Ludum Dare 41: Game Ideas

For Ludum Dare 39 I did a little bit of pre-preparation by going through all the themes in the final round and coming up with a handful of game ideas for each. That turned out to be a pretty good jam for us!

With Ludum Dare 40 we were just coming out of GitHub Game Off as the LD was starting, so there was no time and it was the first time in about 6 jams that we failed to deliver something. To be fair, we tried using something brand-new in Unity and to build a very complex algorithm for our game idea, so the lack of preparation was not really the cause of failure. Still, I feel much better waking up, looking at the theme and knowing I have a few game ideas to fall back on if I can’t come up with something better.

So without further ado, here’s my list of game ideas for Ludum Dare 41. The (+1/-1) in the title shows how I voted. Any idea with a Codename is a game idea Sas or I came up with in the past that we’ve been looking for an excuse to implement. These are quite fleshed out ideas and you had to have been there for the conversation to understand, so I’m not going to elaborate on these unless someone asks - the code names will at least hint at what the idea is.

(-1) You are the weapon
  • Kamikaze pilot. Would probably work best as 1st or 3rd person flying sim, but perhaps also as a side-scroller.
  • X-Men superhero game. Probably a platformer, focus on weapons-grade superpowers.
  • Martial arts game. Side-scroller or fighting game.
  • Play as a suicide bomber. Top-down shooter gameplay with a self-destruct as your best move.
  • Codename: Royal Faeces
(-1) A light in the dark
  • Light without darkness is meaningless… extinguish all the other lights so you can be the greatest light of them all!
  • A horror game with most of the world in darkness and just your torchlight to light your way. FPS or platformer.
  • You are a sun. Fly around and see how worlds change with your passing. Please leave your realism and reality at the door.
(+1) Keep growing
  • A farming game. TBS / RTS.
  • Tree simulator. Leaves gather energy from sunlight. Roots gather water from the ground. Spend energy and water to additional leaves, branches or roots.
  • 4X strategy game where you have to keep growing your empire to sustain it… Your supporters get less happy over time, to restore their happiness levels you must conquer to give them more new things, failure to do so will result in being executed by the unhappy populace.
(-1) 3 rules
  • This instantly makes me think: “The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club!”… not quite sure what to do with that though. Perhaps a narrative-based side-scroller that tries for a nice twisted narrative.
  • Literal mechanistic interpretation: a game with only three rules. This seems quite hard to execute an interesting game with… Per example Fluxx is a very simple set of rules used for a wide variety of differently themed Fluxx card games. Fluxx games are pretty good at being a relatively quick and light games, but it is too random and lacking in strategic play for us to play often (my gaming group considers it more of a light diversion or warm-up game than a serious game). Fluxx at the start of a game has 2 rules: draw 1 and play 1 - cards you play then add additional rules or replace existing rules. So I would say rule 1: when / how can the player change a rule. Rule 2 & 3 will need to define your core gameplay and be swappable for new versions of the same rule or completely new rules.
(-1) Shelter
  • Shelter from the world-storm. I’ve been listening to audio books of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive trilogy, where the world is regularly buffeted by extremely violent high-storms and human society is forced to settle in places that provide shelter from the storms. So a game, side scroller or FPS, where the player must gather resources and build a shelter to survive. The storm will do damage to their shelter, so they may need to stay awake during the night to patch holes. Kind-of evokes the early game in Minecraft: at night-time you have to build a shelter to survive the creepers and you don’t have a bed yet, so you have to wait through the night listening to the creepy monsters outside.
  • Animal shelter / Homeless shelter: a management game where you have to administer a shelter.
  • Nuclear war shelter. Manage a small group of survivors trying to survive a nuclear war by sheltering in a technologically advanced underground shelter. Note: This has been done by the Fallout franchise on mobile, but I didn’t enjoy the game very much…
(+1) Unusual magic
  • Having recently listened to most of the Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere books, I think he is the undisputed king of cool magical systems. Allomancy’s steel push and iron pull would probably be the most interesting to try turning into a game.
  • Build a magic system that lets people manipulate colour on a colour wheel (change to a complementary is expensive, change to an analogous colour is cheap), each colour has a different effect on the physics system.
  • Codename: Royal Faeces
(-1) Color changes everything
  • Portal goo. Portal 2 had a section where you had a goo gun instead of a portal gun, with different colours doing different things to the physics properties of a surface like reducing friction or making a surface bouncy. This idea could probably explored further in a 2D platformer setting.
  • Have a monochrome world. Except for buttons that change the world’s colour… and when the colour changes make a drastic change to the rules of the world. 2D platformer.
  • Build a magic system that lets people manipulate colour on a colour wheel (change to a complementary is expensive, change to an analogous colour is cheap), each colour has a different effect on the physics system.
(+1) At the beginning there is nothing
  • Make a game that allows players to start with a blank slate and then build a world using components of all of the various creation myths of the world. May end up being more of a toy than a game though, so try to think of a goal for the world the player is building. Ideally this should simulate so quickly that the player can do many levels trying many different builds for different purposes.
  • Rags to riches economic simulator like Jones In The Fast Lane.
  • Colonisation of a new world / continent.
(+1) Combine 2 incompatible genres (e.g. turn based racing)

These mash-ups are based on the list of genres on Wikipedia. I assume combinations that have been done like FPS with RPG elements are possible, so really going for the outrageous, seems to be impossible set of mash-ups here.

  • A casual-4X strategy game. The should have the complexity and epic scope of a 4X strategy game like Civilization or Master of Orion, but deliver a meaningful amount of juicy gampeplay in a short 5 to 10 minute play session.
  • A rhythm-racing game. The car races around the track against AI players of similar skill. The player plays a rhythm game and mistakes cause the AI to commit a driving error, disadvantaging the player, while a good streak gives a bonus to the driving game.
  • An FPS-Collectable Card Game. Instead of pick-ups for weapons and armour, the player collects energy from the level which is used to play cards from their hand which provide weapons or other benefits like armour, teleporting, etc.
(-1) You really shouldn’t mix those
  • ‘Tis a cop-out, but see Combine 2 incompatible genres (e.g. turn based racing).
  • Old idea for a puzzle game where you are in charge of a bunch of dwarves throwing bombs down into a mine to blast free precious gems and metals and then sending your less important dwarves down to fetch the stuff. Now just add mixing your own bombs from different alchemical ingredients and a timer forcing you to multi-task by throwing down bombs while crews are retrieving the loot.
  • Take the potions sub-game from any good old classical roguelike, add the ability to apply mixology to create a new potion from two existing potions with results from ranging from great to terrible and then add a healthy dose of encouraging experimentation.
(-1) Floating islands
  • An Anno 1404 style economic simulator, but instead of using ships to ferry stuff to and fro between islands, the islands float freely and randomly over the landmasses below, so you have to be opportunistic with your trading and long-term strategic supply chains are basically impossible. Yes, this is a Laputa Castle In The Sky interpretation of floating.
  • As above, but a more realistic floating island.
  • The world is drowning due to global warming. Emulate Elon Musk and save humanity by becoming a floating island entrepreneur.
(-1) It spreads
  • Play as a disease trying to spread. Boring… it’s been done.
  • Play as a daring disease-fighter from the CDC… oh wait, boring… that’s a board-game called Pandemic (the board game is quite good and I don’t know of a computer equivalent, so this one might not be completely dead in the water).
  • What if it was an idea? Try to build a game that explores memes, whether the generally puerile web kind or the deadly serious religious kind.
(-1) The environment changes you
  • Build a game that explores the nature versus nurture debate.
  • Mutants galore! Exposure to something in the world causes rapid drastic mutation in humans… start out as a vanilla human, expose yourself to this mutagenic substance and hope for the best. If what you get is good, try to avoid further exposure that might harm you and use your new powers for world domination.
  • As above, but explore more realistic long-term evolution.
(-1) Fragile
  • Bullet-hell style anything… the player has 1 HP, if anything touches you,you die.
  • Jenga but in a more interesting single-player way. Built an elaborate fragile stable system, set the player loose and see how they wreak havoc with it when their small actions impact the larger system in unexpected ways. Chaos theory. Of course setting up said fragile system will be much easier said than done…
  • Any exploration of how fragile humanity.
(+1) You are what you eat
  • Have a game with a number of different types of monsters. Kill them and eat them to become them and in so doing work your way from the bottom to the top of the food chain.
  • Give the player a take-out menu, they order dinner, go home, eat and then go to sleep… Then they wake up, but now they are an animal (carnivore, herbivore, omnivore) who must try to survive the night. PS. this is a huge amount of work…
  • Codename: Royal Faeces
(-1) Self-replication
  • ‘Tis a cop-out, but see It spreads.

Was originally a +1, but I just decided that this theme is boring like It spreads, so changed to a down vote.