Saturday, June 22, 2013

How The Live Action Gatchaman Trailer Leads To Thinking About Game Design

My love for Gatchaman is pretty well known. I've loved the idea since I watched Battle of the Planets as a kid with my little brother. Back in the day, Gold Key even did a comic based on the American version of the cartoon. We had a couple of issues of it back then. Now, there's been a live action movie made of Gatchaman in Japan. By all that is holy I hope that there is an English translation.

Along with Speed Racer, this has always remained one of my favorite anime series since I was a kid. These are also the two properties that I would most love to design official tabletop RPGs for. However, don't be surprised if Gatchaman or Speed Racer sneaks into my new edition for HeartQuest. These guys may have to sneak into 4C Space. I already have an idea for one Earth-based group that deals with aliens. Adding Science Ninjas would make the sneaking even easier.

This is a great trailer. Watch it over and over.

The things that can inspire us as game designers are many and varied. The trick is to retexture them in such a way that they are new and fresh, while still having a nod to the originals. That can be a thin line to tread a lot of the time, and it isn't always successful. Some say that there really aren't many original ideas anymore. This is probably true, but there are ways to present things that are new, or at least new to you. I think that a game designer should have their own unique viewpoint that they stamp on things, so even if you are just doing a knock off of someone else's creations you can still do it in a way that makes things look new. Developing that viewpoint is what can be difficult.

Designers should look outside of the comfort of what they would want to do in their everyday life. Look for new books, new movies, new music, new voices that speak of different perspectives that will enrich what has already formed your worldview. A lot of designers and gamers are anti-anime, so taking a concept like that from Gatchaman and turning it inside out, so that it doesn't look like anime to the unbelievers, can take some work. Look at the characters from a horror viewpoint, and turn them into occult investigators. Make the giant monsters into something summoned by unscrupulous necromancers. There are many ways to take something old and turn it into something new.

This is how game designers should be thinking, always outside of the box. Look beyond the fantasy novels, and mouldering books of the Appendix N, and make your fantasy worlds something different. Look into the science fiction of other nations, cultures who might not speak English, for clues as to how to take your own ideas into new directions. There's a big world out there, just outside of the zone of what we may normally read or watch...embrace it.