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<  Design concepts  ~  A game idea I've had for a while.

Hubalaboo
Posted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 2:57 am Reply with quote
Joined: 26 Jun 2008 Posts: 116 Location: Canada
I want to share a game idea with you all. Newest stuff is in red.

I've always loved the idea of non-linear games like The Endless Forest, no real goal... I find myself looking out for more games like it (to no avail). And I've always been having tons of ideas for games. So, well, here's one of my ideas.

It's 3d, and single-player. Some features (mostly controls) have been inspired by The (wonderful) Endless Forest. I hope you don't mind, Micheal and Auriea. It's totally fine if you do, I respect you both and your games immensely, I can always change things as this is only an idea.

You play as a fox-like character:

The above is just a rough concept, so please excuse the messiness.
I'm still contemplating whether she/he should have a name, or just be anonymous. I like the idea where nothing is really set about this character, and that gives you freedom as the player to decide his/her background, characteristics, etc.
One thing I have set about this character is that he/she is kind of... spirit-like, not some normal fox-like thing. Mysterious and quite magical.

Anyway! On to actual gameplay:

You are placed on a small planet, a grey and dead planet, all dead save for a tiny surviving patch of grass and vines. It is small enough that it takes, say, 15 minutes to run and then come back to the same place (like TEF, the 'endless' concept).
The goal is only to make this planet green again, and filled with life. You plant seeds, watch them grow, explore and find other seeds for different plants/flowers/trees. You have total freedom in where you want to plant the seeds, which kinds you plant, and how thickly or thinly you plant them.

The controls:

I like the TEF way of both mouse and keyboard usable, but I'm not sure yet. It could be just keyboard, but what about people who can't use/don't have a keyboard...?
The movements by mouse/keyboard would be Forward, Left, Right, Back, and Jump. Leaf-shaped buttons at the bottom of the screen would be for commands like Sit, Jump here too, Plant (expands to show pictures of kinds of plants you are able to plant, then you click on what you want), and Cloak (explained later).
I love the ability to control the camera in TEF and the no-word interface, too.
A Save option would be much loved, I can expect Smile Or, it saves automatically when you quit without pressing a button, so if the game crashes your planet can still be saved? Hmmm.

Other stuff/details:

As the green becomes more and more, wildlife will begin to appear, first insects such as butterflies and bees, then birds, and even up to deer (!). But deer, for example, will appear only in large forest-like places with many trees, and marmots in grassy fields. So basically you can choose what kinds of animals you want to see by what you plant. You find out as you go.
The first tiny green patch at the beginning has a few small pearly-blue butterflies.
Of course, I bet many of you would like to be able to observe these animals up close. However, when you try to get close, most animals will naturally flee. This is where the button Cloak comes into use. By clicking it you can become invisible (with a twirl and a flourish!) and watch wildlife as close as you like. When you're done just click the button again.
Though, if you stay around the animals a lot, maybe they can gradually get used to you? What do you think?

Idea by Trinket and added on by WBS: There are instruments (for now I've decided panpipes, flute, violin and thumbpiano, thinking about ocarina) hidden in various places, which, when played can draw animals toward you and make plants grow faster. Small animals like birds and butterflies quickly come toward you, but larger animals take a while to start following you.

Planting details:
You start with short grass seeds and vine seeds. Though the planet is grey, it still has many different locations and formations, like cliffs, caves, craters and an inactive volcano. As you explore, you can find other new kinds of seeds, that have been sleeping hidden (But who left them here? And why?). Once you find a kind of seed, there is an unlimited amount available in your pouch.
Different seeds take different amounts of time to become full-grown (though everything is sped up, otherwise it would kind of boring as I imagine. Besides, the seeds can be magical!). Short grass, say, takes only 30 seconds to grow (and you plant a bunch of seeds at once), whereas a poppy takes a few minutes and a willow tree takes some hours.
You can Sit by a planted seed and watch it grow. When the plant has finished growing some short music can play, and the character may stand up to look at the new plant with wonder/joy.
Sometimes, just sometimes, a seed can be EXTRA special, and suddenly- BOOM, a giant tree or flower can pop up, and the character falls backwards in suprise and amazement.

Idea by Wildbluesun: As a nod to The Little Prince, there will be a single rose seed in the whole game to grow one beautiful red rose.

Day and Night:
This is a small planet. That means each day is very short, compared to ours. For now I have decided 3 hours of daylight, then 3 hours of nighttime, and so repeating. This means that, even if the player works etc. he/she can still see both times in one evening.
Nighttime will have different animals, like owls, fireflies, pretty luminous moths and flying squirrels. Even some flowers that bloom only at night.


The Compass:
There is a compass in the corner of the game screen to help you find your way back to the starting green patch (the 'Home' area), to the Old Mother Oak (after you've found it once) and any other important places I think of. The base rotates to point north instead of a needle pointing north. Concept.

~~~
Well, that's all I'll put for now. I may add more later, if I think of something else. Tell me what you think, and I'm always open to suggestions and comments!


Sadly, I am a 13-year-old Mac-user artist who has close-to-nothing experience with programming, and no game engine yet (I'm trying out Torque Game Engine, but it's... it's weird...). I am, however, getting pretty good at 3d modeling (I use Cinema 4D). I guess I'm pretty far from having this dream game come true Sad
EDIT: Thanks to you all for the words of encouragement!
Things are looking up... I may be able to do this!


Last edited by Hubalaboo on Mon Jul 28, 2008 5:30 pm; edited 3 times in total
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TwoEars
Posted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 4:49 am Reply with quote
Joined: 03 Jul 2007 Posts: 2398 Location: Down by the Bay.
I love this game concept! I myself can do little to help you achieve your dream though. Sad

Hubalaboo wrote:
though everything is sped up, otherwise it would kind of boring as I imagine. Besides, the seeds can be magical!

Perhaps it is your character that is the magical one?


Last edited by TwoEars on Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:47 am; edited 1 time in total
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Trinket
Posted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 5:02 am Reply with quote
Joined: 15 Mar 2008 Posts: 1795 Location: Your bathtub.
I love this idea. :3 Unfortunately, I don't think you would be able to create it any time soon. But, I do advise you to not to give up and to write down your ideas on paper (or print them) and keep them for later.

I like the idea of the longer you spend time with the animals, the more they trust you.

I have a suggestion: Perhaps over the planet there could be hidden instruments (a violin, a flute, and a small guitar) that when obtained, lets you play them. When played, it will speed up the growth of plants in the area, and will bring animals to you. Just a suggestion. :3

I think it would be poetic to keep the character anonymous.
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Hubalaboo
Posted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 6:52 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 26 Jun 2008 Posts: 116 Location: Canada
TwoEars: Thank you! Maybe both are magical. :D

Trinket: Thank you, too. Yes, I've been sketching tons of things out, and I've got so much stored in my head as well.
Ohhh, the instruments thing is great! Do you mind if I add that to the main post and expand on it, with credit to you of course? Like, you are in control of the notes, right, so you can play any melody you want. But maybe only animals like bugs and birds (smaller animals) will come quickly, and larger animals like the deer will be more wary and just look your way and watch, maybe come forward a few steps.


The good thing is both my parents are very happy about my art stuff, and encouraging on this idea. So I'm not completely alone in this!
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Wildbluesun
Posted: Fri Jul 18, 2008 7:29 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 12 Dec 2006 Posts: 4266 Location: London, Land of Tea and Top Hats
Yesyes, poetry is good. ^^

Finding pan pipes sounds good to me; with the association with Pan and nature and things. OHOH, perhaps if you played an instrument at an animal enough (one individual animal) it would lose its mistrust to you? And even more playing would make it follow you around. (A bit like having fish follow you in Endless Ocean.)

I disagree with Trinket; you can start work on it now. It might take years and years, but there's no need to put it on hold just yet. You can learn to programme, and you already have modelling skills.
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TwoEars
Posted: Sat Jul 19, 2008 12:45 am Reply with quote
Joined: 03 Jul 2007 Posts: 2398 Location: Down by the Bay.
Wildbluesun wrote:
Yesyes, poetry is good. ^^

Finding pan pipes sounds good to me; with the association with Pan and nature and things. OHOH, perhaps if you played an instrument at an animal enough (one individual animal) it would lose its mistrust to you? And even more playing would make it follow you around. (A bit like having fish follow you in Endless Ocean.)

I disagree with Trinket; you can start work on it now. It might take years and years, but there's no need to put it on hold just yet. You can learn to programme, and you already have modelling skills.

I love WBS's ideas here!

And totally go for it, you may not have all the skills now, but you will acquire them as you work on your game.

It's wonderful that your parents are supportive too! You're certainly not alone in enthusiasm for this game idea.

Getting a little random here but when I think of your tiny planet, I am reminded of the "planet" of The Little Prince, and also Animal Crossing DS where the world rolled as you walked, keeping your character in the center of the screen, I also imagine that the main character would be shaped somewhat like an AC DS character.

Just throwing ideas at you in a hopefully helpful way.
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Trinket
Posted: Sat Jul 19, 2008 1:38 am Reply with quote
Joined: 15 Mar 2008 Posts: 1795 Location: Your bathtub.
Hubalaboo wrote:

Ohhh, the instruments thing is great! Do you mind if I add that to the main post and expand on it, with credit to you of course?


Of course! If I minded you using it I wouldn't have suggested it, would I? Laughing

Wildbluesun wrote:
I disagree with Trinket; you can start work on it now. It might take years and years, but there's no need to put it on hold just yet. You can learn to programme, and you already have modelling skills.


Mmm, touché.
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Wildbluesun
Posted: Sat Jul 19, 2008 2:13 am Reply with quote
Joined: 12 Dec 2006 Posts: 4266 Location: London, Land of Tea and Top Hats
TLEHWTWET.

YOU JUST USED THE WORD TOUCHÉ.

AND YOU PUT THE ACCENT IN THE RIGHT PLACE.

I LOVE YOU.


The Little Prince is a beautiful book. It's entirely amazing.

I think you should throw in a reference to the book at some point (especially as your character is a fox, YAY). There should be a single rose seed in the whole game, which grows a single, unique rose. That would be lovely. <3

...Just because I like it when games (or anything at all, even) reference great works of literature.
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TwoEars
Posted: Sat Jul 19, 2008 3:07 am Reply with quote
Joined: 03 Jul 2007 Posts: 2398 Location: Down by the Bay.
Wildbluesun wrote:
I think you should throw in a reference to the book at some point (especially as your character is a fox, YAY). There should be a single rose seed in the whole game, which grows a single, unique rose. That would be lovely. <3

Now that is what is called an awesome idea. :3
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Hubalaboo
Posted: Sat Jul 19, 2008 3:32 am Reply with quote
Joined: 26 Jun 2008 Posts: 116 Location: Canada
Wildbluesun: Thanku for the encouragement Smile Your ideas about the instruments are good too. Lots of little details to be figured out!
*Le Gaspe* That is genius about the rose! I am soooo adding that, thank you so much!

TwoEars: OMGOSH The Little Prince! Do you know the CD-rom that was made? Pretty old, but I have it right now from the library, and it is wonderful. The fox is the best! Surprised
Now that you mention it, I was probably inspired by The Little Prince without knowing it. My planet is bigger than those planets, though. They were puny xD
I've heard of Animal Crossing, but never played it. I saw some pics of it and it looks cute Smile
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Hubalaboo
Posted: Sat Jul 19, 2008 3:57 am Reply with quote
Joined: 26 Jun 2008 Posts: 116 Location: Canada
Stuff added to the main post.
I would like some thoughts on the idea of having no map (near the bottom).
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Wildbluesun
Posted: Sat Jul 19, 2008 4:19 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 12 Dec 2006 Posts: 4266 Location: London, Land of Tea and Top Hats
YAY! =D *hugs the Little Prince*

I think no map would be perfectly okay. As the player would be essentially growing their own world, they'd know their way around pretty well, right?

But, especially at the beginning of the game, it might be a good idea to create a home point that can be easily returned to (either with some form of teleportation, or with a marker like in the Forest).

I say this because it would be all too easy for a new player to head off the small grass patch into the grey of the planet, and never find the grass patch again. That sounds scary and unhappy-causing.

I think that a more painterly style than the Animal Crossing style would probably work best. I imagine this game as being more like a piece of poetry than a game in feel, but Animal Crossing is very gamey and its style reflects that.

Also, if I were you I would get something basic up and running (even just a Flash in which you plant a seed and watch a plant grow) as soon as possible, something that can be posted publicly for feedback and encouragement. Trying to get the whole game done on your own computer before releasing it would be pretty daunting, but adding bits and pieces after a public showing would be easier, I think, if only because you'll undoubtedly get encouragement.

And if you ever want to go commercial, all of that would be an excellent teaser.
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Hubalaboo
Posted: Sat Jul 19, 2008 5:49 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 26 Jun 2008 Posts: 116 Location: Canada
Quote:
But, especially at the beginning of the game, it might be a good idea to create a home point that can be easily returned to (either with some form of teleportation, or with a marker like in the Forest).
I say this because it would be all too easy for a new player to head off the small grass patch into the grey of the planet, and never find the grass patch again. That sounds scary and unhappy-causing.


That's true. Teleportation may fit the game, actually, because the character can turn invisible and all that, but it still sounds a little... I don't know, easy.
Then that can leave the option of something like in the Forest, but I can see players complaining why there aren't markers for other places. ><
Still have to think about these things, eh?

Yes, I don't really want a style like Animal Crossing. Not the atmosphere I want. I want, as you say, a kind of poetic feel, calm, and you can take your time, but where you, as the player, can do something good for the planet. If I make this game successfully, maybe it'll let people think a bit more about our Earth and the condition it's in right now...

I do have a growing plant animation I made before, drawing frame by frame:

I don't have Flash, sadly. I used to have the demo.
Here are some plants/flowers I've modeled so far in Cinema4D:
A vine plant
A yellow flower bud. Or a fruit? xD
A mysterious blue flower... Maybe only blooms at night Wink
I have a mushroom, too, but I wanna fix it up a bit more...
I guess next is to try and model the character, and animate some actions. Then the first prototype, maybe being able to move the character around using arrow keys or something...
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Trinket
Posted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 2:30 am Reply with quote
Joined: 15 Mar 2008 Posts: 1795 Location: Your bathtub.
Hubalaboo wrote:
Wildbluesun wrote:
But, especially at the beginning of the game, it might be a good idea to create a home point that can be easily returned to (either with some form of teleportation, or with a marker like in the Forest).
I say this because it would be all too easy for a new player to head off the small grass patch into the grey of the planet, and never find the grass patch again. That sounds scary and unhappy-causing.


That's true. Teleportation may fit the game, actually, because the character can turn invisible and all that, but it still sounds a little... I don't know, easy.
Then that can leave the option of something like in the Forest, but I can see players complaining why there aren't markers for other places. ><
Still have to think about these things, eh?


May I suggest a large oak-like tree to be a marker?

At the beginning it could be charred, gnarly, and overall appearing sickly. But the more green the planet becomes, the tree begins to heal and flourish, perhaps blossoming and/or bearing fruit.

The ill tree could look something like this.
And the healthy tree could be like this.

I also thought of a question: do you plan to have night and day, and/or seasons? If you are, remember this is a different planet that doesn't have to have the same time or climate as us, so you could make a day as short or as long as you wanted (a single day on the moon is 29.5 days here). You could make up your own seasons and wheather too; be creative.
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Grasswhistle
Posted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 7:28 am Reply with quote
Joined: 07 Feb 2008 Posts: 490
I would definitely play this game. DEFINITELY.

I was thinking normal day/night cycles, and maybe snow and storms every now and then? The snow could slow plant growth - perhaps cause some plants to die or wilt, while rain may speed up growth and cause the ground to look sparkley with dew for a few minutes.
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