My friend John lent me a fantastic game for the Nintendo DS - scribblenauts. And I am now listening to a podcast on the making of scribblenauts via Kotaku.
What is scribblenauts and why does it deserve its own blog post?
Scribblenauts is a puzzle game. At each level there is a star buried in a landscape - and the players goal is to type in words like, apple, jackhammer, time machine, in order to get to the star. So for example the star is beyond a plane inhabited by brown bears - what do you do. Type in 'steak' and throw it to the bears - then pass through the field while the bears eat the steak.
There are multiple solutions to any puzzle - for example - I could type helicopter and fly over the bears. You get additional points for creating less items and for using ingenious solutions.
There is a database of about 20000 words from apple to centerfuge. The work that went into this game and the fact that it is successful is absolutely mind boggling - and the fact that it is an engaging, addictive game is nuts.
What I imagine is going on is that each landscape feature has a certain set of attributes and each word has an effect on a certain set of attributes. So for example, a bear, has hunger of 5, movement of 3, and vision or 5. If you throw an apple with hunger of 2 then you have to use something else, perhaps a skateboard of movement 2. An apple will not satisfy all the bear's hunger, so you need to use another tool - a piece of meat however with hunger of 5 will completely satisfy the bear allowing you to progress with ease. Does this make any sense?
Anyway, loved the podcast! I discovered that scribblenauts is often used as an educational game. On the podcast, there was an insane story about a little 5 year old boy who learned how to write by playing scribblenauts. He would carry around a book with all of the possible scribblenaut objects and use different combinations to complete levels.
I now want to check out drawn to life.