Sometimes, despite the best of intentions, my entries for Game Design Challenges don’t make it to Game Career Guide. What follows is a trio of entries that for various reasons were never submitted. The game designs are raw and largely unfinished, but are being recorded for the purposes of posterity

Game Design Challenge: Gravity Game

Bolt Man: The Singularity Project

Lorenz Boltzmann is back! After surviving his encounter with the nefarious Dr. Drift Appledoom (see Game Design Challenge: No Jumping), Doctor Boltzmann has returned to his first love: particle physics. Now, in a daring attempt to prove the existence of the elusive graviton, Dr. Boltzmann has developed a way to create and control very small, stable singularities in a laboratory environment.

The Game

The Singularity Project is a casual puzzle game. The goal of the game is to guide a single particle fired from a stationary particle projector across a testing area to a stationary particle detector. The testing areas all contain various obstacles and one or more singularities. The particles travel in a straight line when fired and must by guided across the testing area by manipulating the individual gravity of each singularity. The particles are attracted by the gravitational force of the singularities, but are absorbed by the singularities and destroyed on contact.

Each singularity (there could be more than one) has gravitational force that can be adjusted by the player in order to guide particles towards the particle detector. But, all singularities have a minimum gravitational force. Which means that none of the singularities can be “turned off.”

Across the testing areas are stationary walls that are impassable to the fired particles, but will cause the particles to deflect upon collision. In addition to the walls, there could very well be various types of obstacles that help or hinder a particle’s path across the testing area. Maybe some levels require players to place obstacles or walls in order to create a path towards the particles detector.

The game design, or at least the idea of uncontrollable balls flying across a game space being pushed and pulled by invisible forces, was influenced in part by blurredvision’s Chaos Theory. And, I would imagine that The Singularity Project if created would feature similar game play and level design.

Game Design Challenge: Seuss It

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (With apologies)

Can you imagine the Places You’ll Go! You’ll go off to Great Places!
You can go any direction you choose. You’re the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

You might get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space. But, somehow you’ll escape to find the bright places.

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But, on and on you will hike and I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are. You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.

And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed!

be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

The Game

Oh! The Places You’ll Go! is the ultimate sandbox game. There’s no real goal other than to travel EVERYWHERE and see EVERYTHING. In fact, that is the point – to go everywhere and discover everything. The entire game is structured around awards and discoverables. (check out Unlocking Achievements: Rewarding Skill With Player Incentives for a primer)

But, in order to get everywhere and surmount the various Seussian environmental obstacles and puzzles, the player is going to need help. So, using parts and techniques learned across the world from different Seussian cultures, the player builds zany vehicles to help him traverse the landscape. Alternatively, the player could choose to ride one of the myriad creatures found across the world. Or, the player could integrate a vehicle design with a strange creature to get a Lumplack driven Zipper-wheeled Zarrow.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go! is one part sandbox, one part Lego Mindstorms, one part Spore and all fun!

Game Design Challenge: Restaurant Game

The Great and Wonderful Mr. Kitchen

With the thought that restaurants live and die by the quality of their menu and the skill with which it is prepared, The Great and Wonderful Mr. Kitchen casts the player as an executive chef in a new restaurant. The game progresses in one week increments with six “days” of cooking that last a few minutes each and one “day” of menu building that lasts until a player chooses to continue.

The player must build a menu of five dishes using both popular and inventive ingredients. Each ingredient costs a certain amount of money and each dish must contain at least three ingredients. For instance, a simple cheeseburger menu item would be made with burger, bun and cheese. But a more complicated cheeseburger might be made with spicy queso cheese, guacamole, onion rings, burger and bun. Each ingredient has certain compatibility factors that are kept secret from the player but determine what will appeal to customers palates.

Once the menu in built, the player enters the kitchen and prepares for the onslaught. During the week, each “day” is essentially a wave of customer orders. Each customer’s order contains a various number of menu items which need to be prepared (by combining ingredients) and cooked (by using available cooking space… be careful of over-cooking) before being served. The customers come in at varying rates (rushes at lunch and dinner) and order a variety of menu items. Dishes are ordered by customers based on ingredient compatibility, familiarity (see the plain vanilla cheeseburger above) and dish inventiveness (a strange combination that just works.

Customers will return and the restaurant will be more busy if there is the right amount of menu variety (not too much), the orders are cooked and prepared accurately (Guitar Hero is a good example of game accuracy vs. real world accuracy) and the orders area served quickly. If a restaurant does well the rush periods will be longer, which in theory should lower order accuracy and serving speed which will moderate the rush length and the customer frequency to what each player can handle.

At the end of the week, sales are totaled and the player is given his scores, stats and new bankroll. With money in hand, the player looks over his ingredient list (ingredients are a great unlockable) and the player constructs a new menu. Rinse and repeat.