On to the Game!
I have finally made some serious decisions on Princess Pomegranate as a game and working out the major mechanics (programming-wise) is well underway. A game design document is also being created in order to more clearly outline goals, mechanics, etc. Now that that process is started, level design and character design is the next challenge. First though, allow me more formally introduce this game.
What is Princess Pomegranate?
Princess Pomegranate is a response to a video by Anita Sarkeesian, who although problematically, points out a very serious trend in gaming where women are useless. As a woman, gamer, and game creator who is not useless, this just isn't gonna fly for me. Her accused offender, with the least defensible case, was certainly the Mario franchise. Princess Peach is a waste but in the 25+ year life span of the franchise, there is no longer any good cause for this. We have the technology and experience to create new and different stories about our men and women, even if they do live in a place as ridiculous as Mushroom Kingdom (a place where I have wasted many MANY joyful hours, my criticism comes from love) Princess Peach needs to get it together and start either working for herself, or working alongside Mario.
Unfortunately, I do not work for Nintendo, and even if I did, I doubt this opinion would matter much so, I created Princess Pomegranate. She looks a lot like Peach, but in all honesty, she's going to have quite a lot more gumption. The game will open with Pommy in a dungeon watching a live feed of "Mario" (Lothario? Genualdo? Marco? Herald?! Bob?!? I haven't thought of a code name for him yet...) dying in the same spot for what must be the 800th time, because that is how we all play Mario... We die a lot... In the same places. Pommy decides that this simply won't do and she is tired of waiting around. With this she takes off on her own Mario-esque adventure..
The game will is intended to be for iOS devices since I have a publishing license there and it could potentially get more eyes this way. It will be controlled by tapping onscreen controller buttons in an attempt to stay authentic in feeling and it, of course, is a platformer. My goal is to publish in August.
It is important for this adventure to feel unique, while still holding onto the nostalgia of Mario. It is important that Pommy has an adventure that is uniquely her own rather than some facsimile. Her trip should still equal the excitement and difficulty of one that Mario would take because it is important that she feel equal to Mario in her level of capability and bravery. So basically, her game needs to feel really familiar but also new and different. It is also important that Pommy retains the look and feel of Princess Peach. I don't want it to seem as though she can no longer be her princess-y self and give the impression that that is the only way she can be capable. This is twofold, since as a potential role model (I'm dreamin' big), she could attract younger girls who love princesses and fluff and show them a capable female role model.
Pomegranate will capitalize on a floating power that will allow her to traverse different obstacles in a different way, this reinforces the need for her to retain the princess clothes, as it is the voluminous that in part contributes to her floating. Also, rather than being a plumber, the male lead is an electrician. There are no pipe puzzles in this game, there are instead electricity puzzles. Pommy can pick up a power up that allows her to shoot balls of electricity, similar to the fire balls of the original Mario, but with different shooting behaviors and different secondary effects.
There are a lot of mechanics that I intend to replicate or approximate from the Mario franchise including the level setup, the coin system, item boxes, and some (although not all) enemy behaviors. This leads to the concern that Apple will not publish the game due to the similarities. However, parody and caricature are protected in copyright laws and as long as the game gains its own identity through clever level and game design it should be alright.
Feedback, ideas, comments, and concerns are always welcome. Once the game design document is finished, I shall post it, and the next blog post will contain more concept art, and some more detailed game mechanics for those less inclined to read through a whole GDD.