An indie game where you touch the wind but you gradually turn into a monster.

Is just one suggestion made by the Game Idea Generator. There’s literally hours of fun to be had by just going through this and seeing the madness it come up with.

You might want to take notes because out of the chaos some really amazing ideas sometimes materialize.

An MMO where you must obtain collectible princes and princesses to forge the sacred sword.

 

A shooting game where you run away from farms in binary.

 

An indie game where you stop breathing if you don’t destroy baby animals in a laboratory.

 

Is Microsoft Saying Fuck-You to Multi Gamer Households?

According to Edge Microsoft’s next X-Box console is going to require an always on connection to play games and games may be linked to a gamer tag to stop people reselling their games.

I don’t really care about the resell market, I’ve got games that I’ve had for over 20 years, and I don’t think I’ve ever sold a game. I’ve bought second hand games before, but I guess I’ll live without that.

Sure I’ll be a little annoyed that I can’t get classic titles that are out of print any more, I recently got my other half K.O.T.O.R. 1 and 2 for the X-Box and she loved them.

But what will make me think twice about getting an X-Box 720 if they do this is that I live in a two gamer household, with two X-Box 360s and I don’t buy games just for me to play, I buy them so I can play them as well as my other half. I already find it really irritating that we have to decide who gets to activate the DLC code for a game when we buy one, this happened when I decided to give Mass Effect 2 a shot 3 years after my girlfriend completed it: I couldn’t use the online features because she’d used the code on her gamer account.

But if I can’t play the game at all… Screw you Microsoft I’m not even going to buy your console.

Sony have a way around this, they have a parent account and all other user accounts are sub accounts of that account, so I guess if you activate a game for the parent account it would remain active for the sub accounts.

Microsoft don’t, as far as I can tell, do this. They have a family version of X-Box Live Gold which allows you to pay for 4 accounts to be gold for less money, but they don’t have a system of attributing accounts to a household.

To be fair to Microsoft previously they didn’t let you log the same account onto two different consoles without importing it over which would stop it working on the old console, so they recognise the people might own more than one X-Box, but do they recognise that more than one person might “Own” a game?

I’m not averse to buying two copies of a game to play multi-player, I own two copies of Halo 3 and Borderlands 2, both so that we could play multi-player over 2 consoles, but I really object to buying a game twice so that both myself and the person I live with can play a single player game.

Gamification, is it a load of bollocks?

I just read an article over on hide and seek, which was complaining about the recent spate of people trying to “gamify” mundane tasks. His main issue seems to be with nomenclature, he points out that because you are given point for doing stuff you aren’t really playing a game, you are collecting points, he coins the rather awkward term “pointsification” for this. He goes on to say that because there aren’t failure conditions, and there aren’t choices that you aren’t playing a game, you are just collecting points.

It occurred to me that one company/organization which has managed to “gamify” a mundane task is Weight Watchers, the funny thing is that in their game you don’t gain points you spend them, you are allocated a number of points a day, which you spend by eating food, you can replenish your supply by exercising, and you win by losing weight. There is even a lose condition, you don’t lose weight or you gain weight, there you have levels of failure and levels of success.

Why does this work better than gamifying exercise, or drinking cola, or heck even just visiting places ala 4square? I think its the fact that the points are detached from the win lose condition, sure they offer a guideline for how well you are doing, and you can correlate your points expenditure with your success, but losing weight can be arbitrary, you could spend your points correctly and not lose any weight, just like in a game, the game is slightly broken offering an element of randomness.

Also having a points balance to spend each day leads to you having to make decisions,such as do I skip lunch now so I can “afford” cake this evening, you actually have to sacrifice in the short term for future goals. In addition you can do something which RPG gamers are familiar with, you can grind points by exercising in the same way that you would grind for gold or xp in a final fantasy game so you can afford that shiny cake sword.

The two examples given in the article for failed Gamification are Nike+ and CokeZone. I’m not familiar with Nike+ but it sounds like you get achievements for doing things like running 50 miles in a month and so on, as for CokeZone its more of a “Buy our stuff and we’ll give you stuff” affair, neither of these as the author points out are games, in fact CokeZone is just an incentive to drink more Coke, its exactly like the various points cards that stores give you, so how could we make these more like games?

For the likes of coke zone you need to change the way the whole system works, as it exists currently you get a fixed number of points for buying certain items, the more expensive the item the higher its point value, while this is logical you could make it more “exciting” by offering point ranges, or even there being a small chance of a huge reward from a small purchase, for example 90% of coke cans are worth 1 point, but that remaining 10% can be worth anything from 2 to 100 points.

That way if someone is collecting points they get the, anticipation of getting a huge reward for a little effort, this could lead them buying more coke on the off chance that they “win big”. Another way to spice it up would be to add an element of risk to the point spend, sure you could spend 1,000 points on a baseball cap, but how about investing 500 on the chance to win something? I dunno like a car or gig tickets or something, you make a choice to gamble made up Coca-Cola monies for the chance to win something that is actually worth it. If you lose there might be a number of consolation prizes or something, like more coke or a 10% of your points back, things which are ostensibly free to the company but keep you from feeling like you’ve lost all your hard earned points for nowt.

I’m sure there are more ways that they could make it feel more game like, and in turn make people actually want to participate in the “Game”.

As for Nike+ that seems to work like an achievement system, you do things you get badges. Run 50 KM over the course of a month and you get a badge is the example given in the article, I’ve never looked into Nike+ but I assume that is uses GPS and a pedometer track your runs. If there is a GPS in there and the facility to somehow synchronise with the internet there is actually a huge scope for user generated content there, you could get badges for submitting routes in your area, people could download those routes, try them out and rate them, you could earn badges for people voting up your routes, for trying out a number of different routes, steal that concept from Little Big Planet.

How about having algorithms that merge user generated routes, and tells you when you get to an intersection that you can take the high road or the low road? Bam! choice and interactivity. I’m sure I can think up more ideas.

The real question here is do these things benefit from being made into a game? Personally I don’t think that anyone but Coca-Cola will benefit from Coke-Zone being properly Gamified, Nike+ well the users benefit I guess, it makes your run more interesting to have route suggestions, and challenges to overcome.

http://www.hideandseek.net/cant-play-wont-play/

JRPG Plot Flow Chart

Click For Full Size

Joe Juba Has put together a flow chart detailing the plot of pretty much every 90’s JRPG I have ever played. I plan on using this as a template to create an Uber RPG that contains every single one of these plot points. I don’t really, but it’s a good read.

I recognise a whole bunch of Final Fantasy, some Chrono trigger and some Secret of Mana right from the get go. Need to have a closer look to see what else is hidden in there.

Via BoingBoing

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.

Reissued: David Ahl’s BASIC Computer Games

I have a vague recollection of this book, I think at the time I was too young to actually appreciate it, I think I got a hold of it when I was 5 or 6…

The book contained the BASIC code for 101 computer games that you had to type out yourself in order to play, I think I only ever managed to get one or two of them running. More than the computer programs I remember the illustrations which were just mental. Considering that none of the programs in the books actually had graphics the illustrations helped you visualize what was actually happening.

They sparked your imaginations and turned a bunch of text prompts into a game that was occurring in your head and on the computer. I guess the difference between this kind of game and a modern computer game is like the difference between reading a book and watching a movie. When you read a book your imagination fills in the blanks, with wonderful graphics, when you watch a movie you are stuck with someone else’s vision and someone else’s rubbish acting.

You can get the book in two versions, one with the original art and one without. To be honest I don’t see why you would get the one without the art because the art brought the games to life.

via Retro Thing

Gaming Nostalgia: Penguin Adventure (MSX)


Way back in the dawn of time before MetalGear was a twinkle in Hideo Kojima’s eye, Kojiama created a game which is the source of my love of penguins, Penguin Adventure. In Penguin Advenure you take on the role of Pentarou a penguin tasked with saving the penguin princess Penko Hime. The princess is very ill and only a magic golden apple can save her.

Your quest was to go from the penguin temple to the magical tree retrieve an apple and get back to the princess in time to save her life. Unlike most modern games where a time limt is set to complete a quest then summarilly ignored, in penguin adventure if you took too long to complete the game, the princess would be dead when you got back to the temple. (It’s been quite some time since I played this game but at least one website says that the only way to get the happy ending is to pause the game once and only once).

During your adventures you traveled through variations of 10 different level types:

Forest Cave
River Ice Path
Snowy Woods Frozen Ocean
Underwater Desert
Bonus Warp

While running throught he level you had to avoid various obstacles and collect fish, among the obstacles were cracks in the floor. Now you could almost play through the whole game without realizing this but some of the cracks were actually shops, which rather than avoid you had to fall into. In the shop there was usually one of three shopkeepers.

The three shop keeps offered a variety of items at differing prices, I seem to remember the father christmas one being the cheapest, he might even have given you an item for free. The mean one actually swore at you telling you to buy something Dammit. Some of the items were invaluable for your quest, some were merely useful, some were essential to complete the stage you were playing (Namely the map).

I’m not going to go into what each of the items did but if you are curious you can look here.

Every 3 or so levels you would meet up with a fire breathing dragon, appropritately coloured for the level, either Blue or red. The dragon could be beaten in one of two ways, you could either shoot him to bits using the gun, which of course you’d bought from one of the shops, or if you didn’t have the gun you would have to drive a set of pegs which were in front of the dragon into the ground by jumping on them. Once the dragon was defeated the ground would collapse under him and he’s fall into the water and if the first digit of the time remaining was even a bunch of gold penguins would jump out to join in your victory dance (The number was dependant on the digit, 2, 4, 6 or 8 penguins) I remember despite this not having any effect on the game I would always try to time it to get 8 gold penguins.

I loved Penguin Adventure when I was a kid and I still think fondly of it, looking back at it now, the game was incredibly well designed, and considering the limitations of the MSX hardware (It was about the same level as a NES) it was really innovative.

Penguin adventure was published by Konami and was released in 1986. It is the sequel to Antarctic Adventure.

Here is a video of Antarctic Adventure for comparison:

For more info look at the following links:

Unicorn Dreams

Moby Games

Wikipedia

Giant Bomb