Well, I didn’t see this one coming! I had my brilliant idea which was both cunning and simple to implement, and after work yesterday I quickly banged it out in just a half hour and..
It wasn’t fun.
I called the idea “Cloud Racer”, and it revolved around the fictional, highly competitive sport of hotted-up racing clouds (although ‘racing’ really had no place in the game concept). In effect, you’re centered on a particular cloud racer, which is zooming across the sky, raining all the way. As the cloud is raining, it is shrinking. As in Vector Physics, you are able to draw solid and rope objects, and your goal is to catch nearby clouds as you travel past them, to try to capture their moisture and add it to that of your own cloud, and thereby be able to rain and race for longer.
In effect, it’s basically a version of Crayon Physics where instead of trying to get a ball to a star, you’re trying to catch objects that are being algorithmically generated by the game. Simple to code, but as it turns out, it isn’t actually any fun to play. The simple joy that you get from the wide open “draw whatever you want” physics playground games is simply lost when you try to focus it down into tighter goals.
Of course, a game prototype being ‘non-fun’ has never stopped me before, but upon retrospect, it was also a time-limited game (which I previously stated that I didn’t want this game to be), and also a “look, I have physics!” game (which I also previously stated that I didn’t want this game to be). So I find myself without a viable game idea on the Saturday afternoon. What to do now?
Well, honestly? The new Sam and Max episode, Night of the Raving Dead, is sitting on my hard disk right now, looking awful lonely. But I’m going to be good and not play it until I have something out the door. So without that, I’m off into experimental gameplay land, searching for something fun for the player to do. Right now, I’m starting with generic movement mechanics. First order of business: a grappling hook. Yes, it has nothing to do with clouds, but at this point I’ll be perfectly happy to put something out which has only a passing connection to the chosen theme. And maybe if/when I find something that’s fun to do, I’ll be able to bend it back toward being relevant to clouds. :)