The idea for Rugby Quest came whilst seeing some rugby being played on a TV in a bar. I thought it would be cool to have a really simple, fun, sports-themed game that could be played quickly and easily, without the burden of the actual rules of the sport. :)
Rugby Quest is an endless runner style game, best played on a mobile / tablet device. Simple controls, stylized visuals, micro-transaction options.
Rugby was just the initial idea behind the game, but the concept has the potential to be spread across a heap of ball sports - basketball, cricket, gridiron, volleyball. Imagine spiking a flaming volleyball at an opponent’s head. BAMMM!
The game would be played similar to Punch Quest - basically a guy running along tackling / diving / kicking / clotheslining the shit out of enemies (potentially opposition characters). There would be boss battles at the end of each level, as well as the opportunity to score a try / touchdown / goal after defeating them.
Special moves include various uses of the ball - kicking / passing / throwing - and also variations on the ball itself - exploding / homing / penetrating.
Plenty of loot to be gained throughout the levels, as well as upgradable abilities and special moves. Vanity items, like particular team uniforms, would be available by spending a premium economy.
No big story in this one… kinda like the sport itself. Just massive blokes pummeling the shite out of other blokes… with their balls.
ONE-LINE GAME DESIGN #2: Super Mutant Prison Break
A rouge-like Magic Sword (old school!) meets Smash TV with MUTANTS!!
A prison break. Unleash locked-up mutants to help you along your quest of escaping a seemingly-endless prison tower!
Arena-based run-and-gun rouge-like arcade-action-RPG. Pretty simple game loop. Kill monsters (prison guards) to gain keys. Use keys to unlock cells and gain a mutant companion. Kill stronger monsters to gain more keys to unlock bigger / stronger mutant companions.
None, really. You are stuck in a mutant prison (possibly the only human there). You are trying to get to the helicopter on the rooftop of the prison tower. That’s about it.
Imagine Prototype meets Super Mario Brothers but played out backwards (kinda like Braid).
The idea behind this game was to create a playable loop that relied on the player character devolving as he progresses (as opposed to evolving) - so, basically losing abilities as the game goes on.
CONCEPT: At the end of every game level, the player selects one of his character’s body parts (head, torso, arms, hands, legs, feet) which then reverts from crazy mutant anatomy (granting the player powers and abilities) back to a human body part (completely removing those mutant abilities).
There still needs to be a reasonably positive progression loop, so once the player has human body parts, he may equip armour and items that he has collected throughout play. These can’t be equipped while the slots are still in their mutant form, ie. if the player has clawed mutant talons for hands, he won’t be able to equip the super-cool gloves he picked up during his adventures until he reverts his hands back to human form.
These pieces of equipment may lack certain ‘powers’ but will make up for that loss to some degree by granting larger buffs / boosts to the player’s stats and abilities. Some body parts (hands, for example) will also allow additional abilities that are not available when in mutant form, like the ability to hold weapons or throw grenades.
STORY: The story line will play on common game tropes which are used throughout Super Mario, like rescuing a kidnapped princess.
The player’s character has fought through castle after castle, attempting to rescue her, and transforming in to a beast-like mutant in order to have the strength / power to defeat foes and overcome obstacles along the way.
Once he finally reaches his princess, she is horrified by the mutant he has become. He decides to fight through castle after castle AGAIN in order to gain magical alien potions which will allow him to revert his mutant body parts back to their human form.
After a reasonably long hiatus, I have returned to my Game Design blog.
Here are some answers to some questions that nobody asked:
WHO are you?
My name is Matt. I’m a Game Designer. I have worked at a bunch of different game companies, including Electronic Arts / Visceral Games, Bigpoint, and Tantalus. Check out my website: www.havedesignwilltravel.com
WHY are you back?
I felt like I needed to start putting a lot more of the crazy ideas that I had for games into words and sharing my general thoughts about games.
WHAT is this blog all about?
Previously I was doing my “a-game-a-week" challenges which took a bit more time (sometimes more than a week) than I had while I was working. The plan this time around is to post much shorter game ‘pitches’ for ideas that I have already had (not just randomly selected themes)… Well, that, and funny cat pictures.
WHERE is all this shit going down?
Europe. I am currently working in Berlin, Germany, at a company called Bigpoint where my team is currently smashing out a highly-ambitious F2P MMO strategy browser game for a super-huge fantasy IP. Berlin is cool.
WHEN will you post a new game design idea?
Whenever it’s ready, yo! That’s one of the big things that gets me every time! No more time constraints. A-Game-A-Week is pretty damn hard to stick to week-in week-out, especially when you are pulling 50hr work weeks at a full-time game design job.
HOW do I come up with such awesome ideas for games?
A combination of natural-born talent, drugs + alcohol, and an inability to sleep.
Terraforming (according to Wikipedia): Terraforming (literally, “Earth-forming”) of a planet, moon, or other body is the hypothetical process of deliberately modifying its atmosphere, temperature, surface topography or ecology to be similar to those of Earth to make it habitable by terran organisms.
Bit of a misleading title. Race to the Stars is a game in which the players (up to four, human or AI) are pitted against each other to see who will be the first to claim a new “home-world” before the resource-drained Earth shrivels into planetary dust. These new worlds will be planets or moons in orbit around other planets in this solar system, and in relatively close proximity to Earth – Mars, Venus, Europa (a moon in orbit around Jupiter), Earth’s Moon, etc.
Although the game will be played out in a RTS style of gameplay, there is one key difference from most RTS games – there is no main base to destroy, and no player elimination. The main goal is not to wipe the other players from existence, but rather focus on building up your own resource base to reach your goals before the others.
This is not to say there will be no war or conflict or violence – far from it. Play will take place over several phases, during which, the players will be competing for resources that may be extremely limited due to mankind’s over-extraction of Earth’s resources. The conflicts over territory here may play out in a similar fashion to an RTS, however, players must also manage their production of units carefully.
In many situations, the player may need to forego the production of ground units, in favour of storing resources or exporting them to the new home-world. These resources may be too valuable to waste on war-machines.
4 different factions – each with the dream of setting up a new home-world, outside of Earth.
The first faction to do so will rule will gain the most followers and create the largest colonies. This faction will control the new galactic human race.
Each faction believes a different planet or satellite (moon) will be more suitable for terraforming, and the re-colonisation of the human race.
Selecting a faction effectively decides the player’s target home-world – Mars, Venus, Europa (moon orbiting Jupiter), or the Earth’s Moon.
Each home-world has a different set of processes required to terraform it for human colonisation.
The player can achieve some of these processes in a number of different ways.
Resources are a key ingredient to most of the processes that are required for terraforming – unfortunately, they are very limited.
For example: Resource A is very rare, but will assist in multiple process, and make the processes much easier and quicker to complete; Resource B is comparatively more abundant than A, however, is not as useful, and may take longer to acquire or synthesise for use in terraforming processes.
Larger, more effective units – ground or air – take longer to make and require rare resources.
Attacking bases will not destroy productions or eliminate other players, however, it may severely hamper, impede or slow down their effectiveness in terraforming the new home-world.
Resources may also be acquired from the new home-world, once an initial base structure has been set up. They will be much more abundant than the resources that can be found on Earth – allowing the production of newer technology, bigger and better ground / air units and advanced space units.
The battle over resources eventually be fought in space – pirating and pillaging – all in an attempt to set up a new habitable land for your human colonies.
The start of the game will see the players scramble for the limited resources on Earth.
There may be 3 or more different resources available, some of them rarer than others.
Sometimes it might be easier to leave one resource for others to fight over, and take monopoly of one that is less desirable and easier to get at.
The players will be collecting resources to create units, buildings and transport ships to get resources to the new home-world.
As well as transporting resources, the player should be focused on setting up the initial stages of starting an atmosphere on the new home-world.
The player should have regular transports containing resources, travelling to the new home-world in order to build and maintain base structures.
These imported resources will allow new resources to be mined from the target planet / moon.
The base structures will allow the production of mining factories, space units, and the initial stages of the new-world atmosphere.
Conflicts will continue over resources on Earth, however, supplies should start drying up at a much more rapid pace.
Terraforming processes will begin on the new home-world in order to create an atmosphere suitable for humans.
The new home-worlds will now have a thriving atmosphere which will allow for the insertion of an initial workforce colony. This will greatly speed up production and processes.
The final phase is based around stabilising the new atmosphere to create a permanent, liveable environment for human colonies.
The processes required to complete this phase will revolve around the last few precious resources found on Earth, as well as the resources mined from the new home-worlds – or pirated of enemy players.
The conflicts over resources will take to the sky in this phase. Players will have access to new space technology and units, allowing them to raid other home-worlds or enemy transport ships.
The player will still have two main hubs – one still on Earth, and one on the new home-world, however, the later will be of a greater concern.
Getting a city structure up and running, alongside a habitable and fully stable atmosphere is the last step to completing the final goal of terraforming and colonising the new home-world.
Once this is ready, the first settlers of the new galactic human race can be transported, and a new life away from Earth can begin.
Example Terraforming Processes of Mars (once again, thanks to Wikipedia):
1. Building the atmosphere, water content
An important step in building the martian atmosphere would be the importation of water, that can be obtained, for example, from ice asteroids or from ice moons of Jupiter or Saturn, beyond the water ice already present at the Martian north pole.
Sources of Water – Dwarf planet Ceres; Ice Asteroids; Moons of Jupiter / Saturn.
Carbon Dioxide Sublimation
Using Fluorine Compounds
2. Adding Heat
Adding heat and conserving the heat present is a particularly important stage of this process, as heat from the Sun is the primary driver of planetary climate. As the planet would become warmer through various methods the CO2 on the polar caps would sublime into the atmosphere and would further contribute to the warming effect. The tremendous air currents generated by the moving gasses would create large, sustained dust storms, which would heat (through absorbing solar radiation) the molecules in the atmosphere.
Albedo (the reflective surface of the planet dispersing heat)
3. Stabilising the Atmosphere (Keeping the Heat in)
Okay. So, a little while back, I wrote up some rules for ‘Zombie Mansion’, a remix of the old-school boardgame, Cluedo. What I didn’t include in the original rules was the printable playing pieces which would go with the new rules (I was kinda hoping people could just use some coloured cubes or coins or make their own).
Anyway, I spent some time and came up with some printable counters to use with the new rules and have added them to the PDF.
*Please note: None of the artwork is mine, and I do not take credit for any of it.
So it’s been a couple of weeks since the last A-Game-A-Week game. I spent that time working on the “Extinction” boardgame idea… which hasn’t gone very far. Boardgames are pretty damn tough to design - the rules need to be specific and properly designed to work together with each other in an elegant fashion. This takes a lot of time to not only get right, but to also include an element of fun, that will make players want to play it over and over again.
I was going with the idea of a polar bear (or several polar bears) on an ice floe. Each player then takes turns to draw a tile and place it, building the ice floe up, and allowing the bear/s to access a larger, walkable area. Once certain conditions are met, the second phase begins, and the players take turn ‘melting’ the ice floe, possibly trapping bears, or leaving them with nowhere to go.
The original idea has gone through a lot of changes and it is all still up in the air. Probably just need to take a break from it and then come back to it later. So, in the meantime, I am back on the A-Game-A-Week train. This week’s theme, “Terraforming”, was suggested by a good friend of mine, Erin.
"Terraforming" or, basically, "Earth-forming" of a planet or moon, has been explored in several games before - the most recent one that I can think of is Spore.
So, the Global Game Jame theme for 2011 was “Extinction”. This particular year also happened to be the first time they were allowing card and board games to be entered as part of the comp. As a designer with limited art skills and absolutely no programming skills, I thought I might have more of chance of knocking out a board game in a team of one - or potentially, having a programmer make a digital version of the board game.
This didn’t end up happening…
However, while thinking of a brilliant concept to fit the extinction theme, I had a lightning bolt moment! Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to translate well to a computer game format…
So, this week I’m not going to do an A-Game-A-Week game, but I’m gonna work on this ‘Extinction’ boardgame concept… the one that I didn’t end up doing for the GGJ.
It is basically going to be a tile-based game involving a polar bear on an iceberg. It will probably take longer than 48 hours to knock up a prototype and test and iterate… etc.
One shy, nerdy librarian has been pining over the unusually hot, overly friendly, hair-tied-back, glasses wearing, neatly dressed, nerd-bombshell, female librarian… for the entire two weeks she has worked in the library.
In that time, she hasn’t looked at him once… and he has always been too shy to say hello. Unrequited love from afar.
Today is the day. He has finally worked up the courage to talk to her… to let her know that he exists.
An ancient, mystical book in the back section of the library unleashes its power over the history section and sci-fi book shelves. Something strange has taken place – the words and pictures in the books are evolving into new and unknown worlds – some more dangerous than others!
Suddenly, a team of ninjas appear in the library and snatch up the beautiful librarian girl, and disappear back into one of the history books. Only one person in the library was there to witness it – and even he can’t believe his eyes. Fortunately, this is the opportunity for him to become more than just a librarian; a chance to prove that he can be a hero, by saving her from the dangers of the BookLands!
Librarian – not particularly skilled at anything, other than his knowledge of books. Fortunately, history and sci-fi are his specialities.
Will have a character sheet with a combination of traditional RPG stats as well as completely new and unusual statistics – Awkwardness (controls most communication skills; ‘awkward silence’ abilities; and general confusion tactics), Guts (affects resistance to spicy food; and chance to cower in fear), Nerdiness (relates to knowledge of internet memes and Star Wars OR Star Trek trivia; assists in relating to other nerds; also gains bonuses from Awkwardness statistic).
Does not use conventional weapons (swords / guns), but rather finds alternative tools to help incapacitate enemies – similar to MacGyver. For example, whipping someone with a wet towel, creating a newspaper shotgun or a toilet roll launcher, or belting an enemy with a sock full of quarters.
Will learn new, unique skills – specific to each of the BookLands – which may also be useful in later stages of the game – for example, “Communicate to aliens using only synthesised tones”.
The worlds of the BookLands encompass every imaginable setting that may be found in either history or sci-fi / fantasy books.
The player character will visit a particular book to complete quests, find new team mates, learn new skills, and find out more information on where the sexy librarian has been taken.
After completing each book, the player will return to the library with their new team mates and equipment, then continue following the trail of the sexy librarian in to the next book.
Each book will provide the player with new environment, and completely new challenges and opponents. Some of these environments will be historical, some will be fictional. For example:
The ruins of World War II Europe.
Medieval castles and counties.
Ancient Greece with Gods and men (and SPARTA!!!!).
Space Station on Mars (or any other planet).
Dark, mystical woods with shapechangers and hobbits.
Pirate caves and the Seven Seas.
The gameplay will be similar to that of Diablo – top-down / isometric, fast-paced, point-and-click, hack-and-slash.
Unlike Diablo, the player will be occasionally be controlling a party of more than one character (up to 2 others plus the player’s character).
The additional characters will be interchangeable when the party grows greater than 3 – similar to the party selection in Mass Effect.
The player may change the formation of the party, as well as the primary, secondary and special actions of the other characters, but outside of that, the entire party is controlled as one individual entity. Each of the party members will their own health bars – and cop damage as separate entities, however.
The player will find team mates in a wide variety of environments, each with their own speciality and abilities. They will have advantages and disadvantages in certain situations. Some of them may even be historical characters, straight from the pages of reference books.
Didn’t really know what to expect, but was definitely looking forward to it anyway. It was cool. Ups & downs and stress and no sleep and barbeques and some very cool games at the end of the day. Plus a lot of fun…
My team ended up getting a somewhat playable game out in the end… but we cut it pretty fine. I was MIA for Saturday night (friend’s B’day) and got back Sunday morning to find that the game had made very little progress and seemed to be going down a completely different direction… with less than 5 hrs left (out of 48 hrs) on the clock. I sat down with my main programmer (who had not slept AT ALL in the previous 32 hrs) and SMASHED OUT a playable demo with a heap of potential.
We were never going to win any major prizes. We aimed pretty low so we could get something out in the time limit, and we got close to where I was aiming… but I feel like some areas could’ve been better. It was still fun anyway.
I will post more details soon… maybe some pics of the game… or the executable itself. Look out for it soon.
So I have just recently played the demo of this game and it’s pretty cool. Don’t really know what to think just yet - I might need to play it some more. It is a puzzle game with a heap of depth, and a lot of complexity (my brain hurts a bit just thinking about it).
Really simple concept which has more and more layers added on top as the game progresses - Input and element, add another element, bond them together to create a molecule, output the molecule, etc. It becomes even crazier when multiple reactors are needed to create huge compounds.
Very cool concept for a game… and who woulda thought that chemistry could be so entertaining.
Okay, so it’s that time again - another week, another mildly-insane high-level game concept based on a made up theme.
This week is a role-playing game based around the theme of a library / books / librarians… that kinda thing. The librarian at my old school was pretty damn scary… and she was commonly referred to as an ‘old battle-axe’. That’s gotta mean something, right?
I used to be a huge fan of RPG’s (still kind of am), I usually just don’t have the time to spend on the hundreds of hours required to finish them.
This game should veer away from the stock-standard fantasy, swords-and-fireballs stereotypes that come up in RPG’s all the time.
Week #4 Game Design - "Bounty Hunter Educational Game"
Tracker: The Time-Traveller
This game is an educational game based on informing the player of possible travel destinations – countries, cities, landmarks, hotspots – as well as giving them a fun training in learning the basics of a given language.
It will be completely interactive and have access to the internet and real-time prices for flights and accommodation – even to the point of being able to book these in-game, and potentially be rewarded with real world benefits.
The game is aimed at school / college leavers and young adults that plan to go travelling (or are currently travelling) to learn about particular countries and cities before they arrive there. The game will give enough of a base of knowledge (where to go, what to do, etc.) so that they feel comfortable when they get there. Playing this game is the PERFECT thing to do on that eight-hour train ride between destinations.
In effect, this game is the fun way of getting the important information from your Lonely Planet guide… but with more interactivity, and real-time, updated information.
In this game, the player plays the role of Tracker, an international, time-travelling bounty hunter. Tracker (non-gender specific) is working for the equivalent of Interpol, or a world-wide CTU, making trips all across Europe to catch criminals, save lives and avert disasters… kinda like Jack Bauer from the TV show, 24.
Aimed at educating travellers in an entertaining way
Learn a broad range of information about new places – language basics, historical facts, landmarks – even to the degree of awesome places to eat or drink.
There is a huge potential for marketing tie ins with sponsorship / in-game advertising streams for featured bars and restaurants.
Internet capabilities in-game would assist the player in finding the best flight routes, cheapest flights, the best hotels, transport information, maps and locations, as well as other service providers.
After selecting the initial starting zone (any country in Europe / UK), Tracker is given a selection of different bounties to track down – each with a real world theme (stop the bomb, rescue the hostage, ambush the target, etc.) and each with an educational relevance.
There would be the opportunity to create multiple versions of the game – or even just downloadable add-ons – that would allow the player to play across different land-masses or continents (USA, South America, Australia / NZ, etc.).
Each bounty or mission will play out as an action / adventure / platformer, with a combination of combat, cutscenes and information.
The platforming action will be broken up with a series of mini-games (which may or may not have relevance to the theme).
For example, a language mini-game in which the player is having a heated conversation with the bounty target in a foreign language in between an exchange of blows – similar to a Monkey Island style combat system.
After a short bit of training in previous scenes, the player will gain the advantage by successfully replying or continuing the conversation in this new language, or otherwise struggle to apprehend the target who may then escape until a later mini-game.
The game could cover a huge range of cities, landmarks and even stupid trivia.
Once a player completes a bounty, they will receive a cash reward and then may spend the money to travel to a new destination – using the internet to calculate the most common and cheapest routes.
The player may then spend their in-game cash supply to find a hotel to stay at and a bar to drink at (all real world, local options with up-to-date information directly from the internet).
The player will be able to learn a lot of information (real world info, as well as in-game clues) by going to the bar and talking to contacts.
The in-game rewards may even allow the player to access coupons or discounts to their real world equivalents – at local bars, restaurants, hotels / hostels. Tons of marketing potential.
A lot of the key information is divulged whilst viewing cutscenes and playing the navigational (platforming) parts of the game, in between the mini-games.
The mini-games will quiz the player on the relevant information that they just experienced or learnt.
The player also has the opportunity to view further videos, or do more research about particular aspects of each location.
All objects, backgrounds and scenery is all based on the real world location at the given time period that Tracker is currently in.
Meet Friendly Agents / Contacts – conversational language quiz to get further clues.
Purchase Equipment / Gadgets – language testing of purchasing, currency, ownership, objects, etc.
Open Locked Doors – dial in secret password using the given numbers in a foreign language.
Diffuse Bomb – details knowledge of landmarks and hotspots to find the bomb, then language and history knowledge used to stop the bomb.
Rescue Hostage – work out the location, navigate to location – test local knowledge and landmarks, as well as transport services.
Avert Disaster – find the right historical time periods and locations where disaster is going to occur. Must use history knowledge to work out how to stop disaster from occurring.
Escape Death – follow directions in foreign language and use landmark knowledge to avoid danger.
Capture Target – chase target around town – landmarks / tourist destinations / hotspots – to find target. May also need to go back in time to historical dates and times to find the target and bring them to justice.
LOCATION EDUCATION TOPIC EXAMPLE: Berlin, Germany
Language – German basics, numbers, greetings, purchasing, hotels & bars.
History – Nazi Germany; the separation + the wall; the war and occupation of Berlin; Checkpoint Charlie; the fall of the wall; the wall today; the new Berlin.
Landmarks – Brandenburg Gate; The Jewish Memorial; The Tacheles; The Reichstag; Eastside Gallery; modern bars & restaurants; hotels / hostels; hotspots and funky areas.
Other – Things to do; the best German beers to try; best ways to get around; festivals and other events in Berlin.