Daily Design: Day 1

To celebrate the new year, I’m going to take on a massive challenge – updating my blog regularly, instead of once every four or so months. In the spirit of new years resolutions, and wanting to improve my skills as a game designer and writer, I’ve decided to design (but not create) a game every single day of 2016. I’ll do so by using random word generators, such as Text Fixer. I’ll get 3 different words each day, then design a game around those words.

Already, we’re off to a fantastic start, with;

Salty

Indecent

Protect

Coming into this challenge, I realised that I’d occasionally get a less-than-ideal word, but starting the entire thing with salty is more than I bargained for. Anyway, the rules are as follows;

The game can be any genre, for any platform, and of any size – I can design anything from Her Story to Battlefield 4, as long as it thematically suits the words I’ve been given. Similarly, the game has to use those words, regardless of what they are. In this case, Salty, Indecent and Protect all have to fit into the game in some way. It’s pretty straightforward, but I’m sure it’s going to be harder than I’m expecting.

I may choose to make some conceptual images, but as I’m doing one of these each day, I’m opting to keep the creation of these things fairly small. There’s a solid argument that I may get more out of spending more time on each and doing one a week or month, but this is as much about updating my blog and exercising my mental muscles (in lieu of my real ones) as it is about practicing design.

Now, I’m not going to lie, I thought of plenty R18+ ideas that I’ve scrapped. Salty and Indecent are possibly the two worst words to combine for this kind of thing, but I’ve given it my best shot, and mostly managed to avoid giggling and sniggering throughout. Luckily, my final design of the day is a bit more PG.

So, without further ado, my first game of the year!

Snail Trail

Snail Trail 1.png

This is Snail Trail, the unfortunately-named beginning of this year-long challenge. To be absolutely clear, I created the above image by photobashing and lightly editing images I found online, so it’s not content I’ve created myself. This is solely in the interest of time, and if I use any registered art from someone on DeviantArt or something similar, I’ll link the artist.

So, Snail Trail is an asymmetrical competitive multiplayer game for smart phones and tablets. One player controls a team of snails and has to guide them from the right side of the screen to the left, which would be fairly straightforward if player 2 wasn’t dropping mounds of salt in their way.

While the above image I stole created shows a grid-based map, I imagine that wouldn’t be the case. Instead, Snail Trail would take place on a flat plane, with no initial obstacles.

Player 1 – the Snail Lord – controls the snails in real-time. They do this by swiping a path from a snail to the end of the map, which the snail will endlessly follow. This is shown in the image above by the lines – the blue line meaning that the snail will reach the end if nothing changes, and the red line means that the snail will eventually hit salt unless their path is changed. If snails hit either salt or another snail, the snail/s involved in the collision are killed (horribly). Player 1 wins if they manage to get more than half their total snails across the finish line.

Player 2 controls the salt on the map. They do this by holding their finger on the screen where they want to drop salt – as they do so, their total “Salt Level” reduces until they remove their finger. The longer they hold it down, the larger the pile of salt becomes, but the more of their Salt Level is lost. If you have no Salt, you can’t drop any more salt piles. However, salt piles can be removed by holding your finger on them, allowing the player to refill their salt levels and drop it elsewhere.

Snail Trail 2.png

Hence, the game comes down to Player 2 trapping Player 1 with piles of salt. It’s important to note that snails can never move backwards or vertically – they must always be progressing towards the end. Though the path can be changed at any time, snails aren’t known for their maneuverability, so planning ahead is key. Also, Player 2 can’t drop salt within a certain radius of a snail.

I imagine this could be a lot of fun for a small casual mobile game, though as with all design, would require a lot of balance and iteration to make sure it’s really fun. I imagine speed would be possibly the biggest factor, and snails may not be the best fit, but it’s hard to say without actually creating the thing.

So, Protect and Salty are both in there nicely, even if they’ve been interpreted a bit too literally. However, indecent still seems to be mostly missing, so I think it’d be worth giving the snails a kind of Worms-like personality.

Snail Trail 3.png

The snails would have pseudo-language voiceovers, like Worms or The Sims, where they’d swear or celebrate accordingly. Or, perhaps, scream as the salt dehydrates them to death (no, really, it’s horrible). As painful as that sounds, it may help to know that snails are assholes.

And that’s it for Day 1 of Daily Design! If you have any questions or suggestions regarding anything on the blog, let me know either through my email on the Contact page or just comment on this post. Thanks for reading!

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