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What (ideally XKCDesque) dangers would threaten a person stuck in a human-hamster-ball?
February 24, 2012 1:22 PM   Subscribe

What (ideally XKCDesque) dangers would threaten a person stuck in a human-hamster-ball?

I'm designing a video game based on the XKCD comics where the player is a scientist who's trapped in a giant "human-hamster-ball" trying to escape from a building. However, we're having trouble coming up with interesting 'non-static' threats that the character would need to dodge or fight somehow. Current static-threats include acid vats and fire... but what kinds of 'enemies' or other interactive/moving threats and/or challenges can we use? (flying sharks? but why wouldn't you be safe in the ball? raptors?) Bizarre ideas welcome - especially anything that makes an XKCD or other kind of SCIENCE! reference.

THANK YOU!!!
posted by ch3cooh to Media & Arts (54 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I imagine if you're trying to run through a ball pit you wouldn't be able to get much traction going. Any kind of liquidy trap would make the guy have to run really fast or sink but at the same time not really make any progress.
posted by bleep at 1:25 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Roll over a Windows sticker, then fall through the floor into Richard Stallman's bedroom.
posted by rouftop at 1:27 PM on February 24, 2012


Security guards...in giant human hamster balls.

Enormous dogs, eager to chase the ball.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:27 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


This may be too obvious, but maybe guns? It's not like those things are bulletproof. Or perhaps there could be bad guys in balls as well? Or maybe something shoots bowling balls at you.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 1:28 PM on February 24, 2012


Rope bridge, wrong-way escalator, conveyor-belt, mosquitoes/wasps that could enter the ball's breathing slots.

And now, the nightmares.
posted by jquinby at 1:28 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Play a few games of Marble Madness for inspiration...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:29 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


fellow scienticists? either trying to get them out of the ball (to take it for themselves) or in balls as well (battle of the balls).
posted by patheral at 1:29 PM on February 24, 2012


A situation where you fall, and the only way to mitigate the damage is to jump up just before you hit the ground.

Giant, clumsy hamsters wearing stompy tennis shoes.

Situations where you're on the water, and the fact that the ball floats is a disadvantage. You may have to repeatedly slam the ball to make it underneath certain underwater barriers.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:29 PM on February 24, 2012


I mean, that game is chock-full-o-dangers: black holes, vacuum cleaners, ice patches, wormy ballsuckers, evil black magnetoballs, flying cuckoo birds, etc.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:30 PM on February 24, 2012


Sounds like a fun game:
- Water (rain?) that would slowly fill the ball (and drown you)
- I like the idea of a herd of hamsters that get into the ball and eat you
- Something that puts a dent in the ball, which slows you down
- Marbles spilled on the floor
- Bonus points if your game can "pay homage" to other famous Ball games
posted by machinecraig at 1:31 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lumber Jacks that hop on top of the ball and try to log-roll it toward pits/spikes.
posted by anti social order at 1:33 PM on February 24, 2012


My hamster died in a hamster ball when I was a kid. It was outside in the summer and it got too hot inside the ball. Kind of a downer and not an obvious video game enemy but thermal heating from the sun is a scientifically accurate hamster ball danger at least.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:34 PM on February 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Velociraptors. No XKCD-esque game would be complete without Velociraptors.

Wind turbines?
posted by erst at 1:34 PM on February 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hungry, hungry hippos which repeatedly open and close their mouths as you roll around on a slightly inclined plane. You have to scramble upwards in order to not only avoid them, but also to hit a switch that turns them off. (Maybe just before the hippo's mouth, there's a small moat on which you'd otherwise float - the player would have to learn that you have to get right up close to the hippo, and then SLAM down to go underneath the hippo, floating through to the other side.)

Stairs.

Items that render your ball fragile. Perhaps there's a level where it's almost unavoidable to hit these items, but you can fix the situation by getting items which strengthen the ball. The level winds up being designed around that constant give-and-take.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:36 PM on February 24, 2012


Flying hamsters
posted by mkultra at 1:37 PM on February 24, 2012


Negotiating a room that's been filled with playpen balls.
posted by erst at 1:38 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh - sentient robotic pinball bumpers which walk around.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:40 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Winged Ferrets.
posted by drezdn at 1:41 PM on February 24, 2012


Ferrets, yes, not hamsters. Dammit.
posted by mkultra at 1:43 PM on February 24, 2012


Platforms that are rubber sheets. They screw with your momentum, but you can jump up and down on them to turn them into slingshots.

Concave and convex platforms.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:43 PM on February 24, 2012


Giant cats.
posted by empath at 1:45 PM on February 24, 2012


An adult would be pretty safe from even an infanite amount of five year olds outside of a hampster ball, but inside a hampster ball they could be totally fucked by even a small horde near a static threat.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:45 PM on February 24, 2012


Having to stay aloft on the kite of a creepy but helpful furry.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:47 PM on February 24, 2012


ball bearings all over the floor.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:49 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Getting stuck to a larger Katamari.
posted by Skwirl at 1:49 PM on February 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Bees! Bees would be non static and a significant threat due to their ability to pass through the air slits!
posted by Blasdelb at 1:49 PM on February 24, 2012


Giant hamsters is the first thing that comes to mind. Or giant cats/dogs.

Or maybe James Carville riding a burning alligator?
posted by Vorteks at 1:49 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


GRASPs, Giant Robot Soccer Players.
The giant robot soccer league has been dominated by the Japanese since its founding.

Chemists looking to create bigger than life sized models of atoms are always on the look out for spheres...
posted by dustsquid at 1:54 PM on February 24, 2012


Velociraptors, seriously. Don't you guys *read* XKCD?
posted by Raichle at 2:10 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bees! Bees would be non static and a significant threat due to their ability to pass through the air slits!

I love this one, because having a bee inside the ball would make me totally lose my shit.

Maybe you could have one level in which you are chased by dogs, and then another level in which bees are a hazard, and then a third level in which the dogs shoot bees from their mouths when they bark, as a subtle homage.

I also like the idea of a personal raincloud, the kind that in cartoons signifies that someone's in a bad mood, filling up the ball with water.
posted by gauche at 2:11 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anything that has agency of some kind but is (probably) undesirable to hit. I'm thinking crawling babies.

Also somebody said Katamari -- I like the idea of having to find a route through the level without growing too much.

Another idea I was toying with was camera obfuscation -- suppose a mechanic is introduced where your camera is obscured by yourself or a wall and part of the object is to proceed with that information limited.
posted by Infinity_8 at 2:16 PM on February 24, 2012


Another idea I was toying with was camera obfuscation -- suppose a mechanic is introduced where your camera is obscured by yourself or a wall and part of the object is to proceed with that information limited.

Ricocheting from that - what if there's a bit where there are many similar creatures in many similar balls, but surviving the level will depend on your ability to visually track your own ball?

Also, just generally ricocheting off of things.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:23 PM on February 24, 2012


The Giants (there are Giants, right?) that control you drop you into a Labyrinth game. Hilarity ensues.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:25 PM on February 24, 2012


Giant Pinball bumpers, kickers, plungers, or flippers that randomly appear on the landscape.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:33 PM on February 24, 2012


Hitting your head on the top of the ball when going over bumps or dips.
posted by Good Brain at 2:33 PM on February 24, 2012


Rooms full of playpen balls, which will of course interact with the hamster ball, make it more difficult to maneuver, etc.
posted by flug at 2:55 PM on February 24, 2012


How about red spiders all over the place, and you have to roll around and squash them (or if you are going for more of PETA angle, roll around while avoiding squashing them).
posted by flug at 2:57 PM on February 24, 2012


Velocoraptors in balls shot from Cory's balloon turret. They can come out and grow in size.
posted by Nackt at 3:02 PM on February 24, 2012


Helium pumps, which make the hamster-ball float and possibly stick to the ceiling.
posted by Kattullus at 3:04 PM on February 24, 2012


Zombies, or even better, Zombie Feynman.

With things like zombies or velociraptors, in the hampster ball they can't just attack or eat you directly or whatever, in fact maybe they basically just ignore you. The objective would be more to use your hampster ball to herd them around and maybe kill them or trap them in various inventive ways, and/or even though they can't necessarily kill you or eat you, but they can more or less push you around or impede your progress, so your objective is to avoid them or get to some objective despite their interference, or avoid becoming trapped by them, etc. Maybe at some point there is a situation where there are just too many of them to avoid becoming trapped and the trick is to wait until they have all swarmed after you and trapped you and then somehow roll up on top of them and roll away to freedom on top of their tightly packed zombie bodies, etc.
posted by flug at 3:17 PM on February 24, 2012


Google "ways to defeat Daleks" and other ways to ruin a Dalek's day and you are sure to find some overlap (STAIRS).

Definitely water! Ball with airholes: you sink. Ball without airholes: you suffocate. Ball with air supply built in: it smacks you in the head everytime you turn and then your air runs out.

Any nasty-tempered creature that spits acid or gas (see above re: water).
Octopuses! They can squeeze into the smallest airhole space.
Ants. The more you crush, the stronger the "COME KILL THIS THING THAT KILLED ME" smell gets.

I recommend you test this out by observing real hamsters in balls for edutainment purposes. From memory, my roommate's deviously clever hamster still had difficulty in her ball with corners, fans blowing her back, lumpy carpet, and people accidentally kicking the ball (sorry hamster!)
posted by nicebookrack at 3:23 PM on February 24, 2012


p.s. please do not actually give the edutainment hamsters to octopuses
posted by nicebookrack at 3:24 PM on February 24, 2012


For anyone who has ever had a hamster running in a ball, the seemingly inevitable "pee stripe" is a common experience. Perhaps you could allude to that, by having a meter for bladder capacity in lieu of a time meter.

Of course, presumably they can't escape the ball, so taking bathroom breaks likely isn't an option, but in the game in my head that's an integral part of the whole affair (especially if there are also soda pop machines that can be used to get more energy and speed up, but simultaneously reduce bladder capacity. Give a short-term burst of speed that's balanced out by the need to stop more often.)
posted by davejay at 3:34 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Running into ninjas, pirates and soccer players might be uncomfortable...
posted by Sourisnoire at 3:47 PM on February 24, 2012



posted by brundlefly at 4:11 PM on February 24, 2012


Rube Goldberg machine where the occupant of the ball would not be threatened, but the ball will cause Bad Things to happen unless player can keep machine from functioning as designed.

Giant integral signs that attempt to capture the ball and roll it off their tails.

Clearly, the sharks are large enough to eat the ball.

Pool table. Rubber sheet. Applied physics all around.
posted by yohko at 4:22 PM on February 24, 2012


This is totally a real thing. Pop some holes in that thing hamster ball-style and put it in an indoor pool where you have to dodge either competitive swimers and/or an aqua aerobics class.

I think throwing in some Aperture Science portals or turrets might be neat.
posted by oxfordcomma at 4:39 PM on February 24, 2012


You could earn/find duct tape to patch your ball as you roll through the building. Another idea: You have a sheet of something you can use to block the holes for going over water, but you can't breathe if you do it for too long. Also: Things (papers from offices? newspapers?) could get temporarily stuck to the outside of the ball, making it hard to see.
posted by limeonaire at 5:06 PM on February 24, 2012


What about a bonus level where you are the ball that Indiana Jones has to try to escape from in the Temple of Doom? You get points if you can knock him dead before he can run out of the tunnel.
posted by CathyG at 6:32 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, oh, so I was just reminded of a conversation I had with a coworker when I told him I was allergic to my office. He said I could work in an airtight bubble, and I said, "But how would I type?" And he said I could have a laptop hookup in there, or maybe there could be two-way gloves so I could reach out. The air filter could be powered by my rolling... And off course, I'd also have my phone in there. Eating and excreting, though, present difficulties, as the "pee stripe" alluded to above suggests.
posted by limeonaire at 7:33 PM on February 24, 2012


As someone who has owned many hamsters and gerbils, I have to emphasize a point briefly touched upon above: stairs are the enemy.

The ball falls fast down the stairs, bouncing along the way, and sometimes the concussion is enough to make the ball crack, or even separate and break. I think if this happened to a person, you could literally die.

Whenever I put my pocket pet pals in the hamster ball, I always had to be careful to set up a barricade so they wouldn't fall down the stairs!
posted by ErikaB at 11:08 PM on February 24, 2012


The curved surface of the ball would act as a lens. So... some light sources will be made to focus at the centre of the ball, cooking the scientist. Others would have a focal point outside the ball, meaning that when the ball goes past a bright light source, it might tend to set fire to nearby objects. (In real life, the focal point will depend on the initial path of the light, the colour of the light, and the optical properties of the ball).

Heh, spherical optical cavities can be made to lase (it's called "whispering gallery" lasing mode, I think). You either need a light source of the correct colour inside, or a fluorescent chemical / object inside that changes wrong-coloured light being shone from outside into correct-coloured light being (re-)emitted from inside the sphere. A small distortion of the sphere's shape lets the laser pulse escape. More of a weapon/tool than a threat, but could be cool.
posted by metaBugs at 5:46 AM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


You need to post back in this thread when it's ready, or you will surely have terrible nightmares about rolling in a hamster ball down a page of metafilter comments, bouncing off the "+" signs.
posted by yohko at 2:40 PM on February 28, 2012


If I'm reading xkcd correctly, the biggest hazard seems to be love.
posted by Mchelly at 11:47 AM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


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