The most important thing
First of all, of course, we need a title for this wondrous smartphone game. I spent a lot of time on the brainstorming and I am very proud of the result. The imaginary game will bear the name of Planet Horror. (To be pronounced in two steps: first "planet" in a casual voice then "horror" in a terror-struck moan.)
Gaming for multitaskers
Before actually coming up with an idea, let's consider iPhones and the like as gaming platforms: those are pocket-sized computers, used by their owners at home, at work and (almost) everywhere in-between. It should be possible to start and finish a game at a moment's notice and to enjoy gaming sessions as short as one minute, perhaps even a few seconds. The pace of the game could be, for example, similar to trading in Eve Online, when you log on to sell your wares 0.01 isk cheaper than the competition. Playing the game should not require undivided attention, instead allowing to watch a TV show or keep a child at the same time.
Not a support app
Smartphones are very good for support applications, but the goal here is, like for DUST 514, to reach a new audience (new friends!) and expand the reach of the brand, aiming for synergy and not cannibalism/raising average revenue. Thus, the idea is to design an autonomous and ambitious game and not to build the ultimate "playing Eve docked" software featuring Evemon, EFT and omgrawr.net. Capsuleer and other community-made apps can do that.
A pet game with a twist
Pet management games perform really well on small handheld platforms, such as the GameBoy -think about the bestselling Pokémon series. Another example is the success of the Tamagotchi, virtual pets you need to nurture and prevent from dying (and don't you forget to bury them on the Internet). The genre is known to function well. In Planet Horror -hey, that's why they call it a working title, ok?, your pet is a human being, born into the Eve universe and who now faces very detrimental conditions such as malnutrition, carnivorous flora or being Caldari. More specifically, he along with every other player character was kidnapped/bought from slavers and dropped on the surface of a prison planet by powerful criminal cartels/the media/Jovian scientists. Planet Horror could be located in high-sec and guarded by CONCORD or hidden in the depths of space, never to be found until the end of times and the return of INNOMINATE NIGHTMARE.
Your task is to ensure the continuing survival of your character and, eventually, his or her evasion from the planet. At a very basic level, it means that your character needs to find food (his reserve depletes in real time and not in game time) and shelter, and occasionally run from raptors or other amusing animals. If your character dies, there is no coming back but there are plenty more where it comes from (the game, like Tamagotchi, would feature perma-death). The endgame would be provided by the quest to craft or appropriate a spaceship in order to escape the planet and reach the orbital space station. Any character reaching the station is granted freedom, riches and relocation to a Gallente pleasure hub of his choice.
The gps mayonnaise
A new pet game would need to differentiate itself from the established competition. Trailblazing into augmented reality gaming is the way to do it. Augmented reality (AR) is a buzzword but also an actual phenomenon which promises to deliver new experiences by layering information or graphics upon our environment. An app using GPS to locate a friend on Google Maps is a crude example of augmented reality. Now wait until Apple releases the iGlasses and night club owners redesign AR deco every night. There will be much dancing between pink elephants. The point is, this fast evolving technology leaves a lot of room for evolution.
When you will connect to Planet Horror, the game will automatically download information about your surroundings. The premise is that the virtual and the real environment are architecturally similar. If you are in Paris under the Eiffel Tower, the game will not show otherwise (the Jovians recreated Earth!); it might also show/inform you that Champ-de-Mars is flooded with acid mud and you need to mitigate the effects or suffer the consequences.
You will need to choose how to react in an appropriate way, though the game will not require or incite you to actually move anywhere as it could prove dangerous and inconvenient. You will also be able to detect the other player avatars in the vicinity, but not to pinpoint their exact location (a bit like the Local channel but without any possibility to probe) in order to protect the privacy.
The link to Eve: bets
Planet Horror is a big reality show -the kind of shows that blends Survivor, SLA Industries and the Ultimate Fighting championships. I have still a little bit of trouble explaining why the Jovians would recreate a replica of Earth to study evolution and then stuff it with cameras and sell the rights to the Scope, but heh, Planet Horror.
Eve players would be able to run bets on the results of each season of Planet Horror. They would also have the opportunity to know that all the slaves or militants in their cargohold have a chance for a new challenging life on Planet Horror, thereby giving meaning to what used to be senseless trafficking.
Plenty more to say
And never enough time. The player could direct his or her character by ordering him around. A character can only do one thing at a time. At this point I hesitate between going the full Killer way, with characters doing their best to survive and prosper in a Mad Max environment, or mimicking more closely a game like Survivor, where everybody needs to balance his need of the other players' help against his need to get rid of her before she gets rid of him.
Look, you can change the rules of the game if you want, but the title stays!
Check other Eve Blog Banter articles on the same topic.