Patrick Curry’s Thoughts on Game Design


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June 4th, 2006

Game Idea #23: Puppet Show

I think I’ve gone off the deep end this time…

High Concept:

Puppet Show is the videogame all about puppetry. Design and build your own characters and sets. Bring your puppets to life with live puppeteering. Record your puppet shows and share them with friends. Or better yet, team up with your friends and put on an entire live performance together!

Platform:

PlayStation 3 / Nintendo Wii

Why it needs to be made:

Thus far all of my “creative game” ideas have revolved around solitary, offline play. Puppet Show would bring an entirely new aspect to the mix: live collaborative performances.

Description:

Puppet Show might be better described as a “toy” than a “game.” Instead of having a series of linear challenges, Puppet Show gives you everything you need to put on a digital puppet show – with the entire world as your audience. You might say it’s a toolbox… a magical puppet toolbox.

First you design your puppets. You can make everything from sock-puppets to complex marionettes. Recreate your all-time favorites, or try to come up with the most outrageous characters you can. Once you have them built, complete with googly-eyes and lederhosen, you get to make them walk and talk. The motion-detection controller is ideal for steering your character, be it just bobbing up and down, or mastering the art of a sultry strut. And of course you use the microphone to give your characters a voice.

But the really fun part of the game is putting on shows! The game would feature a set of simple recording and editing tools, so you can combine short snippets into a larger video. But the game gets really interesting when you have friends playing with you on the same system or online. Now you can each puppet your own character in a joint performance, doing the motions and the voices as your puppets interact, embrace, or fight!

These performances can then be recorded and shared online, or other gamers can connect to see the performances as they happen. Imagine tuning in each Tuesday night to see the newest episode of “Puppet Mosh Pit,” performed live by two metal fans from Green Bay. Puppet Show is the ultimate machinima/podcast “game.”

Why it will be fun:

Do you remember dad bringing home that giant cardboard box? There was a refrigerator in it or something… but the box was the important part. You got to cut a big hole in the side of it, and then torture your family for the next several weeks by making them watch your puppet shows! It’s fun to be the writer and director of a performance… but it’s much more fun to be the star!

Final thoughts:

Like I said, this game idea is out there. But it brings together so many of the things that I find exciting about this “next-gen” of gaming. There are a handful of games out there that let you be creative, and some that let you perform, but I haven’t seen one that lets you really do both yet.


11 Responses to “Game Idea #23: Puppet Show”

  1. Morgan commented:
    posted June 4th, 2006 at 3:25 pm

    Isn’t Spore like this?

  2. erik commented:
    posted June 5th, 2006 at 9:59 am

    I went to a party once at the outside deck of a bar and they had Katamari projected really big on a wall, and occasionally throughout the party, people would pick up the controllers if they got bored. It ended up being a nice touch (or mood) to the party, and was something a little more interesting to look at than a disco ball or a projected lava lamp. We couldn’t really think of any other games that would have worked in that situation (Katamari has the cool/designy/dreamy thing going on, whereas other platform/fighting/strategy games would have been a little too geeky).

    Maybe Puppet Show would be one of the few games that would work well with a big projector as an interactive addition to a party - either scripted, or just there for anyone to walk up and start playing with.

  3. vince commented:
    posted June 5th, 2006 at 10:27 pm

    I think that new roly-poly PSP game would work projected like that. I can’t remember the name of it.

  4. Patrick commented:
    posted June 5th, 2006 at 10:54 pm

    “LocoRoco” is the game… and it does look pretty sweet.

    I think the secret to a good spectator game is one that doesn’t look anything like a game. At one family gathering a while back my brother and I were playing Tony Hawk while my grandmother quietly watched. After a bit she asked “did that young man win?”

    It took us a second, but we realized she thought we were watching a sports show on TV… and not playing a game. It was a magical moment for me… as I realized we had been doing all these tricks and creating an experience than even an 80 year old woman could enjoy watching. In a way we were putting on a puppet show for her… even though none of us were aware of it at the time.

  5. Jonathan Harford commented:
    posted June 15th, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    Doesn’t the wiimote have an integrated microphone? Or is that just the DS?

    Being able to do the voices for the puppets “on-the-fly” would make Puppet Show a great and quick way to make a sketch.

  6. Neil commented:
    posted June 16th, 2006 at 1:54 am

    Use the Wii “nunchuck” as the puppet’s arm (or one of them at least if not use both the “Wiimote” and “nunchuck” as the arms).

  7. Bakudan commented:
    posted June 16th, 2006 at 11:25 am

    ABSOLUTELY GREAT IDEA MAN
    I love it, it’s also kindof like the SNES BS add-on

    Also good for practising game-character design.

    I love it.

  8. Byron L Jones commented:
    posted June 16th, 2006 at 1:39 pm

    I really love this idea. Mainly because it represents generally the quality of ideas i want to actually see make into a game in this next-gen, because it’s actually possible now.

    Wii creates a platform for so many new ideas not possible on other consoles or even PCs.

  9. BIKEAGE commented:
    posted June 16th, 2006 at 9:18 pm

    I love this idea, so much. Please make for Wii someday. Please.

  10. The Mighty Doof commented:
    posted June 17th, 2006 at 4:58 pm

    Holy crap!! That sounds awesome!!! That sounds like a guaranteed console-seller, I really really want this game now! Just collaborate with Jim Henson Workshop and profit off the franchise while you’re at it (although Muppet games have always been unspeakably atrocious…) I can just imagine playing with the Swedish Chef!! I would LOVE a game that really does justice to my muppet nostalgia.

  11. Alexis commented:
    posted April 14th, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    it sounds good.. but i’m just thinking that when you create characters on any game.. let’s say the sims, you are basically making a puppet. if i want to have an actual puppet, i would make an actual puppet. if this is created correctly i think it would work on the younger audience.
    ps. i love the story about your grandmother


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