Siliconera Speaks Up: Pitch a Game Idea



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Welcome to Siliconera Speaks Up! Since Louise is out of town this week (but she remains with us in spirit!), I’ll be filling in for her. Try not to be too hard on me. Also, say hello to our new staff member, Laura. She wrote the awesome Megaten and Tales of Graces features last week.


We decided to get a little creative with this week’s topic. Pick one element each from three games you like, and use them to pitch an entirely new game. These elements can be anything, from setting to art style to gameplay mechanic etc. Jenni: I’d love to see a simulation-RPG game with the character building of Princess Maker, Odin Sphere’s graphics and perhaps the adventuring / storyline / RPG aspects of Final Fantasy. It could be an adventure that stretches across several years of the main character’s life and, instead of just focusing on the whole “Save the world” and traveling part, would also allow for some peaceful periods where the hero (or heroes) could live normal lives to help build relationships in the party or build up attributes, which would then effect the future, their jobs or their abilities.


Spencer: I want to mix a strategy RPG with a shmup. Imagine something like R-Type Command with boss battle style shooting sequences.


Once you engage an enemy you have “X” seconds to shoot the core, so to speak. The defending ship can fight back, but deals 50% damage and takes double damage. The numbers are skewed this way to encourage defenders to dodge. When ships level up they get more shooting time. Each ship on your team would handle differently too, some would be lightweight with short range lasers while others could be sluggish war machines. Each ship would be its own “class”.


Instead of having a game that goes fight -> cutscene -> fight, this game will have a diplomacy option where players can send messages to enemy ships to surrender or negotiate similar to the negotiation system in most of the Shine Megami Tensei game.


But, since I’m melding three niche genres (one extremely niche genre!) this idea is probably doomed to crash and burn. Louise: I’ve been playing a lot of Devil Survivor this week, so my game pitch may sound similar to that game. Imagine a more robust SRPG system, like the one in Disgaea, only instead of recruiting Prinnies and Netherworld inhabitants, you recruit demons. The usual SRPG mechanics like advantage based on which way opponents are facing should be there as well as a teaming-up system that lets allies close to each other join in the fight.


As for art style, I really like the style in Sting’s Yggdra Union. It could work really well with an isometric SRPG. I’d love to see all the SMT demons done up as 2D sprites in that style.


I’m a sucker for post-apocalytpic stories, and the SMT demons would fit right into something along the lines of Fallout. Hell, even the PS2 SMT games and its spinoffs are already post or near-apocolyptic. I think it’s time that the series went back to their darker, almost cyber-punk like roots. Laura: I’ve always been a fan of “collect-the-monsters” game, although for my influence I’ll have to say that, instead of, say, Pokemon, I prefer the designs from, say, Shin Megami Tensei. A game where you can work with the monsters, as partners and equals, and you live among them, but not just as, you know, fighting tools.


The game’s difficulty heavily relies on the bond you form with the monster, so the more time you spend with monster (and the fewer times you refuse to help a monster when he requests it), the better he/she’ll work with you. Eventually, this will culminate in a relationship akin to that of Wander and Agro of Shadow of the Colossus. In battle, this can also be reflected in a sort of “learning AI,” where the monster can learn your fighting style and combos if you have one, and move in to maximize the effect.


There would be two possible plot ideas. One would be to explore the bond formed. It might just be more than it looks. Another is to focus on a more “epic” plot, like a war a-la-Suikoden. In this one, the bond would be taken for a fact of the world. Ishaan: My three features would be: setting from Tenchu, art from Street Fighter IV (halfway between the pre-rendered and in game art), and being able to choose from multiple partners (in combat and otherwise) — an element from dating-sims. These would be meshed together in a well written romance/stealth co-op ninja game.


Gameplay-wise, it would play out largely like the better Tenchu games, the difference being that you’d be able to choose from a list of Kunoichis to be your partner on various missions. You could either stick with one, or use different partners for different occasions. Each one would have their own AI in combat, as well as an “emotional” AI, which attempts to create a bond with the player, similar to games like Ico.


You’d have to cooperate with your AI-controlled partner to get through missions together, and watch each other’s backs. You would also get a chance to establish and grow a bond with your partner during and in between missions. The goal is to get the player to truly care for the AI by the end of the game. Depending on which partner you end up with, the last set of missions — and the ending by extension — would wary.

Ishaan Sahdev
About The Author
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.