Thursday, April 19, 2007

Your Turn: Design a Combat-less RPG

I've recently noticed that I'm finally getting some repeat traffic and regular readers. Welcome! Enjoy the sights (well, the text and ideas, anyway)! And most of all, please leave some comments!

Towards that end, I've decided to ask anyone who comes here to try and answer a game design challenge of sorts. I give you a new Stealmygamedesigns feature: Your Turn.

Your assignment: design a combat-less RPG.


Come up with a setting, main character, and goal for that character, in a game that plays like a role-playing game, but offer other means of making the game compelling and exciting than the now-common combat mechanics in most RPGs.

You must find a way to replace combat with something more than a simple substitution. For example, the first PC adaptation of the game Magic: The Gathering included a gameplay mode that played as an RPG, where the combat was replaced with Magic card duels. To me, this still counts as combat.

I would also say that scripted, linear and repetitive action sequences found in many recent RPGs aren't a good substitute either, as they wouldn't work if they had to be played in place of every place where a battle would otherwise have occurred.

I'm looking for the most original and compelling ideas you can come up with. Describe a game YOU would want to play, and hopefully, it'll be a game I will also want to play.

Post your game ideas as comments, I'll comment on your ideas, let you amend your ideas for a bit, and eventually, I'll repost the best ideas in a later blog entry (with proper credit given, naturally.)

Meanwhile, I'll start thinking about my own idea to deal with this challenge, and I'll eventually post my solution.

Don't be afraid to post multiple ideas, if you have them.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Steal This Game Design: Monster Mayor

I know, I know, it's been a while. I've been trying to get back into the "industry". I sent a bunch of resumes around, had a bunch of interviews, but nothing solid. It may take a little longer, but I WILL PREVAIL!

In the meantime, here's an idea I just had.

Monster Mayor


You are the mayor of an important city. You have to take all the right decisions that will help nurture it so it can grow and become a major metropolis.

But there's a twist: your city is in a part of the world that is plagued regularly by giant monsters that threaten to lay waste to your great metropolis. The more technologically-advanced your city, the bigger, badder and more berserk the monsters.

Fortunately, you're not just a simple mayor. You too are a giant monster, when you want to. When your city is threatened, you can transform into a giant monster, ready to defend your city against its humongous invaders.

The pay may be merely OK, the hours, lousy, but the job satisfaction (and the sometimes mindless mayhem) are what keep you in office. Well, that, plus the electorate who are too afraid of the consequences, should they decide to elect a less monstrous mayor.


The gameplay is realtime, with two separate components: one part is played like SimCity, although keeping the budget balanced should be much easier, and the other part is played as a third-person perspective action game where you control the Monster Mayor directly, fighting off the giant monsters and trying to minimize damage to your city (or not, depending on how you want to play.)


As the mayor, you have more direct control over your city than most other mayors: your citizens hold you in awe (or fear, depending on how you play) so you can take drastic decisions without the usual loss of popularity.

The only things that might cause your citizens to rebel against you are as follows:
  • Extreme averse conditions, such as fires and rubble everywhere or an accumulation of waste and no sign of cleanup.
  • Monsters that keep rampaging across the city while you do nothing for an extended period of time.
  • You cause more damage in monster form than the attacking monsters do.

As a monster, you can directly attack other monsters, use the environment to your advantage, pick up radio towers or street lamps to use as weapons, and so forth.

You must be careful to minimize the damage you yourself cause on your city, or your citizens will turn against you. At the same time, they're aware that there will be some collateral damage to all your fights, so if you can avoid causing damage as much as possible, your citizens might actually reward you!

When in monster form, the point-of-view and controls should be similar to the game Superman Returns on the XBox 360, but your monster is much bigger, somewhere around King Kong size.

As a monster, the better your city is doing, and the more monster fights you've won, the bigger, stronger, more resistant you get. The city's scientists might even come up with special mutations to add to your monster form, giving you special abilities, such as powerful, damaging breath, laserbeam-shooting eyes, flight, and so forth.


The attacking monsters should vary a lot, with some more animal-like, others more like mythological monsters and imaginary creatures (such as dragons) and further others are aliens or robots. All monsters are at least thirty feet tall, with some being as much as three hundred feet tall.

There needs to be at least thirty different monster types, with each type containing subtypes that are different sizes, different colors, and with differing abilities.

Graphics and Visual Presentation

Everything in this game should be presented with a comic book-style, from the interface to the in-game graphics. Cel-shading should be used, but if possible, the contours should be drawn as much as possible to look like the inked drawings of modern comic books and graphic novels. Bold colors should be used as much as possible.

The city should look realistic first, with some exaggerations coming from the comic book style. The monsters should be completely over-the-top monstrous.


Sound will be very important in this game: it's what will make the size of the monsters believable, their weight and strength seem realistic. This game really should almost require the use of a subwoofer to properly convey the power and scale of the monster fights.

During monster fights, the music needs to be epic and sweeping. While playing mayor and managing the city, the music should be more relaxed, almost "muzak-y" in quality, but less annoying. The tone of this music should help convey an almost subliminal feeling of the status of the city, so that when the people are happy, the music will be more upbeat, and when they are afraid, the music will be more subdued, ominous-sounding.


The first multiplayer option would be the simplest: one-on-one monster fights, where the players pit their monsters against one another, so that part of the challenge is to find the right combination of upgrades and special abilities.

The second multiplayer option is to let players enter each others' cities as monsters, and try to cause as much destruction while preventing damage to their own cities.

The third option is an expansion of the second option, where all player cities are part of a persistent online world, and players can gang up together and attack other cities, or help each other defend against enemy cities.