Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Random Game Thought Metrics

Just some funny/strange/interesting thoughts. I was walking back home from the city center, all alone at night, thinking about random things. We had a Wii gaming session with a friend at his home previously, so I was thinking about games among other things. I remembered petermolydeux twitter which I wasn't sure at first if it was the real Peter Molyneux or a mock up, with his funny/weird/extreme game ideas and I decided to laugh about by speaking of ideas in the same style of games that actually exist. Imagine a mock up of the mock up for example stating things like these:

- Imagine a game where there is a princess in a castle and two italian plumbers trying to save her by entering in green tubes, collecting coins and eating mushrooms. At the end, they discover in great demise that the princess is in another castle.

- Imagine a game where you are a yellow ball with mouth and eyes, eating pills and being chased by ghosts. If you eat the big pill then you can chase the ghost yourself and kill them.

- Game where some blocks are falling and you are controlling them. Purpose of this game is to fill full lines with blocks. If you fill four lines then you gain the most score. At the end you might see a finale with a rocket flying into space.

- You control two baby dinosaurs that materialize bubbles from their mouth. These bubbles can capture enemies and you must then hit the bubbles to convert the enemies into fruits and other bonuses that you eat. If you miss enough time then a skeleton bubble appears and chases you to death.

Hehe, you get the concept? It's just a bit funny mockery taking existing well known games and converting them into petermolydeux style. Someone should do this twitter :)

But another thing I have discovered is that this is a good metric to understand how original an existing game concept is. Just take your favorite games and describe them in few words into petermolydeux style! Do they sound too common or too crazy then?

More examples of games that could be original for their time but the character/world/gameplay concept sounds too common:

- Game where you are a hero with a sword, you are trying to save a princess and when you hit the enemies or bushes diamonds appear with which you can buy a bow, bombs, a shovel, etc. You have to progress in different dungeons and fight final bosses till the end.

- Game where your girlfriend is abducted by a street gang and you have to beat the crap out of all the bad guys in the city and finally get her back. In your way you can find weapons in the streets like a baseball bat, a knife, a dynamite, etc. Sometimes you can also pick up metal barrels or huge rocks and throw them into enemies.

First example, it's Zelda of course. Doesn't it sound very typical? Classic medieval hero story. Everybody wants to save the princess or the kingdom or both. There are swords and dragons and beasts and evil mages. You get money as you loot your defeated enemies. You can buy weapons. Was it a bad game? Of course not. It defined it's own style of gameplay copied by several others. Maybe the concept wasn't crazy but the gameplay had it's own style (something like a mix of action with adventure and maybe little rpg elements (some people do not consider it an rpg)).

Second example could be any beat em'up. I had double dragon in mind. When the first beat em'up of this style was out (was it double dragon the first? I don't know. It's just the first I had seen) there was nothing like this before, even though the concept is common (something everyone might have easily thought).

So, it doesn't mean that if some ideas are too common ala molydeux style then it's not worth it. It's only a metric to realize how extreme or common the basic concept of an existing game sounds. How many other games do you remember where the main protagonists are baby dinosaurs? Is there any other single game where you capture enemies into bubbles and hit them to convert them to fruits? Bubble Bobble seems to be a game where the designers where taking LSD =)

Snow bros. A game which has copied bubble bobble but it's still original in it's own form. You capture enemies into snowballs and now you don't just break the snowballs, you hurl them into other enemies and the snowball might grow bigger until it hits a wall and kills the enemies. Even if it seems a copy, it keeps an originality because the concept sounds quite a lot different, so different that I might have not realized that it's just a copy of bubble bobble if I read a sort description. Now I could compare the sort description from Bubble Bobble and the one from Snowbros see it from a different view than just a lame copy (it was actually very good and successful even if it wasn't the first).

And now for something completely different (to close this blog post). I continued playing this game with one of my favorites on CPC. Fruity Frank. And then I realized something else I didn't thought about before.

- Game where you are a little man digging into some pudding and eating the fruits. Only the apples are heavy like rocks and can crash you so don't eat these. You also throw something like a little ball (actually two pixels :) that goes like ping pong in the walls and can hit the enemies. Funny thing is that the enemies are also fruits... wait!

..wait. Not fruits. I just realized, the enemies must be.... vegetables?

I am not sure about the little guys with the big noses (we thought those noses were bananas which we know them as fruits but I will come into this) but the purple guy somehow reminded me of eggplants. Now the green guy could be another vegetable. And how about the strawberry enemy. We all consider it a fruit but then I quote Sheldon Cooper: Not technically a fruit, but okay. :)

So, I realized that the concept is Fruits vs Vegatables. Even in the case of the strawberry that is secretly not a fruit (and the hardest and rarest enemy of the game). Wow! Did they really have thought this concept or was it random? We can't know. But definitelly fruity frank has it's unique identity, because as a character/world concept is unique enough, something that a petermolydeux description would show.

Oh yes! Fruity Frank could be thought as a war between Fruits and Vegetables. And strawberry is technically not a fruit (banana might not be a fruit too, or is it?). Hidden in the concept too. Wow! MIND BLOWN.

And other funny/weird/stupid thoughts on games..