the goal is to prevent war

This would be a real-time game where you control vast armies, as well as the means of production, and the media in your country (control which would be absolute at the easy skill level, but more and more tenuous as difficulty rises) as well as all the diplomatic channels with your allies, enemies, and any other neutral countries. The goal is to prevent a major war from erupting by judiciously using your limited military resources, as well as your diplomatic, economic and media resources. You lose the game if a country with significant might declares all-out war against you.

Idea 3: Demolitions Expert

I remember watching some TV shows where they show demolitions experts placing all the explosives to blow up buildings without damaging the surrounding areas. I think this could be a fun game, where you set all the charges, including the placement, amount and type of explosives, as well as the shape. This would require a pretty realistic physics engine, but in the end, the fun would just be to watch shit get blown up. There could even be a "career mode" of sorts, where good demolitions jobs on small buildings bring bigger contracts, and maybe the occasional Hollywood commission (i.e. blowing shit up for the movies).

Idea 4: The Mother of all games

This will seem extremely ambitious, but I think I know the way to pull it off. This game is like a history of video games: starting with a Pong clone, soon turning into a Space Invaders clone, then into a Pac-Man-like maze game, later into a racing game, a shooting game, a 2D platformer, a 3D platformer, a first-person shooter, an RTS, a turn-based strategy game, a GTA clone... the idea is to have a relevant snippet of gameplay to represent all the major genres of video game, with each segment taking from 30 seconds to a few hours to complete.

The best thing would be if the transition from one game type to the other was smooth, meaning that either a cutscene plays explaining why the main character is doing something else, or at least some sort of morphing animation. There would be a point to doing all this, with clues laid out all through the different (mini-) games, but only after beating each and every game type, in the proper order, would the whole story be revealed. I have a pretty good idea what this story could be, but I'm keeping it to myself until such time as someone with the ability (and resources) to really make this game contacts me. Why? Because I'm like that.

Idea 5: a 2D platformer with over 100 playable (and relevant!) characters

This could work well with a brand such as Pokémon, but it's not the only possibility...

The game would have the player start out with 5 free (as in freedom) characters, with all the other characters imprisoned in some way in the "game world". Gameplay would have the "Metroid" and "Castlevania: Symphony of the Night" structure, except that instead of having one upgradable main character, you have to free hundreds of characters, and find ways of taking them where they're needed.

Each character is independant, meaning that while you're controlling one character, the others you've freed either stay in place or proceed with a particular, but simple behavior until you return to them. In a way, this is somewhat similar to the old 16-bit era game "Lost Vikings" (one of the first few games from Blizzard... yes, THAT Blizzard...) but with a lot more than three different characters. And no levels per se, just one gradually expanding world (as you reach more and more of it.)

Well, after putting up a few of those shorter ideas, I feel I might revisit one or two and flesh them out, at some point. Stay tuned for a new game design next week.