Patrick Curry’s Thoughts on Game Design


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November 15th, 2006

Game Idea #46: Cave In

High Concept:

You’ve worked in the coal mine your entire life. You know these tunnels, caves and caverns like the back of your hand. But one day a freak accident causes a cave in, leaving you and three other miners trapped deep underground. Stay calm, and you’ll survive. Work together, and you’ll escape!

Platform:

Home Console / PC

Why it needs to be made:

I love cooperative games. I find coop games to be some of the most rewarding and most memorable because I’m sharing the experience with a friend. Cave In is an asymetrical coop game, in that it forces each player into a very different role. I think you could really have some fun not only giving the players different roles, but entirely different types of play within the same game.

Description:

Cave In is played as a four-player cooperative game. Each player takes on the role of one of the four miners, and each miner has a unique tool with unique abilities. One miner has a shovel, used for digging up loose dirt. One has a bundle of dynamite, used for blowing up rocks. One has a hammer, used to build and repair things. And the final miner has a lamp, which he uses to illuminate otherwise dark areas of the mine. Call it fate… but each miner is stuck with just his one tool and can’t switch with the other miners.

The goal for the four players is to make their way out of the caves. Each section of the cave is a single level of gameplay, and each level will require all four miners to work together. For example, the miner with the lamp might scout ahead and find a canyon in the cave with a broken bridge. He tells the hammer-guy to get to fixing it. Meanwhile he jumps over the canyon (he can do this since he’s not carrying any heavy gear) to scout ahead. Next he finds a fork in the road… to the left there’s a big pile of dirt blocking he way, so he let’s the shovel-guy know where it is and proceeds to the right…

Down the path to the right he comes across a large stone that looks like it could be blown up. He runs back to tell the dynamite-miner, but finds out that he’s fresh out of matches. By now the shovel guy has crossed the bridge that hammer-guy finished building… and is hard at work moving the dirt pile out of the way. He finishes shoveling and the lamp-guy looks in… It’s a dead end! But there’s a fresh pack of matches. Time to blow up that rock!

Why it will be fun:

It’s fun to run around and jump over pits. It’s fun to solve puzzles by moving things around in the world. It’s fun to build stuff. It’s fun to blow stuff up! The catch is that in Cave In each player does just one of these things, and all the players have to work together to get through the environment alive. And of course… we all know the cause of the cave in has to be something awesome like zombie miners. :-)

Final Thoughts:

I usually force myself to pick a specific platform for my game ideas, but I really could see Cave In working equally well on the consoles or the PC. Heck, it’d be cool to let players collaborate across the platforms. Thanks to Ryan for the help on this idea, and for the genius suggestion that this could be a Wii game with “real life shoveling action!”


2 Responses to “Game Idea #46: Cave In”

  1. heavyness commented:
    posted November 16th, 2006 at 12:31 pm

    a Wii version would be cool but how long until your friends arm gets tired from holding the lamp up [although, it would be very life like… just not to fun for him].

    i love the co-op game too, playing Gears of War Co-op is very fun [hell any game is fun co-op] but this game looks to be more of a micromanagement games.

    you control the 4 miners all in real time. you can have the miners do certain things automatically, but if you control them, you can do it faster. this way, you have to dig, then switch to the lamp guy to get better lighting in the cave, then back to the digger.

    this way, you can concentrate on the puzzle parts of the game and not worry about the other aspects [running, jumping] as much. you would also have to manage stuff like making sure the shoveler is away from the others so he doesn’t hit them, or the lamp and dynamite guy never stand to close to each other…. KABLAMO!

    neat idea.

  2. Patrick commented:
    posted November 17th, 2006 at 1:25 am

    Thanks, glad you like it. If it was made into a real game you’d have to let the player control the other miners (that is if he didn’t have three friends handy or a net connection). If AI controlled them and ran around solving the puzzles for you that wouldn’t be any fun. Maybe they’d have simple navigation AI, but wouldn’t know to use their tools or something.

    Speaking of doing things faster, it would be cool if having the lamp-guy nearby sped things up. Like you can dig faster or hammer better if the guy is holding the lamp nearby. But the idea of having to keep the lamp away from the dynamite is pure gold. :-)


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