Friday, May 30, 2008

Bad Company contest winners!

The time has come for the winners to start blowing stuff up! In the end, there were about 60 entries and a lot of cool ideas. If your idea didn't win, that doesn't mean I don't like it. I had to go through four phases of culling. These are the criteria I used to judge (which, in hindsight, perhaps I should have listed before):

  • FUN: Obviously, this is the most important. Would the inclusion of this weapon/vehicle have players giddy with excitement and shouting triumphantly at the screen? Would players be talking about their experience long after it was over?
  • FRESH: Innovation is appreciated, but I was asking more - Is this something gamers haven't experienced before? Would it feel like only a small spin on an old design or like a new type of gameplay? Remember, I mentioned the Halo sticky grenade as a great weapon, because being able to laugh as your enemy runs around screaming with terror in those seconds is priceless, as is watching that enemy run into a crowd of other players before exploding.
  • BALANCED: Is it too powerful? Is its power offset by its limitation(s)? If there are 20 players on the map and 6 of them choose your weapon over other options, would that disrupt the battle?
  • DYNAMICS: How much depth and variation does the idea offer? All you can do well with a sniper rifle is snipe, right? But finding good sniping positions, sneaking to those positions, combating the gun's unsteady aim, and choosing whether to wait for the headshot or shoot before the enemy moves... these variables surround the weapon and ensure that you can use it repeatedly and still have fresh, unique experiences. You can use the same gun 20 times and have 20 unique experiences. That's a dynamic weapon. Dynamics prolong a game's life, make experiences more memorable, and give players personal stories to share.
  • DIFFICULTY TO IMPLEMENT: So the idea sounds fun... but would it be hell to design and balance? Most developers are willing to put a good bit of elbow grease behind a weapon's inclusion in their game, but some ideas have so many complications or require so much adjustment of the game's other weapons, maps, and other features that the idea just isn't cost-efficient. An idea that developers can implement quickly and easily for relatively great effect is an invaluable contribution, because that clears up their time and money to work on other parts of the game and make the whole product even better.
Looking back at the idea you submitted, perhaps you see how it would score well in one of these five areas and not in others. If the idea you entered isn't listed as a winner below, feel free to share it as a comment here. I'll list just a few of the good ideas that didn't win at the end. Anyway...

Here they are, THE WINNERS! and in no particular order:

Chris suggested a portable mortar. Trajectory-aimed weapons (you have to estimate the angle due to the pull of gravity) are a very unique and fun type of gameplay. This one can be carried and moved on your back, but can only be fired from a stationary position. It can destroy light armored vehicles and infantry. A player could fire it from behind buildings or other visual impediments. Though hidden, the user can be tracked by the following the mortar's trajectory and he would be vulnerable during the launcher's use.

Bryce suggested a gun for hallucinogenic darts. The beauty of this idea is that the hallucination is crippling but not completely incapacitating, but can offer far more dynamics than a flashbang or stun grenade through a variety of possible hallucinations. For example, the affected enemy's screen might temporarily display false damage indicators (shows he's getting hit from somewhere when he really isn't) or a false map. Something might obscure his vision... perhaps even something strange and amusing, as Bryce proposes. The basic concept was proven fun by the tranquilizer dartgun in Perfect Dark 64, and this takes that concept much further.

David suggested a gun with highly magnetic ammo, set by the player to a positive or negative charge, and meant to magnetize other objects. This idea has a lot of possibilities for dynamic use. Deflect or weaken a sniper's shot by spraying metal-repellant rounds between you. Magnetize two heavy objects to bring them together like a massive hammer. Shoot at an enemy above to push him off his perch. Or disrupt a vehicle. There are many possible uses for players to discover, though this one could be tricky to balance.

Luke suggested a G-Force grenade. It's a non-lethal grenade with enough kinetic force to send people flying, disrupt vehicles, clear an area, aid an escape, or help the player leap to a rooftop (like a Halo grenade, but without the damage).

Joseph suggested a gun that causes the shooter and hit enemy to switch places. He knows this weapon needs some restrictions, like limited ammo, and map design would be complicated. Like the other ideas, it opens up many possibilities. I picture a veteran player jumping off a cliff and then shooting an enemy before he falls. :)

Dag dag suggested a gun with the "replay" feature from The Fifth Element. Such a weapon would be dynamic, offer a fresh type of gameplay, and is probably easy to balance by giving it a short range and perhaps tweaking the bullet damage.

Daniel suggested the bouncing betty, a jumping landmine. Dying by mines would be much more dramatic (fun) if they shot two meters into the air before exploding. It also widens the likelihood of being non-fatally injured by shrapnel, and creates the possibility of being injured from across a waist-high wall or other barrier.

Kickflipfreak and darkman both suggested (and both will receive codes for) the CornerShot. It's a real gun that can shoot around corners by bending and offering vision through a camera.

And finally, Tom suggested the Mole Cannon, a user-guided subterranean explosive device. It's powerful but, because guiding it requires the user's whole screen, it leaves the user completely vulnerable during use. In fact, if its trail can be seen like a mole's trail, enemy players can track it; thereby forcing the player to constantly move. It could knock players upwards, over ledges, or even through windows. This seems like basically an improved, more balanced version of the Farsight concept in Perfect Dark 64 (which I'm surprised to mention twice in this post). Like the others, it provides dynamic fun.

Congratulations, all! I'll start emailing your codes right away.

There were five ideas that were each suggested by more than one person. Those popular ideas were an amphibious vehicle, the Corner Shot, a sniper rifle with explosive bullets (take out the cover with the explosive bullet, then kill the enemy with a normal bullet), a weapon or device that lets you permanently tag an enemy so they show up on radar (at least until killed), and (strangely enough) a weapon that changes its ammo or enemies into whatever is sampled from the environment (plastic, wood, metal, etc).

A sample of other good ideas: an APC with blind-firing, a gun-controlled sonic blast, an E-SMAW, a defibrillator, an entrapping but breakable force field, a shrapnel arrow, a wench gun, a SPAS-12, a throwable-retrievable bayonet, and a tag that emits colored smoke only when the enemy is in close proximity with other players (revealing where they're hiding or where the battle is). There were many more cool ideas.

I hope y'all agree with at least some of my choices.


  1. Thanks for the code man, have a good weekend.

  2. All codes have been sent!

    Thanks to everyone who participated. I'd love to hear you all discuss the results. Like I said, there were a lot of good ideas.

  3. My suggestion is explained almost exact, except you left out the part where I speak about Anteaters crawling around to disrupt the player.

    I can't believe I won with that entry, Thank you so much! I'm downloading as we speak.


  4. downloading the game right now... im hella stoked!

  5. Dang, wish I woulda won... I already have the beta though - was trying to win for my friend in town. Oh well, those ideas were better than mine anyhow (mine wasn't mentioned in the blog at all, haha).

  6. demo, I mean. Not beta...


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