Patrick Curry’s Thoughts on Game Design

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February 26th, 2006

Game Idea #9: Snow Day

It’s cold in Chicago… might as well stay home and play in the snow…

High Concept:

Snow Day is a sandbox game, but instead of the sandbox being full of sand, it’s full of snow! Your town has been completely snowed in… school’s been cancelled, and the kids are taking over.


Next-gen home console

Why it needs to be made:

We didn’t get much snow in Texas. But living in Chicago has opened my eyes to its awesome powers. Snow is beautiful, fun, and magical. I wanted to design a game around the idea that snow can transform an everyday place into something special. Snow Day is designed with kids in mind, but people of all ages could have fun with it, whether they get real snow or not.


Snow Day is an open-world game where you play as a kid in a small town that’s been completely snowed in. The schools and businesses are all closed, so for this one day the kids can do whatever they want! You can have a snowball fight, make a snowman, make snow-angels, or build a fort. As you explore the town you find items that unlock new activities, like sledding, skiing, snowboarding, and ice-skating.

Of course the adults around town are all beside themselves, and have no idea what to do. Many of them will need help as they attempt to go about their everyday lives. The postman will give you a pair of snowshoes if you help shovel his route. The vet will give you a bigger sled if you get her cat out of the tree. (It’s up to you to either climb the tree, or roll up a big snow-ball.) And if none of that interests you, then you can team up with other kids to pull pranks on the principal’s house!

Snow Day gets really interesting when you start thinking of it as a multiplayer game. Suddenly the casual activities turn into a tournament, a sort of Winter Olympics for kids. Of course snowball fights aren’t an Olympic sport… yet.

Why it will be fun:

Snow Day has most of the classic gameplay archetypes… exploring, racing, and some very light combat. But it also has creative gameplay, in building forts, snowmen, and all of the other ways you could manipulate the environment. Snow Day lets you discover which activities you find the most fun, and then do them as much as you want. So while I might enjoy the fort-building, my sister would go for the snowball fights, my brother would be all about the snowboarding, and my wife would make snow-angels for 24 hours straight. The trick would be to find ways to keep each activity as deep and fun as possible, while still maintaining the breadth of so many activities.

Final thoughts:

Snow Day is a game I’d feel good about playing with my entire family. Speaking of which, big thanks to Eileen for the help with this week’s idea, and thanks for the lifetime’s worth of game brainstorming help.

15 Responses to “Game Idea #9: Snow Day”

  1. Vincent Allen commented:
    posted February 27th, 2006 at 6:05 am

    I think that would be all kinds of fun, and if I had kids especially if I lived somewhere where it did not snow I would embrace a game like that simply so they could enjoy the simple pleasures of a snowball fight. With some kind of a live online component like xbox live the possibilities of a game like this could be endless. Especially if we think about all of the little things like just exploring and establishing relationships and groups like kids would normally when playing. A game like this could be really healthy for children who have lost the interest or ability to socilize outside of their house. Also if you coupled it with technology like the eye toy for the ps2 you could get you children active and exercizing almost with out them knowing. I think a snowball fight is a pure thing every kid should experiance. My girl friend is from Australia and has never seen snow and for a lot of kids that might never see snow, this could be an exciting and fun way for them to experiance some of the fun of snow even if they live where it never snows. I know that a game like this would only be viable if a way to make stacks of money off of it could be realized. If you had two versions of the game were made one with just a single player mode and some basic multiplayer componets but no ability to take part in a bigger comunitty and another that had an online comunity and an online world like World of Warcraft or EverQuest an almost unlimited amount of moneey could be made. Ifyou could get familes to adopt this game, it could be a good way for families to have fun and stay connected through a game even though they may be thousands of miles away. And then when you think about the possibilities of expansion packs moving the game from one snow bound city like Chicago to New York or Boston so each child could play in their own city or cities around the world. And if the game was compleatly open to exploration there could be no end to the game play. I see a game that could be fun for all ages, that could help keep families together over thousands of miles, that would help to get our kids active again. It might help our shy people learn to interact better from a safe place and most importantly share a long sacred tradition of childhood in cold climates with the entire world. To allow the guilt free joy of smacking someone in the back of the head from 20 yards away with a perfectly placed snowball!!!!

  2. Bob commented:
    posted February 27th, 2006 at 7:26 am

    How about adding a Calvin and Hobbes snowman game pack as a extension?? All the snowmen that Calvin created (the snowdog at the fire hyrdant, the snow man eating a snow cone) would be a hilarious extension for it.

  3. Bob commented:
    posted February 27th, 2006 at 7:28 am

    Oh, by the way, I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, so I feel your pain. :)

  4. Hicadoola! » Reasons that I could use some venture capital commented:
    posted February 27th, 2006 at 9:46 am

    […] Some guy has a great game design idea that I came up with a couple of years ago. Mine’s a little different. His idea is a snow day for kids where you are a kid, and the snowed-in neiborhood is your oyster. It’s a sandbox-game concept. My idea was more of an FPS for kids kinda game, but with the same colorful, fun look and feel. The responses to his game design have (supposedly) been shown at Slashdot which means that it’s gotten quite a bit of recognition. Maybe could’ve gotten some attention and then I could’ve gotten an expanded development team, and possibly some money to burn on the project. God’s in control. My ideas are great. Some stink, but there are diamonds in the rough. “The Longest Snow Day” was one of those. Hell, I did a quick CNN interview concerning the game, so it had an opportunity. Was it my fault? Was I not committed enough? Many in the realm of game development might say that I did what I could to make TLSD a reality, but maybe I could’ve done more. It’s a subject that comes up about once every few months. It’ll come up again. Maybe in a couple of years I’ll have the means to make a Beta version to show someone who can either fund, publish, or market the game. […]

  5. Kris commented:
    posted February 27th, 2006 at 5:25 pm

    I agree with a lot of what Vincent had to say and hey! I’m even from Australia ;) I’m seeing snow currently whilst in Montreal and this raises my concern with this design idea: for those who’ve lived amongst snow all their life, would it be that appealing to stay inside and play a game with such a theme? Would something completely opposite receive more attention, such as sand castles and kite surfing, picnic setups with activities such as family soccer matches or water pistol fights? Food for thought!

  6. Alan commented:
    posted February 27th, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    OMGosh, I would love this lol. I’m from Hawaii, but in Cali for school right now and I jump on every chance I get to go to the snow.

  7. Heartless Gamer commented:
    posted February 28th, 2006 at 9:39 am

    You do well to describe the game. A winter wonderland would let the kid in all of us escape. Enjoyed the read.

    Thinking about it I think a small net based game like SOE’s Infantry would work for this gameplay model. Infantry was a blast to play back in the day and I could imagine that just transfered over to snowball fights!

  8. Mason Dixon commented:
    posted February 28th, 2006 at 10:42 am

    I want some part of the game to have a narrative built into it as one mode of play, in addition to the open playland environment.

    Not sure about you all but when I was a kid we build snow forts and had battles with other neighborhood kids that also build snow forts. So first you take on the 3rd graders and eventually you have to take on the 6th graders.

    …or maybe the narrative is along the lines of a quest?

  9. Smirror commented:
    posted March 3rd, 2006 at 10:49 pm

    I don’t know why, and I can’t explain it, but this idea really seems to mean something to me. I guess it has something to do with the philosophy of childhood innocence. Or somethimg. If I was a billionare of some sorts, I’d fund it.

  10. BIKEAGE commented:
    posted June 16th, 2006 at 9:04 pm

    This is a great idea! I think the main story could be pretty cool too; you could help the kids keep the snow up and stay out of school longer, or you could help the adults. It’s like the good and evil side of a game only its not so clear.

  11. Dude commented:
    posted November 30th, 2006 at 12:10 pm

    Sounds cool, yo. I’m a teenager and I’d try it. Building forts never EVER gets old.

  12. kyle hampton commented:
    posted December 5th, 2006 at 7:05 am

    can you send me a link to the game it is hard to find this kind of game

  13. Patrick commented:
    posted December 6th, 2006 at 1:32 am

    Kyle, it’s just an idea so far. But some day I’d like to make it into a real game. :-)

  14. Pete Bennett commented:
    posted June 25th, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    What’s great about this idea is that it really caters to both the audience that has never experienced a snow day from a child’s perspective AND those of us that wish to relive our memories of snow days.

    I had a similar experience that Mason had. I remember the snow forts / battles clearly since they were the best part of a snow day. I can see being a multiplayer aspect. Perhaps, one person (a captain) can challenge another person (another captain) to a snow ball fight. These two people can recruit members to form a team. When the snowball fight starts, both teams begin building their forts by any means in any location on the map. Attacking is prohibited until a certain time elapses (say 3 - 5 minutes). Members of the team could enhance their forts with upgrades (pouring water on snow to form ice) or try to expand their fort. Each build technique would be strategically different. After the certain time elapses, “war” begins; both teams may begin attacking. Members may continue building and improving, but it will mostly be snowball fighting and fort destruction at this point. The winners could be rewarded with a territory gain or some other valuable possession. Overall, this game mode i think would add a very pirate-y feel to it (recruiting members, fighting for territory, pillaging :) )without all the parrots, bad hygiene (well, i suppose kids poop their pants), and fluffy shirts. This would be just one element of the game. I think the snowmen crafting, ice skating and sledding are just important activities as the snowball fights. Not everybody wants to play “war games”.

    Though, I’m not sure about the whole game being one giant snow day. Wouldn’t the game end as the sun goes down? Since it’s a sandbox game, there needs to be some logical explanation for the continual snow day(s).

    As a side note, I thought of a more grim idea called “Snowed In” which would be largely inspired by the The Shining. Creepy…

  15. Booboo commented:
    posted February 25th, 2008 at 10:19 am

    Sounds fun. Make sure you include a scenario where kids can get full on hot chocolate then go write their names in the snow. Avoid the yellow snow!

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