Game Idea Giveaway Resurrected

Remember The Game Idea Giveaway Thread from earlier this year? I'm about to start a new round of giveaways, in the hopes of filling all the remaining requests I missed on the first round.

So far, 13 developers have requested an idea.

There are 8 requests left to fill, with 15 ideas.

If each one takes 3 hours (an estimate based on my previous idea giveaways) that's a total of 45 hours I'll have to spend to fill all these requests. You better appreciate it! ;)

Status Summary
  • venomblood: Bubblebomb, Selexion
  • kcaz_rel: Monk Tactics, Paint Physics
  • Mini Chris: Swan Song, Bacon Frenzy
  • Oknavi: Drifter
  • Incrue: Pique
  • freelanceflashgames: Lava Land, Garden Chomp
  • TobiHeidi: Gridslime, Random Lulz
  • triqui: City Basher, Bonobeans
  • IvyGames: Randori, Salmon Song
  • FullerGames: Tumblestack, Collink
  • rudy_sudarto: City of Reeds
  • kokosan: Freetrace, Prejudice
  • Cam: Can Has Cake, Knives'n'Candy
Looking forward to getting this stuff done... Let's hope I don't get any more requests in the meantime! :p


Yet More Intriguing Ideas

These will probably be the last new ideas I post for a while. Hope you enjoy them:

A game where all magic is created by playing music. You have a flute that creates different magical effects depending on what note is playing as a drone in the background. Flutes in different keys would interact differently with the same drone. You can supply your own drone, but more powerful would be to use a drone that is already sounding in the background, like the electric hum of a generator, or the rushing sound of a waterfall. In a mechanical or steampunk world, droning sounds would be easy to find.

A game about visual hierarchy, where you can create, modify, and arrange graphic elements in order to achieve certain goals about the way a viewer would look at the composition. Different elements might draw attention more strongly, or hold attention longer, or direct the flow of attention in different ways. It could make a good puzzle game. People could play it to learn graphic design.

A game about software development, but abstracted, so you are building a system of interacting parts to accomplish some goal. You may add pieces to it, and you may factor out identical or similar components. These pieces would most likely be physical shapes that link together rather than actual code. You may also reorganize or refactor the system to make it possible to factor out more pieces. There is a tension between adding more, for short-term benefit, and refactoring, which is better in the long run.

A game where you can snake around as if controlling one end of Noby Noby Boy. But you also want to come back to your center, your foundation, so that you can move your center instead of just getting caught up in your head and hands. There is a tension there between continuing to snake around and collect stuff and deal with stuff, and taking the time to come back to your center and move from there, to reset.

A game where you are a small aquatic creature dwelling near the surface of a small pond, perhaps an artificial pond or pool in a garden.You spend your time close to the edges of the pond, as the open water in the center is more dangerous to you. The water is dark, but full not empty, and its depths are warm and reassuring. Sometimes it rains, rippling the surface and bringing colder water to the pond. It is always overcast. The surface colors are black and shiny gray, turning to orange and brown below and at the edges, the color of the soil and water. On land are the muted grays, browns, and greens of winter plants and stone.

Yay. Let me know if you have any thoughts to share about these ideas. :)


Several Intriguing Ideas

More ideas? Yes, indeed! I'd like to share with you several intriguing gems I've recently unearthed from my idea notebook:

A game about guerrilla gardening, where you collect seeds and construct seed bombs. You would go on bombing runs where you try to turn vacant lots into gardens or break open pavement by putting certain kinds of seeds in the cracks. Like a collectible card game, it would support a variety of play styles that would appeal to different kinds of people. But instead of collecting cards, you collect different types of seeds, and instead of building decks, you strategically construct seed balls, and instead of dueling, you go out and try to plant your 'bombs' without getting caught. The concept also makes use of a slowly evolving world that changes as the plants grow, much like a turn-based strategy game such as Civilization. I think it could really fun.

Try making a physics-based strategy game that derives its gameplay and complexity from the basic physical rules rather than a complicated set of components and interactions. The purpose of this approach would be to make the game intuitive enough to pick up and play without a tutorial, which is very difficult for the typical RTS.

A game to help you notice the weather and how it changes. In this game the weather would have a big impact on the gameplay. Your character could be warmed up by the sun, or rained on, or snowed on. There would be a sort of 2D map of clouds blown around by the wind, so if you look up into the sky and see which way the wind is blowing, you can predict what sort of weather will be coming your way.

An art tool where you manipulate shapes or direct streams of particles, but instead of choosing options and colors with a toolbar, there are 'seeds' that appear. You can either ignore these seeds or cultivate them and use them as new colors or shapes in your drawing. There would be a sort of genetic algorithm at work, where new seeds would appear based on existing elements on the screen, while neglected seeds fade away. The idea is kind of similar to the way that new goo balls are actually crawling around on the structure itself in World of Goo, not in a menu.

Like the sound of these? Let me know what you think! :)

I especially like the first one, about guerrilla gardening, and I'll probably try to make it into a real game some day. Let me know if you want to help.


A Few More Interesting Ideas

Did you like the ideas from last time? Here are a few more ideas from my idea notebook:

A game where you are a janitor at a big, explorable place with interesting characters. Cleaning would be made into a fun, satisfying activity, so you go around doing your job and end up seeing a lot of different places and characters. As you explore, you encounter all these different stories that you can observe or ignore or interact with, that arise from the characters you encounter and the larger situation itself. Like in Spirited Away. Or a place like Hogwarts, or the hospital in Scrubs, even. I'd really like play a game like that.

Web startups seem to be obsessed with metrics and analytics to direct their efforts. It's a lot like the feedback in games telling you what works and what doesn't. Why not make a Web 2.0 startup game based around developing a business around these metrics? Usually in a game the feedback tells you one specific thing, or leads you to some specific understanding, but what if instead each new game had different feedback rules, like a random map? Then you're not simply learning one particular model through the feedback, you're learning a general strategy for how to use metrics and listen and adapt to feedback.

A game about eating your cake and having it too, where you must eat cake to survive, but your social status is based on how much cake you have accumulated. Then there could be a special powerup that lets you eat cake while having it too, for a limited amount of time.

A game or environment sketch where some people are walking by, on a street perhaps or in a variety of environments. But you can only see them from the knees down, only the lower legs and feet. The challenge is to make the walkers as expressive as possible within this limited representation. One effective way to differentiate between characters could be size, like a parent and child. More interesting could be using differences in dress or gait to distinguish between the characters.

A game where all each person is rendered as a single sketchy line, redrawn each frame or so to show the gesture and pose of the person without necessarily showing what they look like. The line would be more or less straight, not looping around, and usually tracing a path from the head to one toe.

Just a few random ideas. :p

What do you think? Let me know if you want to try making or collaborating on one of these ideas. I'd like to hear from you. :)


A Handful of Interesting Ideas

I keep an idea notebook, which I make sure to write in every day. Sometimes I come up with some interesting ideas for games. Here are a few I thought I'd share:

A story or game about someone who is used to living lightly and is very self-sufficient, who finds a child or animal and chooses to care for it. That could result in some interesting tensions, where one's way of living has been optimized for solitary life, and then must suddenly change to accommodate another. It could be interesting as a minimal game like Passage or Gravitation. Another interesting twist could occur when for some reason it is time to give up the child, and discover what it's like to go back to solitude, or create a new lifestyle.

A game about freedom and proactivity and breaking out of the control of the game itself, based on the idea that you should "vote with your money." It could be a shooter where you can buy upgrades and such, but the money you spend goes to whatever faction that is selling the item. Different factions control and deploy enemy ships, and the more money they have, the more powerful they are and the more the other factions seek to imitate them. It could be a genetic algorithm influenced by your spending choices. When you first start the game, it seems that you have no choices, where one wrong move means instant death. But you can slowly expand your circle of influence by spending your money wisely.

An iPhone game to promote basic visual awareness, where you choose a color for the day, and try to notice all occurrences of that color as you go about your activities. When you see the color, you show it to the iPhone's camera to have it counted toward your score. The more the better. Difficulty could be varied by changing the threshold for detecting equivalent colors. The more precise you have to be, the harder it is.

An audio-only game where there are objects positioned along a horizontal line, whose positions can be determined by the stereo sounds they make. You could move a turret left and right and shoot, like Space Invaders. Your turret and all projectiles would make sounds also, so you can track where they are and get a feel for how the sound and input map to the virtual space. Distance could be represented by volume. Maybe even pitch and texture and other things could play a role, in the background. It could be a full shooter in sound, without graphics. Maybe it could be made musical, to be like music with meaning. And when you upgrade your weapons or your turret, they would sound cooler than before!

Any thoughts? I particularly like the "vote with your money" game and the audio-only shooter. Maybe I'll have a chance to make them sometime. Let me know if you want to use the ideas yourself - maybe we can collaborate!

More cool ideas on the way! :)


The Coming Revolution in Flash Games

This will be our manifesto. Daniel Cook of Lost Garden has just posted the first installment of his epic Flash Love Letter, an attempt to provide an answer for why Flash game development, despite its amazing potential, fails to produce awesome, world-changing games. And of course, a plan to get Flash games back on track.

"I think that you, Flash game developers, are some of the most talented and inspirational people working today in game development. Your passion for building games burns so incredibly brightly. Your ability to quickly make and distribute games is second to none. You hold immense potential to transform the future of games."

The first part is about making money with Flash games. A popular subject these days. When developers can't make a living making Flash games, there's going to be a lot fewer people making games, and a lot fewer good games out there. So, why don't Flash games make much money, and how can we change that?

"There is one obvious fact: the entire flash ecosystem is driven by low quality advertising. Piddling amounts of ad money flows into the developer's pocket through a variety of obfuscated middlemen."

Daniel Cook is definitely in favor of just asking players for money, instead of getting them to click on ads. It's easier than you'd think! And it pays a lot better than ads. You might even be able to make a living off of it.

"When game developers ask for money, they are usually pleasantly surprised. Their customers give them money; in some cases, substantial amounts."

"Many Flash developers insist on giving away everything for free. Stop devaluing your work and start creating a premium offer."

"We live in a capitalist society so people understand the concept of buying something. Don't ask for a donation. Don't ask players to 'give you what they feel like giving.' People will think you are a charity case and in my experience your revenues will drop by 90% or more. Give the offer a specific price, be it $10 or 200 gold in your favorite virtual currency."

So how do you actually get the money? On the subject of payment providers and portals, Daniel Cook has some advice, and some excellently developer-centric opinions...

"A payment provider should be a reliable commodity service, not a major business partner."

"The ideal payment service is one with low margins, low switching costs, no branding and APIs that let you cheaply and easily tie into generic, developer controlled login and storage services."

"The market is highly fragmented (30,000 portals!) and no portal owns more than 5% of the players. At this point in the market, developers have the ability to walk away from the greedy minority. Suggest reasonable terms where portal keep their existing ad revenue and you keep all in game revenue. If they balk, leave the bastards to rot."

Oh snap! Take that, portals! ;)

The most important takeaway from Part 1 is this:

"If you make a great game played for hours on end by millions of people, you deserve to be paid. Stop worrying about how people 'might' react. Ask a fair price for the value that you provide."

Can't wait for Part 2. :D