One of my favourite talks at this year’s Casual Connect was given by Spry Fox (Triple Town) Chief Creative Officer, Dan Cook, about designing completely original games. He feels a great place to start is at the root, with the core assumptions of how we play. Mario runs and jumps, and we control that. What if we didn’t control the running part? Canabalt is what. A fitting chat, it seems, considering what this indie duo has up its sleeve.
In addition to a long-awaited sequel to their plane combat hit Steambirds, and a Facebook and mobile version of their wordplay title Panda Poet, Spry Fox is turning the tables on the classic idea of “game length” with their most ambitious original IP yet: Hoppington. And even though the name is still temporary, the concept has me hopping for joy. (And no, I’m not sorry I did that.)
Centered around innovative cooperative play, Hoppington will group players together in a quest for resources, and – of course – lots and lots of points. The catch? Games will start, peak, and finish within seven actual real-life days. During that time, you and your impromptu team will guide groups of “hoppers” through a large mass of territory, working together to establish connective pathways, efficiently forage for raw materials, and combine them at “crafting stations” to yield the most points possible.
If it all sounds a little confusing for now, don’t worry: everything’s still in the early phases of implementation. Even Spry Fox’s other half, David Edery, told me in a chat we had during Casual Connect that the team acknowledges how bad it is at targeting easily sellable archetypes. In a befuddling tit-for-tat, I tried to wrangle the game’s genre by offering up the idea of Ticket to Ride meets Settlers of Catan, only to have Edery counter that they’d been thinking of it more as Civilizationmeets Lemmings by way of Space Chem.
Elevator pitches aside, one thing the duo is great at is the creation of games that are instantly accessible, which defy convention. I have complete faith that – if nothing else – Hoppington will make good on Cook’s thesis of reevaluating core conventions and doing something compelling with them. In the mean time, stay tuned to Gamezebo for updates about Hoppington, and our full interview with David Edery, in which he goes in-depth about Spry Fox’s mission to unite people through play.