Lizard's Lair Results

Written by Ryan Garside

October 4, 2006 | 11:02

Tags: #coverage #david #doak #festival #ian #lair #livingstone #lizards #london #molyneux #peter

Companies: #games

Last night a one-off show called the Lizard’s Lair took place. The event was modelled around BBC’s Dragons Den show, where a panel of industry experts consider business propositions, deciding whether they are good or bad, and worth their investment.

The future games designers and developers got the chance to pitch their game ideas to Peter Molyneux (Black and White, Lionhead), Ian Livingstone (Eidos and co-founder of Games Workshop), Miles Jacobson (SIGames creator of Football Manager Series) and David Doak (Goldeneye and Free Radical Design).

The setting was breathtaking, a room full of cameras and lights (the BBC was filming the show) with floor to ceiling windows giving everyone a view of London bridge, the river Thames and the rest of the city at night. Many of the contestants unsurprisingly suffered from a bout of nerves, however some original ideas were proposed.

One such idea, from a man of 41, was to create a driving game for Symbian mobile phones. He hoped his own passion for real world driving would give his game a unique selling point. Unfortunately the ‘Lizard’s’ didn’t agree. Jacobson argued that not enough people owned Symbian phones to make this a commercial success, the others agreed though advised him to continue his project. “Symbian phones could soon be mainstream,” said Peter Molyneux, “which would put you in a great position with this game.”

One contestant wasn’t able to secure work experience off the back of his game proposal but was offered the chance to go down to SI Games and become a games tester. Another contestant wasn’t so lucky. His plan was to create an RPG/action/RTS/FPS game, set in a Lord of the Rings meets Charles Dickens noir world. The Lizards pounced on him for, what Doak called, “a shopping list” of genres. Jacobson advised the designer-hopeful to work on writing a story as opposed to making a game.

It was towards the end of the night that the big guns finally appeared. A competition called ‘Dare to be Digital’ which invites students from around the world to showcase their game design plans, had bought down four teams to present games ideas. These were far more developed games, and the Lizards became far more interested.

The most well received presentation of the night went to a young lady from Ireland(the only girl in the 10 man lineup) whose idea was called Cults. Her proposal was a Sims meets Sim-City style game based around cults. The game sounded like it was in the same ball park as Spore, when she suggested gamers would be able to create their own cults and would compete online with other people’s cults in a race to gain the most members. Livingstone asked whether he would be able to make a ‘cabbage eating’ cult before Peter Molyneux snapped her and her team up on a 6 day work experience placement at Lionhead studios.

Another idea looked at creating an Abe’s Odyssey type game for the DS Lite called ‘Metalheads’. The game centred around collecting little fellows called ‘Metalheads’ who you could then draw shapes for, like a box and a rotor, which would help your main character overcome obstacles. The Lizards seemed excited by the prospect of scribbling on a DS however due to legal reasons the game could only be run as a demo.

Another idea titled ‘Spaceport’ was universally panned by the Lizard’s. With Livingstone citing the recent failure of ‘Startopia’ as a benchmark by which to judge space-management games. The Lizard’s highlighted the difficulty of comedy in games with Livingstone saying:

“The problem is: What’s funny in the US isn’t funny in Germany and what’s funny in Germany is… well probably not funny anywhere.”

The final idea was described as the closest to the finished article. In an intuitive game called Flux in which the objective is to keep music playing for as long as possible by circling nodes that popped up on the screen. Peter Molyneux commented that it would work perfectly as a plugin for a media player. The game certainly looked quite fun and would help waste some hours whilst sitting bored at home.

Overall the event was and interesting and unique experience, when asked how he felt it went Molyneux replied:

“There were lots of diamonds in the rough, particularly in the earlier group. I wanted them to just go a little bit crazy as this was a real chance to shine. I just wish I could have an hour with them to guide them on how to construct their idea, to help them focus their passion.”

It was great to see four of the very best British developers helping out the future of Birtish games development in this way, which can only be a good thing for the community of gamers like you and me.

What would your idea have been? Let us know in the forum.
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