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  • Results from James Portnow's Game Design Challenge: WWII

  •  In a recent Game Design Challenge, you were tasked with reinvigorating World War II games.

    Nobody made a Rosie the Riveter game!

    Here are the results!

    Medic. Playing as a medic was one of the most popular options for a new type of World War II game. There were many creative options for how to go about representing the role of the medic through gameplay, but I think my favorite line was:

    "Think of it as stealth gameplay meets Trauma Center."

    I completely agree with everyone who sent in a medic proposal. The role of the medic in World War II is under-represented in single player games. I think it's an excellent place to expand the genre and create a unique play experience.

    Command. Commanding troops was also a popular suggestion. Most of the entries that came through recommended using a squad that the player could order around as a lock and key system for getting through levels.

    One of the more interesting ideas was a "first-person tactical strategy game." The specific mechanics were a little shaky, but I hope someone in the industry reads those five words and puts some money behind them. I think FPTSG could be a genre of the future.

    Alternate history. There were a number of "alternate history" entries. In general, I don't know how I feel about alternate history as a game genre unless it's completely overblown (zombies, mecha-Hitler). Many kids actually learn about WWII through the games they play, so it's dangerous to create games that seem historic but aren't. That said, there was a lot of creativity in this area.

    Best Entries
    Thomas Garbarini, Unit 731 (see page 2)
    This game will never get published. This team will end up working on a My Little Pony game. But the idea still won. It pushes narrative in gameplay. It tells a unique and important story. It finds a way to explore things usually outside the purview of World War II games without going down the alternate history path. Moreover, this submission was well researched and well thought out. It's that level of reasoning and effort that gives it a hope of passing corporate scrutiny.

    I honestly hope someone makes this game.

    Marco Roy, Armia Krajowa (see page 3)
    I was a hair's breadth away from giving Marco's idea number one status. It's one of the best documents I've ever read. Every game designer reading this should check out the story flow in this document. This is professional level work.

    Of course, equally important is the content. Every aspect is well thought out and thorough. On a different day this would have taken the number one slot; the only reason it didn't is because it doesn't push the genre quite as much as Unit 731.

    Sina Jafarzadeh, Résistance (see page 4)
    Sina's game idea combines FPS, stealth, and strategic elements that remind me very much of the game I was thinking about when I wrote this challenge. I love the genre-mashing in this one. It might be a little hard to develop, but I think there's a lot there.

    Honorable Mentions
    Aaron Bean, Video submission

    Check out Aaron Bean's video. He tried to mock up his idea in Unreal! I'd love to see more of these.

    Andrew Harrison, When I Say "Gun!" You Say "Camera!" (see page 5)
    Has anyone played Pokémon Snap? It was a rail shooter, pure and simple -- but the game claimed not to be because it gave the protagonist a camera rather than a gun. That's exactly what Andrew Harrison proposes to do here, while at the same time examining the role of propaganda in World War II.

    Garret Brown, Entry with the most dogs (see page 6)
    I'm showing you all Garret Brown's entry because I don't know what else to do with it. When I first started reading it, I thought I would dismiss it out of hand. But it's weird enough that it might actually work. If you ever wondered what it would be like to play a dog in World War II ...

    Christian Culbert and Sharon Hoosein, My Little Pony
    (see pages 7 and 8)
    When the game industry hands you lemons, you make My Little Pony Ice Cream Birthday Extravaganza for the DS!

    Mmm ... lemony.

    "Ponysaurus" by Ben Weatherall


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