Game Idea a Day – Week 13

Well, I thought last week’s post was late, but this one is clearly even farther from Friday than that. I’m still going to assume this will keep happening on Fridays, so the recap covers 3/25 to 3/31. I’m actually writing this from Clonmel in Ireland, and I’ve been in London most of the week! (So between jetlag and vacation craziness, I have plenty of excuses for being late.)

3/25 – I spent some time musing about games I am especially suited to design (write what you know), and ended up asking myself: What would a game based on resolving text file conflicts look like? I came up with a mutating grid-based game, where you have a “map” of branches, and must recreate the final “resolution state” from the pieces presented. Sort of a puzzle game, I guess.

3/26 – Circles intersecting circles – A 2D game that might look a little like a circular (or arc-based) version of Qix. Maybe instead of inside an area, you start at a point on a circle, and expand your territory outward. You make circles by holding the button down which shoots a line from your current point in the direction your analog control stick points. When you let go, that begins an arc where your point of origin is the center of the circle. The first line it intersects will fill in the arc you have created, and you begin traveling along the path again.

3/27 – I’ve been thinking about some game ideas for the Donutron for a while now, and figured I’d document some of the ones that I’ve basically rejected as being unoriginal / boring, figuring, if I write them down, I won’t have to keep thinking about them again:
– A donut-tetris (donutris?) – Maybe standard Tetris with some Donut-inspired bonuses, like making a circle around an empty space clearing the board, (or filling-in with jelly), or maybe it really is just swapping the sprites for donuts (donutronimos).
– A donut-platformer, where the protagonist is a rolling donut, (JellyTron?), and rolls over hills and valleys. Maybe this is inspired by Wibble Wobble, and the floor is constantly moving.
– An idle donut game – Maybe you start out mashing buttons to eat donuts, but then eventually you’ve eaten a dozen, and you get the option to invite a friend to come eat with you. And then you mash some more and invite a few more friends, and suddenly you’re eating a dozen every minute or two, and then you get the option to bring donuts for the office, and suddenly it’s a dozen every second, and you get the option to deliver to more offices, and you are consuming septillions of donuts…

3/28 – The barest hazy notion of an idea for an abstract strategy game thinking about the ways that The Duke and Onitama are similar. I decided I have to come up with an original movement mechanic, or it’s pointless. The closest I came in this entry was each piece having a directional arrow, (or more than one?) and the distance / type of movement is calculated from that arrow (with additional variables). One type of piece might spiral around itself a certain number of squares, starting from the square its arrow points to. Another piece might move diagonally in exactly a specific number of spaces (a different number for each diagonal).

In the past, “ideas” like the ones I had for this entry would probably not have been written down, but I have found that game ideas do sometimes percolate for a few days before producing something interesting. (My entry below for 3/30 is basically the result of continuing to think about these ideas.) While I was thinking on this day, I was also thinking about process, and though my entry doesn’t capture any of it, I was conscious of how this “percolation” aspect of game design has been sort of ignored in my “Game Idea a Day” series. I’ve basically tried to think of ideas “whole”, without giving them room to grow very much, (generally because the following day I need to think of fresh new one). There have been some exceptions, but mostly for ideas I already thought were really good on the first day. I guess this one is not really an exception, because even though I didn’t come up with any specifics I thought were really good, I did think that a game based on The Duke and Onitama was a good enough place to start thinking that it continued in the back of my mind for a few days. Part of that was practical, as my friend Tysen has already been programming an AI for Onitama, and I was also thinking about how to capitalize on that work, even if we don’t end up making an app for Onitama specifically.

3/29 – I feel like this might have already been done, but I saw a broken umbrella in the gutter in London, and it evoked this strangely sad feeling and got me thinking about a game that does the same. You play as the umbrella, tethered to one human after another, helping them get to their sheltered destinations. The wind and rain will change and apply physics meant to pull you out to the hands of your current person. All you control is the angle they hold you from, and maybe how far up they are gripping you? Meta gameplay would be is a bit like crazy taxi; the people walk themselves, all you have to do is keep them dry enough until they get to their destinations. When you fail, you end up in the gutter.

3/30 – As mentioned above (3/28) I came up with what I believe to be a pretty good abstract strategy game. I think I want to keep thinking about this one before I make it public. It’s fully realized (I think), but I haven’t done any playtesting yet. Suffice to say that it has variable piece movement done in a way I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. The only piece I’d like to keep thinking about is the end-game condition, as right now it’s basically just stealing that from Chess (and The Duke).

3/31 – I continued thinking about the ideas from 3/28 and 3/30, coming up with another interesting square grid piece movement mechanic. This one involves combining two of your pieces to then move much more powerfully on the following move. Each piece can move a single space (to any of the 4 adjacent spaces) by default. But if you have two pieces on the same square, you can move one of them in any of the following ways: forward one or two spaces, forward two and over one (like a knight), or forward 3 and over one or two spaces. Note that you can only move one of them, so there might be a nice natural balancing thing that happens where if you keep your pieces on the same space long enough, they are much stronger, but also more vulnerable to attack. (Of course, this is probably only true if there are other pieces that move in different ways.) I called this movement mechanic zipper movement. One idea is for each piece to have different specialized movement somehow, but they can only take those specialized moves if they have been “activated” by moving them on top of one of your other pieces first.

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