Game Design

Collection of unused game ideas

written 2024-05-06

Here are some ideas I have for games that don't quite fit in to any I'm currently making. Feel free to use these.

Elemental attacks and heals

Elemental damage spells are common in fantasy RPGs. Usually, the only difference between them is which types of enemies they're good against: water spells are good against fire-themed monsters, earth spells might be good against water-themed monsters, etc.

My idea is: elemental damage spells are a combination of a basic damage spell and another spell. For example, fireball might be the basic damage spell + an ongoing damage spell (which might be called "poison" when cast by itself). An ice damage spell might be damage + a status effect that slows enemies. The tradeoff is that elemental spells cost more mana than the two spells they're made of combined, so they're less efficient in mana but more efficient in number of turns. Ideally, this is combined with a game design that emphasizes conserving mana between fights.

This idea leads naturally to elemental heals, since many games have beneficial status effects you cast on your allies. For example, there might be a spell "healing warmth" which is a heal + the opposite of the status effect that ice damage inflicts. "healing waters" could be a heal + ongoing health regeneration.

Consumables + time travel

I generally don't like consumables in games, even when separate from grinding, because how's the player supposed to know what's ahead? What if they spend the consumable on a section that gives them a little trouble and then it turns out the next one is even harder? Alternately, they might refuse to spend consumables even when having a lot of trouble incase they'll need them even more desperately later in the game.

Solution: keep track of what consumables the player used in each section, and allow them to revisit old sections with their old stats and try to complete them using less consumables. If they do, the spared consumables are returned to them in the present. This way, the player can use consumables as intended to help with hard sections without fear of being forced to do an even harder section without the consumables.

This idea is meant for a game with a fairly discrete section structure, such as Cuphead.

Metroidvania with multiple protagonists

There's multiple protagonists with separate but overlapping adventures. You can choose which one to play, and every time you make progress, the other character also completes something. You can go back to a hub area, meet up, and exchange stories, and switch to the other character if you want. This creates a lot of replay value since you can't see everything in one playthrough since some objectives will be completed by whichever character you're not playing. There might be a lot of novelty in doing an objective with the other character and seeing how the story changes as a result.

Of course, this makes the whole nonlinear design of a metroidvania even more complicated, and tons of difficult writing would be required. But it'd be fun.

Half player insert protagonist

Generally, the protagonist is either a player insert (most western RPGs) or a fixed, writer-made character (JRPGs). Doki Doki Literature Club showed me the possibility of an inbetween space: a character that isn't you, but you have some control over them. It's like you're a separate character with your own goals, but you still act through the protagonist. The protagonist may or may not acknowledge you as separate from themself. But I'd like to explore this story space more.

Game that always adapts to failure

Instead of loading a save when you lose a fight, the story adapts to it. CrossCode does this in a couple places, but I'd like a game that does it everywhere.

The story context that suits it is a fighting school or arena. Inbetween fights, you'd choose how to spend your time practicing different abilities, or talk to characters to get advice or information from them (they might tell you the weakness of your next opponent, etc).

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