Friday, October 16, 2009

Target Audience: Animals!

A concept recently struck me, has anyone actually made a video game whose target audience isn’t humans, but animals (or a specific kind of animal)? Of course, there are some challenges with designing a game for a non-human audience. Anyway I’m going to pick cats to target for this concept, because of the way they play with laser pointers. I haven’t actually made this because I don’t have the money, space, resources, or cats to properly test (my cats live with my parents, 3000 miles away).

Anyway the simplest setup I can think of for getting this to work requires a projector, a wall, and a camera. The camera and projector are going to be at the same spot, and the camera is going to be used to detect the cat’s motion. The simplest game I can think of for this involves a red dot moving around, avoiding the cat, and the game awards the cat a “point” every time the cat “catches” the red dot.

What is going to make the cat care about it’s score though? I know it naturally enjoys chasing red dots, but this is more important when the game gets a little more complex than this; the cat needs to know when it’s doing something right, and the rewards need to be immediate, not delayed. So, I guess have a machine that dispenses kibbles of food when the cat gets a point.

If this works, it’d be interesting to see how much more complicated you could make the game before the cat gets overwhelmed. The next step, I’d say, would be a variation on “Duck Hunt”. Have the birds fly across the screen, if the cat hits a bird, the bird “dies” and the cat gets a point. I’ve seen videos of cat’s hitting birds on a screen online, but has anyone actually made that interactive?

What about Doom? The cat wouldn’t be able to control the camera very easily (although the game could pan left and right if the cat moves to the left or right, but the cat probably wouldn’t be able to understand that). Turn it into an on rails shooter, and have the monsters die when the cat hits them. Simple, would probably be very amusing to watch and very amusing for the cat.

One last idea: Guitar Hero. There’s no way you’d get the cat to strap on a plastic guitar, but what about just hitting the notes on the wall to a rhythm? You’d probably have to remove a lot of the additional distractions on the screen, and I wonder if the cat could understand when its supposed to hit the dots to get its points. At the very least, it’d be an interesting experiment.

Oh ya and then there’s marketability. I don’t have any ideas on that one, would anyone care that much about their cats to buy them an expensive toy when a $2 laser pointer works just as well? Oh wait, some people DO do that. It’s a niche market I guess, although “Cat Plays Doom” is an instant multimillion view movie on youtube.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Plot of my Next Game

In the year 30N, a child was born. His parents were hiding from the Institution, aliens who rule over the galaxy with an iron fist. Shortly after being born, their hiding place was discovered. The kid was teleported to the nearest moon base, and holographically disguised as one of the Institutionalized (colloquially abbreviated as the Ized). He was raised by them to be a fighter, not knowing the details of his human past, but programmed to learn at age 30.

One day at age 30 he was going about his normal alien business when the holograph was deactivated, and he suddenly looked like a human pig. Knowing he would be killed if he was seen by the ized, he ran into hiding trying to figure out what was going on, when a video chip implanted in his brain suddenly explained everything to him. HE KNEW WHAT HAD TO BE DONE. He needed to avenge his fallen parents. Luckily there was a gun shop nearby. He wanted the awesomater, which shot laser bullets made of explosions, but he had no money so he was given the squeaker instead, which shot airsoft pellets. It was enough to protect him until he could afford a cooler gun, or upgrade his current gun.

The first thing he needs to do is clear: get a better gun. So he decides to rob a bank, which involves a lot of stealth since he can't hurt people yet. It's an easy mission, the kung-fu training he was given as a child helped him find the safe. With a new supply of money he could finally afford a good gun that could make aliens bleed and die, and could always make money by robbing the corpses of the aliens he killed so he can upgrade and make more awesome the guns he has, or even get the awesomater.

He realized he needed some defense, so he had to go get some space armor. The only armor shop in the galaxy was in a different space system though, so he had to find his way to the nearest wormhole generator instead. It was heavily guarded by ized troops, so he had to go shooting and kung fu on them to clear a path, before entering the wormhole (when an awesome cutscene plays). He gets the armor and is now ready to infiltrate the main ized base in the garkoblurger system. Along the way he meets a sexy alien chick named Bragana with 3 giant boobs, and they fall in love and fight together for a rest of the game.

He enters the base and starts shooting, guns ablaze. Flashbacks of his mysterious childhood play as hes shooting the evil aliens. Was this right? He is faced with a tough moral decision, but decides to keep killing to avenge his real parents.

Finally he reaches the control room. But what a twist! The chief ized leader is... the ALIEN WHO RAISED HIM AS A CHILD! He says "We may have killed your real parents... but I RAISED YOU. I may not be your real father, but I acted as a father to you. Surely that means something to you?" He replies "But but... you killed them!". He is faced with a moral dilemma, before deciding to kill him. He shoots and an awesome final boss battle begins. When the alien is dead, he hits the self destruct button and he needs to escape the galaxy before it implodes in on itself. On the way out, Bragana slips and falls down. Our hero catches her, but she says it's too late for her and falls into a pit and dies. He screams "NOOOOO" but continues escaping. He gets to a spaceship, and flies it away. As he watches the galaxy implode, a single tear streams down his eye, and the credits roll.