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garganroo avatar 5:39 PM on 02.04.2012  (server time)
Global Game Jam 2012: Enclosure

This is my 2nd time to join our local (read: Manila) game jam (my first jam was two years ago, and last year I just helped organize the event). As always, it was a very memorable 48-hour game dev crunch time (crunch can be fun, too!)

Anyway, here are the details:

Tien, Kristian, and I -- also known as Team December Project -- created a game from scratch based on the theme "Ouroboros," or the snake eating its own tail. It took a while for the word (and its meaning) to sink in, and it was at around 8 or 9 in the evening of Friday when we decided to take this theme out for a nighttime stroll. So we went out, walked several blocks, discussing, throwing ideas around, deciding which platform to use (Flash), how it should look (painting-inspired), and what elements to focus on (visually, the circle thing stuck with us).

But still the game eluded us. So we walked some more: talked and talked, got lost, asked strangers where the shops were (we missed the free dinner, heh), followed a couple who told us they were heading the same way, and finally, a few minutes later, in front of 3 steaming plates of tapsilog. We still have no idea what our game would play like, so we continued with the name-association thing that Tien suggested (so that's ouroboros = circle = infinity = loop = and so on). We didn't bother to over-think the theme because it will just make things complicated.

I didn't how it happened, but we started browsing through Kristian's Android phone for inspiration, and he showed us some interesting live wallpapers (take that, iOS!), including this particular Tron-esque thing:

"What if we could touch those lines and they change direction?"
"Like Tron?"
"Yeah, but different!"

Okay, so it's not the real conversation, but we got the feeling that we're on to something. Something about the lines and the colors. One early idea that I proposed was this:

What if each color has a behavior (like how it moves), and mixing one color with another changes its behavior?

Tien and Kristian kept the ball rolling by suggesting different (and definitely better) mechanics and goals. Some ideas were discarded, others combined, but we always go back to the stream of colors. Mixing colors was definitely in; one of our the game's initial goals was to combine a multitude of colors to form a white loop, which opens a portal to the next level.

But the "how to do it" part? Definitely still up in the air.

Walking back to the Jam site, we discovered this giant sundial in front of an engineering college building:

Tien suggested that we stop and just, you know, look at sundial. We're still kind of lost with our game idea so we took the chance to take something from it -- figuratively speaking, of course. After a few minutes of staring at the structure (and getting curious looks from night joggers), we decided to head back to the site.

By the time we arrived at UP ITTC building, we're pretty solid with the mechanics of the game, but the goal is still, well, nothing! We knew that pressing on the screen (we're envisioning it as a mobile game) will make the stream of colors passing nearby to start orbiting the center of the point, but the "why" part? No, we're not there yet. AND it's almost midnight; everyone's already hard at work with their games while we're just setting up our workstations.

It was around 3 in the morning, after writing a very short document of what we've talked about, when the initial excitement over the idea started to wane: we still don't have the goals, the obstacles, to make it look and play like a game. And it's already Saturday!

So I went out, took a couple of markers and a piece of carton (we ran out of paper) and tried to assemble our mechanics -- everything we have, really -- into something that would seem like a game. I went back and discussed this with Kristian (Tien slept early since he didn't have that many tasks to do). "Click anywhere" was thrown out, and we limited the color streams' movement in a grid, which made the whole thing suddenly look organized.

We decided that the goal now is to guide the color stream to a supposed "Point B" by using the orbit-around-a-point mechanic. Our game finally found its purpose. Everything was clearer now.

30+ hours later, we completed our game, Enclosure. It took home the Jury Award 1st Place and the People's Choice award as well. Yay! :-)

You can download our game from our Global Game Jam page:

Be sure to check the other awesome games from ITTC and CSB sites, too!

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