Quick Post: Competing with Toy Blocks

Everyones played with toy blocks

Everyone's played with toy blocks

While we’re waiting for the next set of TOJam games to come out, I want to talk a little about a design I’ve been thinking about lately after a great deal of on and off play of Infiniminer.

Infiniminer servers come in two general flavors; Sandbox and Competitive. I personally prefer competitive servers, because there’s a big thrill to competition; proving that you’ve got a better technique and that you’re a better player/team than your opposition. However, now and again, I want to play around in a Sandbox because, frankly, building stuff is fun (As I’m sure all the TOJammers out there can attest).

The problem with the Sandbox is that you have to deal with a somewhat awkward interface to build (it’s not bad, but improvements could be made), your building options are fairly limited, and ultimately… what’s the point? You build it, and either it’ll disappear when the server goes offline, it’ll get destroyed by someone else, or the map will fill up and there’s nothing left to do. Isn’t there someway we can make the building part more thrilling, like the competitive servers?

I say yes. Imagine, if you will, a game where you have small cubes of space, which you can build on freely (or more likely, within a budget). They start off as flat, featureless dirt piles, which with you can do anything. You can build a fortress, you can build secret passages, or traps. The game encourages you to make a bunch of these cubes.

THEN — you go online; each player who joins a sever has a number of their cubes added to a pool, like cards to a deck. When a new game starts, a large number of cubes are selected and used to make a map, piece by piece. All of those structures players have built are fit together, with a little random deviation to make sure they’re not uniformly placed. Players are dumped in the middle, each time with a number of flags.

The goal of this game is a simple capture the flag; where each time wants to collect all the flags of their opponents. But your ability to manipulate your own team’s flags is limited — perhaps you can only carry them for a short time, or only throw them. Except for the first 15 – 30 seconds of the round, where each player has their own flag to hide. When that time is up, everyone drops the flag they’re carrying; now it’s time to hunt out the other team’s flags.

The way I see this game, there’d be combat and weapons, but it’d probably not be a shooter, and you most likely couldn’t kill an opponent — you best bet would be to stun or trap them. Temporary solutions designed to keep everyone in play. Additionally, the terrain would all be destructible, maybe with a bit more complexity behind it than what we see in Infiniminer (smaller bricks with more diverse properties, perhaps).

Of course, any number of games could be adapted to this basic construction/map model. It could be an FPS, or a game of tag or hide-and-go-seek. Any game that could use a 3D map could benefit from this basic idea.

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