Note: The following article is satire. No one would be crazy enough to pursue any of these ideas. You can ignore the fact that this is a compilation of several real conversations I had during the PAXAus weekend with two actual people called Luke and Craig. But if you are interested in any of their ideas, drop me a line and I’ll put you in touch with them.
PAXAus is a great chance to make connections within the gaming industry. Some of these connections, when plied with food and drinks, can get chatty and tell you all about their in-development projects. Of course, as a journalist of the highest integrity, I am always on the lookout for these individuals.
I ran into two self-proclaimed game designers, Luke and Craig of Briefly Salmon Cybertainment, one night after the show floor had closed. I knew they were games developers from the first moment I clapped eyes on them. Craig with his ponytail, glasses and slightly laconic look. Luke the opposite, bursting from both his vivid personality and his oh-too-tight pants. We introduced ourselves and, much like a car accident, exchanged names and numbers.
Of course talk quickly turned to games. The guys gave me a crash course in their history, which mainly hinged on a lot of buzzwords attached to something they did with (or maybe for) Battlefield and Activision a few years back. I’m not sure, they were very non-specific.
This led into what they were doing at PAXAus this year. As well as checking out the games on show, they were also shopping around some game ideas. What they ran me through stunned me, and with their permission, I offer a verbatim transcribed account of the relevant portions the conversation.
Matthew: Are you trying to get something in particular into development at the moment?
Luke: VR is big at the moment. The next big thing. So I want to do something with that. I really think that the medium has a lot of potential, to offer experiences to players that they wouldn’t otherwise get.
Matthew: What were you thinking?
Luke: A bus driving game. Players are in the driver seat, in VR, and they drive the bus. But this isn’t just a bus, they have to stop and pick up passengers, take change for tickets, that kind of thing. Then they drive the passengers to the locations.
Matthew: That does sound interesting. Kind of like Crazy Taxi, you take whatever route you want to the drop off point to get a good time, or something like that?
Luke: No, not at all. You just drive it to the allotted stops and pick up or drop off the passengers.
Matthew: So, it’s just a regular bus?
Craig: That’s what the game is called; Regular Bus.
Briefly Salmon concept art for Hardline Bros.
I nod. Not to signify I understand, but just to punctuate the end of this topic. Quickly, I try and move the conversation on.
Matthew: You mentioned that you had a few concepts you are trying to get off the ground?
Luke: Yeah, Regular Bus will be our first, followed by Fish…
Luke: No, it is pronounced “Fish…”.
Craig: That’s it.
Matthew: And what do you do in it?
Luke: You play as a crane. Not like one of those tower cranes, one of those truck cranes, so you’re mobile. So you’re a crane right, but you really want to be a fish, so you’ve gotta get to the ocean. Your construction company obviously wants none of that though so they’re trying their best to stop you by all means necessary, so it’s not just a scenic drive to the water. You’ve gotta use your hook to pull objects around to obstruct your would be captors, and zip about buildings up high in the city.
Craig: Kind of like Batman.
Luke: Like Batman. It grapples around the city until it gets to some water, and then it goes in. It sinks to the bottom.
Matthew: That sounds profound. Is this some kind of allegory, or comment on gender identification? The crane identifies as something else, and uses it’s only means of interacting with the world to change its situation? But then, it can’t fully realise what it wants to be, perhaps? It sinks to the bottom of the ocean and becomes a reef, home to fish but not a fish itself?
Luke: What? Nothing like that. Cranes sink in water, everyone knows that.
A lesser journalist would stop here, secure in their exclusive titbits. But I’m intrigued, so I press on for more information on the other game concepts.
Matthew: Do you only have two games?
Luke: Nope. The third game we are shopping around is called Danny DeVito’s Love Quest.
Matthew: This sounds like a point-and-click adventure game.
Luke: Don’t be stupid, no one plays adventure games. It’s like Sid Meier’s Civilisation, except it’s Danny DeVito sending you on a Love Quest. Players use love to explore a map and occupy territories, all while Danny DeVito guides you through the experience. Except there are some who don’t like your love, so you have to fight them.
Matthew: And… is Danny DeVito associated with this in any way? Do you have permission to use his name?
Luke: No, why?
Craig: Should we?
I’m a little concerned now. Luke excuses himself from the table, enquires about the location of the bathroom, and wanders off looking at his phone. This leaves me with Craig, briefly. I press him for some information I just have to know.
Matthew: Aren’t you worried about me writing about your game pitches?
Craig slowly turns his face towards me, like an owl, or something a character in Adventure Time might do. His expression is completely blank, and doesn’t change through the entire conversation.
Craig: We are used to our ideas being stolen. We have come to accept it, that’s why we have so many.
Matthew: What ideas have you had stolen?
Craig: We came up with an idea for a buddy-cop style Battlefield, which we briefly mentioned to someone at EA during an event. Later that month Battlefield Hardline was announced.
Matthew: Is that it?
Craig: At one point we played a lot of Borderlands 2, and worked up a treatment of a shield-based character. Athena in the Pre-sequel appeared soon after.
Matthew: Two examples? That isn’t really that compelling.
Craig: No, there are loads. I just can’t think of any more right now. But they keep happening. We talk about stuff and suddenly a month or two later, it is announced in some form.
Matthew: Why don’t you just stop telling them to people?
Craig: We don’t. It’s Microsoft, they listen to us through Facebook Messenger.
I don’t bother pointing out that neither any of the games he listed, or Facebook, are owned by Microsoft.
After an interlude of ten-to-fifteen minutes, Luke returns. He slides back onto the high stool, a pleased look on his face.
Luke: I had another idea for a VR game. You play as this toilet bowl.