Games That Inspired Me

I'm guessing that most people didn't decide to write games because of the money or the glamorous lifestyle. Whilst I can't attribute my interest in game development to any particular event, there are certain games that stand out in my mind when I think of what gave me the inspiration to develop games.

Sonic

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It's only fair that I mention Sonic, even though it wasn't the first game I ever played. The whole series of Sonic games had such a unique feel to them, and the sense of speed and fun really stood out to me.

The gameplay isn't particularly complex, but perhaps its sense of simplicity is what inspired me.

Elite / Frontier: Elite 2

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Elite series is perhaps the closest most of us will ever get to being astronauts. Owning your own ship, and being allowed to fly around and do what you want was an amazing experience at such a young age.

The ability to choose your path, and the exploration of other worlds couldn't help but ignite a passion.

Populous

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I still find Populous fun to play after all these years. The game captured the feeling that you're a powerful being looking out for your little guys, as you build the land for and bring death to their enemies through volcanoes, earthquakes and swamps.

What stands out most is that you don't control your followers, so they will build towns and castles all on their. Seeing this example of artificial life really made an impression on me, and sparked my interest in the subject.

NiGHTS

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I love NiGHTS. It's one of my favourite games of all time, and doubtless I could write pages and pages about it.

Technology wise, the dynamic music and artificial life was a real achievement, even by today's standards. Guarding your Nightopians and watching them flourish adds an extra dimension to the gameplay, as does mutating them into weird and wonderful creatures.

From a creative point of view, flying through the vivid dream world was simply sublime.

Midwinter

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Although I enjoyed playing it when was younger, it wasn't until I was older that I learnt to appreciate the strategy elements that went with it.

The game puts you in the role of Captain Stark, a freedom fighter on an island that has been taken over by a mad dictator. In order to free the island, you must recruit the residents to create your own freedom force. Each member of your team has their own slice of time, so the more you recruit the more you can do in a time period.

The 3D graphics were good for the time, and although the landscape was almost entirely barren you still felt as if you were exploring a snow covered island.

Perhaps the most innovative feature was the role that friendships played into the game. Some people would only join your team if their friends spoke to them, which could mean skiing across the wilderness, dodging rockets and mortars only to find the ungrateful git didn't like you. At least you could blow up their house with dynamite.

Time Bandit

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Time Bandit was billed as an "action adventure" game, and mixed various elements quite well.

The most interesting thing for me was the mixture of shooting, collecting keys and diamonds, and puzzle solving using a text adventure like system. The extra descriptions of places and items helped flesh out the various stories taking place, and the action helped to keep things interesting and entertaining.

There were plenty of worlds to explore, from a starship clearly inspired by Star Trek, to a castle with an enigmatic hermit with a penchant for cards.

And Finally…

A common theme I've noticed running through all of these games is that they succeed in engrossing the player in another world. This can be a powerful influence when you're growing up, when you haven't yet gained the freedom of a car or being allowed to do what you want.

It's worth mentioning that playing both SF3 and BG&E for the "Game Design Lessons" series really brought a dumb smile to my face. It's the kind of smile you get when you realise that you're making the right decision by developing games.

So, what games inspired you to choose your path? Have you ever been inspired to do something just from playing a game?

3 Comments

I just read an article on C&VG about the new Metal Gear Solid game on PSP. Here's an extract:

"The majority of the game involves a complex mix of recruiting new comrades to Snake's cause, and developing these new soldiers' abilities for use in both the single-player and the online multiplayer games."

Sounds somewhat Midwintery to me, and I like the idea of improving their skills. Apparently it also uses PSP's GPS system, so you can only get certain characters if you play in certain areas of Japan in real life. What a genius idea!

November 20, 2006 at 01:08PM

I should also have added David Braben is working on two games before going onto two new versions of Elite, both with online multiplayer, apparently. Only the second one will be an MMOG though, so we'll probably not see it for another ten years or so :(

November 20, 2006 at 01:08PM

The GPS systems sounds like something that would work well with Pokémon. It could work by opening new islands to players in certain countries, which would encourage trading across borders and boundaries.

I'd love to see an online Elite game, and I imagine it would be quite similar to Eve Online, except with the traditional Elite trading gameplay. I wonder how "massively multiplayer" it will end up being.

I wonder if there will be any exploration of planetary surfaces and space stations, even though I'm not sure mixing a surface based RPG (think PSO/PSU) with a space flyer. There's a point where a game becomes too big and tries to do too much, so I'm interested to see which side of this line a new Elite would sit.

November 22, 2006 at 09:48AM

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