Note: This is only the FIRST ROUND of votes.  The top few themes from this will appear in the FINAL ROUND, which decides the actual theme (on Friday).


Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 3.27.31 PM

Afterlife made an appearance in the previous few LD votes, and it always seemed a bit dull to me.  It makes me think that we’ll be playing a lot of generic games that happen to be placed in heaven or hell or something. That being said, there are interesting opportunities to draw from a variety of more interesting literally sources and to mine from a large variety of religions and mythoses. Mythosii? Mythosaurus Rex?  Anyway, there’s also the mechanic angle — where the game changes after you die or somehow requires death to progress.  Note that this is different from a game that revolves around things killing themselves to accomplish goals (i.e. Baneling swarms or something).  I’m still having trouble coming up with a specific (and hopefully multiplayer-friendly game).

No Weapons Allowed is, in many ways, what I consider to be a classic Ludum Dare style theme. I think that’s because it reminds of some of the older LD themes, such as “Enemies as Weapons”.  Now, it’s important to remember that this is not a rule of the competition. You could have a game in which you have TONS of weapons, but you’re trying to go into an area protected by metal detectors and x-ray machines. Although, as I type that, all the scenarios I’m imagining are kind of “terrosisty”…so best avoid that.  There’s also the idea that you aren’t allowed to use conventional weapons, but what about fists, or nerf bats, or paint guns, or maybe you’re fighting “grumpikins” by throwing “flowers” at theme.  You could make a classic Quake-style FPS game…but all in bright cheery pastel colours.  I like this theme because it should force creativity.  To me it’s not about making a game that just doesn’t have weapons — it’s about explicitly subverting genres that classically rely on weapons to function. What is a “weapon”? Paint guns feel too weapon-y, but what about snowballs?  Of course, this could be a game about rebuilding after a war so devastating that everyone is trying to come together to build a big peace monument. It could also be a game where you don’t have weapons and are mostly stealthing/running/parkouring away from people who do.

Against the Rules is kind of “meh” to me. So broad and yet so specific. Maybe it’s just a lack of creativity on my part. I guess what starts to come to mind are all the “do not” signs you see in life.  “Wrong Way”. “No Skateboarding”. “No Smoking”. “Employees Only”. A graffiti game? A game about removing tags from mattresses? Actually, the graffiti game might really be fun as a multiplayer game.  Everyone is trying to “tag” as much stuff as possible within a time limit.  Maybe you can’t “tag” something that’s still wet (forcing people to spread out), but after a certain amount of time you can start to overwrite other people’s tags. Okay, I’m starting to like this now.

Dreams. Wow. And I was complaining about other themes being too open-ended? Okay, what comes to mind is the idea that dreams can shift so rapidly on you. One minute you’re running through the jungle and the next you’re walking down and aisle in Walmart. Okay…the art for that would be impossible for me to produce in the allowed time (or ever).  Maybe it’s more that your abilities shift?  One minute you can fly, then you can’t, but you can breath fire, then you can’t and all of a sudden you can’t open a door even though it wasn’t locked a minute ago.  Or, with the door thing in mind, it could just be a totally surreal adventure game where the way to unlock the door is to put the teddy bear in the coffee can.  Well, no, that sounds pretty dumb.  Maybe it’s more of a building game, where you can create physics-defying landscapes?  Gravity could be totally subjective — walk along vertical surfaces — and some areas you just “float” in.   Calvin-ball? You can do something that changes the physics on the fly, to screw over the other team.

Colony. A solid contender in recent LD votes, and certainly something that would align itself with what I — and my viewers — enjoy.  A co-operative survival game. Maybe in space. Maybe on a deserted island.  Maybe in the “new world”.  Heck, maybe you’re a colony of fungus.  Or Ants.  It’s Dwarf Fortress, except YOU are the dwarves. Hard to make in 48 hours? Fuck yes. Epic as hell? Indeed.

Ancient Ruins.  Maybe an exploration game. Find artifacts. Could be done a puzzle game — some variant of Sokoban or Soduku.  Maybe you’re constructing Stone Henge.  Who doesn’t like a good henge?  Or maybe even building the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.  Kind of a “prequel” to them becoming ruins.  An E Truly Hollywood story.

Alternative Physics.  The “Dreams” calvin-ball idea certainly fits here!  I don’t know what the single-player version would look like though. AI bots are hard enough in CONVENTIONAL physics.  Maybe the physics change on their own, and you’re trying to “score” as many points as possible in the amount of available time?  There can still be the option of changing things yourself to try to make things easier for you and improve your time — and in multiplayer, it’s a combination of easy for you and hard for the other players.  Maybe your in a “cube” room — you start on one side and have to go to the other. There are obstacles in the way that you can shove away. The catch is that the bottom/left/right/top of the room each has its own gravity — and every time you score you get moved to a different floor.  So when you change the world, you are potentially screwing other player or just yourself on future rounds.  A different, but related idea: “The Enemy Gate is Down”.

Anyway, that’s the last of the positive-voted ideas.  It’s possible that Journey or Chaos or something will still show up in the final round, but in theory the above themes have the best chance to win out of this lot, so they’re the ones to start thinking about.

Round 2 voting should be finishing up soon!

Join the forum discussion on this post