The Last Book

Last weekend, I attended the second annual Global Game Jam at NYU. The Game Jam is a sort of worldwide endurance/speed game-development event in which teams come together and in the course of 48 hours conceive, design, and produce an entire game. The results tend to be quick, dirty, and a little rough around the edges, but often innovative and off-the-wall.

This year, the theme was "Deception," and in the GMT -5:00 time zone, the design constraints were "Rain, a Plain, or Spain." You can check out all the games created for the event at the GGJ website.

I'd like to present our team's game: an action/strategy game for the iPhone called The Last Book.

In The Last Book, civilization has been destroyed by a neverending rainfall. Everything, it seems, has been washed away. Generations after the onset of the deluge, you are the Librarian, tasked with protecting the last book in existence, the only remaining example of the written word. Keep the book dry by collecting and diverting the falling rain, and do your best to hold back the flood.

The rain falls relentlessly, wearing down whatever it touches. Play by arranging pots to collect the water and protect your structure from damage. As the pots get full, you can dump them safely out in the wells. Over time, your pots will wear down, too, so use your kilns to fire up new ones. Protect your kilns, also, because the rain will quickly put them out if they get wet.

Just hold out until the clouds break (two minutes) to collect your reward.

And at all costs, don't let any rain fall on the Book!

Controls: Tap the pots to move them. Select the brick you want to place the pot on, or tap a well to empty the pot. Up to three emptied pots will be stored in each well; tap the well again to retrieve a pot. Tap a kiln that's fired up to start a new pot, then tap it again to remove the pot when it's done.

Currently, in order to play The Last Book, you must have a Mac with the iPhone SDK installed. Download the package and compile the game file in Xcode to play.

For those who are unable to try it out personally, here's a video showing the gameplay:

The Last Book was made with a five-person team, which we christened Brainfall Studios. It was a wonderful group to work with, and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to get to know them. Here are the credits:

Design, Story: Jess Haskins
Level Design: Ray Reilly
Programming: Ulf Schwekendiek
Art: R.M. Sean Jaffe
Music & Sound: Justin Mathews

(The team from left to right: Sean, Ray, Ulf, Jess, and Justin).

We had a great time, and we're all interested in continuing to work on the game to flesh it out and eventually release it on the app store. I'll be sure to let you know about it when we do!

For now, here's the link to the game's page on the GGJ site: The Last Book.

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Blogger Princess Haiku:

Jess, what learning games do you recommend for little kids? Your blog seems lively as ever.

Blogger Jess Haskins:

Hello -- good to see you in these parts again. :)

I'm afraid I don't have a very good answer about games for children; I'm more focused on games as learning and entertainment experiences for adults. What age are we talking about? And are you looking for specifically educational games that teach specific concepts, or just good games for children that are edifying in general? (For that, I've heard excellent things about Animal Crossing for Wii.)

The site Edutaining Kids (www.edutainingkids.com) has extensive reviews of titles for every platform if you want to evaluate a specific game, or you could just take a look at their top recommendations for the different platforms and age groups.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help. Hope you find what you're looking for!

Blogger Princess Haiku:

Hi Jess,
Thanks for the link; looks interesting so I book marked it and will browse through it later. It is raining and raining here although that's better than snow. -Except when it floods.


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