This will be the first of several posts relating to game design. I imagine it’ll be something like this:
- Describe the circumstances of how the idea for the game emerged (today).
- Document a playthrough of the game, to capture the essence of what the player will experience.
- Break this down into a state diagram and use cases.
- Sketch out some concept art (well, get someone with the requisite skills to).
So, to begin at (1). Last month I attended GCAP in Melbourne, and hung out a bit with these guys. We regularly propped up the hotel bar, drinking coffees between talks and beer and whiskey (well, perhaps just I) at the end of the day. And much of the talk revolved around games: Canabalt, Captain Forever, Bytejacker, Spelunky and so on. I pitched a few of my game ideas, including “Effed-uptr!s” and “Mr. Kurekato”.
The last game idea takes a single mechanic and boils it down to its basics, and then multiplies the result. This got us talking about basic mechanics, and I mentioned how people seem to enjoying games that involve sorting things and generally tidying up a mess. I was playing with my iPhone, and started thinking about how you’d sort things into piles – you’d obviously tap to grab, and then flick them where you want them to be.
For whatever reason, I imagined that you were sorting items on a conveyer belt, and it seemed natural that you’d be working in a mail centre, separating envelopes from packages. We riffed off this, and someone suggested that after a doing this for a while, you’d go postal and start shooting the place up. So that’s what it became…
You start with a birds-eye view of a conveyor belt, and you need to sort letters, packages and so forth, by flicking them in the appropriate direction as they scroll by. When you screw up, your rage meter increases. Max it out, and the view turns to side-on. The packages on the conveyor belts are now like ducks in a shooting gallery. You just shoot the crap of everything to calm down, with envelopes flying everywhere. Now and again a co-worker pops up, and is all like “no, no, don’t shoot”.
This is a game of two modes. In the first you’re doing monkey work. But there’s a payoff, as you’re buffing your stats for the second mode (building up an ammo supply, and levelling up your weapon). In the second mode, you use those resources to amass points, but there’s a chance you’ll fuck up (by shooting your co-worker) and it’ll be game over. So it’s a points game. Music in the first mode will be all mechanical, and thrash metal with screaming in the second mode :)
Yes, although we began with the idea that you’d be shooting people, we quickly realised that taunting controversy and risking non-approval wasn’t a good strategy, so we made that bad, mmkay? And although we had heaps of fun discussing the finer points of the game, I’m very conscious that it will succeed or fail based on how well the gameplay is balanced between the two modes. Hopefully that’s something I’ll start to flesh out and solidify (ergh) over the next couple of nights.