Sunday, June 14, 2009

ALIVE - some caffeine induced ideas

I continued working on the NES version of ALIVE, then I told a friend about it (he is the inventor of ALIVE) and now I want to make the full scale version of ALIVE. After a cup of coffee and a walk around the block, voilà des nouveaux idées

First of all, ALIVE needs a credible background story that is more than "Polar ice caps melted - dinosaurs were discovered - scientists enhance then genetically - fighting dinosaurs are cool - money - TV-show".

It's not gonna be as nice and friendly as Pokemon, but I always wondered why there aren't even small doubts about having these cute animal fight against each other in the game. I found an article about that, that explains it pretty well, but ALIVE is not gonna be like this. It's a grim future for animals that are no longer needed after the invention of the home food replicator and former farm/slaughterhouse owners that need to make profit with their now obsolete food factories. So there's gonna be a cruel and brutal TV show and you are one of these competitors, your task is to breed and genetically enhance animals, equip them with state-of-the-art gadgets and let them fight against each other.

One important point is the scope of the game. It can get as complex as we want it to, but it has to be playable and it should be fun to play it. But it shouldn't be too simple, that's what the NES-Version is for (or you could play the inspiration for ALIVE: Mail Order Monsters on the C64). You should be able to research new gadgets for your monsters. I had the idea of some sort of economy and varying prices, but that might be a feature in part two. Or there might be a "story mode" where economy and such things are scripted, so that there's no fear of losing the game to some seemingly random changes in prices for important raw stuff. And then there's the "free game" mode where you can allow these things and try to win the game by buying tons of certain raw goods and then selling them for high prices. That seems lame, but there is a part in me that wants to play lameass economy games. Sometimes.

Okay, let's come to the main part of the game: the dogfights. Usual fights are held by two single animals in a comparatively huge arena. It's gonna be a bird's eye-like view, so simple RPG-like fights would turn out to be quite boring. And here comes the fact that these arenas are mostly old slaughterhouses. Fully automated slaughterhouses from the future (since the game is set in the future)! They have a whole lot of traps you can push your enemy into. The game is so gonna be rated R.

And then there are the hundreds of possibilities to enhance your monster. I even thought of viruses that can strengthen the monster beyond natural levels, but if you don't win the fight fast enough, it will die. Or some inherited instincts, that the player has no control about and some ways for the enemy to exploit this like a transmission jammer, so the monster runs free for a limited amount of time or some pheromones that can be put on the ground or on traps to disturb the monster beyond the control of the player. But I hate these scenarios in which both monsters are loaded with equipment, but each of these things is useless either because the gadget attacks at a weak point that the opposing monster doesn't have or the things counter each other. Years of thinking let me to the conclusion that we should script all the enemy encounters and lead the player in the right direction in the "story mode" and then think even more when balancing the game in "free mode".

This post is not as satisfying as I hoped it to be, maybe I will add something, maybe I will delete it. Nevertheless: Buy ALIVE!