Game Concept: #3 – Hawkeye

Hawkeye 2

“We work at the same university.”

“Yes, and Hawkeye is one of the Avengers, but no one ever says, ‘Help, Hawkeye!'”

-The Big Bang Theory

I have a healthy respect for the underrated character who provides support, but isn’t necessarily on the movie poster.  I think the world relies on people like that to stay turning.

Hawkeye is one of those characters that no one really knows what to do with.  In the Avengers movies he was pushed to the side.  In every game adaptation I’ve seen he’s either minor, or left out entirely.  Only one source seemed to know how to handle him.

Marvel comics has a Hawkeye book with minimalist 60’s style art that only covers Hawkeye when he’s not being an Avenger.  It’s brilliant because it’s human.  Like all of Marvel’s heroes, he’s got personal crises to deal with and relationships to maintain, but unlike the rest of Marvel’s pantheon, he’s only got his wits and a bow.  There’s no super suits, or vast arrays of money, no great show of force he can bring down.

Now, I know better than to suggest a game where you run around Manhattan picking up Hawkeye’s dry cleaning and going on blind dates (this isn’t Spider-Man 3).  Instead, what I’d like to see is Marvel meets Metal Gear Solid.  Hawkeye can’t just come in guns blazing (though we’ll come back to that), so he’d need to rely on stealth and cunning to defeat enemies.

The Arkham games have shown us that stealth and puzzle solving can be both challenging and entertaining.  My idea isn’t to retread the Batman games with a Hawkeye skin, that’d be fun but unoriginal.

If we remember that Hawkeye (at least in some cases) is a spy for Nick Fury, then that has the potential for a lot of interesting stories.  We could have Fury trying to get information on a cartel, or AIM’s activities in Russia, or investigating spies within SHIELD.  The first hurdle the game would bring is as an espionage thriller.  You’d sneak around a foreign city (eastern Europe sounds great for this kind of thing because it always worked in the Cold War) and try to gather intelligence on the enemy cell.  It’d involve capturing operatives as they moved through the streets, hopping from rooftop to rooftop to get an angle on a thug and take him down with a tranq arrow.

Once you had information on the headquarters of the enemy cell, then we go into Solid Snake territory.  A sneaking mission into an enemy fortress where you only have your bow and your stealth to rely on.  (Though we sometimes see Hawkeye with guns, as shown below, so guns are an option).  You could even break it up into a series of missions, (i.e. the tanker chapter of Metal Gear Solid 2, or Peace Walker).  I like the idea of being on the prowl in a suit like Hawkeye uses in the Ultimates (see below).

Plenty of puzzle based challenges, several different types of arrows to fire, and you could get into mechanics like Sniper Elite with the functions of a bow.  Could make for interesting game dynamics.  A target range to practice would be essential.

The culmination would be a final boss fight against an obviously superior opponent and it should be really difficult to take him (or her) down, not because he or she can withstand so many arrows, but because their firepower is greater than yours and you can’t get shot but once or maybe twice without going down.

A game about a capable human in a world of superhumans.  I think Bruce Wayne and plenty of others could get behind that idea.

 Hawkeye

Game Concept: #2 – Days of Thunder – The Game

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Earlier this year I had the dismal experience of playing this year’s NASCAR video game.  These games, invariably EA products, have been put out as standard fare since the early 2000’s with a brief interlude around 2010.  Absolutely none of these within the last 10 years has had any particular imagination to it whatsoever.  There was a certain amount of innovation with the multiple car racing we saw in 2004, but other than that, any of the games is practically indistinguishable from any other, with the exception of graphics, which constantly improve every year and are not worthy of noting.

What all of these games lack, is what makes a game like EA’s Fight Night Champions, so worthwhile: story.  Imagine if you will a NASCAR game which had a character you actually care about.  In the same way that in the college football offerings you can follow a single player through his career, imagine having a driver that you create with attributes that matter.  This could be a “create-a-driver” if necessary, but it may be more interesting to have an actual writer to craft a story.

With something like this, you could vastly raise the stakes on a per-race basis.  You could have a story which you need to finish in the top 10 to impress your sponsors, followed by actually seeing the reaction of those sponsors.  You could be trying to build team unity so you assist a teammate in a tight spot.  The drama of the sport allows for dozens of stories to be told, both with influences on and off the track.  Rivalries, tension, major incidents are as much a part of NASCAR as 76 racing fuel.

There is great potential here and we don’t have to go far to look for it.  You could have each season have an overarching storyline and there are five or ten seasons worth of stories to tell just based on the history of the sport.

Just off the top of my head:

Season 1:  A young rookie struggles to gain respect, sponsors and money within the sport (plenty of source material available)

Season 2: Controversy on the team as a rivalry begins with a seasoned and well-respected driver.  Coming to a head with battles on and off the track.

Season 3: Scandal over an alleged cheating incident with officials accusing our driver of using an illegal setup on the car (come from behind in the points)

Season 4: Sponsorships become scarce unless the driver can maintain top 5 finishes.  Also we see a new talent emerge as a threat.

Season 5: Expansion into multi-car ownership.  We explore owning a raceteam along with driving one of the cars.

Season 6: A struggle to overcome an injury or hardship off the track.

Season 7: A company offers a special prize for winning all the big races in a particular year.

These are just a few ideas, blatantly stolen from the various movies about NASCAR which have been done over the years.  There are better stories lying in wait, just waiting for a good writer to explore them.

NASCAR is one of the world’s most popular sports.  It deserves a better class of game than what we’ve been seeing for the last decade.  Embracing the moonshine and good-ol-boy past of the sport can serve as a fun spice to the genre.  We can have mini-games based on great races from the past (Daytona 1976, Darlington 1985, Daytona 1979, Atlanta 1992).  I’d love to see, (as we did in 2003’s offering) a track on the sands of Daytona Beach, with the old time cars and drivers.  Ignoring the sport’s rich history and dramatic present does a disservice to all the fans who are also gamers.

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Game Concepts: #1 – Classic Baseball

Amongst other things, I’m going to use this forum to propose ideas I’ve had for video games.  I’ve noticed that most gamers have an idea for a game or two (Cracked.com has a pair of wonderful articles about them) and in a similar vein, I’m going to discuss my own game concepts.

Polo Grounds

Tagline: Classic Baseball

Game Type: Sports

Platform: Console

Basic idea: Baseball before the modern era.  You’d be able to pick your general timeline (1940’s, 1910’s, etc.) and start an expansion team or take control of a team that existed in that time.  I think an option for an expansion team would be best as there were no teams in the west before the 1950’s and there’s no reason to alienate that whole half of the country if they want to have a hometown team.

You could forgo all of the TV broadcast presentation they put into the modern MLB games and instead just show the action, maybe with radio presenters like they had in the old days.

It could have a challenge mode where you could replay old games and moments from the past (i.e. Ruth calling his shot, Bobby Thompson’s 1951 Home run, Willie Mays’s catch, the Brooklyn Dodgers win their only world series).

Instead of slick graphics displays on the menus, have something a little more primitive, and for other scores from around the league, have them in a newspaper.

Obstacles: I suppose the biggest challenge to this would be the licensing of all the old stadiums, rosters and logos.  It could also be a challenge to get accurate models of what everything looked like as many of the stadiums no longer exist.

You’d also have to be very respectful of minority baseball players and the historical ramifications of that subject.  I think making the default time somewhere after the game had been fully integrated wouldn’t be a bad idea.  As an alternate proposal you could somehow include the Negro Leagues.  For that matter, as cross-gender appeal, the Women’s League from WWII could be included as a bonus feature.

As another alternative, you could have various decades of baseball all throughout the twentieth century.

Concept Art: (stolen from internet sources)

ebbetts

wrigley poster

*This is one of a series of “classic” sports games which I think could be interesting.  I’ll elaborate on others in future posts.