Patrick Curry’s Thoughts on Game Design

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January 1st, 2006

Game Idea #1: Toothache

Happy new year everyone! This is the first of 52 new game ideas I plan to post in 2006. So here goes nothing…

High Concept:

Toothache is a fun little dentist simulation. You play as a dentist and do your best to keep your patients happy and keep their teeth healthy.


Nintendo DS

Why it needs to be made:

Most games focus on the player hurting people. A few games focus on the player helping people. Toothache lets the player do either or both!


Toothache’s primary interface is a camera looking down on a mouth full of teeth. The player picks from a palette of dental tools (drills, scrapers, clamps, gause, gas, needles, etc) to apply to the patient. You can do a routine cleaning, or the involved process of drilling, scraping, filling, and capping a cavity. Each patient has a different ailment, and it’s up to the player to fix ‘em up.

Why it will be fun:

Helping people can be very rewarding. Having patients happily smile and thank the player for a job well done will be one of the primary rewards in the game, but they will also pay you money for your services, and recommend you to their friends. It will also be fun to “forget” to apply novocain to a particularly annoying patient, to pull out a tooth and see the blood gush, or hear the high-pitched whir of drill echo in a patient’s mouth.

Final thoughts:

With the popularity of Trauma Center, I think we just might see a series of medical simulations, especially for the DS and its touch-screen.

8 Responses to “Game Idea #1: Toothache”

  1. mason commented:
    posted January 2nd, 2006 at 12:50 pm

    so, i’m going to take the preventative maintence tip.

    As patients come in, they can complain about symptoms. And get to choose between sending them home with a free “Colgate” toothbrush, or mouthwash, floss, ointment, gum pick, or whatever. Each of those would help different things, and if their problem gets better then they get happy. If you give them the wrong dental hygene then their problem gets worse. Learning to play the game would be somewhat educational.

    anyway, there’s my .02

  2. erik commented:
    posted January 3rd, 2006 at 7:58 pm

    reminds me of the old PC (and i think apple) game “Life and Death”. the game was kinda like that old board game “Operation”, where the point is to save the patient. Sometimes it was just way more fun to do stuff wrong and see how the patient reacted :)

    Life & Death review

  3. erik commented:
    posted January 3rd, 2006 at 8:01 pm

    and here’s another Life & Death review with funny screenshots. When you were diagnosing, you’d put the hand icon on their stomach. If they screamed, you knew they had appendicitis!

  4. Patrick commented:
    posted January 6th, 2006 at 12:10 am

    I vaguely remember Life & Death. All I really remember is that I thought it was hard when I played it long ago.

    Operation was a bit of inspiration for this idea. One of the reasons I think Toothache game would work well on the DS is that the lower screen would show the patient’s mouth (which is the touch-screen), while the top screen would show a close-up of the patient’s nose, eyes, and eyebrows.

    The patient would make faces of joy or pain, depending on what you do to their teeth, gums, and tongue. This could serve as a HUD of sorts, giving the player some basic information about how he’s doing. Even a knocked-out patient could flinch and crunch-up her eyebrows when in pain.

    And by the way, thanks for the feedback guys. :-)

  5. Guy Incognito commented:
    posted January 12th, 2006 at 9:07 am

    Eyes roll back in her head=novocaine is working. Tears=give her more novocaine. That’s the funny.

  6. mason commented:
    posted January 14th, 2006 at 10:28 am

    did we miss an obvious “little shop of horrors” tie-in?

  7. Idea #1: Ideacasting - Jack Cheng commented:
    posted October 2nd, 2006 at 11:45 am

    […] In addition, I like Patrick Curry’s format- I think it’s a good way of breaking down the trains of thought, so I’m adopting a similar one (as you can already see). […]

  8. Mi•chael Karn•ja•na•pra•korn » Ideacasting by Jack Cheng commented:
    posted October 6th, 2006 at 3:00 am

    […] In addition, I like Patrick Curry’s format- I think it’s a good way of breaking down the trains of thought, so I’m adopting a similar one (as you can already see). […]

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