Unconventional Game Ideas

Now that Nintendo has helped prove that there’s a market for unconventional games like Brain Age and Animal Crossing, I thought it might be fun to brainstorm (pun intended) other “semi-serious” possibilities:

  • Kids love dinosaurs, so how about a game where you learn about real species of dinos, then get to evolve your own (so that it survives various environmental conditions, predators, and/or major global catastrophes?) And the twist: whenever your species is finally wiped out, it can be excavated and examined by friends (in much the same “massively single-player” way that Spore will support content-sharing). Players get points for correctly identifying the kind of animal it was, how it lived, and what killed it, based on the fossil.
  • A variation: how about a DS game dedicated purely to evolution? This will permit for more detailed enjoyment of the evolution premise; playing with first-time evolution of sight, hearing, smell, etc, for example. All the things we take for granted… and, not coincidentally, all the things that people find it difficult to believe could ever be evolved! Imagine a “sight slider” for your organism: take it from 0 to 1 (on a scale of 100), and the organism goes from complete blindness to weak, crude light sensitivity, which changes the organism’s behavior and survival chances. Pump enough points (which you receive over time, or in reward for certain accomplishments) into the scale, and the organism eventually develops true eyes. Variety is key — after 100 hours, a player should be able to create a creature featuring super hearing and total blindness, while another evolves a balanced creature that nevertheless cannot survive without a symbiotic species’ help, etc…
  • There are many games featuring pet-care; not so many featuring plant-care. No suprise there — animals evoke more emotion (and, well, they move around and stuff). Nevertheless, it might be interesting to create a game in which development of a virtual garden is necessary to sustain a population of creatures (…pets, perhaps?) In easy mode, care could be limited to basics; watering, keeping out pests, etc. Pest-control could comprise a number of fun mini-games. In hard mode, garden care could include very complex problems, such as managing soil acidity, soil drainage, etc. Playing hard mode should actually teach you everything you need to know about managing a garden. With the right balance of mini-games, visual reward, and content variety, I think this could be fun. But then, I’m an avid gardener.   :)

21 responses to “Unconventional Game Ideas

  1. I like it. I tend to look at game designs in terms of marketability. Who is the demographic? Are they being served? Would your title appeal to them? That tends to be the key to Nintendo’s success.

    – Dinosaurs: Love it. There aren’t very many dinosaur games on the market right now. However, you are targeting younger players and there is currently a large amount money being spent attempting to get their attention already. Word of mouth may not be enough. I do like the fact that you’ve got a game mechanic that encourages people to play multiple times and contribute to a wider world. This sort of user created content is essential to drawing out the sales cycle and allowing momentum to build with the title.

    – Gardening: I’ve long thought that the world lacks a good gardening title. Given beautiful lush graphics and the promise of real skills being taught and you’ve got a very interesting title. The ability to speed up time and try out different techniques…the pruning game! and you can grab the spare hours of the rather large garderning community when they are stuck inside on rainy days. :-)

    Good stuff.
    Danc.

  2. The gardening game sounds like “Harvest Moon: Hardcore” :) I’d buy it. Don’t forget to check out that A-life simulation in Second Life that you linked in your last Articles of Interest.

  3. Hi everyone–I’ve always wanted to see a game that involves simple building and construction that would allow someone to build a bicycle, plane, ship, etc. Then you can test your design in different environments like heavy winds (hurricane prone environments), zero gravity, extreme heat, monsters, battle, etc…
    I’d imagine the game would have different user modes (i.e. novice builder to engineering professional) Designs could be submitted and voted on, as part of an online community.

    just some thoughts

    -mark

  4. So here’s a different idea… a game where you play as a stray dog in a certain area, having to find food, train skills, make allies, defeat enemies, maybe escape from the pound, and eventually you get the choice of living in the wild with your new pack that you made or going to a new home. There could be multiple story lines in different areas such as a city, the countryside, and a third world country or something. Thoughts?

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