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  • Results from the Game Design Challenge: Gravity Game

    [01.22.09]
    - Manveer Heir and GameCareerGuide.com staff
  •  In a recent Game Design Challenge, you thought about new ways to play with gravity.

    You came up with a unique game mechanic that revolved around gravity, described it, and explained how it would make your game awesome.

    Entries ranged from 2D platformers, to puzzle games, to 3D action oriented titles. Some used the concept of no gravity, which is completely valid, and we saw many entries use the concept of gravitational force being greater on objects with larger masses, such as planets. In fact, space was a frequent theme.

    What we liked about the best entries was the unique nature of the mechanics. They were, for the most part, mechanics you don't see in games very often, or at least a twist on a tried-and-true mechanic, such as shifting gravity.

    The point of this challenge was to take something as simple and basic as gravity and make you try to twist it to fit the idea of "fun" in a game. Gravity is something we all take for granted on a regular basis, and something that is so fundamental to our lives that we don't think about it often. However, how we experience gravity is not how everything in the universe experiences gravity. The best game designs, and the things we thought would be fun, give the player a frame for exploring gravity in ways that we cannot as humans.

    By empowering the player to experience, instead of read or hear about, something as fundamental as gravity in an all together different way is powerful and is what makes video games such a unique medium.

    Best Entries
    Tom Krausse, Elizabethtown College, Penn., Downside Up
    (see page 2)
    Downside Up, sent in by Tom Krausse, layers skills and precision with puzzles. In the game, the player controls the world and gravity itself in addition to controlling the character. Intentionally removing the player from his direct connection to being the character and allowing him to control the world, too, is a gray area of engagement that not all game designers want to explore. For a theoretical Game Design Challenge, though, we reward this risk and would be excited to try it out. It sounds fun and challenging, and that, more than anything else, is what counts.

    Marc Vousden, mechanical engineering student at Brunel University, Plunder (see page 3)
    We liked the idea of pirate game with exploration and plundering. It was a concept and game genre we had not considered, and moreover, it is inherently multiplayer, which most submissions were not.

    Jarrad Skinner, assistant language teacher and aspiring game designer and games journalist, Black Hole (see page 4)
    It's easy to imagine how Jarrad Skinner's game, Black Hole, might play. Skinner introduces a second and new source of gravity, a black hole, as a constant but fixed force, which increases each level. The black hole warps the player's actions and an object's path. It's a simple set up with endless possibilities for outcomes.

    Honorable Mentions
    Sina Jafarzadeh, media and computer science student at the Technical University of Dresden, Germany, Gravity iPhone Game
    (see page 5)
    Sina Jafarzadeh actually sent in this game design for a different challenge (the iPhone Exclusive) but decided to resubmit it here. Not only is the game concept solid, but we commend Jafarzadeh for hanging onto his ideas, remembering them, and reusing them -- something game designers and other creative people have to do constantly (but without seeming like they're doing it too much).

    Alex Doherty, writer; Shavant Thomas, programmer; Tameem Amini, designer; Solar Sanctuary
    (see page 6)
    This submission, sent in by a trio of readers, may have been inspired by Spore. The player bashes planets around the solar system until she can create a planet that's able to sustain life. Grow your world from there. As far as entries go, it's well written, clear, has enough detail to help us see where they are going with the idea, but also has enough leeway to let us engage with the concept and fill in some of the imaginative blanks ourselves.

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