The award for "Best Game of E3 <insert year here>" are usually given to Square Enix, Namco Bandai, or other prominent developers. Still, nobody expects that award for E3 2009 was given to a small, unknown developer known as 5th Cell. 5th Cell is not a very known developer, they are mostly working on small mobile phone games since a few years back, and now they are working on Nintendo DS games. Some games includes Drawn to Life and Lock’s Quest. Unfortunately, none of them hit the blockbuster and was easily forgotten.
This year is something different. With Scribblenauts, they took the stage for the Nintendo DS. This year’s winner might not be Square Enix, Namco Bandai, or Level-5. It might be 5th Cell, with the creation of Scribblenauts, that might be the most ambitious game project ever.
What factor in Scribblenauts that can be called an "ambitious project"? Simple, the first thing that players have to know is that Scribblenauts are re-introducing a lost type of gameplay–which is emergant gameplay.
Emergent gameplay is a term used commonly in video game development, in which the ways of video game to be played is unexpected, even from the game designer’s original intent. Meaning that there are limitless possible ways to play this game, in which the ways to finish a certain level is unlimited, and this is the core gameplay of Scribblenauts.
Scribblenauts was played by controlling our main character, Maxwell, in a platformer-genre game using the bottom screen. On the top right hand corner, you will see a note-like icon. When you touch that icon, a keyboard will appear on the screen waiting for your input. Here’s what interesting about Scribblenauts. Everything you typed in, yes, everything, will show up in-game. E3 2009 shows people inputting unusual objects such as stegosaurus, flamethrower, and an AK-47, and even God and Death; with the result of that item appearing.
This is what the core gameplay for Scribblenauts is. One example of the puzzles in Scribblenauts: a cat is stuck on the roof. From this, how many possible ways can you make the cat go down? Use your imagination, and even the most outrageous thing can be emerged to save the cat. For example, you can be a normal person and 1) create a ‘ladder’, then allowing Maxwell to climb and save the cat. Other way, you can 2)lure the cat by making ‘plate’ and ‘fish’ appears. For normal people, this is the easiest possible way.
But Scribblenauts is more than that. Anything is possible here, including 1) creating a lift so that Maxwell can save the cat similar to how he used the ladder; or 2) making God appear and miraculously save the cat; 3) making a ‘catapult’ to fling our main character to the roof, taking the cat; then creating ‘cushions’ down the roof so that our character and the cat won’t get hurt.
Another case, you are in a desert, and a thirsty man appear infront of you. The only way for you to proceed is to give him water in any way. Being the normal person, you will 1) summon a ‘glass of water’ then giving it to the man; or something more luxurious, such as 2) giving the man a lemonade instead; or making it more natural, by 3) summoning ‘rain’ or 4) summoning ‘oasis’? But there is more than that if you used your imagination in Scribblenauts. How about 5) making a ‘coffee shop’ and giving the man ‘money’? He will immediately go inside and buy a glass of coffee to quench his thirst.
Last case. Infront of you is a pool containing sharks, and you must go across of it without getting hurt. You can 1) create a ‘bridge’ to pass through; 2) summoning a ‘kraken’ to kill all the sharks; or 3) luring the sharks by summoning ‘meat’. Anything seems possible in this game, as long as you have the creativity and imagination.
Interesting facts about this game
- You can summon just anything, except for copyrighted words.
- Internet memes are included in this game. Try typing ‘all your bases belong to us’, ‘mudkipz’, or even ‘chuck norris’. Who knows? It might even be programmed in-game
- There are over 10,000 objects available to create in this game, and each of them is programmed differently. For example, you can summon a tiger, lion, and a bear; infront of them is a honey pot. The three animals will fight each other; if the bear wins, it will go to the honey pot and eat it. But what happens when the tiger or lion wins? Nothing will happen, as they didn’t consume honey.
- Only five people were assigned to program different objects in the game. Their job is to look and search all over the internet for every single concrete objects, usual or unusual, and program it on the game. Their job is to look through pages in Google, searching through every single pages in Wikipedia/any type of encyclopedia, and program its characteristics in-game.