#3. Fightin' Crazy
[The game starts and] everything seems normal, but slowly you see strange creatures on the edge of your vision. Like shadows moving on their own and becoming solid. Suddenly one of the shadow creatures attacks you and your own shadow comes to life and helps you defeat it. Over the course of the game you learn more about the shadow monsters and how you are able to have a sentient shadow.
[Cut to you] in the hospital and you still see the shadows. As you fight your way through the hospital, none of the NPCs are reacting to the monsters around them. Now the player could rationalize this as just lazy coding of the AIs, think that the PC is a chosen one that is the only one that can see them or ask themselves if the monsters really exist in that world at all. Eventually the NPCs might take notice of the player who's attacking nothingness and talking to his shadow and go after him.
There are two things we need very badly: new villains in horror, and new gameplay mechanics in games. The living shadows are a really neat concept that straddles the fine line between novelty and familiarity: They're not yet so overused as to be boring, but they've made enough prominent appearances in pop culture to be accessible villains for almost anybody. I think the concept of alternate universe shadow men is one of the few new monsters our generation will contribute to the lasting lore -- well, that and Mario Lopez, of course.
But What If ...
You really focus in on the second half of that idea -- the crazy hospital stuff?
This could be The Fisher King: The Video Game!
Wow, Robert: You really are balls-deep in the cultural zeitgeist, with references like that.
OK, for those of you who don't know, The Fisher King is a movie about crazy hobo Robin Williams (the most believable type of Robin Williams) rampaging through modern day New York City because he believes he's a medieval knight on an important quest. That could make a killer game: You set up the standard horror plot, but at some point, it becomes totally clear that you're just a crazy person, and that this whole shadow-person quest is your madness. Inevitably, the real world starts to intrude -- in the form of policemen and doctors -- as your psychosis becomes more pronounced. So you're trying to strike a delicate balance, freely fighting the shadowmen late at night, in sewers and abandoned alleyways where nobody of consequence can see you flailing at nothing, while trying to subtly avoid them in public without evoking suspicion. Shit, maybe we could get Robin Williams to voice the lead character!
Never mind, I ruined it. Sorry, guys, that just ruined the idea forever. My bad.
#2. Everyone Is the Main Character
My perfect game would be one set in a normal city, in a similar way to GTA, but instead of [the police coming after you when you do things "wrong"], the thing you just did becomes acceptable. For example if you drive a car into a supermarket, a couple of in-game weeks later you might see someone else do the same. Eventually, assuming you're a psychopathic criminal/serial killer, the whole city you're living in will disintegrate into chaos with people torturing and murdering people left right, with your life being in constant danger from all the crazed killers you've sort of inspired. I think the best bit of this game would be that you could go on a run of shooting prostitutes, and then spend some time picking up litter from the road, and a few months later you'd get a huge abundance of dead prostitutes, but really clean streets.
You start the game expecting a GTA clone, which we all know how to play: hilariously violently. But there's no reloading of old saves, so every action sticks. Slowly, your antics convince everybody in the city that total fucking murderous anarchy is like, the new dubstep.
And what does the world become when literally everybody is Niko Bellic?
But What If ...
You flip the script halfway through the game? Maybe it's a sudden revelation on the part of your character that the world simply cannot continue with everybody's grandmother ramping flaming ice cream trucks into the local library every other hour, or maybe you're just suddenly ripped out of your character and put into the shoes of the only cop who's still doing his job. The first half of the game is your average GTA/Saints Row havoc-causing sandbox, with the world slowly descending into insanity, and then the last half is you dealing with the psychotic universe your actions have created. Sure, it's annoying that you keep getting ripped out of your car by random pedestrians who immediately drive it into a wall and then run away giggling, but it's made all the worse by knowing that it was you who taught them how to do it. It's the "I learned it by watching you, Dad!" gameplay mechanic.
#1. Explosions: The Game
Whenever I play multiplayer games, I notice that the things I most consistently enjoy in them are explosions and physics, particularly when the two are gloriously combined. So my ideal game is a fast-paced multiplayer using nothing but physics and explosions.
You don't get any guns that fire conventional bullets; if you have guns, melee weapons or anything else, they cause explosions. Some minor, maybe sending a person reeling back a few feet, like a machine gun that fires tiny bombs; some moderately powerful, like a grenade that sends you flying in the air before landing in a heap; some really fucking strong, like a mine packed with so much ordnance that if someone steps on it, the victim goes flying at over 100 mph and slams into the ceiling, leaving a collection of splattered blood and giblets rain downing from above.
You'll have a lot of your conventional weaponry, like machine guns firing bombs, pistols firing bombs, shotguns firing bombs, etc. But you'll also have some more creative weaponry, like missiles that can turn corners; RPGs that hone in on a person once they get close enough, so the victim thinks he dodges it only to have it smack into him from behind; and of course the default melee weapon of your fists, which causes a grenade level explosion upon contact.
Obviously you can't have people take the damage they normally take in other multiplayer games when hit with explosives, nor the extensive waiting times when one dies. Instead, everyone has enough health to take, say, 50 machine gun-bombs, and have them quickly respawn, being dead only one or two seconds, long enough to see what surface their remains slam against.
Finally, the players will be affected by the physics of any explosion, and with so many, they either need to avoid being shot (with this amount of explosions, unlikely) or learn how to adjust to the disorientation of the explosions. Levels will be wide open and sprawling, to allow a degree of maneuverability in the face of so many large-radius explosions, as well as to make a satisfying visual indicator of how far a body falls.
Because goddammit, games don't have enough explosions.
Roughly half of the concepts that I've highlighted here address some heavy issues: They're games that deal with not overcoming, but embracing your own limitations, coping with pending insanity and coming to terms with the consequences of your actions in the total absence of societal morality. And lofty concepts like those can make for some amazing games.
But if everything always means everything, then meaning itself becomes meaningless. Remember when you went through your "deep stoner" phase? Discussing Wittgenstein over bong tokes like your limited, masturbatory teenage experience in the world could possibly contribute something meaningful to any conversation? That was fun. But eventually, the conversation always turned back to Dr. Mario and titties, because "deep" has an expiration date, but retarded bullshit is forever.
Sometimes, gamers just have to admit that our favorite part of a game is the part that went "boom," and wouldn't it be great if it all went boom? Wouldn't it be great if it all went boom, all the time?
But What If ...
You actually just made that game, developers? What if you just shut your fucking idea-holes for a second and gave us Multiplayer Boom-Boom: Explosion Edition? What would happen?
You would make a billion goddamn dollars. That's what would happen.
So there you go: That's a small sampling of the best games never made, as put forth by a random assortment of Cracked readers. And it's nothing special. Nobody's saying that these are the greatest ideas that will ever exist. If you think you can do better, smart guy, well -- OK. That's probably fair. Give it a shot! Spout your idea loud and proud, and let us all wallow in your nerd-droppings.
Get the first episode of Robert's Sci-Fi Serial Novel, Rx: A Tale of Electronegativity, right here, or buy Robert's other book, Everything Is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead. Follow him on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook.
For more from Brockway, check out 5 Reasons GTA IV Is The Worst Great Game Ever Made and In Defense of Games as Art.