Game Idea Giveaway - Salmon Song

...continued from The Game Idea Giveaway Thread

Request by IvyGames:
  • what sort of game idea you're looking for
    I guess, can any of your ideas incorporate a floating jellyfish?
    The jellyfish in itself isn't that important to me, what is important is the flowy feel one gets from sea-based games, and a jellyfish is for me the epitomy of that flow... very relaxing but intense at the same time, if you know what I mean.
  • what your goals are in making this game
    Making a game that really flows together and is simple but beautiful.

The normal idea: Randori

The weird idea: Salmon Song

In short, the idea is a 3D version of the one-button helicopter game, combined with an eat-and-grow game like Fishy.

The key feature of this idea is that the game is split into two contrasting halves. The first half is a lonely, perilous race for survival, with a blue and gray color scheme, and the second half is a warm, triumphant journey of growth and abundance, with a deep red color scheme. The contrast is what makes this work, accentuating and enhancing the emotional impact of each half. Not only gameplay, but sound and color design play a big role in establishing the mood. I even picked out two specific music loops for the game, which I would be glad to hand over to you if you decide to make this game.

The idea is that in the first half, you are a flowing, snake-like creature traveling through a tunnel toward your ancestral spawning grounds, to lay your eggs and then die. Like a salmon. Your goal is to get there as fast as possible without getting eaten. In the second half, you take control of a hatchling, traveling back out of the very same tunnel you had gone entered in the first half. But here, enemies that you once had to avoid are now delicious food for you to consume, and grow bigger, and as you grow bigger, more enemies switch from dangerous to edible. That's the core concept.

The specifics of the controls and graphics are less important. I had in mind something minimal and 3D, based on the helicopter game where you control your movement with a single button, pressing it to rise against gravity. In the first half, you are constantly sinking. To rise up, you hold down the mouse button. But you are also moving forward constantly, through a tunnel in 3D. The camera is fixed ahead, never rotating, looking straight through the tunnel directly behind your snake-like body. To speed up, you put the mouse cursor in the top half of the screen, or in the lower half to slow down. You cannot move backwards, however. To steer left and right, you put the mouse cursor on the left or right of the screen. Basically like a joystick.

The interesting thing is that in the second half, you are constantly rising. You press the mouse button to sink against your own buoyancy, effectively reversing the controls for your vertical movement. The idea is that the first half should feel more like a struggle to stay afloat, while in the second half you should feel more liberated. This effect could be enhanced by placing bigger, more dangerous enemies lower in the space, in deeper waters. This gives a consistent association of safety to the upper region, which would increase the emotional impact of the reversed controls.

The tunnel would be rectangular in cross-section, varying randomly in width and height at discrete intervals, for simplicity. It would basically be a bunch of randomly sized boxes connected end-to-end, which should be fairly easy to generate and render in 3D, perhaps with an engine like Papervision3D. At some points it would be long and narrow, while at others it would be very wide and deep, like a vast aquarium tank. You never know what strange creatures you might find lurking in the bottom of one of those. This is the purpose of using 3D - it's good for conveying scale and the feel of wide and narrow spaces.

The tunnel would be populated with objects, sparsely at times, or densely. Some would be inert obstacles that obstruct your movement, while others would be enemies of various sizes that might try to chase you if you get too close. Though once you pass an enemy, it will not be able to follow you down the tunnel. And there could be speed-boosting gates, as well as areas to heal you if you rest inside. All of these objects could be represented by spheres - perhaps a circular sprite for each type, scaled based on distance rather than an actual 3D polygon mesh. Your own avatar, the sea snake, could be a simple chain of spheres, similarly to the creature in flOw.

The scoring system would be fairly simple. There would be two numbers to keep track of - health and energy. Health goes down when you touch an enemy, with more dangerous enemies taking away more health. If your health goes to zero, your snake dies and you lose the game. Energy starts high and decreases constantly over time, encouraging you to go fast. Energy is basically your score. When you reach the spawning ground, the end of the tunnel, in the first half, any remaining energy is carried over to your hatchling, while your health is simply reset. In the second half, as a hatchling, you can increase your energy by consuming the enemies that are smaller than you, which also makes you grow bigger. Your goal is to get back out of the tunnel with the most energy - the highest score - by consuming enemies without dying or going so slowly that you use up all your energy in the process.

Want an idea? Make a request on The Game Idea Giveaway Thread!

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