18 May 2013

Game Chef 2013: Ingredients & Brainstorming

Game Chef is back for 2013 and I am already scratching my head and staring at the ingredients. I have participated in Game Chef twice before, 2010 and 2011, but have never won or placed as a finalist (historically I have done better with the 24/48 hour jams).

This year's ingredients come in the form of five images, the first of which is the theme.

I'm not really sure what to make of this image. The first thing that sprang to mind was an elevator, but the only thing I can thematically link to elevators is heaven/hell and business. I'm really not interested in doing another afterlife themed game for Game Chef as I did one back in 2010 with In Between.

Some other things: teleporting, grow/shrink, alien abduction, glowing eyes. If you turn it upside down it looks kind of like a sword

Brainfreeze, cold and calculating, elemental affinity, death/skeleton, train driving through snow, head cold, thinking about winter, paralysis/frozen in place. Upside down it looks like someone eating snow.

Worms, bad apples, parasitism, corruption, growth. Upside down the apple becomes a tree and the monstrous worm is still  a monstrous worm. The apple could refer to New York which would mean a giant worm is eating New York.

Armour/chainmail, diamonds, expensive clothing, status symbols. I guess it could be an anchor or some kind of weird pot if you look at it upside down.

Lanterns, shine light on/revealing, shadows, China, keep darkness away, hiding from light, film noir, beacons/being drawn to light.

I have done a game that used light/fire in the mechanics before, so I don't think I want to go that route again.

What am I Going to Do?

I have been staring at these images for about 24 hours now and a lot of the ideas I have been coming up with are too similar to games I have done in the past. I don't want to build mechanics around light or fire again and I don't want to do a game about the afterlife or death. I also don't really have much interest in doing a game around status, politics, castes or things of that ilk.

Looking back at the games I have made for competitions of the years it seems that I am often drawn to darker themes and horror. The same is true of this year's Game Chef. Most of my ideas involved dystopias, parasites, corruption, social climbing and so on. I am kind of sick of dark topics and this year I have decided that I am going to go in the opposite direction; I am going to interpret the ingredients and theme in the most off the wall and fun way that I can.

Attack of the Terrorlights

Glowing lights pulse in the night sky. They dance over the city until falling down and into the most ordinary of things. Destruction follows the lights. They are the Terrorlights, some kind of otherworldly force intent on the destruction of the earth. The creatures their light touches grow to massive size and become enraged, laying waste to everything around them.

Someone must stand up to the Terrorlights and their gargantuan creations and that someone is you. Players take on the role of members of the colorful Chroma Team, mighty defenders of earth with the power to grow (and shrink) in size to combat any threat.

 That's right, I am going Kaiju with this game which will be inspired by such classics as Kamen Rider and Power Rangers and the Terrorlights are a little bit like Mysterons.

I haven't put a lot of thought into mechanics for AotT yet, but I know that I want to include few core ideas.
  1. I want the colour/pattern of player clothing to matter. If you wear a plaid shirt then you get to play the Plaid Ranger. What I think this means is that there will be a kind of class system where players match up their clothing and it gives them some abilities or powers. This is then paired with a choice of title like 'Ranger', 'Warrior' or 'Defender' to get their full sentai member code name.
  2. I plan on using push your luck mechanics in this game. My thoughts are that the heroes can keep pushing forward when fighting giant monsters but if they push their luck too far they will damage the city or injure innocents.
  3. I want the game to be a balance between giant monster battles and slice of life for the heroes. My idea is that we get to see the heroes struggle with the fallout of their actions when they push their luck too far and I also want to have some fun with the players hiding their secret identities from friends and family.
I have just over a week to make something out of this and, luckily for me, this year Game Chef falls on a long weekend.

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