Survival Game Wishlist

I play a lot of survival games, mostly of the zombie apocalypse variety (State of Decay, Dying Light). Like most survival video games, there is a satisfying game loop: scavenge, craft, and stay alive. I’m not going to say the genre is getting stale, but I do think there is some exciting potential to be had in the future. And in no particular order:

1. Mobile Bases. Instead of being tied to several predetermined bases on a map (State of Decay), you can now drive your “war rig” to any location on the map and set up your home base. In addition to the mobile vehicle, external structures and fencing can be built. This provides a lot of strategy and flexibility for players. Where is the safest place to set up the base? Is the location optimal for resources? Plus you would have to accrue fuel/electricity to be able to move the base within the map (or onto the next map).

2. Procedurally Generated Maps. Once you are familiar with a map in a survival game, some complacency sets in because you know where everything is (plus that feeling of exploration is pretty much gone). But if a new map can be generated for every playthrough, a player will always have to survey and explore. There is just a greater feeling of peril if you don’t know the location you are playing in.

Imagine combing those first two ideas. You park your mobile base in Map 1, consume all the resources, and move onto Map 2, then Map 3, and so on. Imagine playing thousands of locations and never being in the same place twice. That to me is a compelling experience, and certainly makes for a long-term game.

3. Player Generated Maps. I don’t know why this isn’t a thing, but a city-builder tool that plays like Sim City or Cities Skylines, which can be used to create new maps for survival games (or any other genre). Some city sims allowed players to explore their creations at street level, or to drive around the city, so this isn’t a new thing exactly. But building a world that can serve as the backdrop to a story-driven game, that is rather unprecedented. This method of creating maps would likely be easier than a procedural approach, seeing as fans would be creating and sharing the content (similar to Mario Maker). Just an aside, imagine making your own city for a Grand Theft Auto-like game?

4. More Realistic Survival Conditions. Gasoline wouldn’t be plentiful in an apocalypse, because it expires after several months, so electric vehicles would need to source power from solar panels. Players couldn’t venture into underground structures like subways without an oxygen tank, because there is no proper air circulation. Serious injuries should sideline characters for weeks (no instant healing), which would penalize careless or reckless play.

5. Refuge Spots. Besides bases, there are no “safe zones” in most survival games. However if character A is injured or is in grave danger, I would like to park them in a safe spot (on top of a building or in a bank vault for example), and then I would switch to character B to mount a rescue. This system could also be used to rest characters away from home base.

6. More Car-Unfriendly Exploration. My one gripe with the State of Decay games, is that the vehicles are overpowered and have become a safety net (even in the harder difficulty settings). More areas should be explored on foot only, forcing players to park the car. It would be risk vs reward: the 8th floor of a tall building or a store deep inside a shopping mall would have better loot than a tool shed or fast food restaurant.

7. More Dynamic NPC’s. Most NPC’s are confined to their bases or safe zones. Imagine running into a hostile NPC while looting a location, or having to avoid an NPC who is driving like a maniac on the road? I just feel like NPC’s could be making the game more interesting than they currently are.

8. Paranoia About Infection. In most zombie films, some tension can be drawn from not knowing who is infected. I think this could be incorporated into Zombie games somewhat, but that would mean withholding some health stats from the player. Does a wounded character look infected? Should they be exiled? Do you waste precious medicine on someone who is clearly doomed? I don’t know if this can be properly implemented into a video game, because players are so accustomed to completely curing their characters.

These are all I can think of for now, but if there’s anything you would like to see integrated into a survival game, please feel free to share in the comments below!

TMNT Gaming Handheld

TMNT NES gaming handheld pizza time cowabunga

Super Impulse recently released a mini TMNT Arcade Cabinet that looks very cool, but is not all that fun to play. If it were up to me, a Turtles handheld would be a pizza box that looked and functioned like a Game Boy Advance SP.

You could fit all 3 NES games on there, plus the Game Boy game (Fall of the Foot Clan), and even Turtles in Time from the SNES can be included, thanks to its 2-button control scheme.

It would be awesome if this handheld could feature multiplayer somehow, even if an old-fashioned game link cable is required. Multiplayer is something I wish these modern handhelds (from Anbernic and Powkiddy to name a few) could do, as I can’t tell you how often I’ve wanted to play Turtles or NHL ’94 with a friend.

Portable Bartop Arcade

Powkiddy Pandora's Box portable arcade retro system 2020 Dave Delisle davesgeekyideas

What if a Pandora’s Box system actually came in a box shape? My genius knows no bounds. Jokes aside, I’ve been digging those suitcase systems Pandora’s Box has been releasing as of late, however I just don’t like removing the joystick when I need to go portable. So I went with a typical Powkiddy arcade system and added a folding cover.

A couple of latches unlock the cover (which has a suitcase handle), allowing it to swing to the back of the system. The end result looks like a regular bartop arcade. The whole thing works like a baby bassinet cover, I must admit.

There are no electronics in the cover section, to keep things simple. If you want to back-light the marquee, the LEDs could be housed above the monitor. A compartment behind the monitor stores the power adapter and cord.

Notes: This could be kept in suitcase mode and used as a console, most of these systems have an HDMI port on the back to allow TV-out functionality (plus USB ports for controllers and the power button too). The entire system could be clad in colorful graphics to resemble a bartop, I am limited to 256 colors in order to make animated GIFs, so the mockups reflect that. Originally I wanted the suitcase to look like an 80’s lunchbox, but I already did something like that.

Smartphone Racing Wheel Dock

Tomy Turnin Turbo smartphone mod racing dock ipad iphone wireless charging design toy 2020 dave delisle

Here is a dock design that can wirelessly charge your smartphone or tablet, and lets you play your favorite racing game as well. This is based on the TOMY Turnin’ Turbo Dashboard toy from the 80’s, and is inspired by this neat mod I saw on Youtube. There was a time when gaming peripherals similar to this were made for smart devices, I doubt such a thing will ever happen again.

Some Things I Like

Some things I like, video games, toys, and other xmas suggestions

Here’s a list of the many neat things I’ve liked from the past few years, most of which aren’t well-known so I want to show them off here. These can be gift suggestions or something you might enjoy,

1. Retro-Bit Super Retro-Cade (left). This plug-and-play console is my daily driver for older retro games. It has 100+ games built-in, two controllers, HDMI output, and an SD Card slot. I love it because it’s easy to use, easy to add games to, and is just a solid all-round machine. I’ve wrestled with a few Raspberry Pi consoles in the past, and the Super Retro-Cade was a walk in the park to use. Highly recommended.

2. LDK Game (right). This was the first of many Chinese handhelds that have come out in the past 18 months, and it’s been another daily driver for me when I hit the road. It’s easy to pocket, and adding games over USB is a breeze. My one complaint: only about 3 hours of battery life. There are many other handhelds with analog sticks and wider form factors, but I mostly play 8-bit and 16-bit games so this is perfect for me. If I had to get a system with analog controls, it would be an Anbernic handheld (the 350M, 350P, or 351).

Some things I like, video games, toys, and other xmas suggestions

3. Tiny Arcade DIY Kit (left). I don’t own this but it is very cool device! You put the whole thing together and load it up with freeware games (like Tiny Tetris and Tiny Invaders). A perfect project for kids or adults who like to tinker with stuff. They are about the size of those Super Impulse Tiny Arcade toys which have been popular for a few years now.

4. Haynes Retro Arcade Kit (right). Another kit that you build yourself, the end result is a PONG game with a screen made up of LED bulbs. Requires soldering of wires, so it’s not exactly for kids. If you would prefer something that is already built, Arcade1UP is releasing a Mini PONG Jr in the near future too.

Insert Coin Game Console

Arcade1Up recently released a series of mini plug-and-play consoles, and they appear to be solid emulation devices (granted their controllers could be better). I felt the console itself could be a bit more fun so I redesigned it to look like an Insert Coin slot from an arcade machine.

I just turned their console on its side and moved the power button, everything is still aligned to a single PCB board. The only major addition is an internal LED light.

One-Handed Retro Game Controller

This controller design is to help make older game systems like the NES and SNES become more accessible. While it looks like a regular joystick, this was inspired by automatic shift knobs seen in modern cars. The hand rests on top and moves the stick for D-Pad inputs. The thumb controls the action buttons (A B X Y plus START/SELECT), while the index and middle fingers hit the L and R shoulder buttons (much like clicking on a mouse).

The action buttons can be placed on both sides of the stick to make this for both lefties and righties, OR another set of L and R buttons could be included to achieve the same dual functionality (the shape of the stick would need to be symmetrical). However it would be more comfortable, and better for button-mapping, if a dedicated version was made for right hands, and another for left hands.

While it could be wielded like a regular joystick, this controller may need to be placed in a spot that is similar to the aforementioned car shifter knob. The user would need to be sitting in a reclined position, with the controller parked next to their knee. This layout would yield the most comfort, especially for prolonged gaming sessions.

SNES was used as the example here, but the idea could be applied to most 8-bit and 16-bit systems, or other systems that had a single directional input (Saturn, Dreamcast). I already designed a one-handed controller for the Atari.