Monday, February 11, 2008

Design Challenge #3

In the future Design Challenge posts, I'll elaborate on the ideas that I discuss in the podcasts. The posts are numbered by the podcasts where the challenge was introduced. If you have an idea, comment, or concern about a particular design challenge, these posts are the place to express yourself. You can post links to pictures or write out your ideas as you see fit. You can think these challenges as far as you want through the design phases. I'll be sure to read and comment on everything in one way or another.

Here's the design challenge from Critical Casts #3.

Take a book or any kind of story where there isn't any action and try to design a game that reflects, simulates, or teaches the themes/lessons/ideas. In other words, try to adapt a non-action book to a game keeping in mind all the principles of solid game design. Examples..
  • The Bible
  • Aesop's Fables
  • Any non fiction text (a history book/event)
I already have my idea percolating in the back of my mind. I'll give you guys a hint. It involves this man...


1 comment:

HGZero said...

I call my game "Spoony Bard".

It takes place during the Texas revolution, and before you say I am choosing a time of action this is quite differnt. During the final leg of the Revolution there was a period called "The Great Scrape", I checked with wikipedia to be sure. This was a time when the army under Sam Hustion's lead kept up a constant retreat. His military lacked training and size. He continued towards the US boarder with the armies of Santa Anna on his heels almost constantly.

This information is learned though out the game of course. What is also learned is values of hard work, determination, and short term loss.

As the "Spoony Bard" you, the player, are tasked with 2 objectives.

1) Keeping the troops fed.
2) Keeping them marching.

Sound like suxor already? Just wait.

The mechanic involved to marching the troops is much like that used in the soon to be released game "Patapon". The Spoony Bard will be using his giant spoon and one of his pots (to start out with) to beat a marching rythem across the terain. Keeping ahead of the calvery of mexico is not the only goal. There are different rythems you can use for speed, training, and gathering.

These 3 are very important. Speed is obivouse, as you will need to keep the ones in the back from falling too far behind, thus deserting/getting lost/getting picked off by the mexican army.

Training is also important. While it lowers speed and morale it is a vital part to the long term goal of facing the mexican army some day down the road. A well trained army will march faster, gather food better, and be less likly to desert at the back of the line or in the middle of the night. Training can be overdone so a balance between all 3 is nessisary.

The third is 'gathering'. During the scrape the Texas army used a scorched earth policy, this justifies taking any food or provisions from the land or towns you cross as the military will set fire and ruin the land for those fallowing behind them after they are though. In gathering mode you will be able to get ingrediants, sometimes pursuade people to join, and move slightly faster than training mode. This plays a more important role after the march when the game switches gears into a cooking mode.

One last note on the beating of the pot while marching. It is important to keep up a rythem along with comboing marches one after another. In "Patapon" there is a fever mode that rewards 10 combo or higher of beats. In "Spoony Bard" there would be a patriot meter to gauge how inspired the troops feel by the sound of your beats. As the game progresses more complicated beats will be introduced to give the player a chance for more effective marches and but harder combos.

As noted earlier the cooking mode is also an important part of the game. While cooking you manage invintory, decide what stats you want to increase though the army by what you cook for them, as well as a portion control minigame that allows you to alot more or less to differnt troops.

It's during this mini game that you get a bulk of the story. In the serving line people love to talk and the more you give them the more you can learn from them. Some troops will talk about their familes, while others (team captians and such) will reflect on the state of the war, and even others might talk about the people they come across during the day.

Differnt story lines can be fallowed and learned baced on how well you feed the troops, how well they are trained, and how many you keep alive. A loose army that isn't fed very well will tend to complain more often than not and deprive you of story and progress. A well fed well trained army might be more focused on their patriotic duties and talk more about the war then about their lives. It might also be tempting to some players, who enjoy the NPC's, to focus mostly on feeding more than training. While they may get more story sooner in the game they would quickly suffer casualties as the dificulty of the marching stages ramps up towards the end of the game.

The key is finding a balance and in doing so, reconize how hard it was to go so long, retreating, and never seeing action. Comming soon to the nintendo DS.