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In GTA (and RDR) you're forced to do things for other people (sometimes utterly stupid or abhorrent things, that your character may or may not comment on but will go ahead with anyway) before they are willing to help you. This is a fact of life in all video games (collect 20 wolf pelts anyone?), but in Rockstar games it takes on its own tenor for me, for some reason. Part of the reason I'm so enamoured with Red Dead Redemption and didn't think much of the GTA games I played is because it's blatantly obvious the main character is only doing these things because he's held at ransom and he's resigned to being a criminal and a murderer, not because someone asked him to set a village on fire and he went 'why the hell not'.*

I also found that distressing blog article by that would-be pick up artist today. I'd rather eat a live piglet than read it again or describe it, but I can find the link if you really want to know. Suffice to say it's the belief that a man deserves sex if he gives a woman gifts or privileges taken to a distressing extreme.

So that combined with RDR gave me this strange inclination to make a game based on the concept of such 'obligations'.

You'd have a very clear goal, that means a great deal to the player. The quest-bearing NPCs help you, but start expecting things in return, either that you do things for them or that you give them things that belong to you, which may involve body and soul. If you don't give it to them, they become unhelpful, start refusing to help and eventually grow malevolent. But what else are you going to do? Fight an entire city/government/crime organisation/swarm of flying jellyfish/whatever by yourself with a stick and a garbage can lid?

It doesn't have to be a huge game, it could even be a little statement like increpare's take on Mass Effect 2. I suppose the pivotal thing is that the game give you the benefits that you need to proceed in the game first and THEN makes you work for it, not the other way around.

When I put it like that it sounds like just the sort of art-trendy-statement game people on indiegames.com hate. Heh.

The other problem is that Rockstar has the benefit of huge money and employees willing to be flogged into creating a game that's good enough on a storytelling and etc. level to give you an incentive to do these things. Some budget indie text adventure game or what have you would need horrifyingly good writing to give people the same inclination. Still, it's something to think about.

* But I'm not your average GTA player and I'm probably one of like... ten people, ever, who cares about this. I'm the only person I know IRL whose first actions in a Rockstar game aren't 'steal a car' and 'make like Frank Miller'. I will concede however that the mission in The Ballad of Gay Tony where you steal a train is baaaadaaass.
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WASHIZU TIC-TAC-TOE
Inspired by a challenge in that game design book by Ian and Brenda
And I swear I came up with the game before the title

You have a board with nine squares on it in a typical noughts and crosses configuration, and a bag. The bag contains eight plastic squares
Three opaque squares with crosses on them
Three opaque squares with noughts on them
Two see-through squares, one with a nought and one with a cross.

Players declare who will play noughts and who will play crosses. Randomly determine who will start. (Possible alternation: Crosses always start?)

Draw two tiles to start.

Each turn, the player puts a tile face-down on the square, then draws a tile from the bag. Obviously, the see-through tiles will be obvious as to what they are, but the others will be a mystery.

Play continues until all tiles are down. The person who finishes last (i.e. after the other person plays the last tile) can automatically claim the empty tile as a nought or a cross as appropiate.

The tiles are then turned over. The winner is the person who successfully creates a line. Draws can occur if both people make lines or if no lines are created.

The loser loses a pint of blood (optional)

RON RON RON RON RONNNNNN!



Possible variant that'd probably end badly:

TIC-TAC-JERK

Three players
Four by four square to play on (So you have to get four in a row)
Fifteen squares
- Ten are normal, half noughts and half crosses
- Four are see-through, half noughts and half crosses
- A brightly-coloured card with a cross on one side and a nought on the other
One player is noughts, one is crosses, the last is trying for a draw.
People draw from the bag until one person gets the brightly-coloured double-sided card. The person to his left is Noughts and the perosn to his right is Crosses. Play commences from Noughts to Crosses to Jerk.
The jerk keeps his double-sided card. He is only allowed two cards at a time like the others, so it is up to him when he wants to play it. As above, he declares whether the last square is a nought or a cross before the cards are flipped.

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