The Media Darling

April 6, 2009

I’m going to keep this one short.  The goal is to make a game where the user is able to perceive time in different ways in different sections of the game.  This is not like Prince of Persia or Braid, where the player has direct control of time.  Instead, some aspect of the game itself has to change how time is flowing.

Here is my example:

A strategy game in the vein of Total War, where the player has 3 levels of control over his empire.  Each level is focused on a different aspect of empire control, and the level the player is currently viewing determines the rate at which time passes.

At the highest level, the user controls his empire at a macro level.  Cities can be founded, armies given movement and attack orders, treaties and trade agreements made, and so on.  At this level, time flows fastest – one day for every real-world minute. This level plays much like the strategic view of Total War.

At the second level, the player gains better control over his cities.  He can order new construction projects started, order demolitions, determine which units are constructed or trained, and what tasks his citizens focus on.  This level plays like a Caesar game.  At this level time flows more slowly, at one hour for evey real-world minute.

At the third, lowest, level the player can control individual people or squads.  This tactical view plays like an RTS, allowing the player fine control over individuals and specific tactical control during battles.  Inside cities or along trade routes, the player can see citizen-level information about people and troops and give direct orders.  This would play like an RTS.  Time at this stage flows the slowest, at one minute to every real-world minute.

The player can switch between views smoothly and at will.  So if a battle is easily won, the player can choose to allow the units to fight for themselves while he continues to manage cities or the macro-empire.  But he can also zoom in (slowing the game down in the process) and manage things at a lower level when necessary.  This would benefit greatly from a zoom system like Supreme Commander, where it is fluid moving both in and out and around the map.

Paper & Pencil

November 17, 2008

We are going to change directions a bit here with this new assignment.  The goal is to make a fun game out of the vector movement mechanic.  That mechanic can be found here: 

and played here:

There are some obvious additions to the mechanic that could make it fun: the mario kart treatment, dungeon crawler gameplay, etc.  There are no restrictions on this one so long as you use the aforementioned mechanic.  It can be designed in any game space and in any dimension.  Go!

Due Date: November 29th, 2008

Results: Co-operative Play

November 17, 2008


When the assignment was being created, I knew exactly the kind of game designs that should be posted.  Although my final post satisfies the requirements, I don’t believe that it is the type of game I had envisioned before I started designing.  Sean’s unposted idea of having two people, one controlling locomotion and the other controlling speed, would have been a better fit.  

Water Seed had some good concepts.  Editable terrain via water manipulation seems like a non-repetitive task (which is always a good thing).  I also really like the idea of having a population that you don’t actively have to control (like roller coaster tycoon).  Water Seed fails in that you have to switch back and forth between Zeus and Poseidon.  One question really needs to be answered: is their a separation of characters just because the requirements say so?  Let’s say Zeus was your only character.  You should be able to control every aspect of the game just by using him.  I think adding in another character adds a level of unnecessary complexity.  

I will comment on Sean’s game here once it is posted. 

As I mentioned before, this isn’t the type of game that I had envisioned making when we were brainstorming ideas for the assignment itself.   Perhaps the requirements were too vague.  Technically, a design for any sports game satisfies the requirements.   Does this mean we need to change the way we write these assignments?  Possibly.  Gavin suggested that we take a design that is either already successful or horrific and improve upon it.  I think we might go this route in the next assignment.

Co-operative Play

September 29, 2008

After talking it over with Vini, here’s the next one.  This is a little different:

  • The player has 2 characters with unique abilities
  • The player can control one character at a time; what the other character does is up to you (continue his action, remain idle, follow the player’s character in some way, whatever)
  • The game must be 3D
  • The game must be made of one level that repeats in some fashion.  This rule (of Vini’s) is a little weird, but I like it.
Like the last challenge, the genre can be anything you want, but it has to be 3D.
Due date: October 15, 2008

Results: The Blob

September 9, 2008


I wonder if The Blob assignment was too restrictive.  I say this because I’m not happy with the designs for primary to secondary color gameplay.  However, I did enjoy the unexpected gear-blob mechanics that  were brought up.

In the robot game, there would have to be different levels to make it interesting.  I don’t think a sandbox robot would have much replay value.  The levels would have to range from easy to hard with creative compartments which you had to use your mechanical parts to circumnavigate.  The only mechanical parts discussed were the spring, the gear, and the girder.  I think there needs to be either one more part, preferably user-controlled (unlike the aforementioned parts), that affects blob movement.  There also needs to be outside forces which can inhibit your blob movement.  One question I can’t answer is: why would you use gears in favor of springs and girders?  When is there ever really a need for gears?

Sean’s second post about the gears dying after filling their notches with same-colored blobs could be very addictive.   He avoids a lot of the color mixing problems by allowing only one mix to occur between the primary/secondary colors.  But, there can be problems when different sized gears are introduced and the gameplay can get stale without creating many challenging levels.  The biggest question about this game is: how can it be made more difficult over time?



I think I learned two things from this exercise in general.  First, the heavy restrictions were good; we might even go more strict in the future.  Obviously they didn’t limit the range of games we came up with, and it kept us focused.  Second, I think it’s definitely useful to just get a game idea out there without worrying about all the tiny details; if we wanted to actually make one of these games we could iron that out later.  I like the idea of giving these exercises a short time limit (like a week) and just getting the idea of a game out there.

More specifically, I think I’m tired of physics games.  The two games I came up with here were obviously not physics based, and they just don’t interest me right now.  I think I’m seeing too many of them lately.  That said, I’d be willing to try to prototype either the robot game or the gears game, so this definitely wasn’t a total wash as far as good ideas.

This also demonstrated my clear lack of visual prowess in game design.  Neither of my games really required the colors, or made the colors feel like an integral part of the game.  I think they would work equally well if you replaced colors with numbers (in the case of my first design) or shapes (in the case of my second).   In that sense, I think they were both failures as far as this exercise is concerned.  The robot game was a lot better.

The Blob

August 13, 2008

Here’s one that I’ve been crafting up for a while now but I haven’t quite finished yet. We’ll call it “The Blob Game” for now. Here’s what you have:

  • A gamespace similar to either Tetris, Bust-A-Move, or Bejeweled.
  • Blobs. Think Loco Roco physics.
  • Each blob can spawn as a primary color: red, yellow, blue.
  • Blobs can be combined to form the secondary colors: orange, purple, green.

The game can be of any genre you choose so long as it stays within the realm of 2d. That’s pretty much all you need game designers. Go!

Due Date: August 23, 2008.

Hello World

August 13, 2008

As always, “Hello World”

Now, business as usual.  I’ll post a game project with a few rules and regulations.  You, the game designer, post a concept for the perfect game.  Ready?