Game Development Subteam wiki


1. Basic game concept and mechanics

2. Incorporate ecology: Volvox

3. Incorporate local Laguna mythology

4. Why keep the game simple?

5. Why no RPG?

6. Why no puzzle-platformer?

7. Why no elaborate stories?

8. Old designs

9. Resources

1. Basic game concept and mechanics


Proposition 1


Castle defense style game where players need to cooperate in order to defend the centerpiece from waves of baddies. As time passes, the centerpiece "grows", this serves as the reward for the players.


3 Player Types:

a. Builder: builds obstacles for the baddies. Builders cannot build anywhere. They can only build the obstacles inside the "influence area". (think of zergs in starcraft, where you can only build on the violet stuff)

b. Expander: expands the influence area. The influence area fades after some time, so the Expander needs time management to keep the influence area from fading out.

c. Support: the support can buff the buildings. and stop the fading of an area he stands on.


Game presentation:

The game is presented on a top-down perspective. Baddies can come from any direction.



The players choose which type of player he wants to be. There are no minimum or maximum number of players. A game can be played with all players as builders.


Interaction with the Sensors:

The result from the sensors will be reflected on the ambience/aesthetics of the game.


Proposition 2


Let's say we have one character. The goal is for her to plant as many seeds as she can so the screen will end up having lots and lots of trees or vines or whatever. There can be enemies popping from nowhere preventing her from planting the seeds.  Or perhaps woodcutters/loggers destroying her game. She can have allies  as well, popping out to give her something  to help her defeat woodcutters.  Of course, she can earn points for having more seeds planted and more trees growing.


The game can have levels. At one point, I am trying to imagine also that this character can have other characters joining her to fill up the whole mountain with trees...some kind of race and in the end the mountain can transform into something.  In the middle of the game, some kind of flood can just happen and they can try to stop it with some kind of action....etcetera

2. Incorporate ecology: Volvox


Keep the basic idea, but rework the concept and work with algae, nutrients, predators and heat as interacting factors. Basically building a colony like this:





Volvox, a multicellular algae colony seems like a useful reference. It has a beautiful structure and is attracted to light. Do some more reading on this page to refine the game design:



Here's some beautiful visual material:



3. Incorporate local Laguna mythology


The Volvox structure could be inhabited by a (nature) spirit or deity.


In any case, we can incorporate local myths and legends. Or basic concepts from the characters. From the brainstorming session with the UP Circuit people, they enumerated a number of famous characters from folklore:

  • Poong Maykapal/Bathala - the highest being, God
  • Maria Makiling - a diwata (enchantress, divine being, forest nymph, protector of Mt. Makiling, turns ginger into gold, can change into many forms like old/young lady, dog, tongues of fire). Very generous, but will bring curses, dangerous weather when angered.
  • Kapre - giant, always found on top of a tree smoking cigar
  • Tikbalang - half-man, half-horse
  • Manananggal - an aswang, vampire, has thread-like tongue, body splits in half during full-moon (or any night), preys on pregnant women, young children. Can be beaten with salt, garlic, crucifix.
  • Nuno sa Punso - dwarf-like creatures,
  • Itim na Dwende -  black dwarf - very harmful creatures

Classic weapons against evil:  salt, garlic, crucifix, sunlight


It is well known legend in the Laguna Lake area that if Maria Makiling or the Lady of the Lake is angered, she will bring typhoons, and take the life of at least one person each year.  But if the people are good, she will bring good weather, good harvest.  If anyone dares take anything from the forest, the person will either get lost or get sick, or be cursed.


The great comparison between Sierra Madre and Mt. Makiling, Sierra Madre almost became barren because of illegal logging, compared to Mt. Makiling which is still a rich rainforest, and the belief that Maria is protecting the mountain.  The same way the town of Ba'i was cursed because the people stole from Maria, making her abandon the people and retreat to the mountain, and cursing the land of Ba'i, which they say is still infertile land until now.


If we can't incorporate these creatures, at least the concept of changelings, good works = blessing vs. bad = curses, ways to combat evil.


4. Why keep the game simple?


I did try Nanosmiles and here's what I got.


So the simplicity makes a player engage--explore and experiment without any clear agenda then attention gets sustained for a while. But something has to happen next to get the player hooked. However, there has to be some kind of gratification (a few goals achieved) to move the player further on.


I liked the idea that the game had an organic feel - especially the leaves moving in

a certain way.


Now I understand why the storyline initially  presented here sounds really

Complicated - too many things going on perhaps?  Too many objects to animate?


I'm relating all these to  my hanging question from King's talk on gaming. Is there a difference between gaming and writing/ reading stories which make children choose one over the other or simply enjoy both? What do games tap into which books/stories do  not?


Here's what I'm getting so far:

Writing/reading stories not equal to games.

Games may have stories but not all.

Both seek to engage people into something.

Games do not necessarily have to provide some closure while stories need to  have that (at least for children's lit).

Games do not necessarily have to have all sorts of complicated meanings or require layers of thinking. I find games as primarily having an element.

of fun for the sake of fun and hence it isn't that imposing (to some extent can be 'nakakabobo' = dumbing down (?)).

Books greatly challenge/demand one's imagination through the printed word while games rely on  mixed media.

Both can turn out to be highly interactive depending on the readers/ gamers experience and disposition + the book/game itself.


Back to our task of game design--a few more ideas we can include, if you wish:

  • the idea of something growing resulting to something more
  • the idea of facilitating this through a group effort
  • the idea of running against time otherwise something else will happen
  • the idea of a reward for group effort
  • a sense of surprise/anticipation as to what can possibly happen if the group fails/succeeds
Now what items can we pick out from Storyline # 2 to make this happen?

5. Why no elaborate stories?


Finally, we're nagkakaunawaan on our views on game design. Games don't have to have stories. To quote the creators of Unreal Tournament, "It's like basketball, you don't need a story to play basketball!" But games have complicated meanings too, check out "The Marriage" (i forgot the link sorry, you can google it), simple qeometric shapes, simple colors (no shading even), and simple interaction but in the end, the creator was able to show you a fantastic metaphor for marriage. Then there's ludomancy's "Today I Die", where he combined poetry and games to make a beautiful piece of art.


Writing stories for games is a whole more lot complicated than writing for film or for books. Films and books have a linear story, games don't. You have to write multiple branches and endings, and half of it the players wouldn't even see (unless he plays it over again). In games, the player is in command, the writer has to anticipate everything the player might think of. Branching storylines means exponential cost on assets (sound, art, programmers) since you are literally trying to create multiple "movies" in one game.

A lot of people approach game design as making a movie. However, writing a game story is not the same as designing a game. Game design usually starts from an interesting set of interactions. The story follows.


But it's true that some games are entirely distilled out of elaborate narratives (almost like interactive fiction). However, these games are usually technically very complex, and we simply don't have the time and means for such a project.


Therefore I would opt to work in a different way.

  • Lets focus on a simple set of interactions first (something that is realistic for a programmer to do within our limited time frame).
  • Once we get that running with simplified geometric shapes, we can implement a story, and extend the game world with extra levels, characters, etc.
  • As a final step we can graphically fill in the game and start using our own designs and drawings.

It's even possible to build an arcade game without any 'story', setting or character names at all. For Biomodd I would precisley love to push things into more experimental realms where we don't necessarily follow the conventions of the medium. Look at this one, 'Spout':

A miniature game with a ridiculous gameplay (using the S and arrow keys). And yes, it's a shooter, but there's something weird and 'different' about it. It would be good to archieve that kind of experimentation or subversion in Biomodd.


Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'm against storyline! I would love to use references to local nature and mythologies. I've stated that several times before. I just think we need to work on the game in a different way.


6. Why no RPG


Creating an RPG or Squad based game is rather too cliche. One way to separate your concept from the rest of the RPG games is to create a very rich storyline. Something that requires a lot of time and talent.


I'm not a fan of RPGs as a designer (but i love to play RPGs as a player, hehe). RPGs kasi, forces the player to follow the designer's intended path. It just seems like your taking a "role" as a hero perhaps, but in reality whatever action you do wouldn't matter. The hero will always find that sword, that will slay that dragon, that will save that princess. You just can't say "no, i think the princess isn't my type, so let her die". The player isn't really "interacting", he's just there to advance a predetermined path (written by the designer). Ex. Final Fantasy, although what makes this stand out in the RPG genre is it's deep, rich storyline and characterization.


7. Why no puzzle-platformer?


Loco Roco sets itself apart by doing the "rotating-landscape" game mechanic. Several other simple games have toyed with the same idea (checkout Switch or Switch 2). If we were to make this type of game, we need to concentrate on level design, and make sure that we keep the players interested for them to go to the next level. Multiplayer would be an issue in this type of game.


8. Old designs


Story 1: Nasaan si #5? (Where is #5?)


There are five campers on Mt. Makiling. Upon reaching their camp site, they have a bonfire, sing, eat, etc. In the middle of the night, the fifth camper (#5), is woken up by a voice. Looking through the forest, he realizes that the voice belongs to an ‘engkanto.’ The scene cuts to the four remaining campers, who wake up and see that #5 is missing, and begin to look for him. When they reach the heart of the mountain, they perform a ritual that as respect for Mariang Makiling. She appears, and they ask where their friend is. She says that #5 was taken by an engkanto who fell in love with him. Her powers cannot reach where he was taken. The campers then seek to find their friend, and on the way, they encounter dwendes, tikbalangs, and other creatures from Philippine mythology. When they complete their task, all five campers wake up and see that it’s all a dream. Each leaves with a mission to help revive the land.


Story 2: Binhi (“Seed” - this can be spelled out in Alibata, the Philippine’s ancient alphabet)


There are 8 characters with the same goal but for different reasons/ motivations (like the movie ‘Vantage Point’). The design concept is a board game with each cell presenting an extra character presenting a challenge to a player.


The goal of the game is to get a magical ‘binhi’ from Mariang Makiling. The ‘binhi’ means the following for the characters:


Character                                 What the binhi means to them

Reporter                                   Wants a story

Lawin (hawk)                          The ‘binhi’ can grow into a tree which can be its home.

Diwata (nymph)                       The ‘binhi’ will revitalize the environment, which will then enhance her beauty.


Albularyo (healer)                   The ‘binhi’ will drive away bad spirits.

Katutubo                                  The ‘binhi’ is his inheritance.

Doctor                                     ‘The ‘binhi’ will provide a cure for a disease. There was a joke about swine flu here.

Archeologist                            For research purposes

Child                                        The ‘binhi’ will cure his sick mother.


There are weapons/items that they can obtain to help them in this task:

1. Slingshot

2. Spear

3. Itak

4. Pluma

5. Palakol

6. Sword

7. Bato

8. Bamboo

9. Magic potions


The extra characters who will give them the items are:

1. Machete

2. Panday

3. Pedro Penduko

4. Mariang Makiling

5. Bernardo Carpio

6. Malakas at Maganda

7. Darna


The challenges will include Filipino games (like patintero), Filipino values (for example, cooperation to do a task – bayanihan), etc. Mariang Makiling will say that the ‘binhi’ symbolizes nature.


9. Resources



Jordan Mechner's blog -- creator of Prince of Persia (check out his diary) -- experimental gameplay -- indie gamer's site (support indie games!) -- creators of world of goo -- astig yung clouds

The Marriage -- kasi kewl yung metaphor

Schizoid -- cooperative gameplay

N -- old concept (lode runner) made more exciting

Pandemic 2 -- since H1N1 is so uso today


LibreGame Wiki

A magazine-type website for linux games, one can find in the site linux

games, game engines and game developers as well for linus.


Ubuntu Gamelist

List of games for Ubuntu


Happy Penguin

Old reliable site for Linux games.



an open source game and simulation engine.


Crystal Space

Crystal Space is a free 3D game toolkit. It can be used for a variety of 3D visualization tasks.



GCompris is an educational software suite comprising of numerous activities for children aged 2 to 10. It is intended to become some sort of unified interface to integrate more educational games.



Anito is a Single-Player Isometric Adventure RPG game set in 16th century Asia, in the land of Maroka. This game is the first Filipino-made PC game.