With the coming of Red Faction: Guerilla and Battlefield 1943 it seems the games industry is starting to wrap its excitable, sweat-slicked hands around destructible 3D environments. I’m genuinely excited about the development of this tech over the next decade. Here are my ideas for games centred around it:
BAD DAY JOB
You play a undernourished man with thick glasses and thinning hair as he progresses through a series of mundane workplaces with increasing real-estate values. Level 1 sees you as a dishwasher in a roadside pie shop, level 2 puts you as a clerk in a gas station, in level 3 you’re a salesman in a used car dealership, and so on. Control scheme is third person and weighty, similar to Dead Rising.
You’re given 60 seconds at the beginning of each level to run around manipulating it how you see fit (collecting and moving items, activating elements within the environment to create traps), and after this 60 seconds your boss announces that he’s going for a coffee and that “you’re in charge for the next five minutes”, whereupon he leaves the level. In a running joke, this is when the establishment immediately comes under attack by vandals ranging from gangsters to drunks to rampaging animals, all of which can and will cause damage to the place. Damage done is measured in dollars and displayed prominently at the top of the screen. These enemies never come after you directly, though getting in the way of attack animations will knock you down.
Your job is to fend the interlopers off using anything and everything you can find (fire extinguishers, plates, chairs, cars), again drawing parallels with Dead Rising but with the twist that anything you break gets added to the dollar ticker at the top of the screen. Let the place get too wrecked before the boss comes back, it’s game over.
I know there’s already a game called Scorched Earth. Shut that smart mouth of yours.
A large scale team game in the vein of Battlefield (potentially just a new gameplay mode for it), Scorched Earth has one team trying to conquer a base, building or area as another team defends it for a set amount of time. The more ruined the objective gets, however, the less points either team gets for winning. Therefore when a team looks like it’s going to win the losing side has to decide whether they keep fighting or focus on doing as much structural damage as possible. Certain key targets on each level (documents, fuel silos, docked submarines, whatever) count for far more than simple structural damage, so both teams will have to keep an eye on them.
Mainly I like the idea of doing all your fighting with an eye for where each rocket and grenade will end up if you miss, and the defenders making their last stand by taking cover behind the very thing the attackers want. A lot of clever tactics could come into play here.
A co-op game most closely related to Gears of War 2’s Horde mode but inspired by Holy Invasion Of Privacy, Badman!, this has a team of players defending the factory they work at from increasingly powerful waves of robots that arrive at timed intervals. The robots will keep coming until the humans are dead. There is no stopping the robots. There is only temporarily wedging the vice as it slowly closes on your fleshy testicles.
The robots can’t be harmed by the cutting lasers, simple explosives and pistols you’re equipped with (though you can use these to get their attention), so instead you have to take them down using the environment. Valid tactics might include crushing robots with falling masonry or pillars, taking out the floor or bridge they’re walking across, knocking them into pits or anything you can dream up. The goal isn’t necessarily to destroy the robots, just to keep them from being a threat. Bury them, trap them, tip them over, whatever you can manage to keep your team alive.
What I like about this last idea is that you’re dooming yourself with the methods you’re employing. Eventually there will be no roofs or bridges to bring down, the pits will be full, rooms will be sealed off and welded shut with furious robots inside (“NOBODY BLOW A HOLE IN THE WALL”) and you’ll have nothing to do but go scrambling over piles of rubble and twisted industrial machinery as the robots close in on you.
I guess you could have a rescue ship show up after a set amount of time, but where’s the fun in that?
Incidentally, I really cannot wait for games to get good at 3D liquid physics. Any of these ideas with the added feature of gargantuan dams and pipes waiting to be broken and levels designed around the concept of flooding would be the absolute best thing.