Thursday, July 16, 2009

Games That Need To Be Made: Ender's Game: Battle School

There are some books that are just destined to be converted into movies. Sadly, such conversions are often awful, but that is a completely different article. In the same way, some books and movies are destined to be converted into games and sometimes game franchises. Lord of the Rings is one such book that has made the jump to the big screen and the computer screen in several flavors. Star Wars continues to spawn new games, and even Sherlock Holmes has gotten in on the act.

But some stories that beg for quality game treatment just haven't yet made the jump. One such potential gem is Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. More specifically, Battle School.

Ah, Battle School. How has this not been brought into gaming yet? It could well be the absolute ultimate in competitive PvP. Take two teams of 40, each wearing special space suits and carrying a light gun. Place them in a large cubic room with no gravity. If you can hold the beam of that light gun on an opponent's suit for a few seconds, you freeze that part of the suit. Freeze enough of the suit, and you've basically turned that opponent into an object lesson in Newtonian Laws of Motion. The goal is to freeze the other team while keeping at least five members of your own team active, four to activate your team's goal and the fifth to pass through the goal for the win. Oh, and feel free to toss as many or as few obstacles into that gravity-free chamber as you like.

Easy to learn, yet difficult to master. Obvious professional and amateur league play potential. I do not think it is an overstatement to say this could be the digital equivalent of basketball, and the tech exists to do it right and to do it right now.

So let's get on it! Hopefully any copyright issues can be resolved quickly and a developer can be found who would not feel the compulsion to sully Card's masterpiece of competitive simplicity with extra junk. Let individual skill and team strategy shine. There are no balance concerns, no classes to learn, to complex objectives that change with each map. The rules are simply, the objective is obvious, and the game play would blend the strategy of chess with the speed and power of hockey. This is a gold mine just waiting to be tapped, and I have to think somewhere in the industry is a publishers willing to tap it.

Some games just beg to made. Let's hope for Battle School, the time will come soon.

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