Patrick Curry’s Thoughts on Game Design


« Game Idea #16: On the Road Again | Game Idea #18: Go Nuts! »

April 23rd, 2006

Game Idea #17: Miracle of Life

This week’s idea is the first I’ve posted with the Nintendo Revolution in mind. Enjoy!

High Concept:

Miracle of Life is a game where you get to parent and raise a child. Interact with your baby in a number of ways. Watch them learn and grow as you feed, bathe, change, and play with them.

Platform:

Nintendo Revolution

Why it needs to be made:

I don’t necessarily think playing a videogame can make you a better parent. But then again, games are a fantastic way to learn, and if done right, Miracle of Life could be a fun way to learn some basic parenting skills.

Description:

Miracle of Life aims to be the first “baby sim.” Your first action in the game is to design the parents, entering the physical characters of the mother and father. The game then generates a genetically accurate baby, based on the traits of both parents. Congratulations, it’s a boy (or a girl)!

Once your child is born you have to take care of him. Each time you sit down to play the game the baby will have different needs. While he can’t tell you exactly what he wants or needs, you can try out different actions until you and the baby find a compromise. Maybe he wants to eat, or maybe he just wants to be entertained.

All of the interactions are done using the Revolution’s “magic wand” controller, which can be transformed into a number of toys and tools. If you select the rattle, then shaking the controller with make noise. If you select the bottle, then tipping it upsides down will feed the baby. And if you select “nap time,” then rocking the controller will slowly put the baby to sleep.

You can also play the game in real-time mode, where the baby’s schedule takes place at a realistic pace. You get to wake up early for feedings, or even more fun, wake up in the middle of the night to rock the baby back to sleep. This mode isn’t designed as much for pure fun, but rather to help illustrate just how much work having a child is.

Why it will be fun:

Playing with a baby is just a lot of fun. It almost never gets old, that is until they get tired of you and they start to fuss, or have a stinky diaper. But there is also something deeply satisfying in feeding a baby, or rocking them to sleep. It might be one of the most universally rewarding activities for all of humanity.

Final thoughts:

Dolls are some of the oldest toys in human history. Why not a videogame that’s the ultimate baby-doll?


8 Responses to “Game Idea #17: Miracle of Life”

  1. erik commented:
    posted April 28th, 2006 at 10:23 am

    i’m wondering if a console game is the best way to explore the “taking care of a baby” scenario. maybe some sort of customized 3D doll (with electronics inside?) might be more fun and realistic to take care of. i just don’t think i’d feel super connected to my baby if i sat down to the nintendo and loaded up “Junior” and interacted with it through a television.

    that said, this idea just may be genius. there’s probably lots of people (from social workers to high school cliques) with whom this game would be a hit.

  2. Patrick commented:
    posted April 30th, 2006 at 12:19 am

    Yeah, I like the idea of a doll too. A doll could wake up in the middle of the night to tell you he’s hungry, or go to sleep and require you to be quiet lest he wake-up.

    Or maybe this would be a good cell-phone game, where the “baby” would randomly call you, and require you to do a number of actions before you’re allowed to return to your normal life. Then again, I doubt that would have the actually fun, rewarding parts of the game, like playing with the baby, and seeing him make cute baby faces back at you.

    I really like the idea of a game that could do social good, like you mention, but still be fun for people who aren’t looking for a specific lesson as they play the game. Maybe it could be done with Miracle of Life…

  3. Aaron Corcoran commented:
    posted May 4th, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    A parent simulator is quite interesting. Coming from a new father (Julia was born on 4/21/06), nothing really can prepare you for what is to be expected. I’ve read countless books, figuring that would aid me in the various goals, however, it is a whole new thing once you actually have the child.

    As long as the game would wake you every 2-3 hours (sometimes in random intervals of 1) to simulate the feeding schedules of a newborn, that would be great. As mentioned, noone would actually want a video game to alter their everyday life. Hence the beauty of a simulation. Someone can easily save their progress, power off, returning themselves to their own sense of reality.

    Jokingly:
    A random sequence of joystick movements to change a diaper would give the user some sense of reality, as the baby tends to squirm. Unlock the secret move to change the diapers =)

    A neat idea which would be a great for new parents. Parenting classes could be a possible niche market, for those are the places where new parents are seeking such knowledge and experience.

  4. Robert Penner commented:
    posted June 15th, 2006 at 5:17 pm

    Nintendiapers!

  5. Lost Chocolate Lab commented:
    posted June 19th, 2006 at 8:42 am

    This is a little thing I wrote up shortly after the birth of my second daughter, when I read this proposal it reminded me a bit of it:

    Keep in mind, this is all quite tongue in cheek, and meant to be humorous.
    Hopefully you’ll all think so…otherwise I’ll just kind of look like a jaded sleep deprived old man. (Oh wait…I am

    The game is called “New Baby”, and is to be played from the perspective of the “Father”

    It starts out in the middle of the night with a lot of VERY loud screaming, there should be a new type of controller attachment…where instead of a “rumble” pack there would be a kind of blood pressure testing cuff that squeezes your arm tighter as the birthing gets closer. Upon arrival, there are smiles all around, everyone is exhausted and you should pass out ASAP in order to prepare for the next level of the game.

    Once that cut scene is out of the way, game play can begin.

    Upon waking it is your job to keep the baby from crying…as much as possible.
    The baby crying results in what can only be described as “spine-fusing, high decibel audio noise in the “Spinal Tap” measurement of “this one goes to 11″ loudness”…at this point in the game, the afore mentioned controller attachment should be placed around your head in a headband configuration so that during said screaming it will tighten like a vice causing much pain and discomfort.

    Rather than a point system, you have a “family happiness meter” which vacillates between: green (happy) and red (not so happy)…keeping your baby in the green is the goal of the game.

    Other meters may include: wife happiness, your happiness, sleep amount, house cleanliness, #of visitors, etc…
    Advanced levels include: additional children happiness, amount of work waiting for your return to “normal” life

    The meat of the game would be played by:
    Feeding
    Holding
    Sleeping/Transferring
    Changing

    and various other mission type activities like; make dinner, wash dishes, do laundry, take shower, sleep (yourself), other…

    Feeding:
    Can be accomplished (usually) only by the mother by nursing (breastfeeding) except in special cases where bottle feeding is necessary, or when the baby gets older. Over feeding may result in spit-up/barfing/urpsee and may also affect the wife happiness meter if she is relied upon as the sole comfort for a screaming baby. It is your job to take as much of the burden off of the new mother as possible by offering to do as much as possible for her/baby during the first few weeks of the infants life.

    Holding:
    While holding the baby, rhythmically tapping various buttons on the keyboard/controller while holding the baby in order to rock it to sleep, this will need to be done rhythmically and may have to be switched up from time to time in order to keep the baby sleeping. There is good potential for musical licensing tie-ins to aid in the rhythmic accompaniment.

    Sleeping:
    Once the baby is asleep in your arms, it is your job to attempt to “transfer” the sleeping baby to its crib so it can sleep (hopefully) and you can perform other assigned tasks/goals/missions. The transfer is a sensitive time, as the transition is a bit cumbersome moving from holding to laying and the baby is often apt to wake from it’s restfulness…possibly a meter measuring how asleep the baby is during the maneuver, and if it reaches 20% there is the potential that the baby would need to be patted on the back, sung to, or various other potential special powers that could be gained/learned during the game. Controls for this activity should be VERY cumbersome, including possible a large #of keys spread across the keyboard/controller with no option for adjusting them to the way (the player) might like them…it’s difficult, and that’s that.

    Once the baby is successfully transferred, the babies sleep meter will continue to show and if there are any loud noises, bodily functions, unexpected visitors the meter will reflect the level of sleep in %…when the meter reaches zero, the baby will need to be “managed” again.

    Changing:
    Usually upon waking the baby will need to be changed. This is not too hard once you get the hang of it, but may be complicated by other factors. If the diaper was not secured by the power of Zeus to “lock in wetness” it may have leaked and made your babies clothing wet/soiled…if this is the case, a new outfit will new to be selected and the baby will need to be changed. During the changing the baby will have a happiness meter that usually starts out very high right after sleeping, but could change drastically at any point during the changing should it take too long to perform the tasks involved. If you should have the diaper off, mid change, and the baby have a…ahem…bowel movement, there will be a fountain of yellow Kurdish waste ejected from it’s bottom that will need to be cleaned up either right away, or after the baby has been diapered/changed as necessary. If it doesn’t get cleaned up right away, or well enough, you can be sure that it will affect the mother happiness meter.

    A certain amount of wakeful “happy” time is expected, and you should cherish every moment of it, as it will affect YOUR happiness meter in a life recharging kind of way, reaffirming your belief in the power of love.

    Missions:
    Will need to be done during either babies wakeful happy time, or while the baby is sleeping…some require more skills that may need to be learned, others can wait an indefinite amount of time, and may only weigh heavily on your own happiness if they fail to get done.
    If you don’t shower for an extended period of time, this may be ok for you…but may affect your wife’s happiness.
    If you don’t do the laundry, it will affect her happiness…if you don’t separate the lights from the darks, again…affects wife’s happiness.
    You will need to eat in order to have strength/stamina to perform the tasks, this may involve cooking…if you do not have this skill, it will affect your health and your happiness/ your wife’s happiness.
    Washing dishes will need to be done, as well as “tidying up” the house when visitors are expected…which is every coupla days for the first few weeks.

    This proposal also includes the potential for a prequel and a sequel:
    Pregnancy - What is this growing in me?
    (Played from the role of the mother or “host”, and would include proper eating, exercise, mental stress, awkward walking/control scheme, supply gathering, social gatherings (i.e. baby showers, family inquisitions, etc), and MUCH lower back pain.
    )
    2nd child - What is this thing that has invaded my home, and has taken the attention of my parents away from me?
    (Played from the role of the first child upon arrival of the “New Baby” where the goal of the game is to cause as much trouble for the parents as possible…without dying. Game play would include; redefining boundaries previously established, getting away with things never before conceivable, trying to stay in your parents good graces, learning how NOT to kill the new baby, and other various skill based learning adventures.)

  6. tratch commented:
    posted June 19th, 2006 at 10:25 am

    How about a baby “attachment” that would plug into the Wii (either the system itself or the port on the Wiimote control)? The baby has battery power, so it can be played with and taken care of even when the system is off. It would keep track of the times that it cries and is/isn’t taken care of, how often it is fed, how often it’s changed, and so forth. Then when you plug it into the Wii all that info is sync’d to the game and it tracks that for the player.

  7. Lost Chocolate Lab commented:
    posted June 20th, 2006 at 3:50 pm

    “Then when you plug it into the Wii all that info is sync’d to the game and it tracks that for the player.”
    -And then Nintendo calls social services to take your WiiBaby away if it’s been neglected and find a new foster home for it!

    Brilliant!

  8. Antsan commented:
    posted December 9th, 2007 at 5:21 am

    Seriously, I don’t think that’s a good idea.

    I really often interact with kids and babies, mainly because my family is a foster family (not for me, for others).
    Simulating a child will always be too unrealistic. You couldn’t learn anything from that game.

    1. Different needs can be told by different signs. Most of those signs aren’t recognizable. They are mostly subconscious.

    2. What if you d something wrong? Will the baby start to cry? Can you just turn it off, when it annoys you? Reload it on a different mood? Will the baby die? Will it evolve difficult character-traits?
    Mainly the last one is important, I think. The cliffs of buildup of character are not to simulate. And thats the most important part in our society (where you could play this game).

    Of course it could be fun, but if anyone beliefs you could learn anything by playing that game that would be really bad.


« Game Idea #16: On the Road Again | Game Idea #18: Go Nuts! »

« Back to 52 Game Ideas

All original content and game designs © Copyright Patrick Curry, 1999-2013. All rights reserved.











Tsugi Developer Center