The Making of Burn The Rope (Part 1 of 2)

The First Spark

I’ve had many people ask me how I came up with such a unique game play mechanic for “Burn the Rope” so I thought I’d share the answer with everyone. When brainstorming for game ideas I thought it would be interesting to take an extremely basic approach and not ask myself what would be a cool game but instead ask what things in life we have evolved to enjoy. I could go into all the nitty gritty details about human reward systems but basically most of the things we usually enjoy doing are things that have helped us survive and thrive as a species. A couple examples of these things could be sex, eating, hunting, learning, defending oneself, acquiring material goods, forming social relationships and building shelters.

I thought it would be interesting to find a primal subject that was not exploited in the gaming world and that’s when I thought of fire. Yes many games have things like setting zombies on fire with flamethrowers but I wanted to take a more fundamental approach. Why do we like fire? I would suggest that at some point in our evolution we started to cook our meals in order to combat diseases and to break down the food so we don’t spend as much energy on digestion. Fire can also keep us warm and help ward off predators. This would mean becoming a master of using fire would greatly increase the chance of survival and those who were good at it would survive. So people who like playing with fire are sure to be in the majority. And yes, I most certainly was interested in it when I was younger, just ask my mom why one of her prized bushes was destroyed one summer.

Once I had the rough idea to build a game around fire things just seemed to fall into place. I used one of the basic properties of fire that I thought suited the iPhones capabilities which was that fire usually burns upwards. Burning rope was an easy fit because we’re used to burning strings like candle wicks plus it let us have great liberties when designing levels. Bugs were a great addition because bugs seem to fit with a campfire theme and there’s a huge selection of bugs to choose from. To tell you the truth the core design was made in a couple hours and not very much was changed since its conception.

What would I suggest if you wanted to make a unique game? Stop looking at other games and look at the real world. Sure it’s nice to take a game that someone has made and make a similar one but hopfully better, and by no means am I saying you won’t come up with a good top selling game that way. In fact most new games are iterations on older games.

Stay tuned for the second half of my blog where I’ll go more into detail about the actual making of the game.

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