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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Anatomy of The Wonderful 1237's Minigames!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Some overarching game design stories before I write specifically about each minigame.

I think the most technically awesome thing about The Wonderful 1237, which is a free browser-based Flash game that can and should play right from KoopaTV, is that it has seventeen awesome minigames incorporated in it. They just barely are able to be crammed in this jam-packed game, but they're there, modularly programmed, and self-contained. Those are all good programming principles.

Each of the seventeen Republican presidential candidates from the 2015–2016 primaries (with brief introductions to them here) gets their own minigame that you'll have to go through if you wish for their post-campaign-suspension endorsement, and their delegates. In each minigame, they'll give you some kind of instruction, leave you to it, and then tell you your score in the form of how many of their delegates you've won. (Any other delegates for a less-than-perfect score are evenly distributed to the other remaining candidates.)

The Wonderful 1237 screenshot Seek Endorsement drop out candidates selection
The list of dropped-out candidates after Iowa and New Hampshire in a particular playthrough.
If you want their delegates, you'll have to play a minigame.

Where'd I get the idea to make a minigame compilation? (Well, The Wonderful 1237 is a lot more than that, mechanically, but the minigames is where a bunch of the development time went.) Am I going to provide a list of the minigames in here? (Yes.) What design philosophies did I have when making them? All of those will be answered, and more.

First of all, I've always wanted to make a minigame compilation. That was what I wanted to do for 2014's videogame, until that whole death threat thing happened and we made Defend Anita Sarkeesian instead. There is a very crude file on my computer made in May 2014 called “VictimsToHeroesV.00” that I'm not ever going to share to the world. That was supposed to be a project that, like Defend Anita Sarkeesian turned out to be (not because of the death threat sender's... wishes, though), a game about promoting gun ownership.

It was going to be a game that was a compilation of WarioWare-esque games. Little instruction and short (though longer than three seconds, at least based on the game that's in VictimsToHeroesV.00). There would be two kinds of games: Ones where your player character has a gun, and ones where your player character doesn't. The objective would be survival, in either case. The one game in VictimsToHeroesV.00 is based on the Aurora movie theatre shooting, so that'd be an example of a game where you don't have a gun and you need to escape the theatre safely.

As I said, that didn't happen. Capture the Confederate Flag, released in 2015, picked up on the gun-using domestic terrorist theme with Dylann Roof being an enemy. Other than that, nothing. No minigames.

By 2016, I really wanted minigames. But first, I decided I wanted to make a game based off of Pocket Card Jockey's structure. Pocket Card Jockey has a flowchart of actions that go into a big race game. What to fill that with? Well, a year earlier, we came up with that whole idea of incorporating Super Contests from Pokémon's Sinnoh games into politics. Why not make a game based on that, and have a horse-race meta-commentary? But... would it be based on every candidate going through The Visual Competition, The Dance Competition, and The Acting Competition?

Ultimately, no, because we have all of these unique people to work with. Why not make them do unique things?

So, here are the games IN ORDER OF DEVELOPMENT:

  1. Ted Cruz — Rifle Bacon
  2. Bobby Jindal — Math Problems
  3. Rick Perry — Department Elimination Memory
  4. Rick Santorum — The Most Stressed
  5. George Pataki — Urban Jungle
  6. Ben Carson — Surgical Bisection
  7. Scott Walker — Maze Escape
  8. Carly Fiorina — Adoring Two Girls
  9. Jeb Bush — Slow and Steady
  10. Marco Rubio — Water Fuel Fill
  11. Mike Huckabee — Bass Guitar Tuning
  12. Jim Gilmore — Jim Gilmore's Break-Out!!
  13. Rand Paul — Chainsaw the Tax Code
  14. Chris Christie — Build a Burger
  15. Lindsey Graham — Follow the Leader
  16. John Kasich — Table Manners
  17. Donald Trump — Mini-Golf

Now, some of those games had big iterative changes later on in development (notably Jim Gilmore's), but according to my documentation, that's order-of-development.

The Wonderful 1237 other candidates internal list
This is the internal order of candidates, and how the strategy guides will be published.
I assure you that this is not best-to-worst by any standard.

The order the strategy guides will be published will be in the official candidate order. That's the order that the end-of-round results are read off on, or alternatively the order Sergei Goldwitz says each candidate's name in the tutorial.

Order-of-development is important, because there is a lot of scope-creep from Ted Cruz's game to, say, Chris Christie's (by far the most involved). Ted Cruz's is akin to a WarioWare game, while some of the other games can last a whole minute! Or more, if you're really bad.

Every time you play a candidate's minigame minigame, like The Wonderful 1237 itself mechanically, has the capacity to be different. (All except Carly Fiorina's.) That's because there is some element of randomness involved, whether it be different objectives, a different setting, or some other random thing. The strategy guides coming up will go over these variations, where the inspiration comes from, and, of course, the strategy.

I also wanted, with seventeen games, each one to test something different of the player. So they come in all sorts of genres and ask for all kinds of skills. I think that's fitting, because all of the candidates themselves are different, and the minigames reflect some... aspect of their character.

Maybe you can figure out some aspects of MY character from how these are all designed. Fortunately, you won't have to play The Wonderful 1237 and hope/rig the game so you can play each candidate's minigame. They'll be embedded within each respective strategy guide article at the end. It's pretty easy for me to do that without breaking anything, because, as I said, it's all modularly programmed!

Each strategy guide will be named after the candidate, so it will also include information about each candidate's Beauty/Cool/Cute/Smart/Tough base stats and stat growth rates. Stay tuned for subsequent editions of WONDERFUL WEDNESDAYS! Ludwig is excited. Aren't you? If you want to further discuss game design with Ludwig with regards to The Wonderful 1237, he'd be happy to chat with you in the comments.


  1. Two of the last four articles on this site have been on The Wonderful 1237.

    Slow gaming news week, eh?

    1. Well, if you haven't noticed, I've been dedicating each Wednesday to being WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY. So if all goes according to plan, it'll always be two of the last four. But this Friday, it'll be one of the last four. :p


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