September 28, 2007

4E6 - First Impressions

Only one more weekday before the long weekend. Most people celebrate Labour Day by not doing any work, but I’ll use some of the extra time to make some general improvements to the website. I’ll also be continuing with learning Flash game development. I’ve got my next game almost finished - the core gameplay is done, I just need to put the finishing touches on the graphics and the sound effects. I’ll probably have that up later today, and I can start work on another game on the weekend.

For those of you interested at the happening at, the Four Elements VI contest is underway. The elements this year are very… random. “Ponies”, “Accountants”, “Crystals”, and “Explosions”. The general impressions I’m getting from the forum is that the element choices are very polarising; some really love them, whereas others are turned away.

I must admit my first impressions of the elements are a bit lacklustre. They seem like they’re trying a bit too hard to be “out there”. They didn’t at first really strike me as elements that make me want to rush out and design a game. Now I’ve had a bit of time to think about it I’m starting to get a few sparks of an idea but it’s still a bit muddled. I’m glad there’s only a three element limit this year.

I’ll stick up a poll about the elements this weekend once my current poll has run its course. I’ll be interested in seeing what your views on the elements are. Here’s a quick snapshot of mine.

Out of the elements, “crystals” is the one I like the most: it’s got a lot of potential to be taken in a number of ways, and it can fit it nicely with any of the other elements. However “ponies”, “accountants” and “explosions” all have the problem that they negate each other as themes. “Ponies” suggests cute, safe, magical environments, which doesn’t go well with the raw destructive power suggested by “explosions”. And, no offence to any accountants out there, accountancy strike me as a rather flat and dull element to put in a game. Taken individually they can work well, but my impression is that the general essence of only one of those three elements can be brought to bear at any one time, with a danger that the other two will be merely tacked on.

Additionally, “accountants” sticks out to me as the odd element out from the four. It’s very specific. It’s not something general like economics (from last year) which could be taken in a number of different ways. Even “accountancy” would be more general, as that doesn’t suggest you need an actual accountant in the game. I’m not sure exactly why, but I’d feel better if the element was a bit more general, say to include bookmakers or insurance claim assessors or something.

Overall I expect there will be a lot of parody type games that only scratch the surface of most of the elements. I’m hoping there’ll be one or two that can blend the elements in an unexpected way though - it might be tough to fully do justice to all four.

As for me, I may enter this year. Given my time constraints I’ll only enter if I can think of a game I can prototype up in a week, which limits down any grandiose ideas from me (nothing in the vein of Mop of Destiny, I fear). That being said I have the kernel of an idea that incorporates all four that might be serviceable - I’ll see what I can sketch up over the weekend.

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2 Comments on 4E6 - First Impressions

September 28, 2007

Kevin "Kaisel" G. @ 4:49 pm:

I like the elements in the fact that to make a game that uses all four (or even just three) elements well is a challenge. To be honest, I did like how “ponies” and “explosions” are both on the list, it amused me at the least. I do agree that there are going to be a lot of parody games, which is a bit of a disappointment, and I have a feeling there will be a lot of games where the main character is an accountant… though, a Silent Hill type game with an accountant in the lead role could be interesting…

That’s my thought too. But it’s early days yet - I thought early on last year there’d be massed of World War II games, and I was proved wrong.

I’m getting more and more curious as to what people will end up doing with the accountant element. At the moment I fear too many people will just put an accountant as the lead role, as you say, but then not let him or her do much accounting - which sort of defeats the purpose of the element. If I end up using that element in a game, I’m going to make sure they are accountants by nature as well as by name!

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