Christmas Game – Research and Plan (part 1)

We found out in Friday’s classes that we are responsible for conceptualising and developing a Christmas-themed game that could be showcased on the Sunderland College’s website. There were a few guidelines we’ll have to keep in mind:

  • It needs to be simple with basic controls that the player can just pick up without much effort. Keeping it simple also means it can be developed in the short time we have until our deadline.
  • It has to be quick to play, with a round of play averaging one minute or less.
  • It should be score or time-based, where the players can share and compare their scores with one another.

We could show our ideas via a variety of ways, including sketches/concept art, digital art, character designs, mock-ups, and finally a finished Flash game. Keeping these things in mind, Tony asked us to do a little bit of research into quick, online Flash-based games that could provide a stepping-stone to an idea of our own. I played quite a number of games, but there were a few addictive ones that stuck out in my mind.

1. Cat in a Cape

This game was actually quite visually appealing with jolly music. The colours were eye-catching and the gameplay was very similar to classic Mario (there were even blocks that you had to hit to get power-ups or coins). There were roaming enemies you had to try and defeat, while trying to get the highest score. However, the only downside was it could do on for a very long time – each level was a few minutes long. For our Christmas games, I don’t know if this would work particularly well.

2. Trickochet

Meanwhile, this game reminded me of a golf/archery hybrid – your goal was to use the obstacles in your way and bounce your ball to destroy the floating targets. The levels became progressively harder. To score the highest points, you needed to score as much below par as you could. However, the fault I found with this game was there was no negative repercussions for falling off platforms, hurting your mouse. I feel like if they’d included lives, you would be more careful about how you threw the mouse about to get the best trick shot. This also meant that you could go until the very last level with “dying”. This isn’t something I’m looking for in my potential Christmas game.

3. Cave Blast

Someone else in class showed me this game and I instantly enjoyed it. This game was both aesthetically pleasing and fun to play. You can be a variety of characters, blasting your way through enemies in a cave. Bats, bugs, and all kinds of baddies try to take you down. This game incorporated a threat of losing prematurely (health that would go down as you took more damage), keeping score, and power-ups. I think this game is a good example of something quick and addictive you can play casually Рa game would last a couple minutes, depending on how good you were.

Overall, it was interesting to go explore some examples of Flash games that are quick/fun to play. Moving forward, the class actually came up with a very interesting and quirky idea. Rather than working as individuals, we could work as a whole on a Warioware-esque Christmas game. Everyone would be responsible for a day in the month of December.

The idea will be to fill the overall game with quick, one-shot mini-games that will add up into a final score.¬†Those who wanted to be involved started brainstorming for ideas we could use to fill up the days. Everything was fair game, ranging from a snowball fight to a final boss level (I won’t reveal spoilers yet!). There were some excellent ideas thrown around and I’m looking forward to starting on mine: I picked one I’d actually thrown into the mix myself, where you’re an elf who has to put together the pieces of a toy.

I’ll continue to develop this idea over the weekend so I can start work on it as soon as possible. My general concept of the level will be the pieces are in a parts bin and the player will have to click/drag the correct pieces to the assembly table in the order the elf is shouting out, all within the very low time limit. It feels ambitious given that we haven’t had a lot of practice in Flash, but I’m confident I’ll be able to flesh out this idea with some extra research.

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