It's been done. I've seen it a million times already.
I'm not talking about any specific theme for the setting in video games, but I'd say, most of them.
I'm looking forward to Starcraft 2, but admit it, Space Marines; you've seen them before...
Space Marines, World War II and High Fantasy, even though they amongst many other themes adapt very well for games, they're boring!
I realise what I believe are the two biggest reason for the somewhat limited selection of themes in video games:
- It's a tried concept. It's been done. It's been done with great success! If it aint broke, why fix it? And because of that; it sells! It's what it all comes down to, really.
- It's recognizable. Since you'll want as many people as possible to play your games, it's not just about attracting as many as you can, it's just as much about not scaring them away. Let's say you'd love a game based on New Zealand geografy, I doubt the consumers gained in that decision would weigh more than the consumers lost. Everybody knows Fantasy, Space Marines, World Wars and the world we live in today.
One thing I really like about the indie-scene, is that they often explore new themes. It can be anything from something we've seen with a twist, to something totally psychadelic. They're not necessarly all good but that's not the point.
So, my point with all this is that there should be more games about ninjas!
I'm gonna tell you a story about one of my first games.
Back when I was in what's in Sweden called "Gymnasium", being best described as upper secondary school I believe, I made a game.
The game's name is "Ninja?".
The final project at school was open for us students to decide, as long as it had something to do with what we were studying. I was a civic-student myself, so I basically got to do anything that had anything to do with our society. Computer games are part of our culture, right? Yes, it is. And there we go.
I did the design together with a great friend, Jonas and today, 4 years later I can see that it was pretty... Well... Let's just say it wasn't as good as it could have been. The biggest problem was that wasn't very good with programming at all, so even if we had some good ideas they all pretty much failed because I didn't know how to implement them. The time was limited so I had to do something basic.
But the game has Gamepad-support!
I made the game using the software GameMaker (http://www.gamemaker.nl, available 20/12-08). With it you can do pretty much drag 'n drop-editing, but I didn't wanna do that because I wanted to learn so I coded the whole thing within the program. I'm not regretting that decision even if the game probably would have turned out better if I'd just used the tools within the program.
Of course the game is a ninja game. Your avatar can walk, run, jump, double jump, melee attack and throw shurikens. In theory enough to make a pretty decent game but there is pretty close to no tweaking made what so ever. "Does this feel okay? Well, it's working. On to the next task!". Stupid? Perhaps, but I had to finish at least the basics of the game and one level.
I'm actually very proud of the game. Not because it's good, because it isn't. But because it's one of the first games I ever made and I learned so, so much! Even a failure is a success if you learn something, right? "Learning Game Design".
I think people interesting in making games, be it as a hobby or professionally should really keep pushing themselves. If you play it safe, you won't learn as much. At least, that's what I think.
The game demo is available at http://www.grymling.com (20/12-08). The file there is not Windows Vista-compatible I think and the site is closing down during the fall of 2009.
Me and Jonas made a bunch of T-shirts with the Ninja and we managed to sell 17 of them across Sweden, UK and Germany. That was the greatest achievement of them all!
If not for you, do it for me! Do it for a better world!
I intent to keep this place focus mainly on game design and things related but there is one thing I refuse to give up:
If you write "define: ninja" in Google, you should just get a fullscreen message saying "Awesome". Unfortunately, that's not the case yet.
When there is something to say about ninjas, I will post. I will not in any way excuse myself for doing so if you went here to read about game design and instead find some ranting on how amazing these beings are. Because, frankly, if you get disappointed in seeing that the topic is about ninjas; you're just plain out messed up. Why? Because ninjas rule!
Today is the Day of the Ninja, as always on December 5th.
Google made a really funny post about it on their official blog:
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/12/pirates-vs-ninjas-who-would-win.html (available 5/12-08)
In September, we announced support for searching in pirate in time for the rum-filled celebrations. But when we sat down to brainstorm how one might search in ninja, we had a challenge. As far as we know, ninjas communicate telepathically -- and sadly, our search algorithm isn't quite there yet.
In fact, due to the stealth behavior inherent to ninja life, we didn't even know how to contact one for a consultation. We started looking for evidence of ninja activity on the web, and what we found confirmed our own inability to locate ninjas. Over the last four years, searches for ninjas have steadily increased:
I recommend checking it out for some statistics on the ninjas on the Internet.
There is one thing I must clarify; I really like pirates as well. Guybrush Threepwood is one of the most charming game-characters ever and the pirate theme is wonderful and full of exciting marvels! Movies, pictures, games, costumes, it's all fantastic for the pirate theme.
... Ninjas are superior! Imagine this if you will:
A ship full of pirates finds an island where a secret ninja village resides, the pirates decide to try and plunder the village. The pirates gather up and charge the village with all their might!
Problem! The ninjas heard the pirates while they were still at sea. The ninjas was prepared for the attack. The ninjas massacred the pirates.
That's a true story. Bet you haven't heard about it though? That's because a ninja is very thurough and doesn't leave any trace.
Now, let's say a group of ninjas are swimming and training in the sea. They see a pirate ship and decide to kill them. They swiftly jump out of the water, landing on the deck of the ship and execute all the pirates before they realized ninjas were on their ship.