Patrick Curry’s Thoughts on Game Design

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February 5th, 2006

Game Idea #6: Freelance Foto

I was thinking about how we could make gameplay out of some of the new rendering technologies possible on next-gen systems… this is what I came up with.

High Concept:

Freelance Foto is the game of virtual photography. You play as an up and coming freelance photographer in a major metropolitan area. There are lots of assignments to take, events to capture, and things to photograph! It’s a shooting game without the guns.


Next-gen home console

Why it needs to be made:

Next-gen engines are all about simulating light and shadow, which can be used to create the new gameplay of making photos. Plus thus far the open-world games have put all their emphasis on action, car-jacking, and shooting people. I think it’s time we start using the open-world play mechanics for more than simulations of urban thuggery.


Freelance Foto is an open world game with cameras instead of guns. You take on photo assignments (missions) from a number of sources, including the local daily newspaper, a big entertainment magazine, a local zine, and the lowly tabloids. They tell you the subject and setting of the photo assignment, and it’s up to you to go out and take the photos.

You then upload said photos to the photo editor, who “grades” the photos, and pays you for the ones that are good. Of course this grading would be based on a bunch of cool algorithms that judge the framing, composition, focus, and exposure. All of this being driven by new technologies like high dynamic range lighting, depth of field and motion blur.

You also get to “live the life” of a photographer. You use the money you earn to buy new lenses, backs and lights. You start off driving the company’s broke-down van, but by the end of the game you’re driving sports cars and dating the super-models you’re taking photos of.

Why it will be fun:

There’s something that just works really well in shooting games. The mechanic of finding your target, zooming in, taking aim, and pulling the trigger at the perfect moment is just so satisfying. The question is if this will be fun when the trigger you pull is on your camera, and the person you just shot keeps walking around? I think the answer is yes, especially if you get a fat bank roll for said shooting.

Imagine walking down the street and seeing a photo you took on the side of a billboard, on the front page of a newspaper at a magazine stand, or stopping into an art gallery and seeing your photos on the walls. That all sounds pretty rewarding to me.

Final thoughts:

Thanks to Mason and DCO for the assist with this one. And of course thanks to Ryan and Toby for a practical lifetime of photo knowledge.

6 Responses to “Game Idea #6: Freelance Foto”

  1. Devin Curry commented:
    posted February 5th, 2006 at 2:25 am

    You know what would be awesome? If there was a bonus level where you play Spiderman and you have to try to take a picture of yourself. Cuz I never understood how that worked.

  2. Mason Dixon commented:
    posted February 5th, 2006 at 10:31 am

    Heh! I was thinking of that too. Maybe at least the Tabloids editor can be a “J. Jonah Jameson” type from the Daily Bugle, with the cigar and all that.

    The Art Gallery bit is interesting. Maybe you are highered to shoot a Beyonce Afterparty or some such thing. I like how the story-line can go in so many directions within one game: from Red Carpet/Paparatzi to Crime scene investigation to Detective work on Cheeters to Football/Basketball games to Fashion shoots to Espinoge to a Documentary investigation of historic buildings to shooting marketing fotos for the Shedd Aquarium…

    It seems like some of those would incorporate the running and hiding and the like, while others might be totally stationary, but would require subtle social interaction like telling a model how pretty they are.

  3. yi commented:
    posted February 27th, 2006 at 12:22 pm

    i love it! one of the side games i enjoyed on windwaker was taking photos of the characters to get miniatures made. i always tried to compose the photos in an interesting way.

  4. yi commented:
    posted March 7th, 2006 at 9:37 am

    ooh i forgot, i had a professor that had a series of photographs he called “drive by shootings.” he opened up his shuter and most were blurry landscapes he shot out of a moving car or train, occasionally with some subject matter (cars, cows) streaking across the foreground. i could see the same idea as a mini-game, the goal being to try to capture whatever the subject matter in the frame while in a moving vehicle or other difficult circumstances.

  5. James Casey commented:
    posted June 27th, 2006 at 3:06 am

    This has already been done in the game Beyond Good and Evil. It was just about my favourite part of the game though and I think it could definitely be made into a full game.

    An alternative to the paparazzi type role, you could make him a nature photographer, hunting down rare species in the jungle or something.

    I think the hardest part would be the “cool algorythms” to judge the photos - but why bother. Why not have the photos uploaded to a website where other players can rate them?

  6. Jamie commented:
    posted December 20th, 2006 at 3:29 pm

    This is an old post now, but I just thought I’d mention that this has sort of been done in the XBox 360 game Dead Rising. They didn’t take the photography bit as far as they could have though, and I think it would make a great game on its own.

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