Random Gamedesign Memo
Do you know that famous Game Designer Peter Molydeux? No, not Molyneux, silly. The oher one. He’s constantly posting game design ideas on Twitter. Most of them appear to be some kind of hilarious intellectual fall-out, but in all this crazyness, there is a creative genius hidden somewhere. If you haven’t yet, you should definitely read his tweets. Doing so for quite a while now has inspired me to write down some thoughts myself. I’d love to experiment with them, but it seems like I’m pretty occupied with Duality now, so I guess the best thing I can still do is share them.
- A game that decides by itself whether and when it wants to be played. It’s not in the mood? Well, too bad. Can’t play it now.
- This could be expanded to have a game with an actual character. Randomized using a hardware-specific seed.
- Make game descisions have an effect in other games as well. Let’s say you decide to threaten and rob a trader you meet on the street in an Rpg game. This descision is stored somewhere persistently and available to other games to use. Imagine playing a different game, months later, when you suddendly find yourself in the exact same scene – but this time you happen to be the trader. You’ll be your own victim.
- Speaking in general terms, building a game on the concept of descisions could be interesting. Confront the player with his own descisions, with indifference and pointlessness (can’t alter a predefined fate), with circular storylines (the same stuff happens over and over again, regardless of player action), with self-fulfilling prophecy and descisions that are essentially directed by others.
- A game that can only be played once, even after re-installing it_._ You’ll only have one chance and everything will be irreversible. If you quit, the main character will commit suicide and that’s it. It’ll be final. Your choice.
- React dynamically to outgame events. Start subtlety with the system date or time and proceed to use stuff that’s currently in the news. Is it possible to do that using automated data mining? Maybe when abstracting certain events to a metaphoric or diffuse level.
- “Use XY with game”: DragDrop files, images or texts from the windows explorer into the game to do ingame-stuff. Imagine a 2d adventure game where your inventory isn’t in the game but on your desktop. Whatever you have on your desktop will be your tool in the game environment.
- Kind of a different concept, but related to “integration into your OS”: A game that gives you quests to solve outside the game itself.
- Trust. “Do you trust me?”, asks the game. “Er.. why.. yes”, answers the player. “Then”, responds the game, “show me the folder in which you store your personal data”. Doesn’t really matter if you actually do something with that data or not. Trust is more about the potential what one could do anyway.
- That one’s actually from a colleague: A game that actively tries to be as boring as possible. The player gets points for playing it anyway. It’s like a staring contest. Who will give up first?
- Search the users computer for data that can be used to dynamically generate parts of the game world. Documents that have been opened recently might affect what books a charakcter has in his bookshelf. Songs that have been played often could play randomly in the ingame radio. Use the spectrum of installed programs to determine character traits of the user and incorporate these somehow into certain game characters.
- Run a backround process that posts cryptic messages in documents and folders the user visits. It will become active as soon as the game hasn’t been played for a while (weeks?) and hint at events from the ingame story or world. Shouldn’t do anything harmful and deactivate itself after a while of course. Game viruses are still viruses after all.
- Inception-like multilevel story that is actually a loop: The layer following after the last one is the first one again. You’ll never know, which one was “real” – but if everything exists in a logical loop, does it make a difference anyway?
- Faith. Not religion. Not society believing something, but an individuals belief. Not necessarily faith in god or higher power. Has any game really brought up the aspect of faith in general? Here’s a straightforward example: Most players of a certain genre believe their character will respawn if they die, that there will be a checkpoint or savegame that rescues them. Shatter that belief, prove them wrong, multiple times. Leave only scorched earth in their silly respawn-faith. Then, plant the seeds of it again, subtlety, and later trigger a situation in which it matters whether there are respawns or not. Some kind of test. A leap of faith, in metaphorical sense. The player can take it – or not. It all comes down to whether he believes despite being proven wrong in the past. Here’s the twist: The actual outcome whether there are or aren’t respawns in this final test is actually random.
I’m certainly not a game designer and most of those ideas are probably better off unused, but maybe they can still serve as inspiration of sorts.