That Rock Paper Scissors Game: A Hectic Twist to a Classic Formula

Remember making decisions as a kid? It was as easy as Eenie-meenie-miney-mo, pulling straws or, for many, throwing in your hands for a round of Rock, Paper, Scissors. That split second before choosing which role you would play carried some of the heaviest, high-stakes choices of your childhood. Who would pick up the toys? Who gets to be Simon in Simon Says? Who gets the window seat? Rock, Paper, Scissors was, for many, the largest factor in how one’s day could go. But, more than anything, it made mundane choices, such as who does the dishes, into a moment of risky fun.

This staple of childhood decision-making was the starting point for the gem of Anthony Powell’s development company, Philosoplay. The studio’s title, That Rock Paper Scissors Game (currently in the pre-alpha stage), is an homage to the sweet and simple mechanics we all know and love, in a three-player Pacman-styled battle.

The design behind That Rock Paper Scissors Game is a simple one that mirrors the classic version echoed throughout our childhood; the player who takes the role of Rock crashes into the Scissors, who attempts to crash into the Paper, turning a simple arena into a hectic game of cat-and-mouse. Powell is currently working on power-ups and boosts that will add complexity to the classic formula.

“Usually when people hear you’re making a game about Rock, Paper, Scissors, their first reaction is to think it’s silly or not what they wanna play,” Powell said. “But when they pick it up, they just light up, and realize that it’s not what they expect.”

Powell has been creating, tweaking and perfecting the idea behind That Rock Paper Scissors Game for nearly four and a half years. Originally designed as a multiplayer side-scroller team shooter, the concept behind That Rock Paper Scissors Game was that the three players on each team would need to devise a strategy for destroying and avoiding the fire from the corresponding players on the opposite team (Team 1’s Scissors would avoid Team 2’s Rock, while aiming for Team 2’s Paper, etc.)   

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When he was almost finished with the research and planning stages of development, he showcased the idea in San Francisco. After hearing feedback that the game should be more mobile-friendly, he scrapped the original two years of the design and started again from scratch in a new development cycle, in which the title took a drastic turn into the form showcased today. Last May, the game received the recognition of Steam Greenlight.

Powell said the concept of That Rock Paper Scissors Game was a surprise breakthrough after years of effort in the gaming industry. After working on a different multiplayer side-scroller for two years, and losing hope of the project ever coming to fruition, the idea of That Rock Paper Scissors Game suddenly came to him.

“The first project, it was going absolutely nowhere,” Powell said. “I had been working on video games, at this point, for almost 10 years without a break…’”

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“The first project, it was going absolutely nowhere,” Powell said. “I had been working on video games, at this point, for almost 10 years without a break, and I was frustrated. But one night, around 3 a.m.,  I just looked at my screen and the idea — Rock, Paper, Scissors— pops in my head. My first thought was ‘this is absolutely ridiculous.’”

After much consideration, the starting point of That Rock Paper Scissors Game grew into Powell’s big break. “It’s a rare thing where you get to see a son, a father or mother, and a grandfather or grandmother playing this game  and enjoying it, side by side,” Powell said. “I think that’s the appeal behind it. I didn’t make this game with an age in mind.”

Philosoplay’s team also includes sound designer Alyssa Menes, voice actor Robert Menes and composer Brian Knox. “They are absolutely amazing,” said Powell, adding that the team has made the game great despite its shoestring budget. “They have pumped so much life into That Rock Paper Scissors Game. When I take the game to shows, after players play, we get so many comments like ‘I love the announcer’s voice’ or ‘That music is excellent.’ It really adds so much spice to the game.”

Despite often being confronted with skepticism of the title’s simple concept, Powell said he faced a much larger obstacle when breaking into the industry— listening to those who said he couldn’t.

“A lot of people told me it was extremely difficult to get into the video game industry, so I always told myself that I wasn’t ready,” Powell said. “The second I stopped listening to that and I shut it out, there was no limit to what we could do.”

For more information on That Rock Paper Scissors Game, go here, or follow Philosoplay on Twitter.

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