I’ve been thinking a lot about some casual game ideas just lately.

In my notebook under future reference / potential game ideas I have so many things jotted down. Games such as:

  • Beach Head
  • Ballblazer
  • Bomb Jack
  • Jet Set Willy
  • Joust
  • Encounter!
  • Zork

…the list is about 20 long !
Zork obviously stands out here since it is a pure text adventure game. I actually wrote quite a bit of a JavaScript adventure engine a few years back. With minimal tweaking I reckon I could craft it in to a fairly useful mobile web game.

Bubble Bust ! screenshotBubble Bust!

But the point here is that regardless of this list the games that I’ve been playing a heck of a lot just lately are bubble popping affairs. Games such as Bubble Bust ! (above)
I’ve always resisted these games. Figured they were just mundane and far too repetitive for my tastes.
I was wrong. The challenges are clear and tough enough to keep me coming back for more on a pretty regular basis.

I’m a huge fan of any game that contains a strong core theme and with clever design presents numerous ways to challenge you around it.

For example, in Galaxians we shoot aliens. We also have to shoot them as they dive. Galaga expands on this and forces us to time our shots when the captured fighter is being flown around.

Bubble Bust! plays with its core design beautifully. Essentially we are in the business of matching colours (3 or more in contact pops the bubbles) but of course it doesn’t end there. Different bubbles presented to the player have different abilities. Bombs destroy bubbles in a small area. Rainbow bubbles can be used as a generic colour. Steel balls tear through bubbles destroying everything in their path. So on and so forth.

At its heart Bubble Bust! is a race against the clock.
As the bubble pack descends you have less time to think about your next move. The game ends when you either fail to clear the bottom most bubble before it crosses the line or when you pop the “key” bubble.

The pace of the game is high and for a casual game it’s perfect.

I know there’s a glut of games in this genre but of the ones I’ve played this one captures the excitement best.

So now I’m thinking about the whole “lots of decisions in a short amount of time” scenario and trying to apply it to some ideas of my own. Soccer, Horse Racing, Bingo … those types of things.

What’s more I want to try and honour the idea that if you fail you’re left with a sense of “with one more go I can crack it”. To achieve that I need to make the process of actually playing the game equal parts fun and rewarding.

It’s a new direction for me. To date I’ve pretty much made shooters in some guise or another. With my next project I’ll most likely be stood outside of my comfort zone !


4 Responses

  1. Great Post, I’ve had the same thought in my head recently, been playing a lot of some of these bubble games on Facebook and had the initial reservations that gave way under sheer addictive enjoyment. I think you’re spot on with applying the multiple choice under pressure mechanic too ;)

    ps. your inspiration list at the top is like mine you seem like a speccy/atari|64 owner ;)

    • Hi Dan.
      I am very much the Atari 800XL owner from the early 80s :)
      I’ve been playing with this idea on and off for a few months but alas have nothing major to show for it yet.
      Did you get anywhere yourself ?

      • Hey Mark, sorry for delay, short answer is I’m about to start on a game now – it’s taken me ages to decide on the format! I was an 800XL owner too, still have it in the loft, Joust on the 8-bit atari is pretty much one of my favourite games (along with Boulderdash ;)

  2. There’s just too many classics that you can gather inspiration from. Beach Head is on my dream list too. Actually, Beach Head 2 for the level where you have to send your men running in to take out the machine gun. “Medic!” :)

Leave a reply

Photo of Atari VCS console and pre-order information
Playstar graphic
Minecraft Global CD Key
%d bloggers like this: