May 23, 2008

Rapid Idea #2: My Robot

Hey all!

Sorry my post yesterday doesn't really count, and I had intended to post this yesterday as well, but anyway, here it is. This is the document for my second idea pitch, which I gave today.


My Robot

High Concept

My Robot is a Pokémon inspired Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) set in the far future where robot inventors battle one another using their creations in order to prove their worth. The player is a young inventor who can use his skills to invent new parts for his robot companion. By improving his robot, the player can advance through the grand robot tournament and become the next chief inventor at the largest robotics company in the galaxy.

Why It Needs To Be Made

Monster battle franchises like the Pokémon series and the Monster Rancher series have been very popular and successful throughout their lives. Unfortunately, the cost of this success has been a great deal of repetition without any real innovation in either series. My Robot captures many of the same collection, exploration, and experimentation aspects of those games, and builds on them by adding a fresh, unique new theme and deeper gameplay. The game’s similarities make it immediately recognizable to an established audience while the new gameplay and theme help differentiate it and make it more appealing to a wider base.


The player’s main ability in My Robot is the ability to invent things. Using scrap scattered around the galaxy, the player can invent new parts for his robot, and then configure the robot to do battle. Inventions consist of a piece of primary and secondary scrap and an optional piece of special scrap. The player can discover new inventions through trial and error or through hints from the game’s various NPCs or books. All the scrap combinations create something so players are encouraged to experiment. The available parts break down in the following the categories: heads, torsos, arms, legs, armor, and special attachments. Based on the parts equipped, the player’s robot has different core statistics and access to different abilities.

The flow of My Robot is similar to a typical JRPG. There are both towns (safe areas) and fields (dangerous areas) for the player to explore. The point of the game is for the player to improve his robot and win the tournament. In towns, the player will be able to buy and sell scrap/parts, and acquire quests to gain scrap, parts, and money. In fields, the player can explore looking for scrap/parts and accomplishing quests. While in fields, the player may also encounter hostile creatures or robot inventors. When the player encounters one of these, combat begins and the player must defend himself using his robot. Initially, the player starts on the small, backwater planet of his birth, but by defeating the tournament coordinators he can gain access to additional planets with new scrap, parts, quests, and coordinators. Only by defeating all the coordinators, can he gain access to the final planet and win the tournament.

Combat in My Robot occurs over a series of turns using menu commands. Combatants take turns (starting with the player) attacking one another until one side flees or is defeated. Each of robot’s attacks take a different amount of energy to use, and the robot regenerates a certain amount of energy each turn (determined by his parts). Attacks will do damage to the opponent and if a combatant’s health reaches zero that combatant is defeated, and the victor gains rewards from the battle. In addition, there are two important properties that affect combat: elements and materials.

Every robot or creature has some kind of material such as plastic, metal, or rubber, and attacks and special abilities have different elements such as electrical, chemical, or heat. Certain materials are resistant to certain elements and vulnerable to others, for example rubber parts are weak against heat attacks, but strong against electrical attacks. For robots, their armor determines their element, and creatures have natural elements. Choosing the right parts when facing an opponent is critical to success. The player can change the robot’s equipment at any time outside of combat.

Why Is It Fun?

My Robot combines the fun of several different game types into one simple, accessible package allowing a variety of players to enjoy the game in their own way. It has the collection aspects of a monster battle game, the exploration of a JRPG, the experimentation of a puzzle game, and the customization aspects of a mech builder. In addition, My Robot represents a unique combination of gameplay and theme that is remarkably uncommon. This makes it fun for long time fans of the gameplay while at the same time drawing in new fans with the exciting new setting.

Why Is It Memorable?

One of the most important and memorable pieces of My Robot is the relationship that the player develops with his own robot. The robot has a distinctly playful and loyal attitude like that of a faithful pet. Throughout the game, the player sees his robot grow and change as it receives different improvements and upgrades, but that attitude is always very clearly present in their interactions. By maintaining focus on this relationship, the player becomes invested in the health and well-being of his robot, and thus deeply immersed in the game world.

Final Thoughts

The design described here is extremely ambitious, and all together it is probably well outside the scope of what we could do with the limited time and resources available. Nevertheless, a successful project based on this design could be to create a demonstration that encapsulates a good portion of the gameplay. The interesting challenge would be to trim down the feature set without completely compromising the core vision of the game.


As of today, all the pitches have been given and now it is up to the reviews of my peers and the faculty to decide if either of my ideas deserve any further attention. 10 concepts out of the initial 62 are now going to be chosen for the next round of development and pitches. Here's hoping I can make the cut!

In addition, by next week we need to have applied for any lead positions we are interested in for the next project. I'm definitely interested in being Game Designer or Lead Level Designer, but I am still debating whether or not I want to apply to be a producer on the project. It's unclear if they are even planning to place any of the LDs in the producer positions, but assuming that they are, I still haven't decided if I want to do it or not, and I'd hate to back out later. It's not that I wouldn't enjoy it, or that I think I'm not capable of doing it, simply that there's going to be a lot to do with my Thesis and another DFS over the next two terms and I'm not sure I want to load that much pressure on myself. Not to mention, I've done the whole producer thing and this gives someone else a chance to get that experience. Still many of my peers continue to encourage me to apply, so I am at least considering it at this point. Either way I want to be game designer more than anything so that is my first priority. Alright, well I've got a little more work I'd like to do before I can start enjoying my Friday night. Later!

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