Alan Vitek

Bamboo Blade – A Game We Made

By Alan Vitek

January 12, 2014

Since my old website crashed, I don’t have a standard “portfolio” that most designers have on their websites. But I kinda think a blog is more my thing. I would rather ramble and have a dynamic presence, then have a static collection of… things.

So, anyway, one time James and I spent a weekend building a game. That game is called “Bamboo Blade.” As of this writing, the app is currently not on the App Store, but we both hope we can find time to wrap it up and publish very soon.

Bamboo Blade was made during a three day (more like 48 hours) game jam. Typically, game jams are official events where many development teams will enter to compete against each other to see who can make the best game in a short amount of time. Since James and I were basically experimenting, we weren’t participating in an official jam, but we acted like we were. Worked all night and day, lived off of caffeine and pretzels, and designed/coded until we passed out from lack of sleep.

One of the biggest debates we had that weekend was whether or not this app would be considered a game or a toy. To shed some light on this, we both really respect the efforts made by Toca Boca, a “digital toy” app company that specializes in apps for children. Their culture insists that the games they make are considered toys because there isn’t a way to win. You just play. And they are successful. Like, REALLY successful.

Originally we had agreed to make the app a “game,” and we had designed/dreamed up a variety of ways to incorporate game-like elements. But ultimately, we thought the simple ability to cut and slice things offered more overall fun than other elements we had added, so we went back to considering the app a ‘toy.’

As of today, I think we could go back and rehash old ideas and cultivate a larger experience for the app, but it probably still falls into the toy category more than the game category.

The game is entirely 3D, and all of the slices you make to the bamboo are dynamic, unlike games like Fruit Ninja, and the bamboo actually gets cut along the angles you slice.

Creating Bamboo Blade in a weekend was a great lesson in rapid development. We were able to iterate very quickly and create something while remaining in the passion of the moment.

In the future, we have a few more ideas we would like to try in this fashion and see how the public responds to them. I think it would be cool to be a company that creates “test” games and then refine the ones that people respond the most to.