Capstone Blog #1

Week 1: Brainstorming

This marks the beginning of the first semester of the largest game development project I’ve started so far. This week hasn’t been busy yet, with just one meeting to go over the ideas we have so far, and brainstorm a few more. I’m excited to see what we decide on, because this’ll be the project where we’ll most likely have the most creative freedom we’ll have on a team game project for a long time. We had to come up with at least 20 to show in class, and so far ~8 of those I’m confident would make good games based on our ideas so far. We’ll have to settle on 3 to prototype, so I think we’re off to a very good start.

To mention a few of my favorite concepts so far:

One idea we have that I think would be particularly interesting is a 4-player game, split into 2 teams of 2. It would be a first-person maze-runner for one player (think mirror’s edge style running, jumping, climbing gameplay), and a building/strategy game for their teammate. The builder would place traps and scout out the maze, and then advise the runner to warn them of traps and help them find good routes while they try to reach the other player’s start point first. It has elements of the tense communication-based co-op design I’m interested in experimenting with, and would likely be a good challenge in art, programming, and design. I think this is one of our better ideas so far; it’s simple enough to stay in scope, but has plenty of room for us to challenge ourselves.

Another concept I think would be a potentially good choice to prototype is an asymmetric co-op game where one player controls a big, slow, powerful thing, and the other player controls a small & fast flying thing. There would be various types of challenges that would require both players to cooperate and communicate to succeed. It could fit in many different settings, (capital ship & fighter, giant & pixie, high-tech spy car & remote control drone, etc.), and would fit in well with the tense communication-based design I’m interested in. As seen in both of these concepts, I’m really interested in co-op encounter design as seen in games like Keep Talking & Nobody Explodes, Overcooked, and the raids in Destiny. Examples of very different games, to be sure, but they have that certain type of cooperative game-play in common, and I want to try my hand at designing something like that.

Some systems we’ve talked about that would fit within a greater game concept:

A system to view the world in different ways, like having high-tech/magic goggles the player can put on to get different information from what they see, like x-ray vision or a fancy heads-up display. This would work in many different types of games, since it’s just a way to present more information to the player. It would have to be a game that is complex enough to have the need for more information, and the information the alternate views would provide would need to not be so essential that it should be part of their view all the time. Basically this system sounds interesting to use, but I wouldn’t want to use it unless the greater design of the game made it useful and necessary.

A system for switching ability sets by controlling different types of robots, but where switching from one to another has some form of risk involved. Like when you unplug a flash drive without ejecting it properly, you have the potential for corrupted files, the player could jump out of one robot quickly but risk having their control/HUD messed up, or spend the time to eject properly to avoid that risk. This one’s close to being a full game idea, but it still needs more to it to really be an interesting experience. This idea still has some potential problems, because messing with the player feedback/input to show corruption could easily become frustrating.

Going forward:

There are a number of other interesting ideas on our list, but those are the ones that have stood out to me the most so far. I mainly want to make something with more depth than I have before. Rolling Thunder, the downhill office chair obstacle course game I designed last semester was a success in making something very entertaining to a lot of people, but I want to make something that people would want to spend more time with this year. I hope to make something that has room for a lot more depth in its design this time around. The tense communication-based co-op I’ve mentioned is what I’m most interested in trying this semester, but I’ll wait to see the feedback we get on our current concept list before getting too far into any one concept.

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