In our latest series of blog posts, Howard Lehr, our Director of Game Design, provides a glimpse into just how Stick Man Rescue went from a crazy idea to an actual game.
Stick Man Rescue was born of a conversation with my son, Colin, who was 12 at the time. He had just discovered the Pivot Stick Figure Animator (current version available here), and like any 12-year-old boy would, he was using it to make hilarious death animations. Given that game designers are perpetually 12-year-olds at heart, I joined in. Check out the animation I made called “Skate and Destroy”):
Yeah, OK, I’m not going to quit my day job to pursue a career in animation but that’s not the point… this was just goofing-off family fun. It is true that game developers have a different sense of family fun than most families, but what would you expect?
After the silly animating, we started brainstorming on crazy stick death ideas. The results of the brainstorm were not anywhere close to high-brow humor, but still were embarrassingly entertaining. This prompted visits to various stick death websites which provided a surprisingly long-lasting source of giggles that attracted my younger son and soon the 3 of us were pondering how to make stick deaths into a game.
Dusting off my rusty programming and non-existent art skills, I co-opted my kids to start making animated gifs of stick deaths and created a prototype game bent on seeing how many of our most ridiculous ideas could be worked into it. It looked like this, (yeah, yuck) but it played pretty well and entertained everyone we showed it to.
Since fun is what games are all about (and this was fun in spite of the prototype’s sloppy art and spaghetti code), it made sense to formalize the design and see if it could be made into something cool, addictive and most of all, funny. So, I had a prototype, but had a long ways to go to turn it into something that could be useful for a real game design. More on that next time.
Howard Lehr, Director of Game Design