Inspiration strikes in unexpected ways sometimes. This morning while I was listening to the news on the local NPR affiliate, a story came on about an easter egg hunt in Colorado that was canceled this year because the year before, parents were out of control, being aggressive about making sure their precious child got an egg before they were all snatched away by the villainous other children.
I was so appalled by the story that I made the following snarky quip on Facebook:
The imagery was so strong that I knew I just had to work up the idea into a full concept and design, and then build a game. I wrote up a little design document today and I liked it, so I put in a few hours this evening working on it, and it’s still very early but I think this will actually be a decent game when it’s all done, if I can make everything work the way I want it to.
So far it’s very crude, but in less than four hours I had playable characters roughed out. Here’s the shotgun-toting Hunter in action:
One thing I noticed about this creative process is how satisfying it is to have an angry reaction to a news story and turn it into the inspiration for a creative work. This is how I know that I’m a game designer: when my first response to something is “Make a game out of that.” Doing it in response to something that makes me feel is what makes me an artist.
I also found the game concept itself very satisfying because it’s so inappropriate — it’s hard to get much wronger than having shotgun-toting hunters gunning for bad parents at an easter egg hunt to teach everyone a lesson. If this were done up as anything but a zany pixel-art graphics 2D game, it’d probably be disturbing and controversial. As it is, I suppose in the next few weeks or months if it gets noticed, it may end up generating some controversy, especially if the news media picks up the story of this game as sortof an echo of the original story.
The thing that makes me happy about this project is just how quickly I can work when I have a spark of creativity. My Game Maker craftsmanship continues to improve and I find that I can make things very quickly, which is essential for me. Unlike the experience I had with the Global Game Jam back in January — which was amazing in its own right — tonight I didn’t have to go through the agony of losing work due to a corrupted project file, and having to rebuild everything. I worked quickly, and got results quickly. I can imagine completing a full project like this in maybe <100 hours, which is fantastic.
Every time I pick up Game Maker and build something with it, I get a little more confident, find it a little easier, and learn a little more. It feels great.