Posted by: lordkyler | July 2, 2011


So, somewhat in the vein of the last post, I’ve got another game idea, also involving stick figures, but for a rather different reason. You see, with something as simple as stick figures, this game has the potential to be modded by almost anyone into any type of game they like.

Allow me to explain.

The point of this (freely available, open source) game is to create other games. By using very simplistic models, one could create a first or third person shooter of nearly any genre. For instance, the simple rods and spheres of which 3D stick figures are constructed would be extremely easy to skin. Basic clothing, hats, etc could also be provided and re-colored according to your preferences with a simple in-game editor. By having talented people upload the blank, basic shapes of clothing items, it should be very easy to quickly stock a library from which anyone can download.

Given a sophisticated enough approach to modeling, non-human stick figures could even be created, such as animals, robots or aliens, and possibly even morphing between them, to create games with Terminators, werewolves, or Transformers.

As for the rest, Google’s free Sketchup program would provide an ideal solution. Google is best at creating basic polygonal shapes, and with a sufficiently advanced plugin, it could easily be adapted to export to the game, creating weapons, vehicles and maps with ease.

For instance, let’s review the process of making a bow and arrow weapon. First, model a simple bow in one file, and an arrow in another. Then export them to the game. In game, you would scale the model appropriately, and define a few points where the weapon is held, where projectiles come from, etc. For more advanced models like a bending bow, additional models of the bow being bend may  be required. Next, choose a projectile, in this case the simple arrow we modeled earlier, and then define the attributes of the weapon.

All weapon types in the game would fall under a few basic categories, no matter what they were. Sniper weapons would have highly accurate crosshairs and possibly a scope. Shotguns or other inaccurate weapons would have a circle, inside which the projectile would land somewhere randomly, meaning closer is better. Laser weapons would fire on a straight line. In our bow example, the projectile type is ballistic, meaning it is affected by gravity. Other weapons in this category would include grenades or rocks. So, selecting ballistic, we then have an option of seeing either a dotted arch through the air, showing expected trajectory, or a circle on the ground, inside which the arrow will fall randomly. Then we define a few basic properties about the arrow, making it an impact weapon, instead of an explosive one, and mess with a few sliders to determine damage amount, armor piercing capabilities, explosion radius, and so on. This same process could be applied to any weapon type, from superpowers to guns to knives.

Hand to hand combat would most likely be represented by using different keys to attack from different angles, and with a circle on the ground to show your reach. A keyframing system would allow you to set up attacks and combos as desired, and attacks could be blocked by performing the same attack within a given amount of time. Movement could also be defined, ranging from simple running, to full blown parkour moves, keyframed by those with patience, and then uploaded. Game creators could then pick and choose the available moves, and assign key combos to each.

As for maps, this is also easily solved by Sketchup. It’s extremely easy to build all sorts of boxes, pillars, etc, to create any sort of map. By having some predefined textures to determine building materials, it would be child’s play to create maps. For instance, a certain shade of blue applied to a material would mark it as a booster in the game, which could then have its settings adjusted. Gray could mean the material is concrete, and is so resilient to certain kinds of attacks, but crumbles easily. Other textures could mean climbable surfaces, water, etc. Various components could represent spawn points and power-up locations.

Another benefit of using very simple geometry and textures is that this game could still run quickly but have accurate, adjustable physics. For instance, materials marked as concrete will crumble, vehicles will react accurately when taking damage, objects might get underfoot. With very simple models, it should be very simple to have all sorts of effects, which can be toggled and adjusted accordingly, such as gravity strength, Planes could have a wing ripped off, for example, with each wing section providing a certain amount of lift, and if blown off, would make the plane that much harder to control, rather than just a basic crash scene.

Which brings us to vehicles. Vehicles would undoubtedly be more difficult to create, but definitely within reach. By using appropriate grouping, certain sections could be defined as wheels or engines, and by choosing the vehicle type, various options would appear. Car vehicles would have adjustable suspension amounts, or planes would have varying speeds, spaceships would maneuver with specific control schemes, and so on. And of course, weapons and interiors could be designed, so that one player can fly the plane like a flight sim, while others man machine guns or bombs. Once again, all weapons and vehicles are available freely for all projects, able to be re-colored or have their attributes changed freely.

Essentially, the game provides a way to make your own game, easily. Some could be collaborative affairs, with many people working to create free, precise knockoffs of Halo or other games like Assassin’s Creed, some could be single person affairs, representing some bizarre mashup. All would be freely available, and the best would be voted to the top, available to be played online or in single-player campaigns, again, defined by the creator.

Let’s examine this concept fully. Let’s say you want to create a ninja combat game. Well, first you load the basic un-textured stick figure. Then you color him black, and then download various hoods and vests from the online warehouse. Make several different colors, or perhaps find some samurai armor and make a new class. Next, you can either download or create a simple ninja sword, choose from predefined combos, and assign it to your various player classes. Next, get some ninja throwing stars by either method, define them as inaccurate ballistic weapons with low damage, and equip them to your ninja class. Do likewise with bows and arrows for your samurai.

You can then create a dojo or Japanese-style castle for your people to fight in, making sure to define some surfaces as climbable, so that you can have your ninjas climb around, using gymnastics moves also available to download for your project. Add whatever other details you like, such as lighting or additional weapons, and upload the finished product. Other people can chime in with suggestions or upload their own versions.

Altogether, this would be very powerful tool, allowing nearly anyone to create anything from superheroes to science fiction to old west shootouts to cavemen battles, and everything in between. Nearly any first or third person shooter or adventure game could be recreated with simpler graphics, and made freely available to play. This could easily become the most popular game in existence, given a large enough userbase. Is there some feature missing, like a power-up that can reverse time? Someone can code it! Want to hack together that crazy robots versus dinosaurs idea you just had? Or maybe a group of assassins stalking each other like Sam Fisher or Batman in a humungous city? Slap together other peoples elements, and you could be playing it in an hour, as long as you don’t mind simplistic stick figures.

Let your imagination run wild.

A simple example I made. The actual game could look more sophisticated than this, but this gets the point across. This is your standard modern weapons pack, with machine gun.

An example of sniping, in the same basic game. This weapon would have high firepower, a slow reload rate, and accurate shots.

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