Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Embryonic Idea: Jargon

When I said I might start getting more ideas after I decided to stop sticking to a weekly schedule, I didn't entirely believe I would. I hoped, but that's all.

Well, I've decided to inaugurate a new feature here at Steal My Game Designs: I call it Embryonic Idea.

This is for when I get a cool idea for a premise, setting or character, without being able to picture the whole game. Sometimes, it will only be a paragraph. I won't try to address all the points I normally try to address, like graphics style, sound or music, unless they're part of the core idea.

So here's my first Embryonic Idea:


You wake up one morning with extreme amnesia. You don't know who you are, you don't know any language (which means you can't read.) You can still count and read simple numbers and equations, but anything with more than numbers or simple arithmetic seems alien to you.

You still know how to walk, but every area you walk to is new and alien to you. When people talk to you, you can't understand a word of what they say. Herein lies the game.

The objective of the game is to learn the language and figure out how to live and behave in the city of Jargon. This city is somewhat like any modern civilized city on Earth, but somewhat simplified (so it can be modeled in a game.)

As characters talk to you, and you see text in various places (the game could have two difficulty levels: an easier level where text actually uses the Latin alphabet, and one that uses made-up symbols) you begin to make out certain things, until you become fluent in Jargonese.

Luckily, there are people around you who will try to help you; at first, you'll want to stay around them until you're confident about your understanding of Jargonese. Once you venture out, you'll have to watch others in order to get accustomed to the right way to deal with things.

You communicate with others by typing out what you want to say (unless speech recognition becomes efficient enough to be able to deal with a vocabulary of a two or three thousand words...) and the people you meet react accordingly. Say too much gibberish, and you'll get puzzled looks, at the very least.

You "win" the game when you can get a good job and hold it for at least a week of game time without getting fired for saying too much gibberish or misbehaving in some way.

I can even see this game "engine" being used to "immerse" someone in an existing city and language, forcing them to learn enough to manage. Could be way more efficient than taking boring language lessons.

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