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Friday, September 09, 2005

The Genre Game

For Corvus' latest Round Table on genre, let's assign some homework.

Question 1. Choose Your Weapon
On the left are various franchises that may or may not have been made into video games. On the right are various genres that have been applied to games. Match the genre that you would feel best to complement the franchise and explain why. Every genre can only be used once. Special Rule: Genres may be mixed, in which case they only count has being half used. So if you combine the FPS and Adventure genres, you can still use both genres again. However, you can no longer use them by themselves nor could you re-use the FPS-Adventure hybrid. Grade will be based on largely on creativity and explanation of specific genre mechanics as to how they apply to the franchise.

1. Ghost In The Shell
2. Doctor Who
3. Scrubs
4. Stargate: Atlantis
5. Firefly (Serenity)
6. Fraggle Rock
7. The Last Starfighter
8. Black Adder
9. High Fidelity
10. Gattaca

1. First Person Shooter
2. Adventure
3. Platformer
4. Music/Rythm
5. Mini-Game/Party
6. Flight/Space Sim
7. Management Sim
8. Life Sim
9. Alternate Reality Game
10. Real Time or Turn Based Strategy

Question 2: Bits of History
Discuss the following genre mechanics in an attempt to determine their earliest implementation. Basically, when is the earliest you can remember these mechanics being used. What games are responsible for the basic concepts now vital to the games we play and how have they evolved?

1. Units having health points.
2. Enemies releasing powerups
3. Radar/Player Maps
4. Units having a selectable inventory
5. Buy Menus
6. Free-Roam environments
7. Lack of a singular player "score"
8. User definable content
9. Boss Fights
10. Save Game

Take as much room in the comments as required to answer the questions fully, or feel free to turn the page over and link to external blogs or sites if that's helpful. My answers can be found in the comment section.

When you're done, please put down your pencils and proceed along the Round Table:


Josh said...

Question 1:

1. Ghost In The Shell: Turn Based Strategy/Life Sim

One part drama, one part action, GITS would alternate between controlling the daily lives of a Section 9 team and sending them out on missions. Instead of experience, characters would evolve socially. New recruits, promotions, etc., would be based on interpersonal connections. Missions would be randomly generated turn based situations which may or may not evolve into a larger campaign.

2. Doctor Who: First Person Shooter/Adventure

Call it a First Person Sleuther. Doctor Who: The Game would use the TARDIS as a main hub wherein the player would act as companion to the Doctor. Gathering clues and interviewing people would be as important to solving the game as shooting Daleks. In fact, you're companion might be so designed that they suck completely at weaponry.

3. Scrubs: Mini-Game/Puzzler / Platformer

Players would take one day (game-time) making their way through an obstacle hospital course to find tasks in the form of medical orientated puzzles. Players would be graded over time to see who becomes Chief Resident.

4. Stargate: Atlantis: Turn Based Strategy/Management Sim

Essentially X-Com. Gameplay would alternate between managing the routine of Atlantis, researching technology, scout missions and finally combat arenas played out turn-based.

5. Firefly (Serenity): Space Sim/Management Sim

Similar to Elite, Firefly would benefit from an open-ended galaxy where one was responsible for managing fuel, the crew and missions. Alternatively, I think Space Sim/First Person Shooter would work ... where one half is getting to a planet, the other half takes place on the planet.

6. Fraggle Rock: Music/Rythm / Platformer

The Fraggles would have to explore the gamespace for clues, but when trouble occurs a dance off would replace combat.

7. The Last Starfighter: Space Sim/Real Time Strategy

The player would setup missions in RTS style, figuring out how best to use the Last Starfighter to win the war, and then play the fight in Space Sim style.

8. Black Adder: Adventure / Mini-Game

The player would be alternatively controlling Baldric or BlackAdder in a series of coop tasks which would result in mini-game style puzzles to solve.

9. High Fidelity: Music/Rhythm / Life Sim

Relationships are key in High Fidelity as the player tries to finish the game with the best connections to friends and significant others. During the game, music challenges would offer chances to score bonus points.

10. Gattaca: Alternate Reality

Paranoid future murder mystery meets the internet. Try to figure out who is who without actually coming face to face with any of the suspects.

Question 2:

1. Units having health points.

I want to say it was the early RPG's, like Wizardry ... but it's had a profound effect on nearly every genre since.

2. Enemies releasing powerups

Imagine it's some old school SHMUP, but again we see this in nearly every action orientated genre from FPS to Platformer now.

3. Radar

Defender all the way. I think FPS overuses this and RTS/TBS games get the most out of it.

4. Units having a selectable inventory

Indiana Jones on the Atari was the first to do this, I think. The FPS genre has the most to benefit here, since weapon design is such a huge part of the game.

5. Buy Menus
First time I remember this is Blood Money from Psygnosis. It's probably most beneficial to RTS/TBS games, but arguably you couldn't have a Life/Management Sim without it.

6. Free-Roam environments
Surely there was something before the Ultima series which really used this concept, but it's kinda failing me. Now, this is redefining the Third Person Shooter/Adventure genre.

7. Lack of a singular player "score"
This started with RPGs as well, if I'm guessing right, but I could be wrong. It's funny to think that what used to drive arcades is now an almost obsolete concept. FPS games still abide by scores, but I think Adventure games require them the least.

8. User definable content
I want to say OGRE really kinda defines this concept for me, where the player had to define content in order to play the game. Course, it's a cottage FPS industry now.

9. Boss Fights

What was the first ever boss fight anyway? I really have no idea. Now, you can't make a platformer without one.

10. Save Game

Again, Ultima is the earliest I remember this device. Now it's law of the land for any genre.

Jeffool said...

1. Ghost In The Shell - Music/Rythm / First Person Shooter
Not being much of a manga/anime fan I only know of it peripherally, but after watching the trailer, I'm going with a dance pad/lightgun combination game where staying on beat has you gracefully dancing around dodging bullets, while at the same time taking out the bad guys. (Of course the gun will be wireless.)

2. Doctor Who - ARG
Really, is there any other choice? Running mysteries in the Dr. Who show should be extrapolated upon which ARGs that wrap themselves up with each season should be experienced. It should reveal completely seperate info about the 'badguys' with little overlap from the Doctor himself. Doing this with a timetravelling show should be easy and fun, and make for fantastic DVD extras.

3. Scrubs - Mini-Game/Party / Music/Rythm
Each player picks a character and advances through floors in the hospital by achieving tasks (mini-games) in their quest to make it to the top of their field. The player's characters each have their own theme of games that they drag other players into from 'Mop up the Puke' and 'Boobies', to the hit 'Remove the Tumor, But Don't Cut the Pulmonary Artery'. Ahhh, good times abounds. And just like every episode, floors end in a well-chosen-song related minigame.

4. Stargate: Atlantis - Adventure
Not being much of a sci-fi guy I'm going to go with what I understand the series being about, which is a new world (or Atlantis on the regular Stargate world? I dunno.) How could that not be a good adventure title?

5. Firefly (Serenity) - First Person Shooter / Flight/Space Sim
I've never seen the show. I know, I know... But I mean, is it all flying around? Is it on-foot adventure that drives the show? I have no clue. So I'm going with a FPS, because where there's one space ship, there's bound to be some kind of weapon-toting conflict. ;)

6. Fraggle Rock - Platformer / Mini-Game Party
Again, an obvious choice, but it could be fun! Imagine going on a mission to save your fellow Fraggles in a near-endless streaming underground world. Remember those great NES Ducktales and Chip & Dale's Rescue Rangers games? This could be those in 3d. (Admittedly, I'd love to see/make a Care Bears game.) And tons of fun Doozer mini-games!

7. The Last Starfighter - Flight/Space Sim / Platformer
Anyone who's seen this movie would love to have a game where they were the last Starfighter. And we all want a combat-flight game where the reticule disappears completely when moved away from the origin point! And gameplay cuts between the real you in space, and the Beta Unit android replicant left in your place on Earth.

8. Black Adder - Real Time Strategy
Another one I had to Google to find out more about. (I'm so unhip.) But I'm thinking an RTS like no other before it. Don't think Command & Conquer, but rather Dungeon Keeper or Freedom Force, only a complete comedy. You control the cast of the show and must try to stop the populous from revolting (or turn them in your favor.) There's just not enough comedy in games.

9. High Fidelity - Life Sim
The ultimate Life Sim that would make Chris Crawford cry. You're dropped into Rob's position (you can choose, American or British,) and make your own mistakes in life and love.

10. Gattaca - Management Sim
Completely the opposite perspective of the movie, your job is to find the rumored genetically imperfect man and weed him out through a series of challenges and proper resource management while leading everyone through the space program.

Question 2:
I'm turning in my homework early and taking an 'incomplete'. I don't know most of'em and would be scared to guess at even my first experience with them.

Josh said...

I love the Black Adder concept. And your guesses for Atlantis (new planet/galaxy in the SG1 verse) and Serenity were pretty spot on.

I'll admit the second question isn't nearly as much fun. Maybe it should just be extra credit.

Jeffool said...

Thank you, thank you. It was a fun exercise, and the second question is good, but I just honestly can never remember anything. And thanks for the kudos, though I liked my DDR-meets-Time Crisis idea for Ghost In The Shell more. ;) Though your Gattaca kicks my Gattaca's ass. (Same with Fraggle Rock, I 'so' should've thought of dance-offs.)

Though I see we more or less had the same idea for Scrubs. Y'know, I had never even thought of a game based on it before... I guess Scrubs is just that kind of show.

Josh said...

I would agree really, DDR meets Time Crisis is pretty inspired. Though, GITS has some of my fave music, I could also see it working with Cowboy Bebop ... though that has a fairly melee feel to it.