Happy Planet Games, in which we attempt to concentrate fun into pure fun diamonds May 16 2018, 0 Comments
If you’ve been witness to our occasional crowing about our games in this blog, you may remember we wrote about our game Happy Salmon: “The neurobiology of Happy Salmon, the most ridiculous game in the world”.
Happy Salmon is a game where players race to take actions with one another that involve physical touch. Like a high-five or the odd Happy Salmon:
That previous essay was about our theory that Happy Salmon is a hit because it releases “happy chemicals” in your brain (like oxytocin) via positive touch.
However, there’s a key point we might have emphasized more: Happy Salmon takes 1 minute to play. That’s as short as games get, yet Happy Salmon has a profound impact on the players’ moods.
If I told you I could have you reeling with giddiness one minute from now, you wouldn’t believe me. What could I possibly do to put you in such a state so quickly? Yet that’s what Happy Salmon does.
So, while half the miracle of Happy Salmon is it floods your brain with happy chemicals, the other half is it does so in a fraction of the time it takes many people to poop (not me though. I poop fast). That’s why Happy Salmon is such a big hit for us.
Happy Salmon has taught us fun can be more (for lack of a better word) distilled than we might have previously assumed. And that, in turn, has inspired us to try to create more games aimed at the same degree of distillation.
So that’s what we’re doing. We’re making a line of games called the Happy Planet line. Every Happy Planet game will be an attempt to isolate and purify the essence of some kind of fun beyond what the laws of game physics previously suggested possible.
The first two Happy Planet games have just come out in stores and we want to tell you about them.
Funky Chicken and Monster MatchBoth new games are collaborations with the original designers of Happy Salmon, Ken Gruhl and Quentin Weir. They have a knack for this kind of thing, and also have a mind-blowing design process (I won’t share it here since it’s their secret sauce) tuned to produce the kind of games we’re looking for.
Funky Chicken is a direct sequel to Happy Salmon. The architecture of the game is the same: it’s a speed game where you have a deck of actions you’re trying to take as fast as possible. But every action requires a partner. Which means you’re desperately trying to get the other players to partner up with you so you can complete your actions.
Funky Chicken is exactly the same except every action is a dance move. Why dance moves? Dancing feels good. In fact, dancing is perhaps the only activity you can legally do in public that releases as many happy chemicals as the actions of Happy Salmon do.
Here's the one person at our company who can consistently speak on camera in complete sentences to explain how it works:
As a bonus, you can even combine the cards from Happy Salmon and Funky Chicken to play a giant hybrid game (Hunky Chickmon?).
Monster Match is a new spin on a preexisting genre: the visual search game, where players race to find images in an array of them on the table. The most famous of these is Spot It.
The pleasure of these games is in one thing: finding the object you’re searching for. That moment of recognition makes you feel fast and sharp and excited to search for the next object. If you play these games a lot you may start to feel more visually perceptive generally (I do anyway).
But nearly all these games have a problem: only one person can enjoy the main pleasure of such games at a time, because successfully finding the object you’re looking for precludes other players from finding it.
That strikes us as an opportunity to create more fun for more people more quickly. That’s what Monster Match does.
In Monster Match, Monsters have invaded the town of Sprinkleton and they’re stealing the town's donuts (Sprinkleton is FAMOUS for its donuts). Your job is to identify the monsters and nab them to protect the town’s donut supply.
The monsters appear in an array of mug shot cards laid out on the table (see image above)
Then two special dice are rolled that tell the players what kind of monster they’re looking for (for example, a monster with 5 eyes), and then they all race to find that kind of monster on the table.
The key is that there can be multiple monsters who fit the description, so more than one player can be successful each round. However, some players can still be more successful than others, because each monster is carrying a different number of donuts and you get more points at the end of the game for monsters with more donuts.
I admit I was skeptical about this game when I first heard we were publishing it, because there are a lot of visual search games already. But then I started showing it to friends on game nights before we pulled out the games we’d planned on playing. These aren't people who easily warm to this type of game. And yet multiple times, we’ve ended up playing Monster Match over and over and over again and just forgetting about whatever we’d planned to do. It really is a special thing.
We hope and think you’ll like these new games. Here's a link to Funk Chicken on our website and here's a link to Monster Match. Or you can get them at your friendly local toy store.