Archive | July 2016

Daily Design: Day 212

Daily Design is a series of game concepts devised daily through all of 2016. These are just basic concepts, designed based on randomly generated words. Today, they are; 

Mortal, Fossil and Sympathy.

As such, the game I’ve designed today is…

Life Time

Life Time is a singleplayer detective game. The story is about a man who has woken up in the distant future, only to discover that every other human being is now immortal. The mystery is about how the protagonist arrived in the future, and the origins of humanity’s immortality.

Think of it as Shenmue meets Deus Ex meets Planescape: Torment. The player is free to roam the city and pursue leads in any order, though they’re always bound by their mortality. To be clear – while humanity is “immortal”, that’s only in the sense that they don’t age or get sick. They’re very much murderable, and they’ve also all become infertile.

The player needs to eat to survive, which means they need an income. To do this, the protagonist sets up a private detective agency, though it’s up to the player which (and how many) cases they accept. Some cases may be related to the core mystery, whereas others are just there to tell an interesting story and earn the player some money.

Combat is visceral and brutal, as well as being almost exclusively one-on-one and hand-to-hand. Players use the D-Pad to block and the face buttons to fight – each button corresponds to a direction. The pad is for blocking and the buttons are for attacking; so, if a hit is coming from the right, the right D-Pad button is used to block it. There are also context-sensitive takedowns based on the environment, such as hitting them into a mirror or (the classic) smashing their face into a ceramic toilet.

The bulk of player decision making comes down to figuring out where to go in the city. There’s also a kind of “Detective Vision”, which is closer to the one in The Witcher 3 than in the Arkham series. Clues are highlighted for players to discover, though some exploration is required to find them all, and smarts are needed to make sense of them anyway.

That’s it! Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with another quick game concept.

 

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Daily Design: Day 211

Daily Design is a series of game concepts devised daily through all of 2016. These are just basic concepts, designed based on randomly generated words. Today, they are; 

Collecting, Book and Magic.

As such, the game I’ve designed today is…

Occult Curator

Occult Curator is a turn-based RPG about a wizard who’s rebuilding his or her master’s library after they accidentally magicked all the books away, because I imagine wizards in training are just the worst.

The player takes up the reins as this happens, and whole awful event plays out as the game’s tutorial. From there, they’re given a lot of freedom – the idea being that it’s a (properly) open-world turn-based RPG.

There are loads of books to gather, and each one provides an increase to the player’s stats in some way. Books are also broken down into sections, and will provide cumulative bonuses as the collection grows. For example, collecting books on fire magic will result in fire magic becoming especially powerful.

There are also rare “Ancient Tomes”, and only a handful exist in the world. These are very well-hidden, often behind high-level and difficult content, but also provide the greatest rewards.

Initially, the player’s custom character is alone in their travels, but has the ability to capture monsters and make them fight alongside him/her. Back in the library (which serves as a central hub), there exists a massive book, known as the “Bestiary”. Every collected monster is recorded in here, and so it’s basically an ancient Pokédex.

Combat is as straightforward as turn-based RPGs can get, with player actions hidden behind menus that are navigated in combat. There’s healing, buffs, debuffs, spells with awful names – the works. While I’ve been spouting that the combat is “Turn-based”, it’s actually similar to how the Final Fantasy series works, in that it’s technically real-time. Combat will move forward with or without player input, and characters can only act when their bar fills.

Spells are learned either through special Tomes or by collecting enough books in a set. Spells have a huge range of uses, both inside of combat and out. Combat spells include damage across several elemental types (which are more or less effective against certain monsters), and spells outside of combat include the ability to teleport to new places or interact with certain objects to enter new areas.

While the game has a central story related to re-collecting a specific set of books, the real goal is to gather all of the books in the library. It’s a collector’s wet dream, essentially, which is why I’m so excited about the idea of this game existing (and so crushed that it likely never will). Well, back to Pokémon Go.

That’s it! Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with another quick game concept. 

 

 

Daily Design: Day 210

Daily Design is a series of game concepts devised daily through all of 2016. These are just basic concepts, designed based on randomly generated words. Today, they are; 

Quickness, Toast and Shout.

As such, the game I’ve designed today is…

Toastie

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Toastie is a game about firing screaming anthropomorphic toast at plates (with good timing).

It’s a first person game, and the very first decision that players are faced with is what to set their toasted to. The options are between 1 to 5, though the exact number is set with a dial, meaning the options are actually quite broad.

From there, the player has to run the toaster to a plate, the location of which is indicated on the HUD. They’re also avoiding obstacles along the way, and while no obstacle can result in an immediate loss they all serve to slow the player down quite severely.

So, once the player is at the plate all they have to do is aim the toaster at it until the toast pops out. Success! The toast will fly a fair distance (a very unrealistic one), but will stick to the plate immediate if it hits.

The trick is that setting the toaster to higher settings means the chance of burning it is much higher. Burned toast can still be fired, but will disintegrate on impact if it’s too far gone. As well as that, the closer to “Perfect” that the toast is done, the better the player’s rank at the end of each level. Earning a high rank in levels can unlock new ones, as well as cosmetic rewards, such as new toasters (hooray!).

The goal, then, is to find a good combination of toaster setting and path through the level. Many levels rely on a trick shot at the end, where the toaster fires the toast a little early over or through obstacles to hit the plate.

Levels aren’t all set in houses, either. Because the game is already ridiculous there’s no real harm in bizarre settings, such as a zero gravity level in space or one set underwater (the traditional habitat of the toaster). Each level should also be quite short and restarting should be instant, as the game does rely on a certain level of trial and error gameplay.

That’s it! Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with another quick game concept.

 

 

Daily Design: Day 209

Daily Design is a series of game concepts devised daily through all of 2016. These are just basic concepts, designed based on randomly generated words. Today, they are; 

Judging, Ascending and Context.

As such, the game I’ve designed today is…

Damnation

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Damnation is essentially Papers, Please if instead of a border guard, you played as an ancient Egyptian god, which I’ll admit is a fairly large difference.

Players take the role of Anubis, whose role it is to judge the guilt of those sentenced. In this game, Anubis is judging what afterlife to send the dead to, based on their greatest crime in life. This isn’t exactly historically accurate, but we’ll just roll with that.

So, there’s essentially a “Heaven”, “Hell” or “Limbo” to send people to, though their names would likely be replaced with something new. Basically, though, it’s a “Good”, “Bad” and “Neutral” place to send them.

Players are presented with the accused one at a time. They’re shown the crime – for example, somebody may be presented, and their crime is murder. From here, the player has to make some important decisions.

Firstly, the player has five different options. They can ask the accused How, Where, When and Why they committed the crime. Or, they can weigh their guilt to get an accurate sense of just how guilty the accused feels, though bear in mind that this only their personal guilt.

The player has three “Judgements”, and asking a question will use one of these, where weighing guilt will use two. The player regenerates one judgement between sentences. In other words, player can ask a question and then weigh their guilt, but that means they can only ask a single question of the next accused. They can choose to sentence without asking questions, but this is obviously more likely to result in the accused going to the wrong afterlife.

Sending an accused to the right afterlife results in Karma, because I have my mythologies and beliefs all mixed up. A certain level of Karma is needed for Anubis to continue his existence, and sending too many accused to the wrong afterlife will result in him disappearing. So, uh, don’t do that, I guess.

This does present an inherent problem with a game about judging, and that’s that there’s not technically a “right” answer. I may think that somebody who murdered someone else doesn’t deserve to go to hell because they did it in self-defence, but another may disagree, and neither of us is technically wrong. As a result, the player may feel punished despite making what they see as the correct decision.

To offset this is tricky and would probably require more thought, but I think a good start is to produce small stories for each accused. The player can view them after each “Judgement session”, and see exactly what that person did and how they fare in their afterlife.

Asking the right questions is also important, because “Why” seems like it would be the most important in almost all cases. However, consider somebody whose crime was “Murder”, and if you asked “Where” the answer was “Battlefield”. If nothing else, that may make the player reconsider. Another one could be the crime of “Theft” by an old man, but asking “When” reveals that it was when they were a child – and remember that the player sees only the accused’s greatest crime. In this case, the “Why” may have been that he simply thought it was fun, but if the player doesn’t know he was a child at the time it’s a completely different story.

That’s it! Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with another quick game concept. 

Daily Design: Day 208

Daily Design is a series of game concepts devised daily through all of 2016. These are just basic concepts, designed based on randomly generated words. Today, they are; 

Detect, Difficulty and Locking.

As such, the game I’ve designed today is…

Hunted

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Hunted is a multiplayer game for up to 4 players, in which each competes and cooperates to escape alive.

No player is on a team with any of the others – each is alone, and their only goal is to survive. Of course, this means using a combination of cooperation and betrayal as each player is hunted by a single unstoppable creature. If the creature catches a player, they’re killed immediately.

The game is in first-person, and there’s no combat. There is a stealth system so players can avoid the creature by hiding in cabinets, under tables, etc. Or simply by hiding behind cover. Players can find exits scattered through procedurally generated levels, though there’s always one less exit than there are players. There’s also no kill-feed to know if a player is down or not.

At certain points, players can take useful shortcuts if they cooperate. An example of this is that a player can provide a boost to another, who in turn can choose whether or not to lift them up a ledge. Cooperative spots often lead to exits, or at least serve as very useful shortcuts that are generally monster-free.

On the other hand, not every player can escape alive, and it’s very easy to kill another player if you happen to find one. Players can throw distraction items that lure the monster, or they can use their smarts to kill each other. For example, getting a boost up to a ledge allows players to throw a distraction item down instead of helping their team mate, almost ensuring their death. Another example is a jump in which another player needs to catch you, but they can choose whether or not they do.

The creature will feed on the corpses of players for a full minute, which provides a huge advantage to the survivors. On the other hand, allowing it to complete it’s feeding will spawn a new creature, massively reducing the odds of survival. It can be interrupted by triggering alarms or using a distraction item nearby, and it won’t return to feeding once distracted.

Finally, to make the cooperation or kill decision a little harder, the monster/s will become more aggressive and harder to kill every time a player escapes. Every player who escapes is determined the winner, and earn in-game currency that can be spent on cosmetic upgrades.

That’s it! Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with another quick game concept.

 

Daily Design: Day 207

Daily Design is a series of game concepts devised daily through all of 2016. These are just basic concepts, designed based on randomly generated words. Today, they are; 

Customer, Supply and Rain.

As such, the game I’ve designed today is…

Dry Spell

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In Dry Spell, players take the role of a water salesperson in a world that’s almost entirely covered by desert. While this is clearly quite lucrative (hooray!), it also comes with severe moral implications (boo!).

It’s a kind of light business simulator, in that the player has a stock (water) and sets the pricing. They also have a store that can be customised at will, which can bring in more customers; stock, despite mostly being water, can also be customised and changed. While they’re all water-related, the game has a bunch of strange sci-fi items for sale.

The player doesn’t have a monopoly, as such, because there are other water shops about. However, at least some people are forced to buy at the player’s store, simply because it’s too hard to travel any further. The player can opt to exploit these people by increasing prices – while they will still almost certainly pay (unless the price is way too high), this will increase discontent.

Discontented customers will eventually riot and destroy your store. A select few will try to do this regardless of how happy you try to make people, and security is a priority – pay for turrets, security guards and more to keep your shop safe, but make sure that’s balanced with your income. Make too much and the populace will rise up together and overthrow you, but make too little and you won’t be able to afford the security necessary for your own survival.

That’s it! Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with another quick game concept. 

 

Daily Design: Day 206

Daily Design is a series of game concepts devised daily through all of 2016. These are just basic concepts, designed based on randomly generated words. Today, they are; 

Tap, Banning and Spread.

As such, the game I’ve designed today is…

Ban Hammer

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Ban Hammer is a game about crushing trolls with a gigantic hammer, like whack-a-mole for the digital age.

Simply, Ban Hammer is about crushing trolls before they spread throughout the forum that the player is in charge of. The game uses an isometric view where people’s avatars (NPCs, that is, not real people) will walk around and talk to each other. Occasionally a troll will enter, and the player will have to tap the hell out of them.

Tapping a troll causes damage, and when a troll loses all of it’s “health” it will, obviously, die. There are several kinds of trolls, all with different abilities – some are fast but weak, strong but slow, some can teleport or heal others and so on.

If a troll manages to speak to a forum member for long enough, that forum member will also turn into a troll and need banning in turn. As such, trolls that are poorly handled will spread quickly and become overwhelming. The player needs to protect a certain amount of forum members per level, and will fail if too many are converted to trolls and the whole thing becomes a new 4chan.

At the end of each level the player is awarded money based on how many forum posters are still active. This money can be spent on upgrades to the forum or to the ban hammer itself.

Forum upgrades include adding more boards, which will increase the number of posters and thus your income (and, of course, ground to cover while troll-banning). Players can also choose to buy and upgrade Moderators, who will pursue and ban trolls on their own.

The ban hammer upgrades include more damage, an area of effect, the ability to convert banned trolls into moderators (temporarily) and more. It’s a game that relies heavily on positive feedback, which is something I can’t (and thus, don’t have to!) write about here, but trust me when I say it would be totally awesome. For real.

That’s it! Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with another quick game concept.