There's a lot of love for animal simulators lately, what with our fascination for goats and such. Every now and then I come up with an idea for a game. Sometimes that idea involves a simulator. Today is such a day.
As you've intuited, my idea involves a bear and you're thinking, "dude, it's been done" but aha, keep reading, all is not what it seems with this particular bear simulator…
Title: Once Upon A Time In A Bear.
Format: First person animal simulator. Kind of.
Premise: You play as a non-speaking human character that happens to wear a lifelike bear costume.
It's essentially a bear simulator. However, real bears can sniff you out, your outfit won't fool them, and they'll attack you if you get too close.
This only scratches the surface of the game, read on for more details on how this will transcend the trappings of other simulators.
Attention to realism. You need to scavenge for food out in the wild or urban environment or you will starve after an appropriate amount of in-game days/weeks. Scavenging means you will have to contend with predators in the wild, and humans in the city.
~ In the wild you'll have to fight other bears for fish in a stream, etc.
~ In the city you'll have to fight or scare off street bums to scavenge that dumpster outside the rear of a restaurant. Or you could ambush the restaurant staff as they dump the trash outside. Think Dishonored. Except you're wearing a bear suit. And have no powers. And smell like you haven't showered in a month. (NPCs will smell you before they see you, unless you go for a dip in a stream or shower in someone's home undetected)
~ Other moments of realism will include the usual things you'd expect, a day/night cycle, but also seasonal as well, meaning you have to deal with weather and hibernation cycles of animals.
~ Obviously walking in the street will garner some attention, dependent on the neighborhood. During Halloween nobody gives a shit though.
Offbeat stuff will include:
~ Getting roped into a criminal gang as the mad mute bear costume wearing member, helping them rob liqueur stores and banks, using rifles and such. The more you partake in this kind of activity, the more your urban legend grows, and parents tell their kids stories about the "crazy bear man". After a certain amount of infamy, TV crews and journalists will attempt to hunt you, and it'll be up to you if you want to be discovered or not. Getting fame will ensure less chance of you dying of starvation, but also limits your movement in the world. Staying a myth ensures you can move more freely, but of course surviving remains a struggle.
~ Helping out orphan kids on the streets, or feral kids in the woods, by providing food for them, or even educating them. Perhaps stealing textbooks from a local school. The kids essentially serve as 'Pokemon' in a way: you level them up the more you educate and mentor them. If you play the game long enough, they grow into adults who remember you fondly and can help you out. If you level a kid just right, they will eventually grow into an adult who has a spare couch you can crash on, or even rent out a room for you. You can essentially be a weird uncle figure to the adult's family, and go on side missions where you look out for your 'nephew/niece', stopping bullying, etc.
~ DLC expansion pack that features a road trip to another part of the country where you hunt down and confront Bigfoot (another delusional human in an outfit). Who is the hunter and who is the prey? By destroying Bigfoot are you destroying yourself? Your past sins? Your identity? Or can you team up with him and together escape your constricting ego, reaching enlightenment? (DLC features co-op mode and three campaigns where you and Bigfoot can take on hunters, the media, and resolve a Waco siege type incident with the FBI)
The game does have an ending, I feel that it's a good idea to have players strive for a goal, rather than eventually get bored of the sandbox.
~ You can die in several ways, obviously. Mostly through combat and starvation, at least in the early stages of playing the game. It will be important for you to remember you're not actually a bear, but a delusional human, but it'll be fun to read about gamers repeatedly dying because they forgot what they were.
~ If you try to have sex with an animal, instant game over. (you will be able to date weird humans who are into your lifestyle though. No sex scenes, but the purpose of forming human relationships is for the selfish purpose of getting food/water/shelter from them)
~ You manage to reach an old age and die of natural causes. Again, in a variety of contexts. You might die alone as a bum, or surrounded by loving friends/family. When you die will be determined by an algorithm that measures your diet and activities throughout the game. Hopefully this gives the game repeatability, and ensures tumblrs of people recounting what kind of bear lives they led.
~ The ultimate ending that players will strive for, the one that nets you the rare trophy/achievement: You manage to get over the psychological issues that caused you to dress up and act like an animal in the first place. This will involve following a whole range of obscure clues and pathways. Discovering remnants of a past life you left behind, whether it be poignant memories or emotional reunions with people who recognize you. A procedural detective mode if you will, perhaps using 'bear' vision, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
I hope there will be an interesting back-story that will eventually be revealed the more you play and investigate the sandbox world, and that the game is more than just a fun way to pass the time, but also a compelling look at post-modern society, abuse, depression, various phobias, and very meta.
Yes, I can't believe I just wrote all this, that you read this far, and no, I'm not a video game maker, so someone else do 90% of the work, kickstart it, and I'll just do the writing. :P
* 1st photo taken from Buffoonery Factory
* Bear with gun image is from a cool manga called Biomega