Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Steal This Game Design: NeoRally

I've recently applied for a bunch of game designer jobs. If you came to this blog by clicking a link in my cover letter, I welcome you to Steal My Game Designs!

One of the reasons I started this blog was that I kept getting some great ideas for games, but I would never write them down, so I probably lost some cool ideas in the past. Now, I can just post the idea here and see what kind of reaction I get.

Well, on to my latest escapade in creative game design!



NeoRally is a rally-style racing game, with a twist. Instead of a track to follow, there is only a large area, either indoors our outdoors, where the racers can move around in, with different kinds of terrain and obstacles.

At the start of a race, each racer receives a different target, a checkpoint to reach. Once that player reaches that checkpoint, another target is assigned, and so on. A player wins after he or she reaches the required number of checkpoints.

To make things as fair as possible, the sequence of checkpoints that each player must reach should come up to the same distance total, assuming the player drove in a straight line between each checkpoint. This is pre-calculated before each race.

Terrain has a lot of bumps, hills and valleys, along with relevant obstacles, such as trees, rocks, rock cliffs, water (rivers, small lakes, puddles), snow, ice, swampy terrain, muddy terrain, high grass, sand, and so forth. There can even be buildings that must be entered, and some courses can take place entirely indoors, with the players having to reach checkpoints on different floors, and so forth.

Vehicles are basically like Halo's warthog, in that they tend to be bouncy and react with realistic, if over-exaggerated physics. Players can choose between many different vehicles where the characteristics that vary are top speed, acceleration, shock absorbers, gyro stabilizer, tires/traction and special. Special can be a special speed boost that can be called upon once in a while, or it can help with certain special conditions, such as extra traction on cold surfaces, floating on water or swampy terrain, ABS brakes, or a way to turn almost instantly towards the next checkpoint when hitting the current checkpoint. Gyro stabilizers make the vehicle more or less likely to tip over in the course of driving; this can make a big difference on levels where the terrain has very steep inclines, or jumping ramps and such.

Vehicles can also be customized with weapons and protections against those weapons. It's also possible to enter races that don't allow weapons. There are three types of weapons: beam, bullet, and explosive (rockets and grenades) and protections for each of these: shields for beams, armor for bullets, and countermeasures for explosives. Generally, players will have room for maybe one powerful weapon of one type and maybe one weaker secondary, and room for two types of protection, one strong, and one weak. This can be chosen (or bought) before each race.


Realistic, with a high-tech look. Explosions can be exaggerated. Terrain types and surfaces should be easy to distinguish; if exaggeration of the colors is necessary for this then it should be done.

Vehicle paintjobs are customizable, permitting vivid color schemes as is common in most racing leagues.

Racing Options

I've already mentioned the possibility of weaponless races. Other options include:
  • Team racing, with one racer per team who must reach all checkpoints, while his teammates defend him or attack the other teams.
  • Team racing, where all the players in the team can reach the checkpoints. This mode is a little more like the king-of-the-hill mode in other games, except that the hill is a different spot for each team.
  • Team racing where one player gets a checkpoint, and when that is reached, a different player gets the next checkpoint, and so on.
  • An option can make the checkpoints for all player or all teams the same.
The number of checkpoints can be set before the race.

Marble Collection

Another, special gameplay mode which might also be fun: marble collection! The arena is randomly sprinkled with giant (about 1 meter in diameter) marbles, which can be picked up by racing through them, at which point they shrink down to the size of a softball and go into a special trailer that is attached to the vehicle. The trailer and its load can affect the way the vehicle handling, especially when full. The marbles can spill out of the trailer if it tips over too far. When a player reaches a checkpoint, the trailer is emptied, and the player gets points for all the marbles, with some colors being worth more than others. The first three places in the race get extra points at the end of the race, and the winner is the one with the most points.

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