The Game Plan: Minimum Viable Product

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In the previous posts we talked about how to create a budget for your game, some helpful tips if you’re not a programmer and finally we went over the best ways to help you in getting started. Now it’s time to talk about actually making something you can actually call the game.

What is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?

The idea of a MVP is to take the core mechanics of your game without any thrills or bells and whistles and put them to the test. This helps you get a working product and make iterations on it if you notice something doesn’t work the way you intended or just isn’t fun to play. This is also a huge way to save time and energy if say, that feature you spent months making graphics and 3D models and sounds for isn’t actually all that fun and you end up just tossing it out later.

How do I decide what is MVP?

First let’s take time to look at the features you wrote down when you were getting started. Now go through your list and take everything out that isn’t 100% essential to a base line working game. This usually includes things like, energy booster packs or power ups or multiple levels, or more advanced variations on a more basic feature. This also includes most graphics and 3D models and sounds and sound effects. While those are nice to have most times they are not actually essential to a working, playable game. Take pong for instance, you can play the core mechanics of the game with square pixel art just as well as you can with a 3D soccer ball with trail effects and a flashy background of a soccer field with soccer goals and kicking sounds every type you hit the ball. The core mechanics of the game remain the same despite the addition of the graphics and sounds and sound effects.

Prioritize speed and working game mechanics over quality

Since your MVP is essentially your playground to test out your game ideas we don’t want to spend thousands of hours perfecting something before we can even figure out if it’s going to work well enough or not. That means your super special spin kick with high quality physics computations isn’t all that important when you realize enemies are too hard to kill or the level isn’t playable or your character can die too easily.

Instead use this time to make something ugly, crappy, and even glitchy as long as the core game mechanics are in place and working. This will start to give you a feel for how what you’re making will actually play. It will tell you right away if something is too hard, or a level is too short, or your character is jumping too high or not high enough, or that your quest system is impossible to complete.

For a lot of people this kind of thing makes them feel “icky” and instead they strive right away for the “perfect, glitch free” game right from the start. This will lead you down the rabbit hole of not good enoughs. The character’s movement isn’t good enough, or the colors aren’t good enough, or the music, etc, etc. Striving for perfection at this stage is a totally moot point when you don’t even know if your base line is even worth putting the time and effort into it.

MVP done? Now it’s time for feedback!

Once you have some semblance of an MVP it’s time for you to get feedback. I like to get feedback as soon as possible that what it’s easier to change things that I may have missed earlier in the process when there are fewer things to take into account in the big picture of the gameplay.

Feedback is also a great way to find issues you hadn’t considered such as the speed of this level gives me a headache or I can’t tell the difference between an ally or enemy. It will also help you figure out what other people think about the game and if they find it fun to play or not. After all, no one wants to spend time playing a game if they don’t think it’s fun, or it’s too hard to learn, or it’s too slow/fast to keep their attention. That

Word of Advice on MVP Feedback

Don’t ignore constructive criticism even if it’s not what you want to hear. That doesn’t mean you have to change or add anything anyone has ever asks you for — it means you need to take those things into consideration going forward. Ignore the feedback that focus on your aesthetics — at least initially — because you can always change and fix those later and an MVP really shouldn’t focus on graphics at this point. Core mechanics and gameplay are much harder to tackle and fix once you’ve invested lots of time and energy into them.

Why Making A Game Takes the Fun Out of It (and how to fix this)

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I see it all the time, people coming into forums and online communities for games and game developers asking how to make a game or how to get their ultra cool idea that everyone will love and has never been done before off the ground and make it a tangible reality. Let’s get things straight, we love games because they’re fun and entertaining. It drives our creative vision and imagination and offers an escape from the mundane and the boring reality that is our lives. This passion, this drive to express ourselves and have fun is often what leads people to try their hand at making their own games. Many will start this journey but very few will finish it and even fewer will finish it with a successful and positive outcome (and let’s face it, money in your pockets). So why does this happen? Why do so many people start down this path of learning and creativity and adventure for fun that ends up leaving them broken, frustrated and depressed? The reality is that games are a lot of work and the very nature of making a game isn’t even a little bit fun. In many ways it’s the exact opposite of what we’re trying to achieve. So how does this happen and what can we do to fix it? Let’s break it down from the point of view of an Indie game developer whose a one man shop (or small shop) trying to make a game.

Lack of skills

You want to make a game but you’ve never programmed before, you don’t know anything about what’s required to make the type of game you want to create and even if you have those things covered you may not have all the skills you need to make it happen. Just because you can program doesn’t mean you can draw or compose artwork or market your finished product if you ever get that far. As an indie game developer you really have to be a jack of all trades. Think about trying to build a house if you’ve never built a house before. What happens if you only know how to frame the house but not how to do plumbing and electrical and tile work and all the other things that are required to finish the house? You end up with just the shell of a house that is lacking in so many ways you can hardly call it a house. This is one of the biggest problems I see with indie game devs — they lack the skills to accomplish what they’ve set out to do and they’re not prepared to outsource when they need to, which brings me to my next point.

Budget constraints

Making games is inherently expensive. Even if you create your own game framework and develop your own models/artwork, sounds and music you still have to — at a minimum — invest in a computer and dedicate hundreds of hours towards the development of your game. Those hours add up and while you’re developing your game you’re not earning a living that you need to support yourself and/or your family. Yes, that’s right, you still need to eat and buy necessities and support yourself and/or your family which is why even if you do have the funds outsource some of the work you lack the skills for you’re still fighting a losing battle towards my next point.

Time constraints and distractions

Supporting yourself and your family means that you’ll still need a full time job even as you chase the ethereal dream of creating your own game. Your time is precious and what little of it you have left after your regular day job has to be split between your other financial and personal commitments. Your kids need their parents and your house and car need to be maintained and you’ll struggle to find the proper work/life balance amidst all of the chaos that you juggle on a daily basis without adding the complexities of your game into the mix.

Technical problems, bugs, new frameworks and advances

So even if you can overcome all these odds so far you’ll still find yourself stuck hitting roadblocks as your game progresses. Technical problems you didn’t predict or forsee early on (and how could you, you’re still just learning yourself) end up being the bane of your game’s existence. Now you have to go back and re-write and re-factor and debug until you’re so frustrated you could pull all of your hair out and go bald. New frameworks and technological advances will make your second guess yourself or roll back to square one because you really do want to upgrade your SDK and add in the new dynamic system and better bump map texturing because who doesn’t want their game to be using the newest, latest and greatest technology available? No one wants to play a game that doesn’t have the same bells and whistles that their competition does because they took the the extra time/budget/testing cycle hits to go with the greater tech.

Slow progress and scope creep

Ultimately these things combined will drag your game down. What may have started off well and progressing quickly has suddenly slowed to a snail’s pace. Things suddenly feel like they’re never getting done or you have so many issues on your plate that it feels like there’s never an end in sight. Your game has hit a standstill and isn’t advancing like it was in the beginning and this is awfully discouraging and frustrating. The scope of your project has suddenly tripled and your todo list is a never-ending tally of bug fixes and re-factors and speed optimizations that need to be addressed for any chances of your game seeming like it’s something worth playing.

Early demo failures and monotonous repetition

If you’ve made it far enough to put together early demos and alpha access then pat yourself on the back — most people will never make it this far and you’ve just become a member of an elite club that deserves a badge of honor. The only problem is your demo gets horrible reviews, you realize your controls are too hard to use and this puts you into a crazy monotonous cycle of playing a particular part of your game over and over again as you attempt to fine tune it and make it more playable and more fun.

Never good enough

Unfortunately the truth is that your game will never be good enough. Someone will always find something to complain about even if you see some great feedback and helpful critiques that, if implemented, could really take your game to the next level and set you apart from your competition. Your controls will never be 100% perfect, your menu system may be too hard to read or too complex to navigate and you’ll never quash all the bugs that have been reported partly because you can’t re-create them all because your game is being run and tested under hundreds of different environments and hardware and operating systems that you didn’t have access to (and probably never will) as you were developing. If you’ve made it here this might just be the time for you to throw in the towel and say goodbye to all the blood, sweat and tears you succumbed to in order to make it this far.

Overcoming It All

If this has discouraged you against making your own game — good. Making a game isn’t easy and it’s not something for everyone so don’t waste your time early on if you’re not prepared to go through everything I’ve already mentioned and be able to walk away without anything to show for it. However that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make a game or that it’s impossible to do it either. Where there is a will there’s a way and let me show you how.

  • Map out your game design, features, characters and how the game works. Now create lots of small, easy tasks you can accomplish in order to see your core game mechanics to completion enough that you could play a simple version of your game without any extra bells and whistles. Set yourself up to do as little as you have to but as much as you need to in order to get a completed version of your game.
  • If you lack the skill to do something you have two options. The first is that you resign yourself to taking the time to learn this new skill and the next is that you can outsource the skill to someone who’s already achieved it. You don’t have to be an expert programmer to make a game, just an adequate one. If you’re going to invest time into learning a new skill don’t dwell on it for too long, learn enough that you feel confident you can accomplish the task at hand and then move on. Investing too much time in learning a skill will start you down a path that walks further and further away from working on your game.
  • Sit down and map out all of the expenses you foresee as being necessary to complete your game. Now triple it. If you can’t afford to spend this amount of money into your game then you need to go back to your concept and re-work it until you get a budget that you can work with. If you’re really determined you can look for some outside investors but don’t count on this — ever. Most investors want to see a fully working demo before they’ll even consider opening their pocketbooks and investors will demand more than 50% of whatever profits you make from your game when it’s done.
  • Your time is precious when you have so little of it to devote to your game. Start by mapping out a timeline of your game features/assets and how long you think it will take you to accomplish them. Now double that. Now compare that to how much free time you really have to devote to your game. Will this game take you more than a year to complete? Do you have the dedication to spend more than a year working on a single project? If the answer is no then you need to go back to the drawing board until you’ve come up with a reasonable timeline that you can work with. Keep your game as small as you possibly can by focusing on the core mechanics and leaving out any fluff that you could add at a later date. Now stick to your timeline. If you budget 2 weeks to work on a character and by the end of the second week the character isn’t done don’t dwell on it — either move on to the next item in your list. Don’t adjust your timeline and don’t spend more time that you budgeted on this part of it. Sure, your ultimate goal is to have a working character with great animation but if you can’t ever get a game working with a broken character then who cares if your character’s animation is jerky or unrealistic? Think about the big picture because you can always circle back later.
  • Invest in a good debugger and testing tools. Do whatever you can to automate this process as much as possible because it will give you more time to work on trivial issues when you can quickly address and fix the larger ones. If you run into a bug that makes your game do something funky but it doesn’t prevent the gameplay from continuing table it and work on something else. Try not to get caught up in the more minute issues and focus more on the big picture. You can always circle back and fix bugs later but if you spend all your time bug quashing you’ll end up with a pretty interface or character or scene that doesn’t let interact and play with it. Pick a version of a framework and stick with it, don’t upgrade it unless you absolutely have to. The more you upgrade and update to the latest and greatest the more issues you’ll run into and the more refactoring and scope creep you’ll run into. It’s okay to build a game that isn’t using the latest and greatest version of your frameworks or 3rd party integrations. This will also give you a chance to work with and around the quirks in the version of the framework/software you chose to use instead of having to re-work around these every time you upgrade and re-factor.
  • Get the core mechanics working version of your game finished as early as possible no matter what it looks like or how bad it is. A crappy, ugly, glitching yet working version of your game is better than a pretty, perfectionist, bug free version of your game that isn’t at all playable. Don’t wait until the last minute or the week before it opens to get feedback on what you’re doing. Feedback is a great way to find issues you hadn’t considered and it will give you an idea of what other people think about your game. After all, no one wants to play a game they don’t think is fun. Don’t ignore constructive criticism even if it’s not what you want to hear. That doesn’t mean you have to change or add anything anyone has ever asked you for — it means that you need to take those things into consideration going forward. See past the reviews that focus on your aesthetics — at least initially — because you can always change and fix those later, core mechanics and gameplay are much harder to tackle once you’ve invested lots of time and energy into them.
  • Your game will NEVER be perfect. You will always be tweaking, adding, adjusting and fine tuning it. Instead of wasting your time doing this early on and ending up with something that isn’t a viable product devote that time to your game after you have something you can put out there. Don’t be a perfectionist, no matter how many bugs you quash and features you add or tweak there will always be another bug or problem coming down the pipeline. Try to prioritize the most important ones and tackle those first. Ultimately you want to get something up and working no matter how good or bad it is and then build upon it from there. Rome wasn’t built in a day so don’t expect your game to be. Get a working version up first and foremost and then add on to it and enhance it over time, your customer base won’t hate you for that, rather the opposite — they’ll appreciate your continued efforts to improve upon what you’ve done so far.

How Do I Get Started Making An Online Game?

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This is something I’ve been asked fairly often. If you’re interested in starting your own online game here’s a few things to get you moving in the right direction.

What game are you going to make?

Let’s not put the cart before the horse. Before you can even consider making an online game you need to decide what kind of game you’re going to make. I don’t care if it’s as simple as tic-tac-toe or hangman or as complex as world of warcraft, you’ll need to sit down and put some serious thought into what you want to accomplish before you set yourself to the task. Take some time to write out all of the things you want your game to do (or not do) and create a design document with an easy to follow checklist — this will allow you to check off all the things features and functionality in your game as you work on it.

What programming language are you going to use?

Take a day or two to look at several different programming languages. Which one will make it easiest for you to accomplish all of the goals and tasks you set down in your design document? Choosing the language you’re most familiar with won’t always be the best choice in the grand scheme of things. If you’re not sure which programming language your game is best suited for then try joining a programming forum and getting some honest feedback from senior programmers and developers who can help steer you in the right direction.

Can you afford an online game?

Now that you have a design document and you know what programming language you’re going to use it’s time to get down to facts and figures. How many servers will you need to get your game up and running and what will that cost you? How will you pay for your domain name or any specific software or artwork you’ll need to get your game where you want it to be? Pull up some kind of spreadsheet software and track down the prices for everything you need and add it all up. What will it cost you monthly and yearly? If you’re short on cash you can try to develop via a local machine however this won’t always give you the same experience, environment and the same range of problems as a live setup will. In addition, some programming languages/games require multiple servers in order to work properly so developing locally isn’t always an option.

How long will it take you to develop your online game?

Once you’ve figure out prices it’s time to consider how long it will take you to create your game. This will help you understand what your development costs are before your game is even up and running. There’s no easy way to figure out how long it will take you to make your game, however, you can break up your game design document with estimates (and DEADLINES!!!) on how much time you want to spend on each feature. Try to stick to those and you’ll be more successful in getting your game up and running on a timeline you can afford.

Do you have enough time and money available to dedicate to an online game?

Now you know what it will cost you and you have an idea of how long it will take you to complete your game. This is the make it or break it point. Can you afford the financial burden of getting your game developed and open to the public? What happens if it doesn’t bring in any money? Can you afford sustaining your game (or sadly closing it) if it doesn’t live up to it’s expectations? What happens if you go past your deadline and your game isn’t done yet? What will you do? Do you have enough time to set aside for the development of your game and stick to your deadlines? Will you have time to devote to your game after it’s done to answer emails, manage content, fix bugs and add new features? If the answer to any of these questions is no then you’re not ready to make this game. Shove it in a file — please don’t throw it away and waste your hard work or time — and come back to it again in the future. Go back to the first step and start over again. You can design a new game or the same game over and over again until you can answer every single one of these question with a yes. That means you’re ready to start.

Get setup and start, don’t procrastinate.

When I say you’re ready to start I mean it. Don’t put it aside another second, pull out your wallet to rent some server space or build your local development environment and get started. No excuses. The longer you wait and the more you put it off again and again the less of a chance there is of anything ever getting done. It might be hard and it may take a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears but your efforts will be rewarded with a finished product — whatever that may be.

Start small and simple.

There’s nothing wrong with starting small and keeping things simple. Most working, successful ideas and concepts start out that way. Over time you can refine and re-work the idea until it becomes larger and more complex. Let your game follow the same example. Start with anything on your list that’s simple and you can finish quickly. As you finish these small, simple tasks and features of the game you’ll get a greater feeling of accomplishment and it will encourage you continue to working towards the larger and more complex parts of your game. It will also help you stay focused and stick to your deadlines.

Push through the pain!

When all hope seems lost keep going, don’t stop. Even if your code is horrible or your have hundreds of bugs that you can’t fix don’t let it prevent you from completing your game. Nothing is or ever will be perfect. Instead strive to do a little bit better next time, and a little bit better the time after that. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your game or your programming skills.

If at first you don’t succeed… don’t be afraid to close the game and try again.

So at this point your game should be finished and open to the public. Even if you advertise the heck out of it not every game will be a success or work out quite the way you wanted it to. Some people may laugh at it, criticize the graphics, or even tell you it’s repetitive, boring or it’s all been done before. Don’t let anything stop you from taking everything you’ve learned so far from going back to step one to try, try, try again. Whether you close your game or go through a few more iterations to add new features, fix problems and make it better, it will be GUARANTEED to fail in some way, shape or form. Nothing in life is set in stone — if something doesn’t work change it over and over again until it gets the job done and then exceeds your expectations. Every time you make a game or improve upon an existing one you’ll learn more, become a better programmer and game designer, and take another further step down the path of having the next big hit game on the Internet.

Game Journal 1.5: Ten Games You Played As A Child

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In my last post I created a game with a passive player. I also included a short blurb to describe what I consider a passive player. This exercise challenges you to list ten games you played as a child and describe what you liked most about them.

Exercise 1.5

When I was 6 or 7 I had a best friend right down the street. Tyler was totally into video games, and better yet his dad got him nintendo, SNES and SEGA as soon as they came out — in addition to a number of game cartridges for it. Tyler was one of the reasons I started playing and love video games. I can remember spending hours on the floor beside him trying to beat the next boss or get to the next level and our pieces of paper with all the skip level passwords on them. Yeah, that’s right. When I started playing video games there were no saved games, only special passwords or codes that would advance you back to the level where you last left off. So thank you Tyler for all those hours we spent trying to beat Shredder on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

  1. Mario for original Nintendo. This was the first game I felt like I could play over and over again without ever getting tired of it. Even though the controls were so simple (jump, duck, fire a fireball) this game was, and still is, one of the most challenging platform games I’ve ever played. One of my favorite things about this game was all the surprises that kept cropping up as you played it – hidden 1ups, beanstalks, and tubes with bonus coins or fire flowers.
  2. Donkey Kong for original Nintendo. I loved this game because it was simple and challenging. I don’t think I ever got past level 3 but that never stopped me from playing it again and again. I loved not knowing where the barrels were going to fall and the crazy mad dance of the monkey when you finally get the top of the level and save the princess.
  3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for SNES. I probably played this game with my friend Tyler more than any other game. I remember we used to fight over who was going to be Donatello and who was going to be Leo. This is the first two player game I remember playing with someone. I know the graphics were bad and the sound was pretty pitiful but I think this game holds a place in my heart because it was the first one I experienced in 2-player mode — and that made everything else seem unimportant.
  4. Pac Man the Arcade Game. I used to take Gynmastics when I was little and one of the things I loved about the place was the old Pac Man machine they had in the lobby. I use to waste quarters on it several times a week waiting for my mom to come pick me up from the gym. What I liked about this game was the foresight and planning it required. You had to think long term — keep in mind where all the ghosts were going, and save your power dots until the last minute.
  5. Mario Kart for SNES. This was the first racing game I ever played with my friend Tyler. I used to kick his butt in this game and he hated every minute of it. What I liked most about this game was the clever use of items to give you advantages over other racers, and the obstacles on the course that could give you the speed boost you needed or condemn you at the same time as you weren’t paying attention and fell off the side of a bridge.
  6. Super Mario World for SNES. This game was a cool mix of puzzles and reflexes. I loved the new items and the take off spin on the original Mario game. However what I loved best was the introduction of Yoshi. This was the first game I played where you could use another character beside your own character’s skill to complete a level.
  7. Sonic the Hedgehog for SEGA. This game was all about speed and reflexes. I loved the fast pace, quick to finish levels and the fact that I could play as a secondary character (Tails) without worry about dying and as a helping addition to the first player — without being the main player.
  8. Kirby for the original game boy. This was my first game on my game boy that I couldn’t put down. I’d spend hours trying to eat things and “puff” fly away from enemies. I loved the music, cute graphics, and the simple controls.
  9. Tetris for the original game boy. Okay, so I rock at Tetris. Although it was also available on SNES I’ve always felt this game was best played on a small screen where you could curl up on a couch and work your way through the simplest and most challenging five blocks invented.
  10. Paperboy for SNES. I loved this game for the random events and occurrences that would pop up but it was way too hard to play for more than a few levels. However this makes my list because this was the first game I played that took it’s inspiration from real life and made it into a game.

Game Journal 1.4: Create A Game With A Passive Player

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In my last entry I created 5 games inspired by my every day life. This next exercise challenges you to start a game journal and design a new game every day. Since I’m already doing all the exercises from this book as my game journal I’m going to nix this exercise in favor of my own 🙂

Exercise 1.4

Create a game with a passive player. I guess the first thing I have to do is explain my definition of a passive player. A passive player cannot interact directly with the game, only indirectly. Direct interaction is anything the player does to change the state, status, movement, characters coordinates, or any other variables in the game. Therefore a passive player cannot use any sort of input device to interact with the game, including devices like the playstation Eye and the xbox Move.

Pinpoint

The game I came up with is called Pinpoint. It uses the GPS on your 3G phone. Aside from installing the game the player cannot interact with the game screen or any notification that’s displayed — not even to start/stop the game. The game runs as a background process so it’s always active when your phone is on.

As far as gameplay goes, think of trying to find a needle in a haystack. Each level in Pinpoint challenges you to find a location containing the object it’s looking for. For instance, level one asks you to find a certain brand of coffee. As you travel around during your normal day Pinpoint sends you “hot” and “cold” messages when you move closer to or further away from a location with the target item. When you reach a location with the target item you get a level up and can start looking for the next item. Pinpoint has two modes, easy and hard. In easy mode you’re told what the object is at the start of every level. In hard mode you’re never told what the object is until you find a location that has it.

There is no ultimate winner or looser in Pinpoint. A high score board–shown each time you find a new object–will keep you up to date as to where you rank against other Pinpoint players.

Game Journal 1.3: Your Life As A Game

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In my previous game journal post I explored a game I hate to play, listed all the reasons I hated it, and then offered ways to fix the things I didn’t like.

Exercise 1.3

Today’s exercise challenges you to list 5 areas of your life that could be made into a game. Then give a small explanation of the game structure and rules that you’ve designed. So here it goes.

Area 1: Dorkie Yorkie

Every morning when I wake up I find myself in a mad rush to get all my things together and get out the door in time for work. The biggest obstacle I face isn’t always the traffic (although Northern VA has bumped up to the number 2 spot in the country) but my 8lb Yorkie who I affectionately call Steven Tyler. No matter what tricks I seem to pull, he never wants to come in from our fenced in back yard. He’s constantly chasing the fence line we share with a neighbors dog — barking madly of course — and runs away defiantly any time I try to catch him.

So this first game is called Dorkie Yorkie. You have a timer that’s running out in the corner of the screen and your job is to try and lure your dog back into the house before the timer runs out. You’ll have a side menu of items you can use to try and get the dog inside but depending on the weather, if the neighbors dog is outside, and how hungry/tired he is, he’ll respond to the different items to try to entice him with. The faster you can get him inside the more points you get which you can trade in for bigger and better items in your toolbox. Each time you successfully get him inside you advance to the next day aka the next level.

Area 2: Green, Green, Green Light

As I said earlier traffic in our area is a huge buzz kill. Northern Virginia and the Washington, DC area has been bumped up to the number 2 worst traffic in the US. I find the amount of time that I sit at red lights frustrating along with how long it takes the driver at the front of the light to actually GO once it turns green.

This game is called Green, Green, Green Light. It’s a timed racing type game mixed in with a bit of Simon Says. Your job is to get through as many consecutive green lights as you possibly can without running a red light. If you hit a red light you have to stop and wait for it to turn green again. If you run the red light you get a 30 second time penalty. Your goal is to get to your destination as quickly as you can and before the timer runs out. For each consecutive green light you make it through you get time bonuses. Hitting pedestrians, other cars, trash cans, and anything else will give you extra time penalties.

Area 3: Little Space

One of the things I like doing in my spare time is designing floor plans for my dream barn and office space. What I struggle with most is getting everything to fit into the size space that I can actually afford.

Little Space challenges your ability to efficiently and logically fit items into a small space. Think Tetris meets a birds eye view approach. Instead of blocks you have cubicles, conference rooms, barn stalls, bedrooms, dining rooms, living rooms, fireplaces, stairs, etc. The interior spaces, dimensions and sizes would change depending on the floor plan you’re attempting. All interior spaces could be rotated 90 degrees. Some buildings would have multiple floors which you could switch between to place interior items. The goal of this game being to get all of the interior spaces into the floor plan in a workable layout (ie you can access each interior space and no doors/windows are blocked by another interior space). As the levels progress the number of interior items you have to fit into the space grows the space gets smaller.

Area 4: Color Palette

Recently my mother has taken to learning watercolors. In her attempt to learn she’s asked me to try my hand at them as well. The task is a bit time consuming but relaxing as well. One of the things that always bugs me is how dirty the water gets when I switch paints.

Color Palette is a game that challenges you to match colors on the canvas while keeping your water that you use to clean your brush from turning a certain color. So it’s a bit of a two for one challenge. As you match colors on the canvas you get close to completing a picture on the canvas. When the picture is completely colored in you win the level. But you have to rinse your brush between each color you put on the canvas. Every time you clean your brush and match the color you’re not supposed to you get a strike. Three strikes and it’s a game over. With every three successful colors you add to the canvas you can choose to clean your water (or leave it the way it is). The challenge is to see how many pictures you can “paint” before you strike out.

Area 5: Conversation

I’m running out of ideas here so this one is my really reaching idea. So I spend a fair amount of time talking/emailing the members of my various games in a day which is the only way I can think to tie this one into my life as a game.

So Conversation is a multiplayer game that gives one person in the group a conversation topic and a direction in which to sway the other players about the conversation. They have 5 minutes to present their argument for or against the conversation topic. At the end of the 5 minutes everyone takes a vote for or against the argument. If they have the majority of votes they win a point, otherwise they loose a point. The game goes three rounds, with each player getting a chance to argue a conversation topic in each round. The person with the most points wins. If there’s a tie those members go head to head in a speed round until one person looses their argument.

Ehh, I know this last one is probably a bit of a stretch but it’s all I could come up with. It would probably need a lot of play testing to get conversation topics that could be swayed one way or another based solely on the presentation of the argument however if you could find enough of them it might be worth expanding upon this idea.