First off, sorry for the mountain of text. The concept immediately below is the TL;DR version and everything else is mostly just details.
Here's the concept:
Objective: Rise through the ranks of daditude and be the greatest dad in the neighborhood. Manage your lawn, learn new puns, master the grill, and upgrade your white New Balance sneakers to earn the title of Number One Dad!
So as you can tell, the premise of the game is based on silly stereotypes of Western fatherhood. At the moment, the game is slated as a management/simulation type game. The crux of the gameplay will rely on balancing key metrics to ensure the best outcome for your kids (measured as Maturity) while building clout and prestige within the community (measured as Daditude, improved by increasing the quality of your lawn, having "Honor Roll Student" bumper stickers, hosting BBQs, etc.).
The end game criteria is that all your children have reached a minimum threshold on their Maturity meter, are prepared to begin their adult life, and have "left the nest".
Each level is a "scenario" that will play out in less than an hour, with each one presenting its own set of challenges such as:
- The era that the scenario takes place in may add/remove certain technological solutions.
- Your character's career may can influence your income and/or free time - a big part of the gameplay is managing this dynamic between providing for your family and spending quality time with them.
- You may have a child with a disability which drastically increases difficulty.
- May be a single father in some scenarios which drastically increases difficulty.
- Certain scenarios may span over multiple generations - your original character becomes a grandfather who can be used as an adviser to the next character. Choices made early on will impact the quality of this adviser!
Throughout the game, you will be presented with choices. Some are just for fun and are of little importance, while others carry a lot of gravity. For example, you may have to decide between charcoal or propane grilling. This may have some slight impact on how other dads view you at a BBQ and in conversation, but otherwise doesn't carry much weight. In contrast, you may have to make a decision on how to discipline your kid or how to deal with a school bully situation which may have a much larger impact on the outcome of the game.
So far, I think what I have would be an interesting game, but it may not be a particularly fun game.
At its core, its looking like it will be essentially a management game that occasionally throws decisions at you. I feel like the game concept is lacking some sort of "meta" to keep the player engaged throughout and I think that's where I need feedback the most.
The best idea I have so far isn't really a meta, but instead relies on a series of mini-games that breaks up the monotony. I was thinking that you could be awarded some sort of "Dad" points over time that you can spend on upgrading dad stuff like learning corny jokes and "dad skills" like home repair.
Mini-games may include:
- Buzzwords! - You get locked into a conversation with another neighborhood dad. Use an appropriate buzzword to show that you know your stuff! Invest Dad points to improve your man vocabulary (Brocabulary? Dadtionary?). Chose the most appropriate word from a presented list and it will fill in a response, i.e.: "Yeah, miter cuts can be tricky, am I right?"
- Outsmart the GPS! - Presented with a map and a less-than-optimal GPS plot, you have 10 seconds to trace a faster route to the destination. GPS: "In 500ft, turn right." Dad: "Nah, I know a shortcut. Hang on, kids."
- Shake that hand! - Keep the "firmness" and "shake speed" meters within the ideal range then stop at the appropriate time.
- I was watching that! - Not totally sure how to gamify this, but while napping on the recliner, you have to wake up as soon as someone changes the channel.
- Flip that Burger! - Work the grill and keep the meat from burning. Don't leave one side down too long, don't take it off the grill to early, and don't take it off too late!
- Hammer that nail! - Have you ever worked on a project with your dad and bend every nail that you hammer, then your dad nails 10 in a row perfectly in two strikes each? Yeah, that's dad skill right there...
- Daaaad, ugh! - Finish the joke with the best presented punchline. You get scored based on the magnitude of the eyeroll and the length of the "DaAaaaAaaAAAaaAad!!!" that follows.
Another idea, which may factor into a meta gameplay mechanic, is closing doors and turning off lights that are left on. When your character does this, they will emit a "I ain't paying to cool the whole neighborhood" (substitute with heat if it's winter). And of course, you have to routinely check if someone has been tampering with the thermostat. Yard maintenance and DIY home repairs could also be a part of the meta. Scheduling inside repairs vs outside repairs based on the 7-day weather forecast could fit into the strategy aspect of the game.
I appreciate any constructive feedback!