Not Another Game Idea

Dumped, like the browser-based kart game, so that I may free up some synapses.

The Idea:

The Unusual Bit:

  • The game can be ended at the end of each level
  • Via branching dialogue
  • With a woman one encounters there
  • Triggering a cutscene showing the future
  • The endings are better the earlier one stops playing
    • Because no one will stop playing
    • There is no woman at the end of the last level

The Story:

  • Rosetti’s poem follows a prince’s voyage to meet his unknown beloved
    • He dallies too much with wrong turns and mystical women
    • When he gets to the castle, the princess has died
  • I wrote (but never finished editing) a response
  • This game is based on my version
    • The prince meets a series of mystical women
    • He could have (should have?) stayed with any one of them
    • He doesn’t
    • He journeys on to meet his perfect beloved
    • He finds the castle at the edge of the world
    • Inside, no one opposes him
    • No one’s ever lived there

The Art:

  • Animated vector graphics
  • Multiple foregrounds and backgrounds
  • Not quite a sidescroller
    • Camera usually stationary
    • Re-centers when the character reaches predetermined spots
    • Foreground and background layers adjust
  • Foregrounds and backgrounds less detailed than midground
  • Expressive style
  • 24 frame per second character animation
  • Realistic motion
  • Zoomed in in-engine cutscene

The Gameplay:

  • A mix of platforming and combat
  • Level passwords
  • No HUD, health bars, or data overlays of any kind
  • Character can’t do anything a reasonably fit person can’t do
    • Can only fall so far
    • No twenty foot vertical jumps
    • No changing direction in midair
    • Must leap, grasp and climb to reach higher ledges
  • “Step based” movement
    • No creeping one pixel at a time ever necessary
    • One walking step the minimum distance a movement can take
    • Running, leaping, climbing, swimming, etc. all in increments

Character Mechanics:

  • No lives or continues
  • Health recharges
    • No “medkits”
    • Short recovery period
  • Character movement indicates health
    • Extremely low health makes character weave back and forth
    • Requires micro-correcting
    • With left and right keys
    • To keep character from falling down

Falling Down:

  • Not “death” as such
  • “If you want to teach players not to do something,
  • Tile the player falls on stretches past edges of screen left and right
    • Player must get up (weaving initially) and walk across flat ground
    • Uninteresting expanse takes time to cross
      • Long enough to dissuade
      • Not long enough to ruin game
    • Poem displayed in BG
    • Expanse ends at portion of the game world just as it was
      • Level resumes without break
  • No real death, lives or continues — just the expanse to pass

Levels:

  • The Ravine
    • Mostly platforming
    • Lush green riverside
    • Moon maiden at end
  • The Desert
    • Black rocks
    • Ground crawling with scorpions
    • Character weakens as level goes on
      • Heavy use of weaving mechanic
    • Alchemist at end
  • The Valley
    • Rivers
    • Final long swim
      • Lose your armor, all but knife and gloves
    • The Ariel Sisters at end
  • The Edge of the World
    • (Movement noticeably sprightlier without gear)
    • Mountain slope
    • Crags
    • Endless field of white flowers
      • Clouds
    • Castle, overgrown by enormous tree
      • Phantoms “attack” inside
      • Vanish before they reach you
    • Empty room at top
      • Plaster tubs, drop cloths, uninstalled windows
      • Overgrown with white flowers from window box
      • No one’s ever lived there

    The Women:

    • The Moon Maiden
      • Milkmaid
      • Starry cloak
      • (Midevil milkmaids rarely got smallpox)
      • (Exposure to milder cowpox virus vaccinated them)
      • (Origin of the “clear/white faced milkmaid” literary meme)
      • Best ending
        • In-engine zoomed in cutscene of player with family
        • Carefree young children
        • Spreading the starry cloak on a hilltop at night
        • Watching the stars wheel overhead together

      The Alchemist

      • Older woman, works a forge, strength and wisdom
      • Second best ending
        • Zooms in for cutscene as a couple
        • Lonely in the desert
        • Always working forge
    • The Ariel Sisters
      • Three nymphlike sisters
      • Rescue you from river in the valley
      • Flighty, impossible to pin down
      • Other two give you more attention the more you focus on one
        • One you focus on colder toward you
        • Always out of reach
      • A lot of trouble for a neutral ending
    • The Princess
      • Doesn’t exist
      • Cutscene shows only the unfinished state of the chamber
      • No ending
      • Level just leaves you to wander until you quit the game

    Why It’s a Bad Idea:

    • Engine would have to be built from scratch
    • Lots of art assets
    • Lots of animation
    • Small potential of SVG drawing speed problems
      • SVG a low priority in modern browsers
    • Animation toolchain would have to be built from scratch
      • No SVG drawing program does animation yet
      • If one adds support, it will likely save as SMIL
        • (Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language)
        • Despite being a standard, no browser supports SMIL
      • Would have to use JavaScript for animation instead
      • Animation would either have to use substitution
        • (One unique SVG image every frame, 24 frames/second)
      • Or morphing
        • (SVG objects changed by JavaScript every frame)
        • Even more complicated to develop toolchain for
        • Morphing better, would allow some smoothing between actions
        • Would allow some physics as well (cloaks, particle, etc.)
    • No clear business plan beyond banner ads on the homepage
      • Banner ads in-game would kill the mood
      • Would also slow down the browser, in the real world
    • Is it possible to sell access to a browser-based game?
    • Game that subverts common mechanics of genre to ask questions
      • Would be compared to Braid
      • Would lose the comparison
     Not Another Game Idea

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