Note: I’ve always felt that the best time for me to come-up with new ideas for games is when I’m on vacation. I recently went on vacation with my family. These are some of the game design notes I took.
We arrived at our cabin in Redwoods National Park late in the day. (yes, it is a real NATIONAL park. I’ve been asked by people for the past week WHERE it is and WHAT it is. It’s in far Northern California, near Oregon, spread across multiple Redwood groves and State Parks. It’s amazing and not very well known or travelled. So many people on the road have asked me where Redwoods National Park is located, I’m a bit shocked. Does everything think Yosemite is the only National Park in California?).
Anyway, when we arrived, I went onto the patio to check out the BBQ. We planned to BBQ as much as possible to save money from eating at small cafes and restaurants. I calculated that we could save $40 average minimum a meal (5 people) if we made our own food. Since we spent $150 on groceries, it would take only 4 meals before we caught-up. (In the end we ate 11 meals at the cabin, some of which would have cost much more than $40, so we did a pretty good job).
When I took the cover off the BBQ, a small tree-frog jumped-out. I jumped back a bit, three called the kids to take a look. I thought the frog would jump away for good’but I was wrong. Apparently the frog had made the BBQ his home. Over the next 4 days, I visited the frog every evening for BBQ, and he greeted me by jumping out of the BBQ cover and hiding under the patio.
This got me thinking about the game Frogger. Frogger was a very unique idea that was never really bettered than it’s original incarnation. (Gaming After 40 recently did a survey of Frogger games here ). There was a really unique version of the game on the Atari 800 named Preppie!, by Russ Wetmore, but besides that I’m not aware of anything really significant that has built on basic idea of Frogger (besides the 3D remakes)
So here is my game idea: Frog BBQ. Sure, it’s ‘inspired’ by Frogger, but there is nothing wrong with inspiration, as long as you mix-it-up enough to make it your own. You play a tree frog. You have moved you and your little family (wife, two kids) in a nice comfy BBQ enclosure for the Winter. Everything was just dandy, until Summer arrived, and with it, tourists who want to use your home to cook their various meats. Your job is to save your family, and make it back to the forest.
The game would have 5 levels, each one requiring you to save four frogs by jumping them across objects. The frogs would move horizontally, and the playfield would scroll multiple screens, just to make sure it was different than the source inspiration, and more elaborate at the same time.
Level 1: BBQ : Jump the frogs across hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken legs, shish-kabob, etc. Everything is stationary. If the frog lands on the grill, he is fried.
Other levels: The road, the meadow, the river, the home tree.
We visited the Point Reyes Light House today, so I’m now thinking of an action game where you try to keep ships from hitting rocky coasts with your light, and guide them to port (a variation of Lunar Lander I suppose’that might be the one for next time).