After my research into magical realism in games, I wanted to find a quick way to explore some potential designs in the space. I decided to create some one-page pitches.
This is something I’ve seen at all the studios I’ve worked at, but was surprised to see very few examples of this style of document online. I used Canva for these, which is (mostly) free online alternative to powerpoint.
As I’d realized that DD! was in fact a Magical Friendship game, I started off with this. It let me get the template down without worrying about the actual design of the game, as I’d already made it!
Random Game Ideas
I boiled my Magical Friendship idea down to a formula of:
Important Relationship + Everyday Setting * Magical Influence = Change in Outlook
This is obviously very reductive, but made for a nice way of generating story ideas quickly to let me brainstorm mechanics around them. I wrote down examples of each part of the formula and drew them at random, then created one pagers for my favorite combinations.
Otherwise known as Co-Workers at a Fast Food Restaruant Encounter Ghosts.
The themes of being stuck, liminality and moving on are expressed though Alex’s position in life, Ronald’s position in brand-death and the common misconception that minimum wage jobs are temporary and not people’s livlihood.
I brought the calandar concept from Persona and merged it with the puzzle simulation mini-games of Cooking Mama or Papers, Please. With the core of the story being about the complicated emotions of the brand-spirits, I’ve got dialog in there too, riffing off of Christine Love’s timed dialog mechanic in Ladykiller in a Bind to promote the hectic feeling of working in a kitchen.
This idea is incredibly cursed, and I love it. When I said ‘this idea is like if Murakami designed Cooking Mama’, I knew I only had one choice for the title.
or: Siblings on Holiday Encounter UFOs
In this one I explore the relationship between siblings by using co-op puzzle-traversal gameplay. Mechanics wise, I’m riffing on Unchartered, Tomb Raider and dungeons in Zelda but without any of the combat, to create an experience that feels like a more exciting version of a walking simulator. I wanted to get the discovery aspect of slower games in there.
Narrative wise, I wanted to use the way that Dark Souls or Shadow of the Colossus tells its story to speak about imagination. The main inspiration for this pitch comes from the time I tagged along on my friend’s stepdad’s diving holiday and the two of us were just dumped on South Uist with nothing to do. Our imaginations went wild, and we made up all sorts of things about the island’s residents and what certain pieces of architecture or ruins ‘really meant’. I’d like to blur the line between what’s real and what’s a shared dream of the kids and I intend to do this by telling the story in a way that is not explicit.
Rule the Scene!
Otherwise known as: A Found Family who are Mega-Fans of Something Encounter Faeries
With this, the first thing I latched onto was the similarity between the complex social hierarchy that exists in the Fey seelie and unseelie court mythos and the hidden rules and structure of social life in the music scene. I wanted to create something that focused on social climbing and intrigue without it being a VN/CHOA/dialog options only experience.
As such, I went with something card based, focusing on specific social interactions as battles. This was inspired by the idea of being able to ‘counter’ when met with brags or challenges to your knowledge of music or the scene.