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I got an idea the other day. Ideas like this often turn into small games that I publish on itch, and this one is no different. 

As of right now, I know the title is: Oh Shit, They Kidnapped Santa! I also know it’s going to be a quick game, designed for a one shot, where you play a group of 13-14 year-old kids whose younger siblings have been having dreams about Christmas being canceled. The little kids can’t do anything about it, and your parents won’t believe you, so it’s up to you to rescue Santa and save Christmas (whether you believe or not). 

Beyond that, I know I want archetypes, for the players to give input as to who’s doing the kidnapping, where they are, etc. I also want whether or not a kid believes in Santa to matter in some way. 

Why am I laying all of this out here? Well, I haven’t talked a lot about how I go from an idea to a finished game with these small ideas. I figured that this game is as good a place to dive into that as any. I’m motivated to get it done before Thanksgiving, so that’s gives us a few weeks of time for me to get it written up, tested (maybe), and get it laid out and art designed. 

So, where do I start with this stuff? 

A Funny/Good Idea

Most of these games start with a title or an idea that appeals to me. Bro Hunters was a riff on Ghost Adventures (a wildly cheesy ghost hunting show on the Travel Channel), for example. With this game, I was thinking about how good of a title Fuck! It’s Dracula is. Like, that’s a amazingly good title. I didn’t want to steal from it whole cloth, but I did want the same kind of feel. With the holiday season coming up, the kidnapping of Santa seemed like a good way to go. 

From there, I need to have the basic foundations of what the game will be about. Who are the best/funniest/most fun people to rescue Santa? Adults are out because I don’t want some kind of Santa Clause moment where adults discover the Truth. Little kids is okay, but not quite right. Teens, though, at 13 to 14, that has some Stranger Things vibes, the potential for them to believe or not, and the audacity to accomplish anything. So that’s what I went with. 

For me, a lot kd this process is just poking around at an idea, trying to find the best/easiest way to evoke the feeling that I want from the game. For this, it’s some Stranger Things x Spy Kids vibes. 

For now, this is where I’m gonna stop this post. I’ve got to come up with ways to represent characters, and how I want to handle conflict resolution. I’ll come back in the next few days and outline how I’ll get there.

Oh, and if you’d like to support games like this (and get a free copy of the small games I write), you can support me over on Patreon