This weekend saw the inaugrual 'What would Peter Molydeux?' 48 hour gamejam, inspired by the e'er-brilliant fabricated, Twitter-based game design ramblings of the world's premier fake Peter Molyneux. I (with some guest contribution from Mr Adam Smith) having been combing through some of the entries and lo, I have seen divine madness at work. Some are outright genius, some are the seeds of great game concepts, some are misfires but all deserve our praise and love for being real, working realisations of ideas that were never intended to be made flesh.
(Please note, this isn't a 'best of Molyjam' post - it's just the stuff we've looked at so far. And we'll probably look at more soon, because there is gold in them thar lunatic hills).
You Are A Spy & The World Is Transparent
"Imagine being a spy in a game world where the entire environment is transparent and so you can't hide."
The Australian Molyjam conjured up Hitman meets Chuckie Egg with a colour-coding surveillance machine I couldn't entirely work out. 'I tried to get the gameplay to communicate the situation/spy's mind', programmer Matthew Elvey' Toeofdoom' Price tells us. I'm going to lazily call it 'psychedelic gunpoint' and thus annoy everyone involved with both games.
"You know, what if the aim of the game was to resist actually completing it? That kept me up all night yesterday."
Another Aussie effort,this one's an absolute gem, and had me hooting like a ticklish hyena thanks to a wonderful narration (which doesn't kick in until after a few screens, in case your initial impulse is to spurn its rote platformer look). One of those where the more I say, the more I ruin. Don't believe everything you're told, basically.
"We've had emotional game endings but have we ever had an emotional title screen?"
Now we do. And also a trolling title screen. This is brilliant. Brilliant, I tell you! And, like all the best entries, very much in the amiably Machiavellian spirit of the Molydeux account. Oh: you'll need Notepad for this one.
One of the more literal entries, but that can't stop a game about beating down evil zombie skittles with your magic radioactive bowling ball isn't a true original. Plus it's a full 3D affair in Unity, created as a solo effort by San Franciscan J Rubio of Yanki.JP. This probably could stand to be expanded to a full game, I imagine.
"What if the pause button was a weapon? Until developers think outside the box we’re going downhill."
This took me quite a while to work out, and I was on the verge of grumpily abandoning it until a sudden flash of rare inspiration clued me into how it might work. You should try and figure it out yourself, but if not...
Another idea that really could be expanded into something larger - this feels like it just scratches the surface. More importantly, the pirate looks like Errol Flynn.
"Imagine a game in which you have to join protests to make changes to the rules within the game's world." By IcarusTyler.
As it says, basically, but in a truly joyful way. For instance, "we want a waterfall." You can make that happen. Sadly, this is the most fantastical game I've ever played - it's set in a world where the authorities actually listen to the requests of protesters. Is there some way we can make Dave and George play this?
"I cheated: I didn't get inspired by Peter Molydeux. I used to work with that dude, and I'm pretty sure he's just tweeting my diary. So I went to the source. Me. " Aubrey Hesselgren, formerly of Splash Damage, you are a CHEAT.
I'm a total sucker for anything with cats in, but this one got the better of me. I worked out from the readme that beckoning to/shouting at the cats would help keep me safe from the ghosts, but either I'm missing something or my mic's not recognised by the game, so.... You have a go and let me know what's supposed to happen.
"You know in cut scenes when it says '3 months later...'? What if the game ACTUALLY locked your save file for 3 months?" and "What if games rewarded you for believing rather than winning?"
Waiting for Godot with swans, I call it. Six, from Littleloud's Kerry Turner, is six chapters that play over six real-time days. Being as I am a very bad man, I cheated and kept setting my system clock forward, but I suspect that means I missed quite a lot of it. Six is different from most of the other entries here in that it's a sombre, arty take on Molydeuxisms. Then again, it does feature a swan wearing a crown, so it's not entirely without tongue-cheek interfacing.
Oops, must remember to set my system clock back or I'm going to have all manner of complications.
"Romantic parkour game in which you and the love of your life must hold hands and jump around a city evading death and injury.
The most visually striking Molyjam effort I've seen so far comes from --ooh, bias alert! - friend of RPS Aanand Prasad and comrades. It's a co-op challenge to climb a giant, Tetris-like tower, complicated by the fact that if you stop holding hands with your companion your movement is severely limited. It's a metaphor, probably. For what? I dunno, love or something like that. It's also rather deliciously fiendish. Can be played solo if you like - in fact, it's probably easier that way.
"Game where your arms are controlled by a psychopath who keeps firing guns at innocent people. You must turn away from them and run."
Adam says: Like Robotron but with kindly, good-hearted strangers instead of Robotrons. Run through the levels attempting not to murder anybody or be faced with the most accusatory and horrifying game over screens ever created. Designed and produced by Kevin Messman, Todd Polenberg and Sarah Porter at the NYC jam, These Automatic Arms has the best of all names and is a thoroughly entertaining take on the tweet, even adding extra plot in the form of an incentive beyond not-killing.
Revenge Of The Road
"Have you ever played a racing game and wanted to play as the road rather than the cars? I know I have..."
Adam says: Built in Unity at the London event, The Revenge of the Road is a two player game (I just tried it on my own; confusing, disastrous) that's strikingly similar to Roadeo, which just goes to show, people are independently creating Molydeux ideas. I reckon if I could find someone to play it with, it'd be a lot more haphazard and raucous than Roadeo, as the track shakes and deviates in an attempt to throw the other player into space.
Far more Molyjam entries can be found here.