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Old 11-18-2009, 01:48 PM   #1
Yipperpants
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To my aspiring designer ego, exceptional pockets of inspiration should be thrown into a stronghold of silence and guarded like a dragon's hoard. The problem then lies in the fact that all my ideas are exceptional--else I wouldn't have them in the first place, right? So I'm heading into an interview with a zipper stitched across my lips and an armful of copyright paperwork for my recruiters to sign, when enlightenment dawned on me: I must be loony! First off, why would seasoned designers with their own brilliant ideas care enough for mine to suffer the financial risk and manpower costs it takes to implement it? More importantly, why would I even mind?

My ideas for game design are my ideal games! If anything remotely resembling them comes out, my gaming dreams instantly become reality. I've been to busy scrutinizing the entrance to my hoard the last few years, absolutely hypnotized by my shiny treasures, that I've forgotten I can simply imagine shinier ones! So, why haven't I shouted my inspirations from the mountaintops? Heck, I have enough of these babies to shoot them out of a t-shirt cannon! Pew, pew, pew!


In a dual effort to spark conversation and to motivate my creativity, I present the cheesy named Daily Dose of Design! Here, I'll attempt to regularly post my (often humble, undeveloped thoughts during boring classes like Calculus 3) game ideas. I welcome you to post comments and critiques and rotten tomatoes. I highly encourage you to post your own original designs, designs based on my challenges, or refined (and probably infinitely better) versions of my designs. Else, it'll just be me double posting again and again.

To start off the crusade...

Avarice [Idea #1; Nov. 17, 2009], based off challenge: Scrambled Eggs and Merchant

Plot: As a simple merchant boy, you stumble upon a legendary phoenix egg. According to the legend, such a egg can only be hatched in the fires of the Mountain Doom which resides deep in wretched and forlorn lands. The phoenix will grant a wish upon hatching, and you embark with your young Juliet on a quest to the fiery mountain. On this journey, you will encounter the harsher and violent realities of the world and your naive view of the world will be shattered. The truth of the legend is often questioned. The egg will soon become a curse as strangers and even allies succumb to the temptation, and the climax of the plot will be the death of your lover. At the peak of Mountain Doom your allies even turn on you but you ultimately succeed in hatching the phoenix. Your final wish can be to revive your Juliet, to inherit significant riches and loot, or to return the world (reviving slain allies, healing affected NPCs throughout the adventure, etc.) back to its original state prior to your journey (except Juliet stays dead).
Gameplay: A tactical RPG (think Final Fantasy Tactics) mixed with heavy resource management (Oregon Trail meets trade-orientated game) and excessive loot (Diablo). The main character, being a fragile merchant's son, is unable to participate in the battles and must hire mercenaries to fight off foes as he travels from one town to the next. As a merchant game, money plays a huge role. He must trade goods to maintain party morale and welfare, enchant the equipment of his mercenaries, and hire new mercenaries (with various stats for combat ability, morale, and upkeep cost). Disease and morale affect the efficiency of your party, death is permanent and (depending on difficulty) frustratingly unavoidable, and dire morale may cause members to actually turn on you; these noncombat elements add additional layers of strategy to create an intense feel that fits the heavy storyline. A well executed narrative and the constant reward of loot hopefully will entice players to keep playing (and fit into the avarice theme).

Sheepfall [Idea #2; Nov. 18, 2009], based off challenge: fundamentally based on a simple system of choices (i.e. choose A, B, or C).

Short: 8-32 Multiplayer, turn-based, social game with minor RPG elements. You play as a cloud nested on a linear row of cloud farms. Each turn, you are able to either move to an adjacent cloud farm or stay still. At the end of every turn, the heaviest farm falls and the clouds on it become sheep. The row fits back accordingly. The game continues until the remaining clouds are equal to or less than the remaining farms, and then the surviving clouds win!

(In the crude depiction above, the blacks represent clouds--and sheep--and the gray areas represent cloud farms. In the image, you act as one of the clouds on the second farm. P.S. I broke the text button in MS Paint)

RPG Elements? Say whaaa: To expand on the experience, some persistent "RPG" gameplay can be added. Say that the entire match lasts for several rounds of games, initial farms are based on player count, and players are awarded experience each round based on how they did. When a player becomes a sheep, they chill out in the meadow underneath--complete with chat, view of the game, options to view players' stats, and ability to spend your experience on skills. This also means the round winners will not be able to invest in skills until they lose. Experience can be invested into skills that follow various skill trees (similar to WoW) that may affect the weight of clouds/farms, restrict/increased movement, or otherwise modify the rules of the game. Each player can carry a limited amount of skills into the next round, and the game continues until the match finishes.

Warrior [Idea #3; Nov. 20, 2009] based off challenge: "Honor"
Setting: Inspired by (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadman_Wonderland), you are a new convict at the experimental Deadman prison facility for heinous crimes you did not commit. Two governing rules at Deadman. One, all prisoners at this facility are serving multiple life sentences. Two, no media is present and the government does not care what happens at Deadman as long as all prisoners stay at Deadman. Unfortunately, the authorities at Deadman like to do experiments; they equip convicts with "blood abilities" that give the users superpowers at mere the cost of their health. These range from being able to fire "blood projectiles" and creating "blood swords" to deadlier mutations. Why? To fuel the sadistic tournaments and events regularly staged by the governing powers. As such, the environment in Deadman is pre-apocalyptic at best and hellish at worst. There is a shallow sense of peace and normality (in a prison sense), but chaos erupts often and there are many dark corners in the Deadman.
Plot: Prior to your arrest, you were a disciplined martial artist self-taught by the honorable teachings left by a father who died when you were young. Recently, clues appeared which brings his death to question. Could he still be alive? Your investigations lead you to the shadier sides of town and ultimately leads to your arrest. In Deadman, plot elements (and decisions are made) are given via interactive cutscenes as well as notes and scribbles on the walls. Not so different from the world of Rupture from Bioshock, Deadman gives plenty of creepy opportunities for and invites exploration. Yet, different from Bioshock, there is a sense of pseudo-sociability and fleeting serenity between scary romps in the hub-like main prison compound. Here you can get to know prison inmates and their stories (Shawshank Redemption anyone?) and realize that they are often innocent people too, before you are forced to join them inside the gladiator tournaments. Ultimately, you realize that your father has been trapped inside Deadman and that your entire family tree has had a legacy in this place! The plot thickens.
Gameplay: A third-person action game. The twist is that throughout the entire game, you will be reminded about honor: what are the differences between a warrior and a murderer, how to fight honorably, etc. To highlight this sense of honor, your battles will be recorded and you will replay them when you go to bed every night (fast-forwarded, with ability to skip them but earning rewards if you don't). You will encounter horrible and powerful enemies throughout the game, but these foes will have deep human backgrounds and be almost majestic (think Shadow of the Colossus). Your battles may be difficult and you will be given dishonorable opportunities to abuse your opponent's weaknesses. The game plays normally and being honorable or not will only affect the plot (you get a less favorable ending if you abuse cheap tactics), but the replays of your battles will throw emphasize on "honorable" attacks and you can upload your videos online to compare how honorable (hardcore) you are.

Last edited by Yipperpants : 11-19-2009 at 09:09 PM.
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Old 11-18-2009, 05:33 PM   #2
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I don't quite understand the sheep one.

I really liked the plot of avarice. A young boy and his girlfriend encountering the evils of a fantasy world together, scared, sounds really awesome. The tactical/resource management/hiring mercenaries thing turned me off though. Those are not my kind of games. I'm never been much for games with heavy micro management, but it seems it would be so much less personal if you're fighting with a big group of people and managing menus all the time - that's my impression.
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Old 11-18-2009, 05:34 PM   #3
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I applaud you for doing this though. I might just copy you...
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Old 11-18-2009, 09:11 PM   #4
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I think you may need to include a diagram or quick sketch with the sheep game. I'm having some trouble imagining what it would play like. Do you keep these ideas in a sketchbook? I've started keeping a little notebook for myself for any and all game ideas I come up with. Odds are, most aren't that good, but the pure volume of the ideas ensures I eventually come up with a concept that I wouldn't mind marrying.
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Old 11-19-2009, 07:31 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by bob View Post
I really liked the plot of avarice. A young boy and his girlfriend encountering the evils of a fantasy world together, scared, sounds really awesome. The tactical/resource management/hiring mercenaries thing turned me off though. Those are not my kind of games. I'm never been much for games with heavy micro management, but it seems it would be so much less personal if you're fighting with a big group of people and managing menus all the time - that's my impression.
Thank you! The plot was hopefully (maybe in the general direction? XD) part LotR, part love story, and part young boy growing up. I think the nature of video games offer an incomparable advantage towards being connected to a theme, and I'm fascinated by down-to-earth heroes. Majority of players want to feel like a badass Kratos/Master Chief, and that's what games should do! However, most games miss the opportunity to tell an immersible narrative; instead of impaling kids on the paragraphs of The Great Gatsby during English class, video games may be able to be infinitely more approachable yet similar set the wheels of thinking in motion. Pardon my rambling...

In retrospect, the intense tactical experience may easily become an exercise in frustration. I'm a gamer who enjoys challenges, but I can definitely see your perspective. What I was hoping for was a gameplay which implements the "merchant" part of the challenge, reflects the cruelty of the world, and reinforces your ultimate fragility; the "journey to next town" button is suppose to be scary--you rely almost completely on others, money may run short, battles may become unpredictable. In a sense, it's like a rougelike masochism XD with a decent plot. And again, yes, that's definitely alienating to many folks.

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I applaud you for doing this though. I might just copy you...
Thanks! but may I throw out a question? Do you want to be a pirate? You're welcomed to hijack this thread for your own idea spam. I'll have company and you'll have company! I'll even add yours, with permission, to the list in the first post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tlovemark View Post
I think you may need to include a diagram or quick sketch with the sheep game. I'm having some trouble imagining what it would play like. Do you keep these ideas in a sketchbook? I've started keeping a little notebook for myself for any and all game ideas I come up with. Odds are, most aren't that good, but the pure volume of the ideas ensures I eventually come up with a concept that I wouldn't mind marrying.
@Sheepfall, just for you guys. XD

Occasionally, I tend to doodle or jot notes down--on my arm, on my phone, on the margins between the other notes I'm taking in class, etc. Obviously, these "reminders" aren't very permanent. I figure, hey, I can barely stand reading over my notes to review for a test, ahahaha.

A hobby I've added to my list of quirks is randomly quizzing my friends for a "concept/object/idea" and then spend the next few hours designing a game revolving around those restrictions. It's fun, a brilliant way to pass spare time and boring lectures, and something to spam GCG about! Try it!
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Old 11-19-2009, 09:09 PM   #6
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Warrior [Idea #3; Nov. 20, 2009] based off challenge: "Honor"
Setting: Inspired by (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadman_Wonderland), you are a new convict at the experimental Deadman prison facility for heinous crimes you did not commit. Two governing rules at Deadman. One, all prisoners at this facility are serving multiple life sentences. Two, no media is present and the government does not care what happens at Deadman as long as all prisoners stay at Deadman. Unfortunately, the authorities at Deadman like to do experiments; they equip convicts with "blood abilities" that give the users superpowers at mere the cost of their health. These range from being able to fire "blood projectiles" and creating "blood swords" to deadlier mutations. Why? To fuel the sadistic tournaments and events regularly staged by the governing powers. As such, the environment in Deadman is pre-apocalyptic at best and hellish at worst. There is a shallow sense of peace and normality (in a prison sense), but chaos erupts often and there are many dark corners in the Deadman.
Plot: Prior to your arrest, you were a disciplined martial artist self-taught by the honorable teachings left by a father who died when you were young. Recently, clues appeared which brings his death to question. Could he still be alive? Your investigations lead you to the shadier sides of town and ultimately leads to your arrest. In Deadman, plot elements (and decisions are made) are given via interactive cutscenes as well as notes and scribbles on the walls. Not so different from the world of Rupture from Bioshock, Deadman gives plenty of creepy opportunities for and invites exploration. Yet, different from Bioshock, there is a sense of pseudo-sociability and fleeting serenity between scary romps in the hub-like main prison compound. Here you can get to know prison inmates and their stories (Shawshank Redemption anyone?) and realize that they are often innocent people too, before you are forced to join them inside the gladiator tournaments. Ultimately, you realize that your father has been trapped inside Deadman and that your entire family tree has had a legacy in this place! The plot thickens.
Gameplay: A third-person action game. The twist is that throughout the entire game, you will be reminded about honor: what are the differences between a warrior and a murderer, how to fight honorably, etc. To highlight this sense of honor, your main battles will be recorded and you will replay them when you go to bed every night (fast-forwarded, with ability to skip them but earning rewards if you don't). You will encounter horrible and powerful enemies throughout the game, but these foes will have deep human backgrounds and be almost majestic (think Shadow of the Colossus). Your battles may be difficult and you will be given dishonorable opportunities to abuse your opponent's weaknesses. The game plays normally and being honorable or not will only affect the plot (you get a less favorable ending if you abuse cheap tactics), but the replays of your battles will throw emphasize on "honorable" attacks and you can upload your videos online to compare how hardcore you are.


...coughs...collapses...

To further elaborate on the systems of Warrior, I'm thinking of a fundamentally approachable and rewarding single player experience in line with (best case scenarios XD) Shadow of the Colossus, God of War, or Legend of Zelda. The "honor" aspect only truly comes in via the battle replays and the integrated ability to show your battles online in "Youtube" fashion.

Case in point, you're encountering this behemoth of an foe who is build like a tank and can rupture your health bar by scratching you. Add in a diversity of sweet "blood abilities" and walk-chasing, etc. and you have quite the opponent.

Quickly, you'll realize that you are well overmatched in a toe-to-toe brawl and notice a giant stone outcropping looming over the battlefield. You decide to try to bash the base until it breaks and crushes the monster, and the beast also realizes your intentions and tries to finish you. You're dodging, weaving left and right, and countering blows until you get the opportunity to attack the pillar. After a few intense moments, you finally get the chance and send rocks crashing down to kill him. That will be satisfying; it was a tough fight and was very similar to most action game boss fights.

Or maybe instead, you try a less "Hail Mary" approach. You soon figure out the combination of attacks that will trip the giant and expose his sweet x8 critical spot on the back of his neck. Sword slash, jump, barrel roll right, blood gun, blood gun, jump, tumble behind him, slash his calves, climb on his back, and critical! Repeat twice more. That will also be satisfying; it will demand precision and reward players who enjoy uncovering weaknesses.

Or you can film the most ridiculous boss fight you can imagine. No instant kill, no criticals, and it'll take 20 minutes to dwindle down his health. The whole battle is frantic as you try to showcase all of the monster's techniques and barely avoiding certain death the entire war. You'll be doing crazy toe-to-toe antics with combination attacks, have the boss literally destroy sections of the floor, flip the room into a platform game of cat-and-mouse as you try to slowly regain your health, and then take the crazy toe-to-toe antics to the wall and be fighting on surfaces you created via blood. You get the idea.

Post the first two battles online and you'll probably get a lukewarm response. You are trying to get that last replay. Warrior can play very counter-intuitive to most fans of the genre, but I'm hoping the youtube element and bragging rights will make the freedom of defining how crazy tour boss fights are much more encouraged.

Last edited by Yipperpants : 11-20-2009 at 04:56 AM. Reason: added elaboration
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Old 11-19-2009, 09:27 PM   #7
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Ha, I like the idea of designing a game around some random limitations set by your friends.

In reference to my first post, I'm also a gamer who likes challenges. I (pretty much) only play Halo on legendary, my first run-through of Mass Effect was on veteran and my first run through Dragon Age is on nightmare (still not hard enough, at least up to level 3 : o). However, there are some types of game play I don't enjoy/never took the time to understand. I'm sure a game like Oregon Trail could be designed that really did it for me, so I'm not passing judgment on the genre. But it seems to me that the atmosphere would be more immersive and the experience more intense if it was just the hero and his gf. I see games where you actually control your character in real time as the easiest way to create immersion (not that it's the only way). For instance, I started playing Oblivion for the first time the other day, and one of the first things I did was run straight out into the wilderness to take advantage of the geographical freedom the game gives you. The first thing I found were some unlabeled ruins with a giant underground complex beneath them. The most exciting thing I've done in that game so far was creeping around those those massive underground caverns - especially at the entrance, staring down some stairs into the darkness and wondering what the hell was down there. The feeling of frightened exploration was awesome. THAT was immersion. Do you think that the possibility for immersion in a tactics game is equally possible? I've never played FF: Tactics, so maybe they did it there. Don't menus and turns make it feel more like a game than something real? How about you give me a description of what it would be like to actually play the game in a paragraph or two?

Maybe some other people could chime in with their opinions?

Again, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with more macroscopic games. They can be just as intense and exciting as any genre. But in my experience, they're less personal.

Last edited by bob : 11-19-2009 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 11-20-2009, 05:40 AM   #8
Yipperpants
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Again, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with more macroscopic games. They can be just as intense and exciting as any genre. But in my experience, they're less personal.
Hey, I definitely agree. I think games like Resident Evil 4 and Bioshock, hands down, knock out interface-heavy strategy games! I adore them, just for that feeling. I was saying that a micromanaging gameplay may be suiting for a "merchant" themed game, which Avarice is (see the challenge). It has the best potential to make players play and think like a merchant, "immersion to merchanting"--which was the game mechanic I was going for.

In the beginning, the player will be alone with his girlfriend and the world will feel daunting. He has to struggle with the skills he does have (being a merchant) to generate money and become powerful through mercenaries. He will collect loot, be the strategic mastermind behind his small army, and feel powerful (or at least comparable) to the demanding world around him. His girlfriend will be his voice of reason, urging him against his behavior. Unfortunately, you must get strong enough to journey through the land and your girlfriend gets killed in the process (symbolism of your avarice). In the end, you can choose to repent for your deeds, save your girlfriend, or continue being more powerful.

Arguably, Oregon Trail is meant to be an educational experience that enlightened kids to the hazards of the trail and grim reality of the frontier world (and maybe alluding to the "real world" too? ). Although I adored the game when I was stuck in elementary school, I'm thinking it will only be so fun at my age now. I also love tactical RPGs (FF: Tactics) so that additional gameplay is married to make the game more fun and approachable.

Here's a video of the type of gameplay found in tactical games: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjNWgZyVIvU; yes, haha, it's less personal. Again, however, the style may be more appropriate to the focus of the game. "Merchant" will seem simply tacked on in a realistic FPS, you know?

And, ahaha, I started my FPS career on Halo 3 (read: extremely late XD) but I also started playing on Legendary.

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Ha, I like the idea of designing a game around some random limitations set by your friends.
Feel free to try the challenges I've done! I would love to see other people's interpretations of these ideas.

Last edited by Yipperpants : 11-20-2009 at 06:33 AM.
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Old 11-20-2009, 06:48 AM   #9
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Hmm yes, I was wondering if I misconstrued your vision of it. When you said you wanted the game to have an "immersive narrative" I took that pretty far. If I one day see Avarice on Steam I'll buy it and see what you're talking about.

Speaking of "Warrior," have you played Dark Messiah? You can download the demo on Steam for free. It has very "sand-boxy" melee combat. You can destroy the terrain, kick people into spikes or of ledges, pick up objects and hurl them at people or just use skillful melee. You'd probably have a lot of fun with it.

Speaking of putting videos on youtube, I've had that idea too. I wonder what a good way to implement that would be? After 24 hours you'd have like 20 bajillion uploads already. How are players supposed to sort through and find the good stuff? Maybe in the gallery there are just 5 second clips of the coolest part, and if you like the 5 seconds then you can decide if you want to watch the rest. Or the game could have a way of tracking how well the player is doing/how awesome/how noble, and could automatically sort the videos according to that. I think online communities could be much much bigger than they are now.
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Old 11-20-2009, 12:16 PM   #10
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Speaking of putting videos on youtube, I've had that idea too. I wonder what a good way to implement that would be? After 24 hours you'd have like 20 bajillion uploads already. How are players supposed to sort through and find the good stuff? Maybe in the gallery there are just 5 second clips of the coolest part, and if you like the 5 seconds then you can decide if you want to watch the rest. Or the game could have a way of tracking how well the player is doing/how awesome/how noble, and could automatically sort the videos according to that. I think online communities could be much much bigger than they are now.
Actually implementing the video feature may be more tricky, haha. I'm not saying to literally send the files straight to youtube. That could get pretty ridiculous and upset the good folks behind YT. More importantly, reliance on a third-party for a huge part of your gameplay is a horrible practice imho.

However, I was thinking something akin to youtube. One, you have your individual user profile ("channel") decorated with your favorite personal videos--with a max limit. Two, you can invite friends to visit and random peeps may follow your more popular videos to your profile. Three, you can daily submit entries to various regular contests/categories (i.e. "Fastest run against Boss B" or "Most Epic 10 seconds vs Boss C). Four, people can simply browse through categories and "video watching" quests will be offered to encourage viewing. Fifth, hall of fame lists or awards/achievements/titles will be given to players with exceptional stuff--maybe have an independent website that showcases the raddest videos.

The big focuses are to reward great (at the personal level) videos, reward exceptional videos, and reward legendary videos. The last two is easy, but the first is obviously trickier. Viewers will have to be encouraged to visit newbies' profiles.

An idea: viewers can jump into these replays at critical points where the character fails at doing something. Then the viewer will take control of the character a few seconds back and tries to succeed that what the original player failed at or tries to do something better. Rewards will be awarded and then the original poster can see these "corrections."

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Speaking of "Warrior," have you played Dark Messiah? You can download the demo on Steam for free. It has very "sand-boxy" melee combat. You can destroy the terrain, kick people into spikes or of ledges, pick up objects and hurl them at people or just use skillful melee. You'd probably have a lot of fun with it.
Admittedly, I haven't. I have heard that it plays like a quirky Oblivion with a crazy emphasize on kicking. If I have time, I'll definitely try to check it out. Thanks!

Last edited by Yipperpants : 11-20-2009 at 12:32 PM.
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