When late last week I was asked the question of what my ideal game would be, I found it incredibly difficult to pin down. It was, in fact, one of the hardest game related questions I’ve ever found myself trying to answer.
Because really, what does constitute something even close to an ideal game? Sure, I know this would vary from person to person, but I now have the very faintest idea of what a monumental task game developers are up against when creating a game.
So then please allow this slapdash set of ideas pass for what I’d like present in a game.
As I’ve stated a grillion times before, I am a huge fan of atmosphere in games (and life). What I would perhaps most enjoy is a game with a series of atmospheric locales, strung together with an engaging narrative.
Now this may sound silly and terrible, but allow me to proffer the example of the original Walt Disney film version of The Swiss Family Robinson. Walt wanted a series of events to happen, and however they had to string those events and locations together he left to the team making the film.
That seemed to have turned out pretty well.
So allow me to begin with a standard for me: fog. I love fog. I love the John Carpenter movie The Fog. I like that fog hides things and makes you rely on your other senses to figure out what the hell is happening.
Fog is neat.
Believe it or not, I’ve never played the original Silent Hill (on my short to-do list), but I’m aware they used fog to cover for the poor draw distance. As a bonus, it created an unmistakable atmosphere.
Fog is a must.
And speaking of fog, nowhere could it be more interesting (okay, there are other places that could be more interesting) than an abandoned amusement park. Yes, I like abandoned things. I think there is an inherent beauty in urban atrophy.
There is much to draw on in the amusement park theme. Dark rides, carousels, clowns (I still don’t really get why clowns are scary), and a lot of things pretending to be other things. I like that carnivals and cheesy amusement parks (the nerve-wracking ones that can be assembled and disassembled in an afternoon) lend themselves to all kinds of transient dangers. And who doesn’t love a carnival? You think about it and you practically smell the popcorn, corndogs, and cotton candy. It is a location that plays on multiple senses.
Oh, bonus if the amusement park has a haunted house, an abandoned mine cart ride, or a log ride.
The next “must” for me is water. I am bonkers about water. I both love and fear it (I can not swim), but I have to be around it in some way (even if this means listening to nature sounds). If I can’t, you will probably find me wiggling my fingers in a sink somewhere pretending I’m at the seashore.
Water is beautiful and mysterious. I am partial to the exceedingly clear water such as you see above (and I’ve been fortunate to be in a couple of places in the world where it actually looked like that). I love that you can see everything below the surface (unlike so much of life). The first time I experienced water like this (in the Maldives back in the early 2000s) I was beside myself. I could watch the schools of fish go about their business for hours (and sometimes did). I love the look, sound, and feel of the water. It’s glorious.
I will say that I’d prefer there not be droplets on the screen at any time. Nothing takes me out of a water experience faster than seeing the water plop on the screen, especially in first person. What, am I wearing a mask or walking around with a window constantly in front of me?
As a natural piggyback on the water necessity, I would very much want some degree of bamboo rafting (another thing I have been able to experience). It’s a magical experience, both soothing and exhilarating. It allows you to basically glide along the surface of the water (and I mean this literally, your rear is partially submerged most of the time) and experience the waterway at creature level. It’s one of the loveliest experiences I’ve had, and to relive it in a video game (where I could go back and play it again and again) would be amazing.
Also, I used the word “experience” four times in that paragraph. I think that’s a record for me.
I suppose you could just cruise that bamboo raft right into my next location: the lagoon. The lagoon is water, and it’s protected. It’s safe. It’s the ideal place for a nap.
I like naps.
I’m not sure realistically how much a game developer could find to do in a lagoon, but I believe it’s possible.
Actually, I’m not sure how possible it is. I just want it real bad.
And if a lagoon could happen, then there’s no reason we couldn’t usher in my last location: the underground lake. I suppose there could be a passage from the water, to the lagoon, to the underwater lake, and that my trusty bamboo raft could usher me there. In fact, I’d be all about it. I’ve done some pretty inane things in games, and I’m sure a convincing reason for making that trek could be figured out.
I understand I’ve just listed some lovely (and heavily atmospheric) locations, but I’d also like to see some tight mechanics in the gameplay. I’d like there to be a cohesive narrative. If there was any amount of whimsy thrown in, I’d take that, too. Heck, an exploratory game with any of these elements would be a super good time.
I also wouldn’t mind if there was an option to be invincible. If this were present, it could be activated at any time for those players who wanted to focus more on the exploration and less on any potential combat. Just think of what we’d all do if we knew we couldn’t be harmed!
I should think sky diving might see more folks.
And while we’re at the wish list, I’d love a game to show us how special, unique, and amazing we all truly are (though I think Journey came close).
And there you have it. The very random, yet cohesive, elements that comprise what I imagine to be my ideal game.
Oh, and maybe some fart noises. Sometimes you have to throw in a fart or two.