Bring on 2014!

Its the first day of the summer holidays today, which means it is the first day of the annual Game Summer project, where Dan and I conspire to build a game based on his designs and creativity.

We had our ‘launch meeting’ today, where we talked about ideas for the game.

Dan was keen to do an “endless runner” game in the style of Temple Run, and lots of other games he loves on his iPod Touch. So we had a good chat about cloning and the way that once one good game comes out there are lots and lots of games that just copy it. Dan decided he didn’t just want to make a direct copy of Temple Run, so we looked for ways the game could be completely different, even if it used some of the same obstacle dodging mechanics.

He came up with the idea of having chunks of running followed by word-puzzles, which unlocked the next section. I suggested he come up with ways to make the running sections be more integrated with the word puzzles, so it wasn’t two different games put together. He suggested that, as you run, you pick up the letters you need, then have to make a word at the end to continue. He suggested that if the word was FOUR, and you missed the F, you could continue, because you can make OUR, but you’d have fewer points. I’m really proud of his design, I think it has a bunch of neat properties.

We then discussed scoring, as he is very math oriented. He wanted to add double-word-score and triple-word-score powerups (he plays scrabble with us, so the connection was obvious), and then suggested we have a ‘minus-word-score’. After I explained negative multiplication to him (which he got pretty much immediately), he figured out that, if you pick up a minus-word-score you’d want to make the smallest word at the end of the level: to lose the least points, an excellent inversion of the strategy. Over dinner he figured out that two minus tiles would take you back into positive territory again. So we have the basis of a scoring system.

We also discussed the aesthetic, but we'll be coming back to that tomorrow, so more details then.

All in all an excellent and long afternoon, culminating in a very geeky meal. Game Summer III is off to an exciting start, and Dan is very pleased with himself.

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