Monday, 15 June 2015

Unit 22 - Game concepts

Unit 22 - Game Concepts
By Dave Johnson

Before I even begin to create a 2D game, there are a number of tasks and questions that I need to address. They are listed below, along with my initial game ideas. After this I have refined my thinking along with my choice of game idea, answering several specific questions that will clarify what sort of a game it is. So first of all, the initial thought process that I followed :

1) Plan the idea
  • What do I want to play?
  • Write brainstorm – I'll think about what I would enjoy doing / playing.
2) Research and select target market
  • I must find competitors, analyze, features, pros and cons – work out why some do better than others
  • I must select the target market taking into account factors such as target age range and devices
3) Choose my revenue model
  • I need to decide how I will make money from the game. Ads? Apps? In game purchases?
  • There must be caution exercised because this may affect the behaviour of the game – e.g – in game adverts may take up space in the play area.

4) Defining the game
  • What makes my game special?
  • Does my game have a captivating story?
  • Why will the user download it?
  • What incentives will give the user reason to carry on playing it? (Could be upgrades, suits, power ups, etc).

5) Define characters and backgrounds
  • Concept art – draw characters, environments, and backgrounds.

6) Specify features, scenes and fine details
  • I must create a list with all the corresponding features and rate them.
  • I must choose the features I want to use for the first version of the game
  • I must define the rest of the important stuff for the game that has not already been documented.
  • For example, features could be intro, cut scenes, storyboards, levels, HUD and controls.

 7) Create a game design document using all the features above.
  • I must make a ist design and developers
  • The more detailed this document is the more it will help to minimize costs

Initial 2D game ideas

I really like the idea of a historical or alternate history angle that plays with ideas of technology and time. In the ideas below, I have attempted to outline each and what makes them different or unique. One idea is set in the past, another in the future, and another in an alternate reality version of history.

I also like really like the idea of making a deliberately retro platform game. I have been playing alot of these on the SNES and Megadrive lately. They have a simplicity and a level of immediate fun about them that I'd almost forgotten about. I have noticed a lot of independent developers are making them these days for all console platforms, with many receiving critical acclaim. Games such as Shovel Knight and Super Meat Boy have a charm about them that is allowing people of a certain age to relive their youth. These retro games also have an innocence and humour to them that would be refreshing in this age of gritty, realistic games.

A point and click adventure game
A game set in the middle ages. The basic premise of the game is that people can pay to have any life altered. Clients can pay to have the lives of other people changed, for better or for worse. It may be that they want to right a wrong, exact revenge or even make themselves wealthy. This process involves using magic wielding agents who can travel back in time and manipulate events so that the client will have a different life in the present day.
The story hero will start with a simple request that quickly unravels into something bigger and more far reaching. The game will involve exploration, collecting useful objects, puzzle solving, and dialogue choices. There could also be a use of mini games or brainteasers eg: Professor Layton, Conquests Of The Longbow, etc.
Influences could include The Secret Of Monkey Island, Broken Sword, Kings Quest, Conquests Of The Longbow etc.

A top down action adventure game
A fantasy archaeologist explores the remains of an ancient civilization, solving puzzles, fighting enemies and attempting to find a mythical object that is hidden far underground. She will encounter a rival archaeologist along the way who is racing her to the finish – this rival is seeking the same object for a very different purpose.
The twist is the game will be set in an environment that looks very much like earth, with elements and objects that the player will be able to recognize. The games story will heavily hint that we are on earth 1000’s of years into the future. Species have evolved whilst technology has regressed. The object that the player seeks will be ordinary to us but will ultimately be vital in saving the player characters’ work
There will be puzzle solving in the form of objects that the player will have to collect to progress through the network of rooms. Additionally, there will be action elements and combat with a range of weapons and power ups to collect.
Replay value will come in the form of playing from the opposite point of view – the rival archaeologist. There will be different rooms, traps, creatures and a journey. There could even be choices that the characters could make at the end of the game for further value. Will they work against each other? Or together? This could affect the ending.
There could also be paths the player takes that would lead to an incentive to revisit the game – eg: boss fights, different items, special environments and puzzles that are unique to each path.

The game will be inspired by 16 bit games such Zelda with a heavy emphasis on puzzle solving and exploration.   

A platform game – idea 1
An action game involving an alternate version of Inca history. In this other timeline, the Inca have discovered nuclear, atomic energy. They have used this to advance their race, build a growing civilization and advance their territory. Through their acquisition of gold, which is a natural circuit conductor, they have built sky and ground machines and amassed an empire. They have built an incredible life for themselves, yet they still yearn to communicate with their gods and learn the secrets of the universe.
Meanwhile the Spanish civilization has developed in a different direction. They have mastered the use of psychic and mental power to perform incredible feats and becoming a powerful presence in the world. They seek to expand their territory, yet are aware that their vehicles and weapons are underdeveloped in comparison to other civilizations. Hearing tales from their sailors of a strange land laden by gold and wondrous machinery they set off on a journey to plunder and take what they can to evolve. They will capture gold to power the circuits they need to infuse their craft with psychic energy. They will learn the secrets of mechanics to make deadly weapons.
When the Inca learn of the Spanish presence they too make a plan. The psychic secrets of the Spanish will finally allow them to speak with their Gods. They see the Spanish coming as a gift, and intend to become the dominant force on the planet by unlocking their supernatural potential.
There is however, a third unknown threat that will cause the two parties to join forces and decide the destiny of the planet.
The game will be a combat focused platformer in the vein of classics such as Metroid, Bionic Commando, Contra or Castlevania. The player will be able to choose a hero from either side to complete a series of action filled, high risk missions featuring strange enemies with arcane and mystical technologies. As the game progresses each hero will meet characters who will help drive the narrative and shape their journey. It is intended that each character will reach a revelation that will eventually lead to them working together.

The game will have high replay value due to this dual storyline with memorable NPCs, innovative missions and a wealth of secrets and power ups. Players will be able to customize their character with weapons and armour of their choice by assigning them to slots. There will be some special hidden secrets and collectibles that will inspire further replay value, and other modes such as a boss rush.

Both sides will have weapons, armour and power ups unique to them, creating further incentive for the player to return.

A platform game – idea 2
A fun, bright sparky cartoon adventure in the spirit of old retro arcade coin op games. The game is set on a planet that is populated by trees that are miles and miles high. Everything is big and oversized. The tree tops are largely an unexplored area and are home to many races, cultures and creatures. Many of these have rarely been seen by men. On the ground, a gardener and his daughter tend the plants and trees. It is their job to water the roots and flowers and maintain the plants and wildlife.
One day a large crow that rules the tree top kingdom swoops down and kidnaps the gardener, taking him back to her kingdom. It is up to his daughter to rescue him as she begins the ascent to the crow’s kingdom. Along the way she encounters friends and enemies, collecting power ups and discovering the truth about her father’s disappearance. The aim of the game is to travel through several vertically scrolling worlds until the two gardeners can be reunited.

The game will feature large, chunky sprites, imaginative backgrounds, fun power ups and a catchy soundtrack. It will be deliberately simple and not overtly violent. The game will instead focus on a cartoon, knockabout style of action like Mario or Zelda. Not to say it won’t be challenging at times – there will be levels and obstacles that will heavily test the players reactions.

The power ups will vary from simple gardening equipment through to spells and artifacts and inventions of ancient cultures later in the game. In fact each world will have its own specific objectives, obstacles and available power ups.
 Clarifying the game
I have chosen to go with platform game idea 2, which I feel gets the most excited when I consider its potential. It is something I can see myself playing, and a game that I feel I can add fresh elements to. It has the legs for extra content, power ups and even sequels. Perhaps most importantly is I feel it has wide appeal, with a broad range of players and ages who could enjoy it.


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