How a classic tv show and two classic games inspired our gameplay mechanics
What do you get when you cross an episode of “I Love Lucy” with a classic game like Tetris? What you get is our indie game “Conveyor Chaos” a 2D arcade/puzzle. Conveyor Chaos’s gameplay has evolved quite a bit from it’s early days of Bucket Ball Factory. This is how two classics games and a television show gave birth to our gameplay.
Before Conveyor Chaos there was BucketBall Factory, wait…..what!? What is or was BucketBall Factory? Originally it started out as a game about a tennis ball character being chased by a bucket, jumping over platforms, running etc., you know all of the typical gameplay mechanics. But that concept never really took off. So that idea was shelved for several months and I never looked at it again.
THE TETRIS & GALAGA EFFECT
Fast forward months later I was reading an article on gameplay mechanics and the author gave a tip about keeping your mechanics of your game simple and basic. I started thinking about the game idea BucketBall Factory that was shelved months earlier and how to improve the concept. I wanted a game that has puzzle solving gameplay and the fast paced action of and arcade game. I thought back to some of the fun games that I’ve played as a kid and two of my favorite ones that came to mind was Tetris and Galaga. I begin to write down the game mechanics for each one. Below is the game mechanics that I came up with for both of those games.
Tetris Game Mechanics
Rotation of Shapes - The direction in which shapes are spawned
Randomizers - Order and sequence of shapes spawning
Scoring System - The points you get for line clears, including back-to-back lines, combos, T-spins, etc.
Mobility - The player’s ability to manipulate the shapes, including rotating, dropping, etc.
Galaga Game Mechanics
Control a starfighter that moves left and right
Kill as many enemies as possible to score points
Avoid enemy suicides trying to crash into player
Avoid enemy tractor beam to keep from getting captured.
Avoid a continuous wave of enemies
After looking at these two classic I came up with was the following game concept for BucketBall Factory:
A game set in a factory where the player has to drop colored shapes into a bucket matching the shape symbol on the bucket, while the buckets are moving down a conveyor belt. Player scores points by getting the correct item in the correct bucket. Random shapes are displayed and the player touches a button to drop the shape into the bucket. Below is the first rough sketch for the game concept.
THE LUCY EFFECT
After paper playing this several times I realized that this didn’t have the elements of a puzzle it was missing the challenge piece. The concept had the fast paced continuos wave style of Galaga, but was missing the puzzle element. One day I was watching and episode of “I Love Lucy”, one of my favorite shows. This episode was the Chocolate Factory (look it up on Youtube). In this episode Lucy and Ethel got a job at a candy factory and they had to quickly wrap chocolate candy as it moved down a conveyor belt. The funny part of the show was when the supervisor tells the person operating the conveyor belt to speed it up. As I watched in laughter it hit me, that’s the missing element that I needed to make Bucket Ball’s gameplay challenging and for the player.
Nowadays BucketBall Factory has changed in many ways, it’s called Conveyor Chaos now. Instead of moving buckets and dropping items into a bucket now there a moving packages and a robot arm to pick up matching packages. There’s a package combination that the player has to reach and more. As game designers we can draw inspiration from all sorts of things. If we just keep our minds open and look for the gameplay hidden within those things who knows what we can create. My story is only a one out of many, but stay tuned to see what Conveyor Chaos will turn out to be.