Free Ideas: The Wee Free Men


Here you go, Games Industry. Here comes another Free Idea. You’re welcome.

Over the weekend, I finished reading an amazing book by my favorite author, Sir Terry Pratchett. It’s called The Wee Free Men, and though it’s targeted towards 7-11 year-olds, it’s one of those things that are made for kids but are packed with hidden adult-level jokes who have to sit through them as well, like Animaniacs used to do. If you’ve never read any Terry Pratchett books, especially his Discworld series, but love The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you can’t go wrong by starting with Mort and just keep reading the books until you can’t stand it any more.

But I digress. In The Wee Free Men, a young girl has to fight off an evil Queen who controls dreams, but she does so with the help of the Nac Mac Feegle, otherwise known as The Wee Free Men, a tribe of 6-inch tall Scottish gnomes in kilts with enough strength to head-butt a bull into submission, enough love of liquor to make an Australian blush, and barely enough brains to go around. Each Feegle is a fierce warrior and a cunning thief, 6 inches of red hair, blue tattoos, and pure mischief.

There’s a big long story in the book, of course, but that’s not the point of this article, is it? While reading this book, I couldn’t help but think to myself… A tribe of miniature blue Scots with swords, taking to battle like a swarm of piranhas… This would make an Awesome Game!

Let’s talk more about this after the Break, shall we? Crivens!

"Ach, lad, we dinnae have any weapons, an' yer wantin' we should take doon that beastie?"

This could be done one of two ways: the 3D route, or the 2D route. The 3D route would be a formula that we’ve seen before, in the vein of Pikmin or Army Corps of Hell. But imagine if all of the little Pikmin were waving enchanted swords around and performing divebomb kamikaze attacks off the backs of birds! They’d be powered-up by whiskey (only the good stuff mind you, the kind that could burn a house down with an errant belch), and would battle the Queen’s grimhounds, vampire faeries, and other nightmares. Bonus stages would be about how much livestock you could carry off in a short amount of time, with a multiplier for carrying the animals backwards.

With only 2 dimensions, the options open up a bit more. You could take a more puzzle-oriented approach, which would basically play out like Lemmings with swords and cussin’. The object would be to get your Feegles from point A to point B safely, but safe is relative term when not only can they defend themselves, but they have a propensity for running into danger for the fun of it!

Alternatively, the Pikmin-style-controls of controlling your swarm could apply towards a strict-2D platform, and if you wanted, you could even apply a more 1-to-1 style of controls, with dedicated jump and attack buttons. You could literally run a 2D platformer/brawler with 100 little men kicking the crap out of anything they come across.

Books don’t get translated directly to games very often, but this is one that deserves it. This one is free to you, Games Industry, so get on it! If I don’t see any movement by 2014, I may make this one happen myself!