I have an idea for a browser-based spoonie flash game. I’m going to lean how to use Adobe Animate to make it, and I have a basic concept for the game, but I would really love to get some feedback and suggestions from my fellow spoonies.
The point of this game is to help people with normally healthy bodies understand what it is like to live with a chronic invisible illness. To win the game, you have to last one week (7 rounds) without losing the game. Each round is a little harder than the last because of random factors and decisions made by the player. You can play it over and over again, and the amount of money you save up in your game can be used to buy bonuses and aids you can use in the game.
Because the original author of “The Spoon Theory” isn’t a fan of people using the spoon concept in their original works, I’m not going to be using the term “spoons” in my game. Instead, I’m going to refer to the amount of energy you have as “energy points”.
At the start of the game, you will click a button that will give you a random number from 1-30 (or another number, I haven’t decided yet), and that sets the amount of energy points you have for the first level, day one. I haven’t decided yet what the aesthetic of the game will look like, but I’m leaning towards a cartoon-ish drawing style showing a small one-room apartment. There will be a bed, a couch, a bathroom, and a kitchen with a washer and dryer. In each room will be different interactions you can do, as well as chores. There will also be a cute animated gender neutral sprite that represents you. You will have a set of stats, kind of like in “The Sims”. which represents your needs. Those would include happiness, responsibility, hunger, hygiene, and activity.
At the beginning of each round, you will be given $10 of in-game money. The money can be spent on things that help you throughout your day, like ordering takeout instead of spending the time and energy to make your own food. If you save up your money, you can even purchase a dishwasher, or a one-time maid service, but those would be costly.
Each activity you can do increases each of these stats. When any of these reaches 0 or your energy points go below 0, you lose the game. Having any stat running low causes your happiness stat to decrease dramatically. Each activity and chore that you do costs energy points. For example, doing the dishes would normally cost 5 energy points, sweeping the floor would cost 10 energy points, and certain activities, such as exercising, would cost a whopping 20 energy points. Furthermore, there would be randomized factors that can appear in the game without warning. One example could be called “flare up”, and that could have an effect of doubling the energy cost of all activities and chores, or it could even deplete your energy points entirely, causing you to miss a round. After any action in the game, there would be a small percentage chance of one of the random factors to be added.
Each round had 16 hours of in-game time. It’s based on a 24-hour time cycle, and assumes you sleep 8 hours. While that is certainly not the case for many of us living with a chronic illness, I’m just going to stick to that system for simplicity’s sake.On top of each activity costing enegy points, they also take up in-game time. Nomally, activities such as doing dishes costs 1 hour in-game time. Showering takes 1 hour, sweeping the floors takes 1 hour, etc. Recreational activities also cost time. Watching a movie, which is an activity which greatly boosts happiness and costs very few energy points, would take two hours. You can click on the front door and choose to go out for fun, which would cost a great number of energy points and take at least four hours, but gives a big boost to happiness and activity needs. I am also considering adding the option to go to work, which costs a dramatic amount of time and energy points, but keeps happiness neutral and gives a big boost to the “responsibility” need, and will give a certain amount of “money”, which can be spent on things that make your game easier.
Each round lasts until you have spent all of your energy points, until you run out of in-game time, or until you have decided to end the day. If you have any energy points left over, they will not roll over, but having a higher amout at the end of yur round will give you a greater chance of having a higher number of energy points the next day, but it is NOT guaranteed.
During your round, you can choose to rest, which will give you a chance of gaining some extra energy points, but it costs a lot of in-game time, and it is not guaranteed that the amount of energy points you’ll recover will make the rest worthwhile.
Every round, the chores that you did not do the round before will build up. For example, if you choose not to do dishes the first round in order to conserve your energy points, it will cost even more energy points and in-game time to do the dishes in the following round. Aesthetically, you will see the dishes piling up in the sink with little stink indicators and flies going around. Failing to “tidy up” causes the apartment to become generally more dirty. You will also have a cat in the game, and not cleaning out the litterbox will cause a “stink”factor which decreases the “hygiene” need until it is taken care of. Having a generally dirty house will contribute to low hygiene, as will not showering.
Chores would include:
-improves “hygiene” and “responsibility” needs, costs energy and time.
– wash laundry, and put away laundry, both are separate actions.
-improves “hygiene” and “responsibility” needs, costs energy and time.
– tidying up (there will be one option for this in each section of the apartment)
-improves “hygiene” and “responsibility” needs, costs energy and time.
– sweeping and mopping
-improves “hygiene”, “activity”, and “responsibility” needs, costs energy and time.
-Improves “hygiene” and “responsibility” needs, costs energy and time.
– preparing meals and eating
-improves “hunger” need, costs energy and time. Alternatively, you can order takeout, which costs money, but no energy, and only costs an hour of time, to eat.
-Clean out litterbox (did I mention there would be a cat?)
-improves “hygiene” and “responsibility”. If you go too long without cleaning the litter, the cat will make a mess on the floor, and dramatically decrease your hygiene.
Chores, except for cooking meals, add up each round if you don’t complete them, costing more and more energy each time. If you go three rounds without doing dishes, you will be unable to prepare a meal until dishes are complete. If the cost of chores becomes too high for you to complete all in one round, you can choose to do the chore bit by bit, decreasing the amount of energy points you’ll have to to spend on them, so you can eventually get caught back up.
Activities would include:
– Read a book
-This increases the “happiness” need, and takes a low amount of energy, and takes one hour of time.
– Watch TV
-Increases “happiness”, decreases “activity” and “responsibility”. Costs a low amount of energy, and even has a very small chance of giving you some extra energy. takes one hour of time.
– Creative hobby
– Increases “happiness” and “activity”, costs a fair amount of energy points. Takes two hours of time.
– Go to work (optional, available by clicking front door)
-Increases “responsibility” and “activity” substantially, but costs a great amount of energy and time, and has a higher chance of causing a random factor to be added. Also gives a good amount of money.
– Work from home (option available by clicking on computer)
-Increases “responsibility” substantially, and costs a fair amount of energy and time. Gives money, but not as much as you would obtain by going to work.
– costs a few hours of time at least, but gives a small chance to receive more energy points, and a small chance to remove a minor negative factor.
– Play video games
– substantially increases “happiness”, but decreases “responsibility” and “activity”. Costs energy, and two hours of time.
– Exercise (some negative factors make this impossible)
– substantially increases “happiness” and “activity”, but decreases “hygiene”. This costs a high amount of energy points, and lasts one hour. Has a high chance of adding the negative factor “worn out”, which increases energy points of all other activities until it passes. Also has a small chance of adding a positive factor called “invigorated”, which increases happiness and gies some energy points, but not nearly enough to cover what working out cost.
– Hang out with friends (available on door)
– Increases “happiness”, “activity”, and “responsibility”, but costs a lot of energy and at least three hours.
– Invite a friend over (available on computer)
– A friend comes over to hang out. Dramatically increases “happiness”. Your friend will come over for four hours, and during that time, activities you do will have a greater positive impact on the needs they replenish. There is also a small chance that your friend might help you out around the house by doing a chore for you. If your house is filthy, there is a chance that your friend will decide not to come over, and this will add the “embarrassed” factor, where your happiness will permanently decrease until you restore your house to an acceptably clean state.
– Play with cat
– Increases “happiness”, “activity”, and “responsibility”, and costs a little energy and 1 hour of time.
Throughout the game, there will be random events that pop up. There will be at least one every round, and they can happen at any time. Some of these events could be:
– Family visit: A family member is coming to visit the next round. Make sure your house is presentable, but don’t overdo it! Ending your day with a very very low amount of energy points increases the risk that you might start the next round with a very low amount of energy points, and you will need energy for the visit! If you don’t have the energy required, you will have to call off the visit, which will add the negative factor “disappointed”, which decreases your happiness permanently until the end of the round. If you house is not acceptably clean enough when they come to visit, there is a chance that you can receive the “embarrassed” factor, BUT family is family, and they will help you get caught up on chores. When they leave, your household chores will be all caught up.
– Doctor appointment: Your doctor wants you to come to an appointment next round. It is a mandatory action that will cost time and energy, and can not be avoided. If the amount of energy this costs causes your energy points to go below zero, you lose. It does increase your activity and responsibility needs.
– Invited out with friends: your friends want to go out on the town, and you’re invited! It’s going to cost a lot of time and energy, but will boost your happiness, activity, and responsibility needs. It will also add a positive factor that increases your happiness to full and keeps it there for the entirety of the next two rounds. If you decide not to go out with your friends, you will gain a negative factor that permanently decreases your happiness until the end of the round.
– Flare-up: Your symptoms are unusually bad today. All activities cost double the energy to complete, and you can not exercise, go to work, go out with friends, go for a walk, invite a friend over, or work from home today. Your energy points can not go over a certain number this round.
– Good energy day!: You’re feeling unusually great today! All activities only cost half the energy they normally cost, and you receive a bonus extra 5 energy points! You also get the bonus option to prepare extra meals you can eat on other days (in other rounds).
– Kitty needs to go to the vet! Your poor kitty is ill and needs to go to the vet. Taking your kitty there will cost time and energy, but will increase your “responsibility” and “activity” needs. Not taking them to the vet will cause a negative factor which will permanently decrease your happiness until your kitty gets better on its own or until you take them to the vet. There will be a small chance that your kitty will get better on its own at the end of every round. They won’t die from their illness, I’m not that mean. Taking them to the vet immediately heals them.
– Sick day: You’re too sick to go to work, hang out with friends, or do any physically demanding activities today. Activities cost double the amount of energy. If your friends invite you out, you will have to turn them down, but you will not receive any negative factors as a result.
– Feeling drained suddenly: You can choose to spend half of your day resting, or try to push through it. If you decide to push through it, activities will cost double the energy points, and there is a chance that you can experience a crash that drains all of your energy points and causes you to get only half of the energy points you would receive next round. I think the crash will be about a 50% chance.
Factors are random modifiers that affect different parts of the game. Some are positive, while others are negative. Some are completely random, while others have a have a higher chance of appearing after certain activities. Factors include:
– Disappointed: (situational) You’re feeling embarrassed or let down about something that happened. Maybe someone noticed how messy your house has gotten, or you had to turn down an invitation to go out with friends. Your happiness meter has been decreased, and will remain limited until this factor is removed. (removal is different based on what caused the factor to occur)
– Symptomatic: (random) While this isn’t necessarily a bad flare-up, you’re still dealing with some symptoms from your illness. The next activity you do will cost double the energy, and you can’t leave the house, exercise, or work from home until this factor is removed. (it can be removed by resting.)
– Mind fog: (random) It’s really hard to concentrate right now, and you find having a regular conversation more frustrating than usual. You can’t do your creative hobby, read, work, hang out with friends, or play video games until this factor is removed. (it can be removed by resting.)
– Anxiety: (random) Social anxiety, ahoy! You can’t go to work or do any social activities this round. You can still work from home. There is no way to remove this factor, but it will go away at the end of the round.
– Depressed: (random) Your happiness meter has been decreased and will remain that way until the end of the round. Activities take double the energy they normally would. There is no way to remove this factor, but it will go away at the end of the round.
– Great mood!: (situational and random) You’re feeling extra cheerful! The next activity you do will only cost half the amount of energy it usually requires. This factor disappears after you complete any activity.
– Accomplished!: (situational) You gain this factor after doing more than two chores in one round or by going to work. Your “responsibility” need remains full for the next round, and your happiness meter is completely restored. Increased chance of receiving the “great mood” factor for the next three rounds.
– Inspired!: (random, and rare) Your creative hobby costs very little energy to do, and increases your needs even more than usual. As a bonus, you will receive extra money when you do your creative hobby, as someone has offered to buy your creation! This factor only remains for one round, and disappears after you do your creative hobby activity once.
– Random fatigue: (random, but increased possibility after exercising) You’re feeling exhausted out of nowhere. The next three activities you do will cost twice the energy to complete. There is a chance that resting will remove this factor, but it is not guaranteed. You must complete three tasks, or end your round to remove this factor.
– Stressed: (situational) Certain factors can make you feel stressed. If you are completely out of money, if you have more than three negative factors at once, or if you have to go to the doctor or vet when you have the anxiety factor, you can become stressed. When you are stressed, doing activities that are not relaxing can lower your happiness meter. To get rid of this factor, you must do at least two recreational activities, or you can try to eliminate it by resting, but that is not guaranteed to work.
– Debilitating symptom: (random, very rare) You are suddenly overwhelmed by a very debilitating symptom. You have no choice but to rest for half of your day.
– Drained: (situational, caused by a random event) All tasks take twice the normal energy cost to complete.
I think I’ve figured out a layout I like for the game. This is just a VERY simple quick sketch, but hopefully it gets the idea across. You select the room from the top-down image of the apartment, and everything in the room can be seen and interacted with in the window above that. Everything else is pretty self-explanatory.
Now I just need to figure hour how to make a 2D game. lol I have a friend who is a college professor who teaches Unreal Engine as one of her classes. She is helping me out a bit with pointers. Blueprint seems like an amazing coding tool, so I’m sticking with that.
I’m going to take a break from planning for now, but I will eventually add details on what you can buy with in-game currency. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear some feedback!