A couple of posts ago, I promised to share one of my game ideas. This is my post to make good on that promise. Even better, let’s take a look at two ideas.
My game ideas tend to originate from either a twist on an existing game or some concept that can be made into a game. As a starting point, I think of ten ideas, anything goes. Most of them probably won’t amount to much. By coming up with ten ideas every day or once a week, eventually one of them is bound to be worth pursuing.
These are two that I think merit a closer look.
If you have made it to your 20s, you have lived long enough to be aware of pyramid schemes. How about turning that into a game?
Here’s the premise. Anyone is allowed to start a pyramid and be the boss, and players can join any of the active pyramids. The object is to convince players to join your organizations, which requires an investment of points. Those who join become recruiters who try to convince others to join.
Each player collects points based on a portion of the points collected below that player in the organization. The lower you are in the pyramid, the smaller the portion. At some point, it wouldn’t make economic sense to join, but recruiters can still do their best to persuade new joiners.
Players can participate in any number of pyramids as long as they have enough points to “invest.”
At some point, the top boss either makes the call to shut it down, say when growth starts to stall, and heads for the Bahamas. Or he or she gets caught by the authorities and goes to prison. Maybe the closest lieutenants have to pay a fine. Everyone else just loses their investment.
That’s the general sketch. Indeed, it might seem a little sketchy. Perhaps the point of the game is to demonstrate the problems with pyramid schemes, or to teach how to recognize them.
On the other hand, it might offer a way for the unscrupulous to practice without legal consequences. Also, people might also find a way to use the game as a proxy for a real-life pyramid scheme, where player points convert to money. That would be illegal (at least in the United States) or dangerous.
The game is suited for online play because it requires a lot of players the way I described it. In another form, the game could be laid out on a board and played in a way that’s similar to the Game of Life. Some of the spots allow you to form or join a pyramid, some add followers or receive regular payouts, some are where you get exposed and lose everything. If you make it to an undisclosed private island to live the life of luxury (and lonely isolation), you win.
Good idea or DOA? Alright, take it or leave. Let’s look at another.
This game is designed to give players a sense of the life of an entrepreneur. The premise is that you have this great idea for a business, and you want to launch a company and take it public.
You have to advance through levels, each of which gives you a baseline 10% chance of continuing. That’s a 90% chance of being wiped out each time you try to advance. You also have the choice to cash out once you complete the level you are on. Cashing out might cost you but probably leaves you with some rewards.
Maybe your odds are impacted by decisions you make. Choosing a narrow market, expanding in a way that builds on existing assets, getting the right professional help, and making good deals with helpful partners would all improve your odds. You can also make bad choices that lower the odds. Hmm, I can probably come up with a few of those, too.
Is this a board game where you have to go around some number of times? Is it based on decks of cards, one specific deck per stage?
I can imagine using dice to determine outcomes. Want to make a deal? A roll of 10 means it’s perfectly executed. A 5 through 9 means it goes through but is less effective than hoped. Roll a 2, 3 or 4 and the deal is off. A 1 means the deal is shady and costs you in the long run. That’s got the feel of an RPG.
Entrepreneur might be well-suited as an online multi-player game. Each player is busy trying to build his or her corporate empire. The “daily news” feed could be filled with the wins and losses of the other players, deal offers, and so on. Perhaps specializations develop: some want to build companies, others want to be venture capitalists. Maybe the bankers and lawyers are all bots with a range of programmed skills and ethics.
You get the idea, right?
So there you have it. Two seeds. Two kernels. Two ideas that might be developed or morphed into any number of interesting games.
If you liked those, let me know in the comments. I can share a few more someday.
If you are new to game design and want help getting started, check out Design a Game. It’s got all of my best thinking on the subject of game design. By the end of the course, you’ll be coming up with playable ideas of your own.
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