Thursday, September 22, 2011

Flash Game Design Challenge: Nerdball

Wow! Has it been well over a month since I posted something here? That's crazy. Sorry about that, folks. Ironically, I've been doing plenty -- I just haven't been talking about it. Have to change that.

So last Friday, Ryan Macklin announced a "flash" game design challenge, in the style of Chuck Wendig's regular flash fiction challenges on Terrible Minds. Write a playable game in 500 words or less! I like it.

The deadline's tomorrow (Friday the 23rd). I immediately had the impulse to do something for it, but I had no idea what and didn't really end up giving it much thought until yesterday.

See, earlier this week, UC Irvine reclaimed the Guinness world record title of Largest Dodgeball Game, with 4,488 players. (I'm a UCI alum, so you can suck it, previous record-holder Rochester Institute of Technology. You don't even get a link!) I was out at dinner last night and saw a UCI student wearing a T-shirt from the event, and something clicked.

The result is this: Nerdball. Players take on the roles (at least initially) of some junior-high nerds forced to play dodgeball in PE class. The opposing team is composed largely, if not wholly, of jocks, cool kids, bullies, and other classmates who make the nerds' lives fairly miserable. Over the course of the game, as your nerd colleagues are picked off one by one, you'll reveal your history with your nemesis, a bully on the other team. You may even end up playing a bully -- in fact, it may shake out that all the players but one end up playing bullies before the game's over. I'd even call it the ideal end to the game to have your fellow players turn on you and, in game terms, pelt you into submission with dodgeballs.

I really like the ingredients for this one, largely because one involved a dice mechanic, and I always enjoy engaging that sort of limitation. Chalk this up as another in a line of recent contest-derived games (with Action City! and Globe Records) that seem playable enough, but at which I'd probably be terrible.

But I'm sure you'd be great at it! Play and enjoy, and if it seems a little sparse, remember -- 500 words. Me culpa.

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