The idea for a game often begins…muddled. Images of games I’ve played, or mechanics I’ve seen, or even a picture will spawn a new idea. After the initial excitement of constructing something new (albeit only a prototype in my head) wears off, I’m left with…..just an idea. Often a messy, confusing and very unplayable one.
So I put the idea on a shelf. Sometimes it stays there and fades, sometimes pieces of the core idea are borrowed for yet another concept, and sometimes the damn thing won’t stay on the shelf but keeps trying to form itself into something better.
The process itself is exciting, but often quite frustrating. My latest project began (in my mind) as a remake of Populous. Re-skinned, and refined (hah), but at it’s core still Populous. Thing is, Populous is an example of a game that is very hard to alter in any way. Small changes rapidly shift it from the god game it is into something entirely different. Eventually I stopped fighting the urge to force it into the Populous mold and let it evolve on it’s own.
I’ll admit I’m big on “look and feel”. My associates would often claim too much so (and they’re often right). In this case the look I had in mind was stone. Somewhat inspired by a clay pot I managed to throw a few years ago. A bowl with fine lines etched into it. The entire thing glazed, causing the color to settle into the etches and the surface to glow like polished stone. The image in my mind is much nicer than the real thing, but it was enough to form a catalyst. So that was the look — stone, etched glowing lines.
Then there is “feel” — that’s always the hardest part. To me feel is a combination of theme, mood and something else. The something else of which is often hard to describe, but I’ll give it a try in my next post.