Friday, November 20, 2015

Thanksgiving Video Game Idea

Turkeys can be great video game characters, right?
I'm certain that I made a similar post to this just last year around Thanksgiving time, but I figure that I should put my own game design skills to the test by creating a video game concept that has a Thanksgiving theme attached to it. So we all like to make video games fun and exciting, and we know that Thanksgiving is a time to gather around family and have a good feast. The Thanksgiving theme is an easy theme to convey in a video game, but sadly it hasn't been executed well by any game design team over the years.

Some video games benefit from having standout characters that carry the narrative and the gameplay, and while it isn't mandatory to have a character carry a game, we do keep in mind that Thanksgiving is centered around having a turkey for dinner. It would make sense to bring a heroic anthropomorphic turkey character to life and have him (or her) jump into action. The picture above is a cute illustration of a turkey dressed like a pilgrim, but it doesn't have to dress like a pilgrim for this game. Instead our heroic turkey can dress casually like the other interesting characters we see in the Gaming Industry. The attire doesn't need to be flashy or over the top, but something neat that gamers can relate to.

General Plot

Let's name our heroic turkey Timothy Gobble. (Timothy is my middle name, so...) Let's say that for our plot, Timothy Gobble has been invited to a Thanksgiving dinner to see his friends and family back in his hometown of Pumpkinsniff. Timothy has been away from home lately as he has been doing hard work in Corncob College. When he returns to Pumpkinsniff, Timothy realizes that all the food factories of his hometown have been shut down by a menacing opposing force named the Midnight Wolves, a faction of obnoxious and cold-hearted thieves bent on raiding any place that has an abundance of food.

Little do the Midnight Wolves know that Timothy has learned a thing or two in Corncob College, and more specifically, Timothy has become quite the inventor as he brings back home a few custom gadgets of his. Timothy will need these custom gadgets to work for him as he will fight off the Midnight Wolves to get back the stolen food supply and rescue any captured food factory workers before Thanksgiving night arrives. 

The game's setting would be interesting
Game Setting

Pumpkinsniff would be the first level of our game, and we would naturally branch out to other parts of Timothy Gobble's world the further along we progress. Pumpkinsniff mirrors that of the image you see above, a place where the autumn season is present for most of the year. Beautiful trees that have red, yellow and orange leaves, numerous farms where farmers go to work, old and abandoned sheds that are used by young turkeys to play silly games around, and even a local park where people of all ages walk through and take in all the breath taking sights. I guess you could say that Pumpkinsniff would take on the identity of Small Town America. 

Pies can serve as health items in the game
Main Game Element

I love many kinds of pies. Pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie, peach pie, blueberry pie, lemon pie... the list goes on. Now why wouldn't we feature pies as the core element of this game? Think of all the health items that video game characters use in order to stay afloat in levels, and having Timothy Gobble collect pies to keep his strength up would be appropriate. It doesn't sound farfetched. Perhaps we could separate the pies in groups, from pies that give Timothy only 1 health slice (Yep, a Health Pie Meter for Timothy) to pies that can give Timothy 3 health slices.

However, I would like to give this core game element a certain twist that I think gamers would like. Not often do I see games do this with their core elements, but I propose that we use these pies as both health items and weapons players can use in their inventory. The good old fashioned "throw a pie in the enemy's face" strategy should be in play here to add to the slapstick comedy aspect of this game story, just to liven up the experience for players. Remember The 3 Stooges? Sometimes comedy in gaming just needs to be that simple. Aside from using a gadget that will help him fly, since turkeys can't fly, Timothy can use a special device to throw (or launch) pies at his enemies, as if it were a spoof of the movie Animal House. (FOOD FIGHT!)

Bonuses, Awards and All That Jazz

As a gamer, I like certain incentives to be included in some video games. I like it when I have to push my gaming skills to a point where I need collect a certain amount of stuff to unlock new things, as long as the challenges themselves are manageable. I believe we can add bonuses, awards and related stuff to this game to make gamers want to play a little bit longer. Some games need to be built on having a lasting experience, and if I know there are many tiers for me to reach in this custom game called Turkey Terrific (pardon the generic name...), then I would be curious enough to keep playing and see what happens when I do reach those tiers.

The awards structure could be something like Platinum Tier, Gold Tier, Silver Tier, Bronze Tier, etc. or it could be a X out of 100 meter. I love "collectathon" formats in video games. As long as they are managed well, they help keep the player engaged with what is going on in the game and motivate the players to keep searching and exploring.

It's interesting that not many folks have thought about making a game like this. If anything, you will see many more attempts of game development teams making levels that are centered around other holidays like Halloween, Christmas or even St. Patrick's Day. However, Thanksgiving is unique in the sense that it not only brings families together, but the specific meaning of this event, which is to be thankful for what you have and what will happen down the road, serves to be a powerful gaming narrative that can play out beautifully and resonate well with gamers who are just thankful to be playing cool video games.

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