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Creating Your Own Genre

by Nathan Fouts on 10/24/16 10:12:00 am   Expert Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Pig Eat Ball is a tough game to describe succinctly. I've reworked the tagline about "getting fat and barfing" many times, but I've also been working on just what category the game falls into.

Recently I've changed the genre-blend description of Pig Eat Ball to "Arcade-Adventure" which I've not seen used before.

Here is a particularly maze-heavy level with butane torches turning on/off in a maze of screens.

Our starting inspiration for the game has been "What if Ms. Pacman got fat while she ate pellets in the maze?" Our game is clearly rooted in action, adventure, puzzles, and the arcade but this alone wasn't enough to pick a genre. We wanted something more specific than simply "action".

We've been working on the genre description since the beginning. The problem is when you're dealing with a new, strange blend of games, what can you say to link it to the fun things people have already played?

The best fit games we've come up with so far includes:

  • Super Monkey Ball
  • Battle Block Theater
  • Marble Saga Kororinpa
  • Assault Android Cactus

Originally, we first started with "Puzzlish Adventure", a new game description. We worked hard on the word "Puzzlish" to convey to people that the game is "light puzzle solving with action" but I don't feel like, based on reactions I've heard, that this was effective.

 

Intricate, busy, chaotic levels which are a blast to conquer, are the hallmark of Pig Eat Ball levels.

 

 

Then we switched to "Action Adventure", but that conjures up too much fantasy hack and slash and Zelda-style games and we don't want people thinking that. Metroid is an Action-Adventure, but it has the platforming sub-genre to help distinguish it. Pig Eat Ball is a top-down action game, that has hundreds of quick-to-play levels, but is also tied together with giant overworld areas to explore, NPCs to interact with, and mini-quests to embark upon.

Another great arcade-style level, in which you're trapped, frantically dodging spike balls as they fall while eating yummies.

With our "closest games list" in mind, we switched to listing the distinguishing points of the game:

  • Hundreds short arcade-like action levels
  • Large overworlds to explore
  • Over-arching story with hand-created levels (no grinding, not procedural)
  • Top-down action (no platforming)
  • NPCs to interact with, mini-quests to embark upon (not just a list of levels)

Looking at this list, we tried to find the two closest, large categories that would fit.

We came up with "Arcade-Adventure". This name is working pretty well on all accounts. It's meant to make you think of an arcade experience, but with the longer play time and exploration of an Adventure game. Combined with the pixel art and the short level play-times I think the Arcade prefix fits the best. The game also has some "arcade homage" levels that we'll be revealing down the road that will help bridge the game between the 8-10 hour gameplay time and the arcade feel.

Bosses are large, and it's lots of fun to figure out how to defeat them!

What do you think? Would any recent games you can think of fit a genre called "Arcade-Adventure"?  How do you pick your genre for your weird game? I'd love to hear your thoughts, thanks!


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