Patrick Curry’s Thoughts on Game Design

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June 18th, 2006

Game Idea #25: Grand Canyon

This is a very special Father’s Day edition of my weekly game ideas…

High Concept:

Grand Canyon is a full-blown virtual representation of one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world. The game is almost a pure simulation, with every aspect of the Grand Canyon National Park accurately recreated in an explorable 3D world. Just what you do during your visit is entirely up to you!


Next-gen home console

Why it needs to be made:

We can now accurately recreate realistic environments in videogames. Why not use this technology to recreate an amazing location that could be used for educational, social, or even relaxation purposes? The Grand Canyon is a sight to behold, and should be accessible to anyone who wants to explore it.


Grand Canyon is a 3D playground with a beautiful backdrop: the real Grand Canyon located in northern Arizona, USA. The game is made up of a number of activities, all of which center around exploring and showing off the canyon. You can just stroll and sight-see around the rim or you can journey down to the canyon floor. You can explore the network of trails on foot, on a mule, or even on your mountain bike. Visit the caves and pithouses that Native Americans made their homes thousands of years ago.

If you’re more of a thrill-seeker, why not whitewater raft down the Colorado River? How about a helicopter tour of the canyon, complete with tour-guide commentary? Or try skydiving out of a prop plane and gliding down via parachute to the hotel on the canyon’s floor! How you move about in the world is entirely up to you… and there’s always plenty to see and do in the canyon.

Why it will be fun:

While last week’s idea had no graphics at all, this game is almost entirely about the graphics. Being able to explore and admire such a beautiful location would certainly be rewarding. And when combined with the freedom of movement I’ve outlined, the game could have a very “back to nature” feeling… almost like a virtual vacation.

Final thoughts:

The Grand Canyon is one of my dad’s favorite places in the world. I vividly remember our family trip to see the canyon when I was a youngster, but it was as I was flying high over it during my flight from LA to Chicago that it struck me just how grand it is. The place is spectacular… and I wanted to jump right out of the plane and fly down to explore it. So… this one if for you pops!

8 Responses to “Game Idea #25: Grand Canyon”

  1. erik commented:
    posted June 19th, 2006 at 12:50 am

    The Grand Canyon is one of the first places i checked out in Keyhole (now google earth):

    But sightseeing in google earth (there’s a whole subculture devoted to it nowadays: gets stale pretty fast. It seems like the fun part would be making this world not only explorable, but interactive.

    For some reason this game idea reminds me of Pilotwings for the SNES. I can already hear the snazzy music that’s playing as you prepare for your base jump, or the zany music that starts up when your team of burros gets spooked and you have to chase them down and round them up from all over the canyon!

  2. james commented:
    posted June 19th, 2006 at 9:42 am

    I have always thought that games would be much better with realistic environments, or at least some kind of map editor that is advanced enough to re-create your own surroundings.

    I play mainly FPS and my old university campus would have been amazing, high rises overlooking open areas with office type areas and an open student union sheltered from snipers. Also what about a flight sim the used actual terrain, using some maps it would be a treat to fly around areas that you know.

    Good idea with the canyon, but would there be a version with terrorists/monsters that you had to avoid/kill so that you could save the world/damsel/yourself ;)

  3. Patrick Moran commented:
    posted June 19th, 2006 at 10:39 am

    This sounds like a premise for an entire company. You could focus the company’s efforts on Travel Video Games. “Experience the world from the comfort of your home.”

  4. PinkQueen commented:
    posted June 19th, 2006 at 9:17 pm

    I definitely like the idea.
    From an educational approach, one could study to become a specialist of the Canyon — in geology, the study of the wildlife, the bugs, the plants, the flowers, etc. Then one could earn money as a tour guide or a scientist.
    Very nice tribute to Dad.

  5. efc commented:
    posted June 20th, 2006 at 3:54 pm

    You should develop this and sell it on 2nd life.

    Oh, and you should be able to take photo’s of the virtual canyon and automatically post them to flickr, for some Web 2.o action.

  6. Mason Dixon commented:
    posted June 21st, 2006 at 1:55 pm

    Hey, i could see a pretty cool visualizer setup that plays your MP3s while the video does a long slow fly through of the grand cayon with all these crazy cool camera moves and stuff. kind of like a screen-saver mode.

  7. J B Cougar commented:
    posted June 22nd, 2006 at 11:02 am

    While I doubt a system like Wii could achieve a game like this one, your past ideas lead me to believe your voice is needed more and more in gaming — especially since Wii dev kits are rumored to be less than $2k! If that doesn’t stimulate a stagnating industry (your work not included, naturally), then I don’t know what will.

  8. Alexis commented:
    posted April 14th, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    that sounds really good.. and it could be made into more of a game like with the whitewater rafting. it would probably be best to play on a big-screen tv to get the whole life size feeling. i think a wii could achieve this but it would be challenging to get all videos and pictures of the grand canyon put together into one game, yet i can really see this being made into a great game!

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