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.

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