Game Idea: Swan Simulator

1 05 2014

Swan Sim test made by me. Swim it, sister!

Play as a swan, only on OUYA.

Happy 1st May everyone. I’m writing down another game idea. If it’s documented, it’ll get one step closer to existing.

So during my walk near the local bird lake I sometimes see swans courting each other during the spring (and toads, by the gods, the toads) and this year was no exception. The honks were echoing across the forest where I walked.

I thought how cool it would be to have some sort of The Sims, animal style, where you have to live your life and have kids. I had already figured out a nifty art style I wanted to try out. The art would be simplified, meaning almost no shading, colorful and the whole game would take place in a well visited park pond.

Game Info:

  • Genre: Simulator, Sandbox
  • Graphics: Simplistic 2D pixel graphics.
  • Engine: — not decided yet —

Since it is aimed to be a sandbox, there is no real end goal of the game. The player is equipped with typical swan skills and everything in the world is interactive. Try court a trash can or eat a frog (swans are herbivores).


Prince of Persia (1989)

The graphic inspirations are from the first Prince of Persia. The graphics are extremely simplified based on the current power of the hardware at the time, but got famous for it’s realistic rotoscoped animations. So despite it’s simpleness, the game felt real thanks to the fluid animations.

I imagine, to make things entertaining, most of the animation would be on the goofy side. Even if the proportions and sounds would be realistic, slapstick comedy is easier to make if you make a game with little to no dialogue. The animations in Swan Simulator will be fluid and partly rotoscoped.

This game project will be a good way for me to practice animations so it’s probably most likley the game will be fully animated before I begin program it (or find a programmer).

Fun Fact: I am not  a programmer. 😛


I chose OUYA because that is what I originally bought one for; to make and playtest my own games on it. It’s an android hardware, easy to use and consoles need more cool sims. And OUYA is completely open for weird game ideas.


As a swan you must get hatched, survive childhood, find love and then survive some more. The player controls one swan. The game will feature events based on both real life and fairy tales although gameplay will try to be true to real swan behavior and life with funny expectations.

Swan skills:

  • Swim/Walk:
    The default way of moving.
  • Eat:
    Dip your head and eat whatever greens you may find. You can try eat living creatures.
  • Dive:
    Dive underwater. The swan tail remains bobbing  at the surface. Baby swans can get fully submerged.
  • Honk/sing:
    Honk long enough and you will definitely get attention.
  • Dance/court:
    This is how you charm other swans. You can try court anything, really.
  • Attack:
    The player possess a powerful beak and strong wings. Beat and pick them baddies.
  • Fly:
    Landing and lifting is kinda dtricky for a swan since it is such a heavy bird. If the pond is crowded, the player can accidentally hit others in the way.

The life of a swan is rather dangerous in different life stages, especially as a small chick, but the park pond can provide a haven for the player Swan, and this is there where most of the game will take place. But the pond is filled with other kind of life forms; pike, ducks and HUMANS!

Swan life stages:

  • Egg:
    Float around in your nest. The nest is steerable so the player can begin explore the pond.
    Dangers: Stay away from the hot sun spots and egg thieves.
  • Chick:
    Stick to your mom, get all the bread before your siblings and avoid predators. You are more mobile to go as you please at your own risk.
    Dangers: Pike, sea gulls, cats, human brats, fox.
  • Teen:
    Eat more to grow. Humans will find you ugly. You can court and fly, but rather unsuccessfully. Train to level up!
    This stage teaches the player more about adult swan life. Unlocks all adult “skills”, but has an enormous fail rate.
    Dangers: Other swans, crazy humans, unleashed dogs, fox, winter.
  • Adult:
    Breed and be fabulous! You can still level up your skills.
    Dangers: Crazy humans, witches, winter.


Since swans doesn’t have a visual sexual dimorphism (male and females look alike), gender is no issue in this game. As long you are an adult swan, you can mate. A swan have to be 4-7 years to be able to breed, but can get a monogamous partner at 20 months (the teen swan’s second summer).

Court actions:

  • Dance for the mate.
  • Gift it stuff.
  • Defend it.
  • Chase off/battle rivals.

The dance is a mini rythm game where the player has to keep up with the potential mate. The more difficult the challenge, the better genes for the offspring.

But games can’t be 100% true to to reality or it will quickly be dull. So to add some extra spice the player swan can cheat on his/her mate! Try to sneak in an extra love affair without your mate finding out. Or if you’re really good and charming, you can have a swan harem.

When the player get eggs, each egg and chick is an “extra life” if the player swan happen to die. The player have to take care of the offspring and chick will be steered by Artificial Intelligence.

Special scenarios

Sketch of humans in the simplified graphics.

The whole game is set around a pond which has seasons. Since swans are migratory, the player have to learn to fly to survive the winter or learn to be completely dependent on the goodwill of humans. Most of special scenarios are human influenced, especially the fairy tale inspired events. Even the animal life surrounding the pond can be humans put under a curse.

The player can court all seasons since teen stage, but the highest success rate is during the spring.


  • Spring:
    Mating season. This is where the egg stage is occurring.
  • Summer:
    Baby stage if you were an egg during the spring. Plenty of food.
  • Autumn:
    Learn to fly before the winter falls. If you were a baby, you are now a teen.
  • Winter:
    Food is scarce. Remain still too long and you get frozen into the ice.

Random pond events can include:

Court the cursed swan princess/prince
A witch/wizard has cursed some royalty near your pond and taken refuge there. These swans carry a small crown and turn human during the night to dance ballet. These swans are harder to court, since they are former humans but can be courted all year round. They are really bad at being swans so the player can take them under their wing and teach them of the swan ways by doing stuff in their line of sight, gift them things (food) and defend them from danger. Hilarity ensues if someone managed to break the curse after you have successfully courted the cursed swan. She/he is still so besmitten/grateful of your kindness/love that she/he brings you to the royal palace!  Your kids will be swan/human hybrids if the curse is broken. 

Level unlock: Royal garden pond, Royal court.

Getting kidnapped by a well-meaning but crazy lady

Based on a real life swedish event, where a lady during the winter caught and kept 12 swans inside her small apartment. A crazy lady thinks the swan player is suffering the winter cold and “saves” it and brings it to it’s filthy apartment. There is no water, little food and filled with dirty swans. The player can try to create a suitable home by flooding the apartment and wreck enough stuff. The swan player can also wreck and cause enough ruckus until the swan alert the neighbors, accidentally calls the police or drives the lady even madder.

Level unlock: Crazy lady’s filthy apartment.

Crazy guy jumps into your pond

Also based on a real event, a guy suddenly jumps in a pond and break the neck of a swan. In the game, he either want to steal your bread or break your neck. Defend yourself!

Tools used:

  • Photoshop CS5

Today’s free software:


Category: Animation
If you dream of making Disney movies or cartoons
PENCIL is the open source animation software for you.





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