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A couple weeks ago I wrote an article entitled, "A Game Concept," which was well received by Gamasutra readers. In that article I shared one of my game concepts and asked for feedback from the community.
You can find the previous article and game concept here.
I received a number of comments on what I could do to improve the concept. Continuing this spirit of collaboration I thought I would publish another game concept.
With this concept I tried to take the input from my previous article and apply it to this write-up. I want to thank the people who provided feedback on the previous document. I took the comments to heart and added (hopefully improved) the concept you will find in this document. As I did with the previous concept, I welcome all comments and feedback.
Economy of Scale
I have created a handful of game concepts recently, and part of my thinking while creating these concepts has been about the development, marketing, and sales of these games (if it ever came to the lucky conclusion that these concepts would be made).
The plan I thought would be best went something like this:
- Develop prototypes of at least 3 of the concepts at the same time.
- Pick the strongest of the three and continue into development with that design.
- While the first game is being developed, tune the other concepts or perhaps even throw some away if they are not working.
- Eventually, get one game done and at least 2 other prototypes ready for development.
- Ship the first game and be ready to move quickly on one or both of the others.
Developing multiple games at the same time can provide development savings, marketing, and PR savings as well as many cross-promotion opportunities. For example, the games are all 2D and would require a physics engine. Having this in common could ease the time and cost of developing the prototypes and the full games.
My ultimate goal would be to have at least 3 games which could be released within (let’s say) 6 months of each other. The games would both advertise each other as well as provide bonuses for players who have more than one game in the series.
Examples of an option: When players purchase PowerPoints for one game and own one or more of the other games, they automatically (and with no additional cost) gain 1 PowerPoint for each of the other games.
With the crowded market for games it is increasingly difficult to get new games noticed. Designing incentives for players to play your game is critical. Finding new ways to market and get your game in front of other people is very important. In the case of my concepts, the goal is to create a "family" of games which would cross-promote each other. Built into these games is the ability for players to share (on some level) the "points" received in the games.
More about Me
Before we get further into this, I wanted to share a couple facts about me that I feel are pertinent :
- I am a producer and do not consider myself a designer. I do feel I have design knowledge and can provide very good input and feedback on game play. When I started making games in 1993 I was a programmer and project manager. I soon moved to full time producer and have been the Senior Producer on games for most of my career.
As producer, my goal is to facilitate the creation of the game. I work with every facet of development and publishing to get the best possible game done within the constraints given to me.
- For me it is important to have a strong designer that I can work closely with to help ensure quality and fun. My expectation is that a good designer will polish these game concepts into even better games.
- I have never worked on mobile, social, F2P, etc.
In the 20+ years I have been developing games I have worked on just about every console but no mobile titles. These concepts I am sharing with you have been my efforts to prove (to myself mainly) that I understand the dynamics of a mobile game.
Recently I had a handful of interviews with mostly mobile/social game companies. It has been clear to me that my lack of experience in this space has worked against me. Though 20+ years of video game production experience might be a plus, there is clearly something I am missing in order for me to work on a mobile/social/F2P game. Hopefully working on these game concepts will help strengthen these areas.
As with my previous concept - I welcome all feedback and comments. Let's get to it; let's take a look at my concept:
GAME CONCEPT - STACKIT! - BEGIN
StackIt! by Matt Powers.
This is a quick concept overview of the mobile, free-to-play game, StackIt!
Stack your blocks to reach the goal. Don't let your stack fall or you will lose points. Earn points, challenge your friends, master the most difficult stacks!
StackIt! Is a game of using various size blocks to create the tallest (and widest) possible stack that remains balanced and does not fall over. Players gain maximum points by using as many blocks as possible on the given playfield in their stack.
Game Type: Puzzle
Audience: Casual Gamers
Game Look: 2D, light, fun artwork
Age Range: All ages
Easy to learn puzzle game
Compete against friends (on and offline)
Share PowerPoints with other games in family
Part of the "Matt Powers" family of games
- Gamers should be able to pick up and play the game without instruction.
- Easy to use and intuitive interface for moving and stacking Blocks.
- Players have multiple ways to "solve" a Playfield. Different solutions provide different point totals.
- Ability to challenge players either head-to-head (on or offline) or against "best scores" on playfields.
- Earn PowerPoints which can be used to purchase items such as: playfield skins, powerups, level unlocks, etc...
- Share PowerPoints and unlock features of other games within the same "family" of games.
- Goal is to stack as many of the provided Blocks without the Stack falling over.
- Blocks could be a variety of shapes, sizes, and weights.
- All Blocks put onto the Playfield must either touch a Knuckle or another block.
- The Knuckle is the point where the stack begins. There may be more than one Knuckle on the Playfield. The Knuckle is not necessarily always at the bottom of the playfield.
- Players drag a Block from the Box 'O Blocks and place it wherever they like on the playfield.
- Players have a Box ‘O Blocks from where the Block is picked. As the Blocks are removed from the Box, additional Blocks are revealed. The number of Blocks initially visible and usable to the player varies.
- The Blocks are a variety of shapes and sizes which means players will often create precariously balanced Stacks to use the Blocks.
NOTE: Art style/look is not meant to be represented in this concept. The envisioned style is simple - perhaps a bit whimsical. It is intended that players would be able to modify the look of the Playfield and Blocks by acquiring PowerPoints.
- A Stack is the group of Blocks the players have built up
- There can be more than one Stack on the Playfield, but for this to occur there needs to be more than one Knuckle
- To be a valid Stack it must be balanced and cannot fall over
Knuckles - A Knuckle is a point on the playfield where a Stack begins - the first balance point.
PowerUps - Powerups are items on the playfield. If the players' Stack touches the PowerUp, players can collect it.
Barriers - Playfield Barriers are wall-type objects that can block the players' stack (players will need to stack around the Barriers)
Destination - the Destination is the goal for the players. The goal is for the Stack to reach the Destination. There may be more than one Destination on a Playfield.
- The Playfield is where the players stack their Blocks
- The Playfield always contains at least one Knuckle (which would be the starting point)
- There could be more than one Knuckle
- The Playfield could also contains Barriers and PowerUps
- Once the Blocks are placed on the Playfield they are not locked in place. The Blocks may be moved or rotated on the Playfield at any time which allows the Stacks to be adjusted as the Stack grows.
Box ‘O Blocks
- It is important that the type of the Block, the weight of the Block, and the balance point(s) of the Block is somewhat clear to the player
- Blocks can be rotated
- There are many types of Blocks such as:
- Various Shapes – such as squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, rhombus, etc…
- Heavy/light Blocks – Blocks with varying weights that need to be balanced out (depending on where they are stacked)
- Moving Blocks – Blocks that may move slightly (or turn) during course of the Stack
- Sticky Blocks – Blocks that, regardless of where they are stacked, will not move/slide
- Challenge Blocks – complicated shaped blocks that if used in the stack gain the player bonus points
- Blocks don’t necessary have to be actual “blocks”
- Blocks could be types of fruit, household objects, pieces of candy, etc…
- Varying the themes of the Blocks in the Box creates more variety and fun in the game and playfield
Stacking Up or Down
It is possible for Knuckles to not be on the bottom of the playfield. This will mean in order for players to utilize maximum playfield space (and hence then use more Blocks which gets more points ), they will need to “stack down”.
Initially, stacking down may sound unintuitive – think of a mobile. Playesr can hang Blocks from Blocks above. This may occur even if the Knuckle is at the bottom of the Playfield. Players may stack up and then hang some Blocks off the corners of stacked upper Blocks.
Stacking Down – with any Block, players can opt to “hang” the Block from another Block instead of stacking the Block on top of another Block. Hanging is an option players pick when placing the Block onto the Playfield. The Block is hung from another Block by a “string” (which is visible).
- Players can be given all (or most) of the Blocks from the beginning and can pick the order they like
- Players are only given a couple Blocks at a time and must use a Block (or PowerUp) before getting a new Block
- Blocks can come down/appear “Tetris style” and players must use them in a stack within a certain period of time.
Balance option (uses the devices movement sensors)
- Players can play with the option to turn on the “Balance”
- The Balance utilizes the hardware devices ability to sense movement
- Players get a bubble level (similar to what you would use in construction) on the screen. The bubble level reacts/moves based on the movement of the players' device
- Moving the device effects the Playfield
- If players moves their device too much, they can knock their Stack over
- Can be used in two player games
Freezing Time or DTC (Digital Time Control)
- Players have a time bar which fills up automatically as they play the game
- The amount of time players have saved is carried over to each level
- Players can use this time up by either pausing the game or rewinding the game
- Players can also build up time units with PowerUps
- Pausing the game is often necessary to stack two Blocks to balance each other out (or create a complicated Stack all at once)
- Pausing can also be useful to stop a Stack from falling over.
- Players can rewind if their Stack has fallen over
- Players may want to rewind if they want to change how they have created their Stack
- Using the DTC does not penalize the players point total (as a collapsed Stack would for example)
- Box ‘O Blocks Reset – gives a new set of Blocks in the Box
- Block Swap – Players can swap a block on the playfield for a block in the Box
- Bonus Points – As it says, bonus points
- Time Freeze – Add to the DTC meter
- Change Weight of Block – Can modify a Block's weight
- Quake stabilizer – Stops any quake from upsetting the Stack
- Players get points for the amount of Blocks they use
- Players get points for using all Knuckles on the playfield
- Players get points if all their blocks are connected
- Players can gain bonus points by using the “Challenge Blocks” in their Stack
- Players can gain bonus points by picking up PowerUps from the playfield.
- Points convert to PowerPoints which can then be used to purchase Powerups, unlock levels, unlock Blocks, etc…
- There could be playfield events such as “quakes” that occur.
- These quakes would only occur on advanced/higher levels
- Players get notified prior to quake; “Quake coming in X seconds….”
- If Stack is unstable, then the quake could knock it over
- Other playfield events are possible….
Pass and Play - Two players take turns stacking blocks until one player knocks that stack over or is unable to place another block
Online - Players get the same Blocks and the same Playfield and see who can stack more (either with time limit or without)
Beat My Score -Players can share their scores (via Facebook for example) and their friends are challenged to beat the score (on same playfield with same blocks)
As with my other game concept, PowerBall!, this game also utilizes PowerPoints. PowerPoints are the commodity which is earned (or purchased) while playing the game. And the player can use PowerPoints in a variety of ways:
- Purchase game skins for different looks to the Blocks and Playfields
- Unlock future levels
- Transfer PowerPoints to other game (such as PowerBall!)
Family of Games
This game concept is meant to be released with a plan of staggered releases of other games within the same game "family". Currently, this "family" is defined as the group of game concepts designed by Matt Powers. This family of games share attributes and traits which will appeal to gamers. These games would promote each other. These games would allow the transfer of PowerPoints between each other. The goal is develop, release, and promote games together and have these games work together.
GAME CONCEPT - STACKIT! - END
There is our concept to start. As with my previous concept I have questions for you:
- Does it sound fun?
- Does this write-up convey an image to you? A style of game?
- Is there enough information in the concept for the development and publishing team to understand the goals of the game?
- Enough for sales/marketing to evaluate and make predictions?
- Enough for design team to detail out the design?
- Enough for the technical team to identify the risk areas?
- What do you think of the idea of a "family" of games?
I would love to get your input.
If you are enjoying these conversations and game concept articles, let me know and I can release more of my game concepts. At this time I have 5 game concepts in this "family" of games. Besides PowerBall! and StackIt! I also have been working on Zugz!, Go Go Robot!, and Pave The Planet!
I was asked by someone if I was worried "that someone would steal your ideas?" And my answer? No, someone "stealing" my ideas is not a big concern of mine. In fact, it would be a compliment. I am more worried that these games will never get done. Don't get me wrong, I would prefer to be involved with the development of these ideas, but having them developed at all is better than nothing. If someone is interested in creating these games - that would be super cool. And if they made the game and gave me some sort of credit? Even nicer. But for now, I thoroughly enjoy sharing with the community and getting your input.
About the Author
Matt Powers has been making video games for over 20 years. While currently unemployed and looking for work, Matt has had time to write many new game concepts.
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