Bo Banducci, Game Designer at Philosophy Major Studios, They're All Mine
When you're revitalizing an old genre, its helpful to market the game to an audience that isn't familiar with the genre. That way the mechanics and tropes are new and interesting to your players."They're All Mine" (TAM) is a side-scrolling beat-em-up that does just that. TAM is designed to be enjoyed by girls age 13 - 18.
Theme: TAM puts the player in the shoes of Sarah, the female bodyguard and caretaker of the mega-popular boy band One Direction. The game takes place at the start of a nation-wide tour. Levels are the time in-between performances, when the band members want to explore the streets and relax.
Objective: As Sarah, the objective in every level is to prevent female fans from pulling band members off-screen.
Gameplay: Every fan has a "desirability" rating that is clearly visible to the player. Blondes are the most desirable, and therefore most dangerous. If a fan is allowed to flirt with a band member, she will start to pull him off-screen. Sarah uses punches, kicks, and grapples to separate fans from her boys.
Each band member also has individual tastes that make certain fans more desirable than others. Although there's a blonde making a move for Nials, the quiet brunette talking to Harry might actually be the biggest threat. Sarah must remember her boys preferences so that she can recognize and prioritize threats before its too late.
Sarah can also choose to make one band member her "pet", which makes that specific band member more resistant to the flirtations of fans and lets Sarah focus on the others. However, achieving pet status is not easy and is difficult to maintain.
Between levels, Sarah can spend a portion of the band's revenue on upgrades. Most of these are cosmetic upgrades which alter Sarah's "style", making her appearance more appealing to band members depending on their tastes. For instance, by level 3 a player could purchase enough "scene" accessories to make Harry, who prefers the scene style, her pet. This makes Harry more resilient to the charms of fans. By level 5 however, Harry's preferences have changed and Sarah needs to accessorize.
Forcing the player to replay a level upon failure is a somewhat outdated mechanic present in most brawlers. In TAM, if a fan is able to drag a member off-screen the tour will continue, but the band's revenue will be reduced until the band member returns. This allows for the player to make some mistakes without restarting, which means levels can be slightly more challenging.
Intrinsic motivation: The most important aspect of TAM is that the protagonist is someone that One Direction fans will be delighted to play as. Undeniably, part of the appeal of any boy band is the fantasy that the fan and the band member might some day be together. The bodyguard fending off female fans allows the player to express that desire. TAM uses its players actual interests to make gameplay goals a real desire. Welcome to the modern brawler.