What conceptually became Donkey Kong Goes Bananas, didn't stop there. Realising players could potentially just leave a level running endlessly, and in an effort to add some challenge to each level I pondered adding a time limit to each level, with a generous amount of time in the earlier levels and a more challenging, more limited time limit in later levels. While such a time limit could be easily implemented I felt that there had to be an in-game, narrative reason for a timer, and reimagined the game's goal as being a bomb armed with a timer detonation, but could never envision a set of characters suitable enough to feature in such a game.
Then in more recent years, I was been exposed to two video games that forever changed the concept far beyond Donkey Kong Goes Bananas. The first of these games was an indie title on the Xbox 360 called Swarm, in which the player controlled a swarm of creatures across a level littered with deadly hazards designed to reduce your swarm of creatures to zero, with the goal of each level being to get a set amount of creatures to the end of the level; essentially a platformer variant of the classic Lemmings. The second game I was exposed to was the notorious Plants vs Zombies. Although the sequel has fallen victim to the free to play model and the spin-off Garden Warfare has diluted the franchise into a generic PvP shooter, the original stands as the perfect tower defense game.
Together Donkey Kong Goes Bananas, Swarm, and Plants vs Zombies bled together in my head into an isometric 3D (see Shadowrun Returns pictured above) game in which two forces would face each other for the control of a Nuclear device in the center of the level. One side would use controls similar to Swarm to control a 'swarm' of creatures with the goal being to attack the other forces position forcing them to retreat, and again until the defending force was defending the Nuclear device. The other side would defend against the attackers, retreating if they get overwhelmed or pressing forward to the next barricade if available. The controls for the defenders would be similar to Plants vs Zombies, with the player allocating what type of units to place behind the barricade.
Finally, being a fan of science-fiction movies I immediately thought of the movie license Aliens, with the Xenomorphs as the Swarm attackers, and the Colonial Marines as the defenders, with the levels being those of an expansive colony or colonies. If the Xenomorphs overwhelmed the Colonial Marines at the last barricade they would destroy the Nuclear device and win the level by subjugating the population of the colony, whereas if the Colonial Marine defenders successfully defended against the Xenomorph attackers then a dropship would fly over, picking them up just before the Nuclear device detonates, eradicating the Xenomorph threat. Even better the game would be playable in multiplayer with up to eight players; four teams of Xenomorphs (spawning in each corner of the map), and four squads of Colonial Marines.
The only issue was that I had originally envisioned this game as an AVP (Aliens vs Predator) title. As such, I had an issue with the Predators. I imagined they would likely be singular; one predator per player (upping the player count to up to twelve players), and that they would likely use the rooftops of the colony (complete with their trademark weaponry, and their optical camouflage) acting as a third side in the conflict. Unfortunately, I am still unsure as to how to implement the Predators in a way that supplements the gameplay without unbalancing the conflict between the Xenomorphs and the Colonial Marines.