The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posts Tagged ‘Ideas’

Posted by Matt on April 27, 2010

I know a lot of comics blogs probably have at least one post where they describe what they would do if they were in charge of Marvel and/or DC, and I’m likely the least-informed out of the lot of them. Even so, I have ideas, and I can post whatever I want, so fuck off.

So, here’s the pitch:

Marvel and DC stop publication of all monthly comics. All of them.

Creators seeking to use their copyrighted characters would pitch their story ideas to the company. Those stories would published as complete graphic novels, or would be released as a serial story via either a monthly anthology magazine which could contain those stories, excerpts from already-published graphic novels, reprints, and original short comics; or, periodically online on either the company’s website or through devices like the iPad. In both cases, the collected edition would be published a short time after the serial story is completed. This way, characters can be kept in circulation, creators who desire to do so will still get a chance to work with those characters, and comic shops will still have things they can sell.

Rewrite the publishing polices to allow for the publishing of more creator-owned series. While they may not be able to control or financially benefit from those properties, the chance of getting a wider variety of stories published would allow them to pursue new demographics and venues, increasing their reach.

Of course, the chance of any ideas like these being pursued any time soon is slim. For both companies, comics publishing is just something they do on the side. Both have licensing to bring in the money, and now both have large corporations backing them. Despite the ruckus they might raise whenever a new big direction in their comics is coming up, they don’t seem to be that interested in how many people actually read them.

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Posted by Matt on March 28, 2010

Haven’t done this in forever.

Game Ideas #3

Idea: Time Paradox: The Videogame

Time travel and videogames are certainly no strangers. One of my favourite games, Chrono Trigger, is based around it, after all. And time warping has become a popular mechanic for action/adventure games.

However, it is worth noting that time travel storylines (especially for older games) make absolutely no sense. And not in the way time travel stories usually do. For example, in CT, your characters always seem to travel back to the point in time in a certain period where they last left that period, so that any changes in it actually count. It simplifies the time travel logic, but it’s also completely bizarre. Its sequel, Chrono Cross, which I have not played (and probably never will, seeing as I’ve lost all interest in JRPGs), did do some interesting things with the ideas of the original (which I maintain is the POINT of a sequel) by incorporating alternate universes and destiny and stuff like that.

But I still feel that is not enough, or at least there haven’t been a lot of games that go to that length. Time travel offers a vast amount of possibilities for games, and not just for stories/aesthetic either. Not even hard sci-fi time travel necessarily, although if you can find ways to create ‘scientific’ time travel logic for your game, go for it. Superhero comics have been messing about with time travel forever, and from it we’ve got fun stuff like the Kang Council. The more mindbending aspects of time travel seem to be rather underutilized, and that’s where this game idea came from.

The Kang Council was one of the inspirations for this idea, which is not set in any particular kind of storyline or genre but I have imagined as an RPG/Adventure game. The basic idea is this: you can form your party out of versions of a character from different time periods. Past, present, and future should all be available (with some reasonable limits, of course) to pluck party members from, including the characters you’ve already met. It could be them 10 years in the future, 20 years in the past, or five seconds ago: you could find them and recruit them. This might be easier to utilize if you keep the setting confined, maybe to a single city. By keeping the game rooted in a single area, I think, would not only make some of these ideas easier to manage, but also allows the effects of your time travelling escapades to be more pronounced without having to resort to ridiculous butterfly effect bullshit.

Yes, altering time should probably be more subtle. If you travel back in time and open a box, your present shouldn’t now to be filled with mutant pine cones or something. Save the bigger consequences for when your characters really start altering things in a much larger scale in the past. You can even make it that many smaller changes that do very little on their own can stack up to create some major changes. And of course, if some of those changes start to make your game a little too unbearable, you could simply go back in time and stop yourself from making those changes.

It would probably also be a good idea to focus on a specific, shorter periods in time for adventures. Much like focusing on a smaller world setting, it would easy up development and make the effects of your choices more immediate. Most time travel games let you go to what we recognize as ‘the past’ (dinosaurs, knights, cowboys) or ‘the future’ (lots of technology and robots and lasers), but that’s all pretty broad. It might be a better idea to make your character travel within 100 or so years of their current time, at most. And, as I hinted at before, that could include very short periods as well. You could go back or forward 2 months, 2 weeks, or 2 hours. Whatever times would be chosen should be done so for the sake of keeping the game interesting. You don’t need to be able to go back/forward to every minute for the next 100 years; but say, early in the game, your protagonist experiments with time travel by going forward or backward a very short distance, and you could keep doing this as a ‘test’ time. Again, the time periods you can visit, while closer together, should be done in the interest of gameplay.

With those major mechanics in minds, let’s get to the meat of the game. I would imagine that it would mission-based, with your characters getting ideas about things to see in the past/future. Say there was a major disaster that happened in the past, and your character goes back to witness it, and maybe even change the outcome. Or say they did something in their present, and want to see what happens in their future because of that decision. There would also be the kinds of things the Chrono games and even The Legend of Zelda have done before, where you take things only found in a certain time period back or forward in order to solve a specific problem. These sorts of missions would make up the bulk of the game, with a ‘big plot’ being unraveled at some point.

While I’d prefer a game that would allow a little more freedom, being able to choose to go back and forward in time and do a number of things and having those effects pile up, and let you deal or not deal with them on your own terms. There would limits to the number of things you could do, of course. We’re not at the point in gaming where developers could reasonably create that kind of complicated, organic game world (and in some cases, why would anyone want a game world like that?). But a really brilliant time travel game would at least try to let the players have some sort of control over the outcome of their shenanigans, at the very least give them options for their time travel missions rather than give them a time machine and then thrust them into a linear ‘gotta save the future!’ story.

On the other hand, it would still be possible to make a more linear game fun using the same ideas. I mean, I would be pleased with a Chrono Trigger-style game which includes different temporal versions of yourself as playable characters. I really, genuinely like some of these concepts, and if they can be integrated into a game of any stripe, that’s one step in the right direction.

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Posted by Matt on March 22, 2010

You know what would be fun to write for? Radio drama. Just imagine writing for TV, but without all the visual stuff! It would certainly be a different kind of experience, and I think there could be a place for radio-style drama in the Internet age. Some people prefer audio to video podcasts, after all.

Radio drama presents some interesting possibilities. One, narration can be inserted without the kind of awkwardness you’d find in most video media, as it doesn’t immediately clash with what we see happening on screen. The old Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio plays come to mind, and those actually did a lot with narration, making them feel a lot closer to the books. And yes, I do know the radio show came first.

You also need to rely on dialogue and sounds, and those provide a lot of opportunities to mix things up. If you’re doing comedy, you need to make sure things SOUND funny, and that plays into my kind of humour pretty well. Manipulating sounds, whether it be voices, music, ambiance, or sound effects, to work for the story could ultimately be a very creatively engaging and satisfying endeavor.

It could also be relatively cheap. But I’m going to pretend that’s not an important aspect of it.

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Posted by Matt on December 9, 2009

Speaking of Mega Man…

Didn’t see this coming! I love it when actual surprises happen.

And I personally like Sheep Man. He’s got the classic MM design, and his abilities are sort of clever.

But I wonder if this one will hit on some of the boss ideas my friend and I have had over the years? There’s only so many ideas for bosses in the world, so its possible the devs will hit on some of the same ideas as we did.

So anyway, we get karma if Spectrum Man, Toxic Man, or Sand Man make an appearance.

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Posted by Matt on November 23, 2009

Just finished reading The Road. Try to determine my demeanor after that!

No, I’m fine. Sometime next year I might get cocky and read Blood Meridian.

Also on the table: another major revision for one of my projects. This is in order to solve the following problems I have with it:
(1) Logical problems that have persisted (consisting mainly of ‘Why does this keep happening?’)
(2) Give me the opportunity to improve on characters who don’t seem to do much
(3) Make stories and set-up for stories easier and more interesting
(4) Remove most if not all introduction/background stories, or just move them to the background where they won’t bore people to their face

The one thing I want to do with it is essentially be a bunch of single, separate stories with a definite ending; essentially, covering a life (or lives). That presents some interesting challenges, because I’m trying to make something episodic but still coherent, without it feeling like ‘And now some random shit happens’. Although, to a degree, isn’t that what life is?

(Side note: I notice that I love surrealism/strange things, and I try my best to put in strange things. However, I think my strange things are not strange enough, or disturbing enough. I almost feel like all I’m doing is distilling Grant Morrison to Saturday morning levels. I hope I can fix that.)

I just need uniformity and cohesion. When things appear, when I introduce concepts, I need to make sure they matter, whether that is being significance to plot or theme, or just being entertaining. I also need to make sure there are no useless characters. I’ve cut back on stuff before, so it shouldn’t be that hard for me to do some revising.

First step: change to the setting, and some confirmation on major-minor details. How does this help the problems I listed above? Not one clue.

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Posted by Matt on November 2, 2009

Could it be that I’ve actually come up with a game design that I generally agree with? Hurray!

Now, to figure out how that matters in the slightest.

Well, this has been rather disappointing. Take this as a gesture of apology:

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Posted by Matt on October 7, 2009

Dear Matt Taibbi Readers: Do not go any further. This place is a waste of your time.

Jes throwin dese out thar:

You know, I actually wanted to start doing more positive posts, before a whole shitstorm of unpleasantness came my way.

All I’ve been doing lately is working on impossible time-eating projects. Not even anything that will really help my skills in the long run, or improve my concepts in any real way. Oh well, I’m working at a newspaper and soon essay writing season will hit, so I’ve got plenty of opportunity to actually write stuff.

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Posted by Matt on September 2, 2009

You know what? I like Van Halen’s first album. I really do. They are a stupid band, really. But they’re a stupid band with Eddie Van Halen, which makes up for a lot of their stupidity (AC/DC and the Ramones also rise above themselves in quality). The whole album comes together fairly well, with just one strong pure rock track after another. It’s a good album, is what I’m saying.

Also, on the recent dreams: As I’ve noticed, nothing has been as good/frightening as the godzilla/giant eel dream or as amusing as the diplomat/prince and his evil uncle. Lots of very nerdy stuff has been showing up (dreaming about videogames a lot recently). Still, I plan on stringing elements of all this stuff together eventually. Could be good, man.

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Game Ideas #2

Posted by Matt on August 29, 2009

(Note: I originally wrote this in April. I’m reposting this so I can continue on with my game ideas posts without confusing the lot of ya’. Also because I like them.)

And just to show that I’m not totally lacking in original ideas, I will pitch an idea not based on a long-established game franchise…

Idea: Heart of Darkness: The Videogame

Now, I only said it wouldn’t based on a videogame franchise, not that it would be completely original.

I bet you’re wondering why I decided to go with the original Conrad novel rather than just make a game based on Apocalypse Now. It’s quite simple, really: there’s slightly less baggage in adapting the classic novel rather than the classic movie, and, much as Apocalypse Now changed the setting of the story, so too would I be able to change the setting in the game. In short, it frees up the game for ideas.

How would one translate this story into a game? The plot does give you one big concept to develop around: you’re tasked with finding Kurtz, somewhere in the massive jungle and river environment. The whole game, then, would be about you travelling around a well-developed world, filled with unique places and NPCs, trying to find information about where to find Kurtz. That is the primary thrust of the game, and it provides you plenty of opportunity to include some great game concepts around it.

The game world, for example, can be made into something really cool. Like I said, it’s large and populated by lots of unique characters. And stuff would always be going on, either on a random (more realistic) basis or on a scheduled (probably more fair) basis. For example, say you know of a guy upriver who has important information, and you want to track him down. However, the guy is also a rebel leader, and could be assassinated at any moment. Stuff like that. Suddenly, a new sense of urgency, and a far more organic world. Of course, you don’t need to find every single person with information to complete the game…in fact, if you are so inclined, you could probably just travel around for hours and you’d eventually stumble upon Kurtz’s whereabouts. Of course, then you’d have no idea what to do.

Just like in the book and movie, you’re not alone. Over the course of the game, some of the people you meet can be convinced to join your little boat crew, some for higher prices than others. There would a limit to the number of people you can take with you on your dinky little boat; it’s not a goddamn clown car. So this means you have to really think about which guys you will recruit. Each one has their own unique set of skills that may come in handy: some are better marksmen, some are better navigators (which will help you during some of the rougher moments on the river), some will help you better communicate with the locals, some provide you a stash of useful items…the list goes on. It’s all up to you to prioritize things on your boat. Of course, considering this is a Heart of Darkness game, you’re likely going to have plenty of…drop-outs…to make room for other guys if you need it.

It’s essentially a text-adventure/simulation hybrid with elements of survival horror (you never know when you’ll be attacked by rebel fighters or wild animals) and sandbox games. The final part of the game, when you finally track down demi-god Kurtz, will add one last bit of intrigue. What DO you do? Do you fulfill your orders and eliminate him? Do you leave him alive and go off? It’s up to you. Or maybe not. Who is to say that some of your crew members don’t have their own agendas in the situation?

The other good thing about this game? It doesn’t necessarily have to be based on Heart of Darkness, and is pretty free when it comes to settings. Of course, you could say that about my Mario game idea too, but I just like the idea of Mario teaming up with a robot.

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Game Ideas #1

Posted by Matt on August 29, 2009

(Note: I originally wrote this in April. I’m reposting this so I can continue on with my game ideas posts without confusing the lot of ya’. Also because I like them.)

I’ve been thinking a bit about directions established game franchises can go to stay good. The problem with most gamers is that they are creatively retarded, and just want the same thing over and over again (while still whining that the games are rehashes). Me, though, I’m allllll right.

So now I’m going to talk about some game concepts I came up with. Why not? I’m sure I’ve done it before.

And what better way to start talking about videogame franchise ideas than with the videogame franchise?

Idea: Super Mario Metropolis

Now, it seems like a bit of a downgrade to take Mario from space back down to earth, and then restrict him to a certain environment, like a city. But wait! There’s more to it!

The story would be the basic one: Mario & Peach travel to the biggest city around, Peach is captured by Bowser, Mario must save her because that’s what he does. However, he’s got bigger problems: not only is the Princess locked a high rise tower that he can’t seem to get into, but he’s also constantly being chased around by police robots working with Bowser. Still not that much of a departure? Here’s the big catch: Mario himself teams up with a robot to save the day once again.

One of things I’ve noticed with most Wii games is that they usually only subscribe to one of the ideas that are possible for the system. That is usually the aiming or shaking concepts. There’s a lot more possible with this thing, and I hope to combine some of the old and unused ideas in here. See, players control both Mario and the robot, the former with the nunchuck, and the latter with the remote. Mario would get his usual abilities, which can easily be assigned to the nunchuck buttons. The robot would be a bit more complicated.

I haven’t completely figured out the specifics of the robot’s control scheme. Should he move with the d-pad, or by pointing? The pointing would seem to be necessary for some of the robot’s unique skills (long range weapons, for example, similar to the star bit shooting in Galaxy). Does the robot need to move at all? In any case, the general idea would be that you would control both characters simultaneously using each half of the controller package. Co-op play could be an option, too. This seems like a pretty basic idea, so I wonder why so few have used it before?

The game would be equal parts Mario, Pikmin, and The Lost Vikings. You will need to utilize Mario and the robot to solve the games puzzles. This will make some objectives easier (how much more relaxing would the average “take this thing from here to over here” challenge be with back-up?) and some more difficult, as you try to get down the timing and placement of both characters down pat. There might be a few sections where the two are separated, and you only have to pay attention to one of them at a time. There’s plenty of possibilities.

The basic “find the MacGuffins” gameplay would remain, but with a twist: instead of collecting 120 magic objects, you collect various machine parts, much like Pikmin. By collecting the appropriate combination of parts, Mario can use them to upgrade his robot buddy, granting him even more new abilities. The robot could transform into vehicles, and essentially work like a combination of the FLUDD from Mario Sunshine and the various power-ups from every other Mario game. Many of them would also be able to utilize various remote functions to add some variety.

Not only do these new abilities give you access to more challenges and thus more parts, they can also be used to bypass the security and traps and get further and further into Bowser’s skyscraper fortress. This is similar to the structure I had for my Zelda game idea, which I’m pretty sure I mentioned before, but should probably go into further detail about another time. It’s a different kind of game structure, one that progresses in a way that you feel a lot more part of it.

Of course, all this talk and I don’t address one major problem: level variety. One thing people didn’t like about Sunshine was that the island setting limited the different environments in the game, while on the other hand Galaxy was nearly limitless. The same problem could come up in Metropolis, but there are ways around it. A big city has lots of places to go that could provide suitable Mario worlds to explore: the park, the mall, the sewers, amusement parks, docks, factories, clock towers…and let’s not forget the big city itself. Each of these could also be expanded to include the archetypes (ice, lava, etc.), but maybe we don’t need them again. Just a thought.

There’s still some unanswered questions in this pitch, but even so, I think the basic groundwork for something good. Really, though, I just like the idea of Mario working with a robot.

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