Game Idea: Scrabble Dungeon

I’m not entirely sure where this idea came from, but bear with me…

Imaging a dungeon exploration game where you have to build the dungeon you are playing in by playing Scrabble (Or some other non trademarked version of the aforementioned word game).

Game Mechanics:

Each of the 26 letters of the English alphabet is designated a type of room, for example:

  • A. Easy monster room
  • B. Fire room.
  • C. Block Puzzle.
  • D. Boss fight.
  • Z. Treasure Room

A player is given 7 Letters to start with with which they must place a word down, this does two things:

  1. Creates the dungeon.
  2. Gives the player an amount of Experience points equal to the value of the word that they just played.

The player then has the option to play another word with their remaining letters, or enter the dungeon. Note that they don’t gain any new letters after playing a word.

In the dungeon the player has to overcome various obstacles, solve puzzles, fight monsters, perform acts of derring-do or whatever, they will gain items to help them along the way as the fight through the dungeon. As each room is completed the player will also be awarded a letter,  which they can use to place words on the board and expand the dungeon.

Each dungeon room will yield one letter, meaning that the player shouldn’t have more than 7 letters in their hand at any point, emulating scrabble, and forcing the player to play more letters and fight through the dungeon to play through the game.

Characters level up by gaining experience, whether or not they gain experience by killing stuff or just by playing letters is another matter, I’m not sure if it’s fair to only award experience points for placing letters as the letters you’d get would be random? I suppose it adds an element of chance to the game.

Getting the experience points for a room by placing it as part of a word before you play through it’s dungeon adds an interesting mechanic to the dungeon explorer genre.

Double/triple word and letter spaces would also probably have some effect on all the rooms that are associated with that placement, and there might be others that only had an effect on the dungeon rooms but not the word score.

I’m not sure what the win condition is, perhaps you just keep playing till you can’t put down any more words or till your character dies? Or like in Scrabble you play until you exhaust all the letters in the “Bag”?

Alternatively the game could be a two player game, in which the players battle it out between themselves. This would mean that a character could place a small word down and then complete a few sections of the dungeon while the other player is thinking of a word to prevent them from getting any more letters, you’d probably have to remove the limit on 7 letters per player, maybe have a limit of 10 letters to keep it fair?

Another possible game mechanic is that players can’t actually put down words that use tiles/letters for which they have not yet completed the dungeon room for. This forces the players to actually play the dungeon game, and puts a twist on the “You stole the place for my word” gripe that Scrabble players often moan to each other about it. “I didn’t steal it I fought for it”.

If the game is a two player game, then maybe players would gain some points for placing a word but would be able to get the same number of points again by being the first to complete the room associated with a tile?

Anyone have any thoughts?

Game Design/Development Challenges

I’m posting this mainly so that I have it noted down somewhere that I will remember it. Squidi tried and failed to come up with game mechanic a day for 300 days a while ago, he initially stopped at 50 but has since  reached 109. Some of them are really cool, some of them would never work. But most of them have some pretty neat ideas that could lead to some really cool games.

There seems to be a bit of focus on RPG type games with CCG mechanics in them. But he’s also come up with some fairly inspired ideas which have nothing to do with those game genres.

Squidi it seems has an interest in procedurally created content, so some of the games draw from that. He’s also started what he calls the “Free Pixel Project” which has a collection of sprites he’s licensed under a creative commons licence for all to use.

On the subject of Game design and challenges I thought I’d also highlight that  Nathan McCoy is in the middle of a challenge to create a game a week, which he blogs about and posts the source code to on his blog. So far he’s written 36 Games and although I’ve not played any of them I really like the idea of this kind of challenge so I thought I’d write about here in case anyone was inspired to do the same.

I’ve been meaning to start some game development work for some time now and I think that it’s possible that I might try and go down the route of a personal development challenge like this at some point. (Maybe next year?) At the moment I’m a bit busy with My 365, which I’ve not been posting here very often on account of most of them being crap, and my being lazy. But I think that doing a thing a week rather than it having to be daily might be a good compromise, as someone said to my of 365 projects, “You just end up taking a photo of anything” which I guess is true. Some days I feel inspired and other days it’s hits 10 to midnight and I end up taking a photo of the ground, or my hand, or a wall just to have done something…

Does anyone else know of any good examples of people doing personal game design/coding challenges?

[UPDATE:] This will teach me not to Google before I post:

AGameAWeek.com is a project by “Jayenkai” to do just that.

Zachary Lewis at the Game Studio is also doing a Game a Week Challenge

I’ll update if I find any more.