Game Idea Giveaway - Selexion

...continued from The Game Idea Giveaway Thread

Request by venomblood:
  • what sort of game idea you're looking for
    Shooting, action, evolution, strategy
  • what your goals are in making this game
    A game that brings a new idea to the internet, with unique emotions, themes, and gameplay

The normal idea: Bubblebomb

The weird idea: Selexion

In short, the concept is abstract top-down shooter (like Geometry Wars) exploring the dynamics of evolution by sexual selection. Uh, yeah. If the game Coil offends you, don't read the rest of this. ;) But really, this is meant to be as clean and abstract as possible while retaining the core of the evolutionary dynamics that occur between the two sexes of a species.

There are two types of creatures in the world: males and females. Males look like triangles, like the outline of a slice of pizza that's been cut into eight or twelve slices. The pointy end is forward, as in Asteroids, and the males shoot from the pointy end (hence the shooting-ness of this game). Playing as a male, your creature would rotate to point toward the mouse cursor and accelerate toward it if the mouse button is not pressed. Pressing the mouse button would both put on the brakes to slow down your creature, as well as shoot bullets like a normal shooting. Females look like a pizza or stop sign with a slice taken out of it (so a male and female together would make a single circle or octagon). The opening is forward, which rotates to point toward the mouse cursor and accelerates very slowly toward it if the mouse button is not pressed. Much like in the game flOw, pressing the button accelerates the creature toward the cursor somewhat faster, rather than shooting.

The point of the game is to accumulate as many offspring as possible. Gameplay occurs in timed rounds, for each generation. For the first round, you can choose your creature from a small random set of individuals. All your offspring that survive to the end of the round are added to your total score, and one of them is chosen randomly to be your creature in the next round. This motivates you to choose your mates a bit more carefully, to ensure that you are not stuck with a sickly and weak creature in the next round. And of course, it forces you to experience the game from both the female and male perspectives. During a round, your creature could be colored blue, other creatures in red, and your juvenile offspring in purple, perhaps. There would need to be at least three colors, anyway - maybe you can come up with a better scheme. :p

Creatures can attack each other. Females are larger and stronger than males, though less nimble, so they attack by ramming (avoiding the opening, which is not armored). Females cannot shoot. Males can ram too, but they are smaller and usually just shoot to attack. As you may have suspected however, bullets serve a dual purpose. If the bullet is shot into the opening (the missing slice) of a female, there is a chance that the female will be impregnated. If this occurs, a baby creature is formed from the genetic material of its two parents, plus a mutation or two. As in the game Cultivation, the new creature gestates for some amount of time (more than a few seconds, less than a minute) inside its mother before it is born and takes its place in the world as a nonreproductive juvenile creature. A pregnant female is slower and more vulnerable than normal.

There is also food in the world, in the form of small squares that spin across the screen like in Evolites. Creatures can eat food by touching it, which they must do every so often to keep their energy meters high. These energy meters drain very slowly over time (faster during pregnancy) and also serve as a creature's heath bar when shot or rammed. When it reaches zero, the creature dies. All these physical properties of the creatures, like energy meter size, draining speed, armor strength, body size, acceleration rate, maximum speed, fire rate, bullet speed, bullet size, fertility, gestation time, would be variables in the genome of each creature.

So we have here a minimal but quite expressive system in which many interesting evolutionary dynamics may emerge. The problem is that in order to take advantage of it, the creatures must have some quite sophisticated behavioral AI that also can be encoded within their genome, or you must design a multiplayer game in which human brains take the place of evolution in exploring the strategic space. I have some ideas toward a solution but nothing completely defined. If you are sufficiently interested I would be glad to elaborate on how this system could be turned into an actual game. :)

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


Krystian Majewski said...

The Puzzle Bobble idea is nice. I can see it working. But it wouldn't be TOO different from Puzzle Bobble. Also, I must admit that I'm not that big of a fan of Puzzle Bobble. Bubble Bobble was way better. ;-)

You might be onto something with Selexion! It's is crazy!

I don't quite get the goal of the game: so the goal is to get offspring? When you are playing as a female, wouldn't you simply want to get pregnant all the time? What would be the difficulty?

Which reminds me of Richard Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene": the thing with offspring is that it costs considerable energy to raise them. So one strategy as a males is to impregnate many different females but leave them alone with the children. The counter-strategy for females (who don't want that) is to be selective in their choice of partners and to avoid the kinds of males who would run away. Females would want partners who help them raising the children. There is a nice mind-game going on there and it is described in that (excellent!) book. You might get some inspirations from that for beefing up Selexion.

axcho said...

Bubblebomb was never a particularly original or special idea. Which is why I decided to give it away in the first place. ;)

I have read The Selfish Gene and other books by Richard Dawkins, which certainly helped to guide my design of Selexion. The goal is to get offspring, but not just per-round.

If you're playing as a female and you waste your pregnancy mating with some weak creature or one who won't help take care of the babies, your offspring won't be as strong and capable in the next round. You'll be stuck with a downgraded ship, basically. You could try to pregnant really frequently and go for a quick score this round, but it's a tradeoff, making you weaker in the next round.