Wednesday, January 13, 2010

District 9: The Game

Yo Neillboy! Hope all is well. No pic today; well a stoopid mash up, but nothing substantial. I'm going to go serious...well as serious as I go. Don't worry, I have a whole bit planned coming up that'll knock your socks of.

I was recently reading your interview in the LA Times. I totally think a District 9 game would work, as long as you went with a small studio. Use the same attitude that you made the film with. I've been playing games since my Atari 400 (well before that, but that was the first 'console' I owned. It had a fucking tape deck!), and I've been working in games since 1997. I think I've seen enough failed games to know what doesn't work. I've played enough of good games to know what does as well.

Big studios want big games. Too many designers, too many people putting their ingredients into the pot, too many ideas form non game players. With movie games it's usually worse, because there's a short amount of time to make the game, so there's rarely anything new in them. Plus they also have to follow the movies story exactly, so they cram in some driving elements and some exploration and some half assed fighting on top of full motion video from the flick. Boo.

Escape from Butcher Bay got it right, mainly because they made something within the Pitch Black universe, but did not just remake Pitch Black. District 9 would work great that way as well. Tell stories within District 9. Not, 'this is why this is' stories. Leave the mystery, just tell stories from a ground perspective. It could be cool to have that documentary vibe as intro's and outro's, but render them in real time. Tell the stories from different vantage points, prawn, MNU agent, human, social worker and gangster.

I would opt for mini games. No, not Wii Darts, but small games that are downloadable through the Playstation Network (I'm guessing Sony would want the games to be exclusives), and maybe Steam for the PC. Each game would be around four to six hours, and twenty bucks. The thing is, once you build the assets the first time, Soweto is pretty much done. Now it's just placement. The slums lend a lot to cannibalism too, you could easily make new props out of chunks of the old ones.

The stories could be cool. I don't know if you'd want to go third, or first person. With MNU agents I could see first person. As a Prawn I would want third. Hmmn, that's tough. You'd want to make sure that the mechanics are fairly similar between the two. you wouldn't have a lot of dev time to make drastically different control schemes. Maybe a year for the first batch of games to be released, and six months for every following chapter (That could work with a engine off the shelf, not building one from the ground up).

I would give a few different perspectives in the first set downloads. Here's some ideas.

1: Young Christopher Johnson on the ship. Maybe the adults cannot get to the food storage areas because of their size, so the younglings have to crawl through ducts to get to them. They could encounter those nasty fighting insects on the way. Maybe some that have grown larger than the ones in your film. That chapter ends with the wall being cut away and the humans entering the ship.

2: Exploring the ship. This could be about boarding and exploring the mother ship. That's it, just some cool ambient looking around. Have a few of those little bugs from the other chapter, but as a full size human they're easy to kill.

3: MNU agent quelling a riot. A run and gun not unlike Modern Warfare one or two. End it with a prawn cowering and holding a young prawn in a hut. You can either shoot them or not (If you have a soul, not), but when you leave the hut that chapter ends with your character leaving the MNU and being with his family. The dialogue would be vague, but something about how he couldn't handle it anymore. Maybe it starts with him at the edge of a bed watching Wikus on TV, and it triggers those memories. After he leaves the hut we go back to him in his house watching the tv and his kids playing in the hallway.

4: Playing as or against the Nigerian gangsters. Avoid MNU agents while smuggling arms or food, I don't know, but there's something there.

5:Sneaking little CJ home. Although I can't stand kids in jeopardy games/films/stories since I've had my own (I've read The Road several times, and it kills me every time), it could make for a great intense stealth game.

After several releases, or maybe coinciding with the new movie you could release an actual shelf product, a collection of the games with special features. Maybe online play (I would leave that out at first).

The game wouldn't work unless it had your blessing, Clinton Shorter's music (did you know you can buy his Alive in Joburg single on iTunes? How effing cool is that.) and assets from the films.

I have a lot of other ideas on it, but in short, with the right studio and the right temperament (none of this 'Let's make the biggest game f the year' bullshit that kills games) it would totally work. I'm positive.

That is all.


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