Monetizing Children – Molyjam 2013

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Molyjam 2013! 48 hours to make a game from scratch. Once again I took part in the London event. This time I teamed up with fellow London Indie Darren Grey and artist Freddie Fosh.

Darren had come to the jam with an idea already in mind. After reading an article in Gamasutra called ‘Monetizing Children’ he had latched onto that phrase and wanted to make a game around it. The theme of the jam was supposed to be quotes by Peter Molyneux (the real one this time!). Darren found this one:

“When I was 12 years old I employed my sister and all her friends to cut peoples lawns whilst I just sat there and watched, which was great.” So coincidentally that fit with what he wanted to do 🙂

I went to the jam with the intention of joining a group to do co-design and music but no coding. When Darren mentioned his idea I liked the sound of it. It appealed to my sense of humour. I’m all up for satirical games that say something about modern life.

Darren discussing monetization with Peter Molyneux

Darren discussing monetization with Peter Molyneux

On the Friday, day 1 of the jam, we sat down and made a basic gameplay plan. We decided to go for an exaggerated kind of humour rather than anything subtle. We wanted it to be simple and very easy to understand. We were also well aware of the 48 hour time limit so limited the scope to something manageable. The game rules came together fairly quickly after a couple hours discussing them. Rather than have moving enemy AI we went for a text based solution. So alerts would trigger at random times to impede you and add challenge.

Darren is a big fan of rougelike games. He was doing the coding so used a game engine specifically made for that style of game. I don’t have much familiarity with the roguelike genre so it was good to learn something about tile based games. He recommended this list of games so I’ll be exploring the genre some more.


Monetizing Children – Molyjam 2013

I headed in on the Saturday to start writing the game text that would appear and finalise some gameplay stuff with Darren. I gave Freddie a text and very luckily he agreed to make some artwork for us at very short notice. And then I headed home to make the music. After realising that there was no particular genre of music of atmosphere that would be an obvious fit for the game I decided to go with humour. I imagined a vaguely 80s/electro style with computer voices reading silly lyrics.

Getting home at about 8pm I started on the music an hour later. First thing was make some lyrics and record mac voice reading them. Then I loaded them into my recording setup, chose an 80s-ish drum loop and arranged the clips of computer voice to fit in time and built a song structure around them. Then next was the fun part of playing in different melodies and bass lines. This part I could easily spend all day just playing around with different sounds and patterns. But in a game jam you have to be very strict with time. You can download the final track here.

Meanwhile Freddie had been getting on with the art. He didn’t disappoint and made some great character art that fit the theme perfectly. And then made us a brilliant title page on the Sunday.

The end result was pretty cool. Darren had got in the basic gameplay as we had discussed and we had a playable game. Always a good achievement for such a short time period!

I wonder if Zynga will offer to buy the rights? 😉

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