Dork Tower for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance
Dork Tower for the Game Boy Advance is a game concept for a humorous puzzle/role-playing video game based on the popular Dork Tower comic strip by John Kovalic.
Author of this Game Design Overview: Douglas Lanford, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.opusgames.com.
About Dork Tower
The Town of Mud Bay
The World of Warhamster
Nintendo e-Reader Card Reader
Playable Prototype Mini-Game
About Dork Tower
John Kovalic's Dork Tower currently appears monthly in Dragon magazine, Scrye magazine, and GAMES magazine, weekly at Pyramid Online, and three times a week at GameSpy.com. It also appears in it own popular bi-monthly comic book, and in numerous card and board games. John Kovalic's cartoons also pop up in places like The New York Times, the Washington Post and Star Wars Insider.
Dork Tower follows the lives of a group of gaming nerds in the town of Mud Bay. Dork Tower is for anybody who's ever played Dungeons and Dragons, who's ever gone to a Star Trek convention, anyone who suspects that Anime is more than just a passing fad, or anyone who KNOWS one of these people. But it's really for people who know what saving rolls you need to make against a level III Demon, which Classic Trek episodes involved the Prime Directive (and who were the directors), and the names of six minor characters and a dog in the Bubblegum Crisis Anime series.
Its the story of Matt, Igor, Ken, and Carson the Muskrat, who spend all their cash on the latest games and action figures, get sucked up in the latest internet fads, and geek out over the latest special-effects filled movies.
Some examples of the Dork Tower comic strip can be found here:
Dork Tower the video game gives a player the ability to enter the lives of the Dork Tower characters. The game takes place in two separate game worlds: the town of Mud Bay, and the fantasy world of Warhamster.
The central world of the game is the town of Mud Bay. Here, the player takes control of the Dork Tower characters, exploring the town and solving puzzles to collect new nerdy collectables. The main thing the player is searching for, however, is modules for the table-top role-playing game "Warhamster". Once the player has a Warhamster module, he can gather several of the Dork Tower characters together to play it.
Each Warhamster module represents a new fantasy adventure the player can play, a new dungeon filled with monsters and treasure. Once the player enters a Warhamster module, the gathered characters become the player's party, each taking on their fantasy persona (Igor becomes Topdeck the Dwarf, Ken becomes Brother Zark, etc.). Warhamster is a role-playing game, so as the player fights monsters and gains treasure, the individual characters gain experience and abilities.
A number of items cross over between the worlds... for example, gold found in a Warhamster module becomes money in Mud Bay, and treasure items become Warhamster collectable cards.
Dork Tower has a number of characters, each with a unique alter-ego in the fantasy world of Warhamster. In the town of Mud Bay, the player controls a single character at a time. To switch to a different character, the player must convince that character to join him in a game of Warhamster... when the player returns to the "real" world of Mud Bay, he can choose to become any one of the characters from the Warhamster party.
At the beginning of the game, the player can choose from the four primary Dork Tower characters (Matt, Igor, Ken, or Carson), and these are the characters the player will spend most of his time controlling. There are a number of other characters the player will encounter throughout Mud Bay, though....
The Town of Mud Bay
The town of Mud Bay seems on the surface to be a normal little town, filled with homes, stores, and restaurants. However, the truth is that Mud Bay is filled with dorky goodness. The stores are filled with action figures, gaming supplies, and other nerdy collectables. Restaurants and cafes become meeting places for gamers, and any home or apartment can become the site of a rousing game of Warhamster.
The player's primary objective is to find new modules for the game Warhamster and then gather other characters to play these modules. There are several ways the player can acquire these modules... some can be purchased in stores like Pegasuarus Games, but many can only be found through solving puzzles. For example:
Each game character has his own inventory of modules and nerdy collectables, which affects how other characters in the game react to him. The more collectables the character owns, the easier it is for the player (when playing that character) to convince other game characters to join him for a game of Warhamster.
The World of Warhamster
The Warhamster portion of the game plays like a traditional (if more humorous) fantasy role-playing game. Each Warhamster module found in the town of Mud Bay represents a dungeon, filled with monsters, treasure, traps, and secrets.
The Dork Tower characters the player managed to assemble to play a particular module becomes the player's party, the group of characters the player controls in the dungeon. Each game character has unique skills, so the structure of a player's party will determine how he plays through the dungeon. For example, having Carson (Lumpkin the Thief) in the party may allow the player to find secret areas or improve his chances of surviving traps, while having Ken (Brother Zark the Cleric) means having a party member that can heal the characters when they take damage. The number of characters the player uses to build his party will also affect gameplay... a larger party means it will be easier to fight through the dungeon, but the treasure and experience gained will need to be split among more characters.
The Warhamster modules can have a wide range of settings (dungeon being a generic term): forests, castles, caverns, and traditional dungeons are just a few examples. The game also includes a wide range of enemies and monsters....
The Nintendo Game Boy Advance is designed such that up to four game systems can be linked together, allowing players to join together for games.
Dork Tower the video game could be set up to seemlessly allow a player to play alone or in a shared version of the game world with other players. If the game detects more than one player, then it prompts the players to decide what characters from their personal saved version of the game they will bring in to the shared world... the shared world will only allow one of each Dork Tower characters, so the players must decide who can control Igor, Matt, and the others.
Once the game begins, gameplay is almost identical to single player... the players can wander around Mud Bay solving puzzles and purchasing items and Warhamster modules, or enter Warhamster dungeons. Like in the single player game, the characters will continue to gain experience and items, and they can join together to work their way through dungeons. The one limitation is that each player can only take control of the characters he brought in to the game.
In addition, the players can engage in trades... swapping or selling items and Warhamster modules with other players.
Nintendo e-Reader Cards
One unique peripheral that can be used with the Nintendo Game Boy Advance is the e-Reader Card Reader. This device can read patterns of tiny dots printed on the edges of cards. Nintendo has used this for a number of interesting ideas, including publishing small games that can fit entirely on one or more cards. However, one of the most interesting uses the card reader has been put to is with the GBA game "Super Mario 3." In addition to the game cartridge, you can also purchase sets of cards, which you can interface with the game. For example, you can read in an "item" card before entering a game level, and once you start the level you will have that item. The cards even include entirely new game levels the player can play.
Using this same idea, imagine a set of "Warhamster" cards, perhaps even a separate Warhamster card game. The cards would add new content to the Dork Tower video game... for example, a player might find a weapon card that, once read in to the game, causes a new type of weapon that did not appear in the basic game to appear in a Mud Bay shop. Cards might even be able to include entirely new Warhamster dungeons, complete with a Mud Bay puzzle that must be solved to earn the new module.
Playable Prototype Mini-Game
I've built a prototype of a Dork Tower role-playing game, which runs on the Nintendo Game Boy Advance, as well as on a home-computer using an emulator.