Results from Game Design Challenge: Inappropriate Title

By staff [05.25.10]

 Some games have titles that describe exactly what you're going to get. The Street Fighter series, for example, always features fighting, and frequently it takes place on the street. Grand Theft Auto not exclusively be about stealing cars, but it's a central part of the game. And there's Japan's current favorite, Monster Hunter.

Some games, on the other hand, have more conceptual but still appropriate titles. While there are no bayonets in Bayonetta, the title calls to mind a sharp and dangerous woman -- which is what the title character is. There may be no angels in Halo, but it's the nickname for a ring around the planet that's deeply tied into the game's story. And Call of Duty and Medal of Honor are easy enough to understand.

Then, there are game titles like Vagrant Story -- which is not a story about vagrants. At all. There's Guilty Gear -- a game title that makes some sense if you understand the fighter's convoluted backstory, but sounds like nonsense at first (and second) blush. And while Resident Evil made some sense as the title of a game set in a large mansion full of monsters, it's become increasingly inadequate for a series focused ever more on exploring larger locales.

Game Career Guide challenged its readers to pick a game title for an already existing game which they feel does not describe the game, and then come up with a game design for one that does.

What follows are the best and most original entries we received. Here are our top picks:

Best Entries

Ryan George, Game Design Student at Columbia College Chicago, Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf (see page 2)
Ryan George takes a promising but misleading game title and realizes its full potential. Fighting Golf challenges players to stay under par while duking it out with competing golfers.

Tania Anta, UPC's Master in Video Game Creation and Development, Braid (see page 3)
Anta's take on Braid bears no resemblance whatsoever to the indie hit that shares its title, but instead suggests a compelling pick-up-and-play hairdressing experience.

Aniol Alcaraz, Máster en Disseny i Creació de Videojocs UPC, Syphon Filter (see page 4)
Sony's Syphon Filter is a third-person shooter with a seemingly nonsensical title. Aniol Alcaraz presents a puzzle game based on the concept of filtering fluids using the syphon principle.

Honorable Mentions
Nikhil Murthy, BITS, Final Fantasy (see page 5)
Matthew R. Perez, Metal Gear Acid (see page 6)
Vladimir Villanueva, Artist, Golden Axe (see page 7)
Ivan Garde, character animator at Fliperama Studios, Paperboy (see page 8)
Sethlans John Vayu, Student, Silent Hill (see page 9)
Jeremy Sweetman, Qantm College - Melbourne, Australia, Quake (see page 10)

Ryan George, Game Design Student at Columbia College Chicago, Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf

Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf takes the calming sport of Golf and blends it with a quirky combat system that results in an interesting mix that takes the best from both worlds and is suited for either single player, pitting players against an AI opponent, or head to head allowing players to fight each other.

Players first choose their character to fit their play style.

Characters fall into two categories: Golfer or Brawler. Each character has different stats which increase the effectiveness of either fighting or golfing. Brawlers are more effective during combat, while Golfers are more effective at actual golfing. A third stat, Stamina, acts as both a health bar and a power bar which effects how far the ball will travel when hit. Simply put, a player with full stamina compared to a player with half stamina will hit the ball drastically further.

With characters selected, the game begins!

Players begin the match by taking their first stroke will full Stamina and all of their clubs. The golf aspect of Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf is similar to most common golf simulators in that players must select a club, take aim at the hole, take wind speed and direction into consideration, and finally gauge how much power to put into the stroke. Once both players have taken their first stroke and both balls have landed and come to a stop players must rush to their respective golf ball and attempt to sink the ball at the end of the course. However it's not that simple.

This is where the fighting in Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf comes in. After players take their first shot and are running to their balls if at any time opposing players come within 20 feet of each other they enter combat. During combat both players attack each other with their selected golf clubs in an attack, block, and counter system of fighting. As players take damage the player's stamina slowly drains encouraging players to block. However blocking damages the players' selected club, eventually destroying it, forcing players to switch clubs and wait until the next hole to get a fixed club (example: If a players' putter is lost they can no longer use that club and must putt with something else). The objective of combat is to reduce the opposing players' stamina to zero, temporarily stunning opponents giving players valuable time to run to their ball and take their next stroke.

When a player stunned player recovers their stamina is half replenished and they must do their best to prevent their opponent from making well placed shots. Players have the option to, when not in combat, lock on to their opponent and when in range throw a selected club interrupting targeted players and forcing them to enter combat and fight once again.

This mixture of fighting and golf continues until one player successfully hits their ball into the designated hole. Like traditional golf, the player with the lowest amount of strokes wins.

Tania Anta, UPC's Master in Video Game Creation and Development, Braid

Braid (intended as a casual flash game)

As Louse Sassoon, a hairdresser-wannabe louse (Ratatouille anyone?), your dream is to make your human host wear the best-looking braids in the neighbourhood. To do so, you'll get to tame a set of rebel hair locks, forming the links that will shape the braid(s). However, humans and even your fellow lice will be around, decided to crush your dreams.

At the beginning of the level you'll get explained the type of braid you must do, as well as the possible new features you may encounter in it.

Then the game will star with Louse swinging from one of the locks (There will be some wind, blowing with varying strengths depending on the level). From there, it can jump to another lock either on its own, or carrying around the lock Louse was previously hanging from. If the jump is done while carrying around a lock of hair, one of the "links" of the braid will be made. After that, Louse will keep making links by repeating this process until time runs out. You must decide carefully when to jump so Louse can reach the desired lock avoiding to fall down. In addition to jumping and swinging, Louse can also use some items that may help it defeat its enemies, get some power-ups or score additional points. All the levels have a set duration. The area of interest where Louse will be able to put its skills to use will remain fixed for some seconds, and then the braid will go up (think of Puzzle Bobble, but in reverse order). If no links were done, the braid's appearance will look messy and you'll get less points.

Once the time has run out, Louse will move on to the next level if it managed to achieve a minimum score. There will be more than one scoring levels to provide an additional challenge and reward your skill with some bonuses.



Aniol Alcaraz, Máster en Disseny i Creació de Videojocs UPC, Syphon Filter

Syphon Filter is a third-person action game originally released for PS-X. In the game, Syphon Filter stands for a secret investigation's documents but we are going to use its title for a puzzle game based on the Syphon principle: The liquid shown at the picture will flow as long as both ends are lower than the top surface of the water, and one is inside and the other is not.

Syphon Filter consists in filtering fluids using the syphon principle. In each level we are presented with a number of recipients containing various kinds of fluids and filters for each fluid. The goal is to conduct as much amount of each fluid as we can to its corresponding filter, which is the only one which will be able to trespass. In order to do so we will use our syphon, the natural properties of each fluid and the interactive elements of each level.

At the example level shown at the picture we have three recipients, one contains salad oil, the second contains water and the third is empty. We can also spot two filters (oval-shaped and black-bordered), the blue one filters water and the yellow one filters salad oil. To move the liquids from one recipient to another we have to connect them using the syphon. In order to complete the level we have to move the salad oil to the recipient which already contains water. Since the salad oil has less density than the water it will position over the water and then will slide to the pipe at the right of the recipient and then to the filter. Then we will use the syphon again to move the water to the third recipient and then it will fall to its appropriate filter. Also note that we have to take in account the height of each recipient so that the syphon principle can be applied. Once we have the minimum amount of each fluid the level is completed. If we screw up we can reset the level at any time.

Fluid properties

Each recipient might have different shapes and attached mechanisms:

The artwork wouldn't be as simplistic as the shown in the fake screenshot, it would consist in a realistic look for the fluids and a cartoon look for the rest of the scene. The game locations can be practically anywhere, from a lunar base to a home garden. The fluids and recipients used would be coherent with the location. Also the physics used would simulate the real behaviour of the fluids.

Nikhil Murthy, BITS, Final Fantasy

With such tempting targets as Half-life and Starcraft to go for, I chose instead for Final Fantasy. When this name was chosen, it was thought that this would be the final game of both the company, and Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator. However, this turned out not to be the case (not by a long way), and although the setting is in a fantasy world, there is really not much to connect the game and the title. Although Final Fantasy does invoke the image of a JRPG now, you have got to wonder, had it never been, would you think of the JRPG, or would you think about a psychological game?

Imagine a game around a child of about four years old, who, like all children of that age has a number of personal fantasies. This game starts with the child lying in bed, scared of monsters under the bed. Logically, the child knows that there are no such things as monsters under the bed, but he cannot bring himself to believe in the fact. So, the child creates the player, an imaginary entity created for the sole purpose of dispelling the child's fantasies.

The game is story-oriented, and the gameplay should support this, so I think that the game has to be a point-and-click adventure. This game has two meters, a persistent meter for the health of the player and a level meter for the amount that the child believes in the current fantasy. There is also a persistent list of the number of fantasies that the child still holds. This list starts with the ones that the child consciously knows about, such as the fact that there are no monsters under the bed, and later grows with fantasies that the child is not even willing to consciously accept, or has not realized yet.

Each level has the player going around the house, finding and connecting clues to form evidence to help disprove the fantasy. At any time, evidence can be presented to the child to try to disprove the fantasy. Depending on the strength of the clue, the level meter will drop by a certain amount. When the level meter drops below 0, then the level is finished with the child accepting that the fantasy is false. A clue can be shown to a child as part of one piece of evidence, and then later shown as part of another piece of evidence, but doing so will result in less of a drop to the level meter than presenting both pieces of evidence simultaneously.

The health meter represents the amount of belief that the child has in the player. When it drops to zero, the child no longer believes in the player, and so the game ends. This game is about the maturation of the child and his dependence on the imaginary creature he has created to help him face his fantasies. So, for each level, after every few minutes (say five) of real time that elapses, the player loses a small amount of health. This is to drive the player to remove the fantasy fairly quickly. All of them can be done in under the time limit easily, so placing this penalty shifts the player focus from finding all of the possible evidence, as would be natural for a player, to instead removing the fantasy. Besides, it is only natural that a child will believe in a creature that actually does remove the fantasies rather than one which only searches for clues about the fantasy.

As the player removes fantasies which upset the child, such as the monsters under the bed or the scissorman, the health of the player increases as the player becomes more dependent on the player to remove the fantasies that scare him. However, as the player removes protective fantasies, like the belief that he has friends at school or that his parents are not going to separate result in a direct hit to the health as the child tries to disbelieve in the player in order to continue the fantasy. However as time progresses and events prove the fantasy false, the player health increases as the child comes to accept the truth. The player should start out with a few upsetting fantasies, at which point the child will believe enough in him for him to take on some of the protective fantasies, while mixing in enough upsetting fantasies to keep up the health, finally, if the player can survive long enough, he must disprove his own existence.

Matthew R. Perez, Metal Gear Acid

A Psychedelic Tactical Trip Shooter.


You play as Agent Orange a grizzled war Vet making his last tour of "Nam" Before being shipped back to Mississippi. However, problems arise when the seemingly weak threat of the Viet Kong is inflamed when their guerrilla warriors (who are actually guerrillas) become empowered by a Sacred "Sweet Leaf" which gives them the ability to slow time effectively speeding up their reflexes. To counter their quickening advances Col. Maxwell Hammer entrusts you with the military's secret weapon, Codenamed "Lucy's Sky Diamonds", A Performance enhancer that gives the user untold amounts of strength and endurance. After some testing with the weapon you hear from your intelligence officer, Major Hunter S. Thompson, via a chip they implanted in your ear. He will serve as your guide through the course of the game. Your mission is to find a giant metal gear that was discovered in the midst of the jungle, Intel believes it to be the key to winning the war efforts.


The game first and foremost plays like a lot like more traditional fps/3ps shooters with a twist...

The Trip Mechanic: When you use the Diamonds, objects bend in and out of reality throwing the color spectrum off in the game world. However, during this mode you have sharper aim and enemies stand out in the jungle, almost like night vision.

However, taking too much will build tolerance effectively lowering the duration of your powers, and also have more residual effects on the game, such as strange flash forwards in missions, these give you a bit of foreshadowing to something ahead, may it be an ambush or simply something as arbitrary as a bag floating in the wind. These are an advantage but beware, these can be distracting in combat, and you will need to take cover during these flash forwards.

By the end of the game things have gotten...weird. You start getting conflicting information from Intel, and Viet Kong begin saying strange things to you on the battlefield and the soundtrack changes to Led Zepplin. After each mission you are treated to a LIVE ACTION cut-scene, that gets progressively longer, and control of the camera in POV becomes less limited. Each time you get a better sense of the location.

You return to base to fight an onslaught of Viet Kong attacking it. You tell the Colonel about the conflicting Intel from Major Thompson, he is confused and informs you that YOU are Major Thompson, knows nothing of the chip, and that you haven't even left the base yet. The level is unbeatable and you die.

You wake up staring at a florescent light in a grocery store as an old man shopping for milk. You realize this was all some kind of acid flashback from bad LSD you took at Woodstock, you never even went to Nam. You Hear the Majors voice again and are prompted to Continue or Quit. Continuing Restarts the Game.

Vladimir Villanueva, Artist, Golden Axe

In the days of high adventure, the warlord Death Adder had crushed the forces of Yuria, oversaw the broken armies driven before him, and heard the lamentation of the king's daughter echo throughout the conquered kingdom. Amidst burning thatched roofs, a handful of heroes dared to resist the warlord, wielding with fisted grips the instrumental symbol of their people: the Golden Axe.

Combining two child-corrupting genres, first person rail shooters and rhythm games, players take up their guitar peripherals once more for 'Golden Axe,' the Sega classic reintroduced as a rail rock opera. Armed with the Golden Axe, players must drop their foes with killer riffs and piercing solos or die in obscurity as just another victim to Death Adder's empire.

Riding atop bizzarian beasts trained to travel predetermined paths, players must focus on clearing the road from raider factions, eager to prevent progress and cut quests short. To break these blockades, players are guided by the Golden Axe with visions of colorful notes displayed beneath each visible enemy. While holding down the corresponding fret buttons located on the neck of the guitar, players can tap down on the strumming bar to discharge blaring chords to blast the foe away.

Battered by blockades, strained warriors can extend chords to siphon strength from their foes. By holding down the same fret buttons after tapping the strumming bar, players can vigorously vibrate the whammy bar, causing hit foes to slow down their assault as their health and magic is sapped and transferred to the warrior. Whammy bars must be used with caution as a successful strike from foes will abruptly break the vibrations off.

Fighting with barbaric proficiency, enemies telegraph each of their attacks with loud roars and wide, obvious swings. By quickly lifting the guitar vertically while foes are in mid-swing, warriors will interrupt melee attacks with an Axe bash, stopping the assault and slamming foes prone onto the floor. As the body of the Axe is as strong as the peoples' will, warriors can use the Axe as shield by lifting and keeping their guitar peripheral vertically positioned.

When the screen fills with foes and warriors are cornered to stay behind their Axe, players can call upon primal magic to break the assault. While the Axe is vertically upright, players can fretlessly strum up to eight beats, each beat expending the warrior's magic. When the guitar is finally lowered, a crackling bolt stops time and replace the background music with the booming acoustics, mimicing the timing of the fretless strumming. As the world halts to hear the Axe, players can discharge chords at frozen enemies as long as each chord is played to the beat of the acoustics. Successfully playing to all beats will grant additional benefits, from knocking remaining foes down to lighting the forces afire. Miss a single beat, and time immediately resumes.

Now is the time to rise, for in 'Golden Axe,' one rocks their way to Death Adder.

Ivan Garde, character animator at Fliperama Studios, Paperboy

I know that Paperboy is not an inappropriate title but believe me, it led me to some confusions in the 90's, you gotta understand though that I`m not an english native speaker and at the age of 12 my grasp of english was very poor. Half-knowing english led me to think of more inappropriate titles than any other fact, at 12 I would dimply dismiss the name "Vagrant Story" as a story of something I don't know what it means, but with some titles I could apply some reasoning, like paperboy

When my friends told me that there was a cool game for Sega Genesis called Paperboy I promptly began to wonder how would it be to play a game with a boy made of paper!

The confusion was set and really got disappointed when I discovered that the game was about a boy delivering newspaper, it wasn't nearly as cool as a superhero made of paper and to make things worst we don`t a similar to a paperboy in Brazil, there was nothing to relate with.

So, lets use this challenge to think how the game of this boy made of paper would be ( which I haven't done in the 90s) and it could have worked for a 16-bit system

The game would be a plattaformer and our paperboy would be suitable for a stealth-based 2D game, since he can slip under doors, hide in slits in the walls and surprise the enemies there could be a "hide and act" kind of mechanic , which I believe can be worked out (without making the player to wait for too long) with the proper level design.
Jumping and gliding would be an integral part of the game, with we add a layer of interaction with wind, some simples puzzles could be in place, such as turning a fan on to get to a higher place
This interaction could be improved allowing the player to have a light melee attack: the player could surprise an enemy and ...papercut him to death! Ok, not to the death, but to a timed incapacitation. Slide, hide, appear, jump, glide and PAPERCUT! how cool is this?

Lastly, since the paper is often a media that receives information, not only gathering information could be main objectives in the game, but also there could be some kinds of information that affected the gameplay, such as some places to draw a camouflage or disguise on our hero, or some origami-stands where our hero could get folded for additional abilities for a limited time, (like a paper plane for a limited flight, for example) which could add a puzzle layer to our version of Paperboy!

Fortunately, nowadays games with similar games follow this line of though, I mean, Super Meat Boy is about a hero made of meat and not a meat delivering boy on a bike :D

Sethlans John Vayu, Student, Silent Hill

In my version of Silent Hill, a player will be required to navigate around a specfic town whose buildings and homes are scattered around a hill, aptly named Silent Hill (you will see why in a second). Silent Hill is a town that offers many resources to people that live eternally from the hill and as such, you will be sent into Silent Hill to assist those people that require them. Players will be required to undertake quests/mission for people that live externally from the hill, but the trick is that the people that reside and run the businesses on Silent Hill are deaf. Therefore, when I person that lives outside the hill says, "The Bartender has the tool I need to fix my car", the player must then navigate Silent Hill, and try to learn sign language from other people that are having "conversations".

The character who sends you on a quest will maybe teach you a sign or two and the sign language that is learned is then stored in a virtual diary in the players inventory. The player then has the option to approach characters on Silent Hill, and attempt to have a sign-language conversation with them by stringing together hand symbols that they have in their inventory to try and learn more symbols, or complete the missions given to them by characters living outside Silent Hill. A speech bubble appears when engaging or listening to a conversation, and the symbols that are being used are displayed within the bubble. These symbols are captioned by the word they represent only if the player has the word recorded in their diary, thus giving the player the gist of certain conversations, even if they only have knowledge of certain words in a conversation.

There are also tutorials for sign language available to teach players the basic words and sentence structure at the beginning of the game, however the design goal of the game is to have players learn sign language, which is taught through the completion of in-game quests, learning what they can from the characters within Silent Hill, as well as picking up the occasional tid-bit from the person sending players on their mission. Players can also save sentences that they create and store them in their diary so that they can reuse sentences on other characters in the game.

Visual effects will trigger when a player learns a new symbol or has strung a successful sentence together, and players are given awards based on their proficiency in learning sign language as well as obtaining awards for the number of missions they'v ecompleted. Silent Hill will possess audio for those that are not hearing impaired, however Silent Hill is also aimed at the hearing impaired demographic with the hopes of being the first step into a new genre of games for the hearing impaired minority.

Jeremy Sweetman, Qantm College - Melbourne, Australia, Quake

In 1996 id Software launched Quake; a first person shooter game, in 2010 Quake has been re-imagined as a third person action survival game littered with various puzzles and based on a theme of global destruction as the world gets torn apart by earthquakes.

Quake (re-imagined) is inspired by dozens of earthquake disaster films that have been produced, bringing the tension of survival and the unpredictability of earthquake destruction to the gaming arena.

Concept narrative

Sean O'Donoghue is one of the brightest young geologists the world has known; making many discoveries leading to renewed understanding of the world. However the discovery that made him the unwitting focus of the world's governments was that the world was going to be devastated in a violent tectonic migration. Having been the target of numerous deep core mining operations over recent decades (hence weakening the Earth's crust) and natural gravitational alignments, the Earth was edging towards a global seismic event of a magnitude never experienced before. Although the data was sound, timings were vague - short of a 12-month event window.

Sean constantly reviews data at key global sites, trying to predict accurate timings for the impending disaster. At the same time, governments globally worked tirelessly on Project Noah - a series of Arks with the intention of preserving humankind.

Black Friday, August 13th 2022, Sean was deep underground within an abandoned mining shaft, when predictions were no longer needed. The ground started to shake with increasing intensity. The beginning of the end was now upon us.


The Earth is retaliating violently and little doubt exists that the predicted global quake has commenced. Sean must escape back to the Ark(s) and over (approx.) 15 levels must run, climb, drive, fly and swim his way to achieve this safety.

Along the way Sean collects various survival-based items in which to assist in solving the puzzles scattered throughout each level. In addition, Sean will be tasked with collecting items in which to fashion makeshift survival tools or devices to help with his escape. However, a movement penalty would be incurred if trying to carry too much.

Player's would also have access to a range of vehicles to traverse waypoints. These would include motorcycles, cars, trucks, planes and boats. Each vehicle would offer a unique experience as the player manoeuvres through the active and dynamic landscape.

Quakes would be both scripted and unpredictable adding to the level of uncertainty and tension within game-play. Damage caused by quakes would also both scripted (to progress story) and unpredictable.

Another key component of game-play would be rescuing trapped people from ‘immediate' danger. These rescue attempts would be puzzle based and would offer bonus items, additional time and information bonuses to the player i.e. shortcuts through levels, survival items, maps etc.

Level ideas

- Climbing out of the mine shaft, avoiding rocks and falling debris and rescuing fellow trapped colleagues. Lava bubbling to the surface could provide the main motivator to exit mine quickly.

- Using vehicles to drive from one location to the next. Various jumps and debris would form obstacles along the way. Vehicles could be swallowed by fissures forcing players to source new transport.

- Flying a plane (from take-off), players must avoid falling debris, collapsing buildings and dense smoke.

- Using a ferry as transport, it is hit by a tsunami, and trapped; the player must escape the ship while it is tossed about and rolling in the ocean.

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