Saturday, December 13, 2014

Video Game Idea: Cornhole

Cornhole: A simple game with great potential elsewhere?
This is generally one kind of topic that intrigues me. The event where you come up with an idea for a video game that mainly focuses on one thing that has been very popular in one avenue in real life. Before the Video Game Industry really took off with an amazing amount of momentum, ideas for video games were isolated to just the more basic concepts. Back in the day when the arcades would feature games like Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Q-Bert and the like, those ideas were amazing. They were simple ideas but they stuck and left an impression on gamers.

You could say that in more recent times it has become harder to come up with new and fresh ideas for video games, and particularly ideas that make sense. Because of the technology that was available at the time of the 1980's and 1990's we wouldn't normally see a well functioning sports video game. In recent times, however, this isn't a problem at all as we get to experience very realistic game mechanics that pertain to players swinging a baseball bat, throwing a football and slamming a basketball down for a dunk. So with that being said, what do we do with a game that is so simple like Cornhole?

Cornhole? That game? The game where you toss beanbags into a hole? How can we make an exciting video game out of that?

I'm glad you asked. Because of the fact that Cornhole is a simple game, we can just as easily implement it into the confines of a video game, provided that we establish a general set of ground rules to go along with it. We already have an idea of how throwing mechanics are created in video games. We have baseball pitching, football throwing and basketball passing to look at as examples of these mechanics. Making simple beanbag tosses onto Cornhole board wouldn't be difficult. We can have something similar to a timed meter where players would have to hit a certain mark on that meter to make a precise toss. The more sloppy the toss is, the less likely it is for that beanbag to drop into the hole.

But wait! How can we actually jazz up Cornhole to make it a video game?

Good point. It would be boring if all we did in a Cornhole video game was to toss beanbags into a hole. Nobody would want to buy that video game if it were that plain. Since we have more freedom to express how fun a game like Cornhole can be with video game technology, we can let our imaginations run wild a little bit. Take a look at the more cartoony takes on sports video games. Look at the Mario franchise and all the creative ways Mario and his Mushroom Kingdom friends come up with. Mario Golf and Mario Tennis feature modes where you have to hit tennis balls or golf balls through specific spots highlighted by rings. We could do a similar thing with Cornhole and the beanbag tosses. We can add an aiming mechanism to go with the throwing mechanism and try our best to aim right at rings or targets for bonus points.

We could really get bold with this idea and add stipulations where we need our beanbags to ricochet off objects and then hit the Cornhole board. Look at the myriad of freestyle basketball shot videos that you see on the internet and you can replace the basketball with a beanbag. Anyone up for Extreme Cornhole? What about the idea of tossing a beanbag all the way down from the roof of a building and into the hole for style points? Why don't we add more points for creativity in general? Should we add points to a successful beanbag toss because of how fast it went? We just need to think about the variables.

There is also another unique element that very few video games have tried to pull off, and that would be the Distraction Element. What does distracting opposing players accomplish? It basically means that you were able to throw off an opposing player within the confines of the rules, giving yourself an opportunity to take advantage. Of course, distractions are a 2-way street and your opponent can return the favor by distracting you as well. We can add that to our Cornhole video game and make it fun and enticing.

I remember watching a show on Comedy Central back in the day called "Let's Bowl!" and it was a really cheesy, corny, and well, sometimes stupid comedy bowling competition that featured Average Joe and Jane bowlers bowling to settle disputes. Some of the concepts of Let's Bowl were truly interesting, such as raising the stakes on what kinds of pins needed to be knocked down, how many points a bowler could obtain with a single strike, and lastly, the use of a Distraction Element where bowlers could sound a horn to each other to prevent a good bowl down the alley.

I know that some Cornhole enthusiasts may want to keep the game pure even in its video game form, but really, there wouldn't be any fun with that. Some may say that the Distraction Element would be unnecessary and annoying, and video game critics may say that this proposed video game version of Cornhole may be too zany and "out there" to comprehend, but that's... none of my business!


Now what about the extra features of this Cornhole video game? What else could we feature in this game that the original game of Cornhole can't feature? What tweaks and changes could we make that would catch the attention of gamers? Well, for starters we could throw in 4 Cornhole boards to play with instead of just 2. We could position these 4 boards like a compass and we could have 4 players throw beanbags in all sorts of directions. For example, Player 1 has to throw his beanbags to Player 2's board and vice versa. Player 3 has to throw his beanbags to Player 4's board and vice versa as well. (North-South-East-West) Cornhole already has team competitions established where 2 vs. 2 games are often played, but they only keep it to just using 2 boards. Play with 4 boards and you will have something unique.

How about an 8-Player Simul? Part of this inspiration comes from the fact that I used to compete in a couple of Chess simuls where the Master would go from board to board and make his move, challenging all opponents. For Cornhole, we could position 8 boards in a single line and a single player could have a multitude of beanbags to throw. Let's say this player has 4 beanbags to throw per board and between all 8 players, whoever scores the most points wins. We could even have this be some sort of Round Robin elimination competition.

Now what about the beanbags we toss into the cornhole? Who says we need to just throw beanbags? Why don't we raise the stakes or up the ante and throw other compatible items into the cornhole? Why don't we toss Beanie Baby-like animals and if they fall into the hole, we score bonus points? How about water balloons? Why don't we add a stipulation where Player 2 can actually block Player 1's beanbags tosses by throwing water balloons directly at the beanbags? Player 2 would throw the water balloons in the direction of Player 1 and even if he misses the beanbag, Player 2 would still get to see Player 1 get hit by a water balloon? Okay, maybe that's too humorous of an option, but sometimes that happens when you think outside the box.

We could also implement a different kind of mode in this Cornhole video game. We could make some sort of Stealth Mode Cornhole where players can't be seen in order to successfully toss beanbags into the hole? Perhaps if players hide behind objects and then pop up at the last second they could get an opportunity to throw one beanbag here and another beanbag there? In Stealth Mode, the opposing player would be allowed to tag Player 1 if he manages to spot him. If Player 1 gets tagged then his turn is over.

I hope that these ideas are not causing any headaches because sometimes you gotta throw even the most unorthodox ideas out there. Some of my flawed ideas have given me headaches too, so don't worry.


In closing, I don't see why it would be such a bad idea to have a Cornhole video game, whether it be a handheld game or even a console game. Provided that there is plenty of variety to go around in this video game, I can see this kind of game being a good seller to gamers. We keep it simple but we also add new and fresh ideas. Cornhole is a popular game that everybody can learn how to play and it's a recognizable brand, so if you want to bring some friends to play this video game with you it would be worthwhile.

Shoutout to Woodgamz.com for becoming the very first affiliate of the Gaming Journalist Gazette blog. Check out their Conrhole-related products when you can! 

 

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