A tabletop war-game built designed for fast pick-up-and-play experiences on a small board, about the size of an A3 sheet. Games are meant to play out over the course of maybe fifteen rounds, about playing the miniatures you like, representing the characters you like, in a small skirmish fight against your opponent’s. The whole thing is designed to be easily transported, and have the pick-up-and-play immediacy of a a Monopoly-style tabletop game, with the customisation and flavour of a miniatures and card game war game.
Oh, this sounds pretty cool?
You’d like to actually play this one…?
A stealth game in which you play a penguin. First, you can blend into scenarios by hanging around other birds, where you can be misidentified as just another bird. Second, you can press yourself down flat and slide on things to quickly make your way from hiding spot to hiding spot. Third, you can turn around or change direction to blend into high-contrast backgrounds.
The whole thing would have the tenor of a serious spy drama, just with a penguin, because you’re already wearing a tux. Powerups would include a newspaper and a businessman’s hat.
… or maybe if I were some famous card game developer.
A tabletop deck-building card game in which each player plays a pair of best friends, a man and a woman, as they seek love in a painfully 90s Romantic Comedy setting. Characters have to earn money at a variety of jobs, which yield money, which can be spent on things. Male characters have a deck full of their expensive hobbies and their pasttimes, and they can accrue money to go to places and further their career, making themselves better and more valuable catches as determined by their secret victory card.
The female characters have to build their decks that reflect them as people. The problem is, there are some cards they have to add to their decks, cards that do not do anything, prompting dead draws. The womens’ job cards offer less money, even when they have the same name as the men’s cards. They have their own victory card – which lives in their deck, so they can’t check it most of the time. They have to build their deck to generate money, to try and have meetings with the man they think is the one they want.
See, the lesson is that 90s Romantic Comedies are bullshit.
A game set in a high school academy styled after Persona 3 and the X-Men Evolution style private education system. The school is a training ground for future superheroes, ensuring that they have the moral fortitude and personal skill to handle the future power they will be handed, at the graduation ceremony. Your character has to do well on tests to graduate, but also defines their personality and style by how they interact with their fellow classmates. Each classmate awards you Friendship Points based on how well you appeal to them, personally.
The game only reports your Friendship points as one single unified stat, which reflects your general popularity with everyone. On the other hand, the player is actually reflecting beliefs and ideas to their fellow students, and if they start to provide conflicting or contradictory opinions to different students, the game tracks it.
The superpowers the character receives are based on their ‘true inner self.’ If the player character has a very high Friendship, and high values with everyone, as well as large numbers of contradictory opinions, the serum that gives them superpowers turns them into a cthuloid mass of tearing tentacles that can shapeshift into the form of humans – reflecting the utter sociopath the protaganist truly is.
A semi-stealth game where saving the game resets the monsters and alerts them to your presence. Noteworthy is that autosaving does this too, and the game saves when you approach key items. The conceit? The monsters attacking earth are doing so because of experiments in the manipulation, control, and destruction of important landmarks in time…
A 2-dimensional platform videogame with super-simplistic visual elements, ideally all characters represented by stick figures. The primary mechanic is various pools of things, or things that give off particular odours that let the player activate or create a variety of behaviours in those surrounding them. If the player runs through a puddle of Green, they will waft with waves of green, which will make the red people avoid them, allowing them to direct guards or impediments away. But green attracts both yellow and blue things. Smells will be coded to colours, but represented by different things. Yellow and Blue may be water and cheese, but together be vomit (parmesan?). Either way, getting a new smell would add to the existing smell, and you’d need to rinse off to get rid of the smell entirely.
I call it Stink Figures.
Huh! Tomorrow’s story will be post #200.
A stealth game set in a school, where the player character is a student trying to mastermind the successful saving of a teacher’s career and the dismissal of another teacher who is deliberately conspiring to hurt the first teacher. As a student, the PC doesn’t have a lot of options for manipulating the events of the teachers, meaning that the player has to turn to distinct methods of trickery! The game would break down into four distinct stealth modes.
First, successfully infilrtrating an office or school site after hours, avoiding the night security of the school, to obtain evidence against Bad Teacher or to prevent some planned disaster for Good Teacher. This would provide hacking and lockpicking mini-games while trying to circumvent the paths of guards, primarily visible through the use of their flashlights in the dark of the school.
Cheating during exams, which involves waiting for the auditors for the examination to move past desks, then slide notes from one student to another while the auditors aren’t watching. Some students copy information at different rates, and some are more nervous than others, meaning they need the notes earlier in the exam. Some students are resistant to cheating, and if passed the notes early, will call the teacher. As the term progresses and the characters come to resent Teacher B and conspire with the player for Teacher A’s sake, the students become more willing to help.
The third part would be for rare scenes when the player character needs to help smuggle a television or a large prop out of the school and into the carpark or the lockers of Bad Teacher or Good Teacher for narrative reasons, and therefore the PC has to spend their time moving around the school causing small distractions to create a pathway for the other players to work around the ‘guards’ – prefects, gossippy students, actual security guards and teachers.
Finally, some of these events will need to be reactive to Bad Teacher, but some will need to be planned to coincide with important events for Good Teacher – things like making sure that the cheating comes up when they are on holiday, or deliberately getting caught doing something wrong under the Bad Teacher’s watch so as to reflect on their teaching methodology.
This idea has been sitting in draft for a while, but was spurred to posting by this Extra Credits episode. Most stealth games are defined by their framing devices, where stealth is necessary as a way to overcome an overwhelmingly superior force – while often the threat is lethal, I wondered; why not make the threat one of punishment and authority, not one of actual death?
A game that starts in a fantasy-kingdom style in the vein of Arabian Nights Persian-inspired designs, with signs like crystalline broadcast towers and large windmills that power the lights of the city. The protaganist is a young prince, waking up, bored in his palace, and deciding that today, he wants to have an adventure – which first involves wriggling away from his all-female retinue of wives, then up onto the parapets of his palace. The player must successfully steal the parts of a lady disguise, so as to escape notice of the all-female guards that patrol the palace. When he escapes into the square, he finds a city full of all women, dressed in a variety of wild, interesting, different colours and styles, while he has to stick with a very dowdy, concealing outfit, so as to better hide his identity.
The prince reveals that this is his first time ever out of the palace – and now that he looks at it, there seems to be very little in the city that he knows about. He has to run, jump, climb and explore his way through the city, escaping and eluding his palace guards pursuing him, even as he learns in surprise about how much money the women around him have, about how they live their lives, about how they are builders, engineers, educators and researchers.
The prince breaks through the old infrastructure of the city while eluding escape, as the guards seeking him become ever more concerned. During this time, he realises that the guards are more physically fit than him, can jump higher than he can, can run faster, and can break barriers he can’t. At the bottom of the city, he finds old historical records, illuminating TV screens, and books, in which he learns about the true history of the city. He learns about how sometime a hundred years ago, a widespread virus ensured that only one in ten male children survived to birth. He learns about the society that forms around men being precious, reproductive resources, and realises that he does not own his harem, they own him; that he lives in a palace of people who care for him so deeply because he is their precious husband, their beloved. Having a husband – and children – is rarer, because men are rarer, and therefore, males are kept in palaces by wealthy landowners. Realising how important he is to his lovers, and realising how different the world is to his self-centered expectations, he makes his way back to the guards, and heads home, now fascinated by the study of history.
There is no killing, no death, no bad endings, and whenever he’s stuck, he’s eventually rescued by one of the guards, who take him back to the palace, and his adventure ends.
A puzzle platformer in the vein of classic Super Mario Bros, in which our protaganist arrives on the scene just in time to see a gigantic ape fleeing the scene with a princess tucked under its arm. Our Hero chases after the gorilla, going through a variety of higher locations, and each time he gets close, said gorilla leaps away, taking with it its princessly prize.
Halfway through the game, the gorilla stops short with the princess under its arm – and the hero sees that it is not, in fact a princess, but is a large squash vegetable, curved like a woman’s shape wearing a frilly pink dress. The hero continues to chase after the gorilla and strives to rescue the squash anyway. There is no punchline. The end of the story is the hero kissing the squash on the stalk and embracing it joyously.
Another concept, for a platformer with stealth and combat elements, in which the game opens with a male hero in a prison cell, looking through the bars across the hall at the princess he’s here to rescue. In flashback, it’s shown how he got here – and how he succesfully broke into the prison. Any time a villain encounters him while he’s sneaking in, they just try and kill him, rather than capture him.
Arc 2 of the game begins when she gets there. She points out that she was working on her own exit, and Arc 2 is about her breaking the male protaganist out. Arc 3 is the pair of them working together, where the boy is a sneaky rogue and the princess a lady of war with a sword.
Also, this was pretty good, in a simple, anodyne, academic way. If you’re not aware of what ‘Damsel In Distress’ means, or why academic study matters.
A game of epic fantasy, focused around a prince, his lady knight best friend, a noble wizard prodigy and a clumsy priestess, making their way across the dreadful expanse of the land, avoiding the war, feeding military properties, handling supply lines, and when everything is lost, travelling to a far northern province for a long, endurance-straining quest to find a single lost gemstone in the snows of a glacier at the roof of the world.
You play the Prince’s horse. You cannot understand any of the riders, and can only interpret their actions vaguely with visible elements like bruises and weapons, and the urgency of their unintelligible barking.
You have to build a social connection with the other horses in the stable, manage your endurance, respond when your rider asks you to. You also must find strategic locations to poop when nobody can see you.
A cold opening game in which you start out doing whizz-bang shooty-shooty third person shooter fun leaping around a battlefield, with special slowdowns and tracking shots on individual bullets as each encounter ends, showing a bright, cartoonish death from each target you hit. Everything is steeped in machismo, with an aggressive cuss-driven tactical feel, and encounters are based around timing, rather than player action – the zone advances onwards and if you don’t advance with it, tough luck. You have to keep moving, with each level being a large, varied shaped room, with some leaping/jumping puzzles advancing onwards into nowhere. When the level finishes, it draws up to view our protaganist, no longer in the uniform or armour of the previous persona, standing in a theatre, with the same music playing.
A Seiken-Densetsu-Style Action-JRPG with a party of a dog and a Tsundere. Combat is built around the Tsundere being controlled by the AI while the player issues orders to the dog and its own character, and can influence the Tsundere’s behavior with items. Everything you give the Tsundere – like health restoring items, or damage resistance items, or damage improving items, or items that mandate a particular playstyle – become unnecessary as this character learns to do without your immediate assistance, and gets insulted and angry about the things you keep offering.
“Health potions? You think I can’t dodge, you dumbass?”
“A healing wand? Oh, I see, you think I need special help to heal you?”
“Lockpicks? I’ll show you who needs lockpicks, you butthead.”
The twist is there is one item, randomly determined at the start of the game, that the Tsundere does need and can use. This item, and its related items such as the crafting materials to make it, or the type of bag in which this item is stored, is part of how you show that you care. It’s not limited to the item, though – the items are obtained in familiar, MMO-style ways of crafting and farming, and farming the item the Tsundere likes builds a stat with indicating how happy the Tsundere can be with you.
The dog is there to compensate for the role that neither you nor the Tsundere wind up choosing.
A ‘game development’ simulator built around Cleverbot, where you have to construct sentences to describe enormous ideas using nothing but pictographs, at a variety of different planning meetings. The player can draw on the whiteboard during these presentations. Your staff will respond enthusiastically if you give them exciting ideas, and will be more consistant in their reactions if you provide a coherent, stable vision. Every day, new problems will come up, and they’ll consult with you as to how to fix them within the context of the game, using this same pictographic methodology of communicating. You have a progress bar throughout the whole game’s experience that shows how close the game is to release, and how close it is to being bug free and on time.
There are boss battles where you attend press events and explain to a whole audience that gives you no feedback about your game, using these pictographic techniques, and more pictographs will give you more ideas. At the end of your speech, a little video is shown representing the game you described, with the quality of the video being an indicator of how consistant you have been at explaining the vision to people in the meetings and to the press on the stage.
The trick is there is no actual way that any of this has any influence over any of it. The game’s release and bugginess is completely independent of anything you have to say or do. Your success or failure is based on random seeds from other people’s games.
A deliberately retro-engine FPS stealth-sniper game (wow, I like stealth game ideas) where the in-between mission briefings are delivered in the form of scribbled notes from the protaganist’s briefings. The deliberate exclusion of any non-enemy NPCs is there to leave the character feeling alone but empowered, with only one gun and a very limited set of options for combat. The player character creeps around a ruined city with a foreign language cast of NPCs, with only the notes in the book to provide any greater context for what they are doing, including translation notes of the things that he’s heard and read. He speaks of his briefings, speaks of the people who he’s fighting for.
The story plays out with the revelation that the player character is quite derangedly nuts and the people he’s hunting are the key leaders of military operations, but of both sides, and he’s been constructing an elaborate narrative to explain simply taking out targets he dislikes because of an irrational hatred of hats.
Our protaganist on the way to a comic convention winds up in the wrong part of the hotel and finds emself accidentally the one normal person attending a convention for serial killers, each one of whom is a colourful 1980s style movie antagonist, in the more Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers mould rather than the supernatural Freddie Krueger. When the protaganist realises this, what follows is a sequence of stealth-based puzzles, where lone serial killers stalk em around a room and needing to be dispatched in increasingly elaborate but nonetheless realistic ways to take them by surprise and take them out like they’re victims in a 1980s serial killer movie, leading the player on an escape through the setting of an expensive hotel, a colourful convention centre, an abandoned warehouse storage area for same, and eventually a high-rise apartment where someone is getting their tits out. Background elements would include serial killers talking about their interests and at least one serial killer getting her tits out only to get stabbed in the neck by another serial killer operating on automatic, only for his cohorts and peers to surround him and shame him for this brutal perpetuation of a 1980s mysoginist stereotype.
The grand finale would feature the eventual obvious point that the protagainst is now a serial killer and still thought it was justified because after all, everyone they killed was a serial killer, protesting that the last three kills really did count and refusing to believe that they were cosplayers.
A videogame in which you play the basic AI instinct of a set of nanomachines that need to consume to replicate. You have to strategically consume the matter in your environment in order to have sufficient matter to escape various forms of containment, within a timeframe. Think like Katamari Damacy meets Maw and add some apocalyptic horror.
The timer is revealed as being when your meta-entity finally develops consciousness and morality as an emergent property and kills itself.
A Silent Hill game focusing on an innocent who had survivor’s guilt, and that’s why they refuse to leave the town, hoping that it will kill them. The town is mostly ambivalent to the survivor’s presence and will quietly ignore it if it just stands still. On the other hand, you can’t stand still for too long without your character having a panic attack, with a gauge that builds to show its anxiety level. This is to create a tension for the stealth sections, where waiting too long will provoke a break that not just makes monsters more obvious, but bigger. Fucking up won’t reset everything, but does make the game into a runny-escapey sequence. The final boss, you can’t look at for too long because it damages that same gauge, even as you try to climb about on its body.
I’ve at least one friend who’ll hate this.
I’ve said before that the videogame industry does not have any space for idea men, and people like Wil Wright and Peter Molyneux are living fossils, strange creatures that breathe methane, preserved in amber by the sheer scope of their impossible egos. There are roughly a million people in the games industry who have ‘a great idea for a game,’ in the same way every waitress and carwasher in Los Angeles is ‘working on a script.’ I have to reiterate over and over again that this sort of exercise is entirely undertaken to make sure that we realise such things will never get made, and therefore feel sad. It’s the catharsis for which we follow both tragedy and horror narratives, and why anyone with the intellect sufficient to spell their own name watches daytime television.
Despite the fruitlessness of the efforts, I nonetheless want to throw this idea out here in the vague hope that if I keep doing this sort of thing my brain will stop coming up with better games than I’ll ever play and I’ll lower my threshold for disappointment in a billion-dollar industry that would rather sell Call Of Duty: Black Ops, Uncharted 3, and God Of War III than Psychonauts, Okami, Beyond Good & Evil, or Grim Fandango. Good fucking christ, looking up those references was depressing.