January 10, 2012

iFound Jesus: An Interactive Acrylic Painting

or, My Act of Contrition.

iFound Jesus is my latest iOS creation for the iPhone. It is an interactive acrylic painting, wherein you get to play hide-and-seek with Jesus, his disciples and apostles. When you find them all, Jesus gets to find you!

Basically what happens is this: You start at home base, and have to look behind buildings, trees, graves, and other such objects for Jesus and his friends. Upon finding them, the children begin running, with a 3-second untaggable head start, toward home base. If you manage to catch these elusive youngsters, they will teach you a passage from biblical scripture. Then, when everyone has either been tagged or returned safely to home base, you get to play as Jesus, finding his friends, and ultimately, you.

Screenshot from iFound Jesus for iPhone

Everything in this game, sans text, was painstakingly painted with acrylic at the exact scale of the iPhone screen. Why? Masochism. Personal challenge. Also, I'm a stickler about wasting paint. Mostly, because I wanted what you see on the screen to represent the actual painting itself. I know it would have been much easier to paint everything larger and then downsize them, but having the brush strokes be actual size was important to my vision.

Everything painted at scale of iPhone screen

Once painted, the images were scanned and saved. Each frame of animation was numbered, labelled, and reversed for direction. All in all, each character has between 22 and 28 frames, half of which were painted, at a size that was especially challenging with the types of brushes that I own, and the thickness of the paint applied.

I especially thank this picture for animation models.

It's hard to say how many man-hours went into painting this piece, since I worked on it over the course of a couple months, at short intervals when I had the chance. I must say, however, that overall I was pleased with how the images turned out.

GameSalad is another "no coding required", "build it yourself" game creation engine. In the past, I used the Scrolling Game Development Kit 2 (SGDK2) to create my Adventures of the Overgrown Oatmeal game for the PC, and GameSalad is very similar. The reason I chose GameSalad this time is because they allow for iOS game creation.

Essentially, in GameSalad, you drag and drop the images and sound you wish to include, then go through a veritable labyrinth of drop-down menus in order to create your game. Perfect for people without a lot of coding experience (i.e. Me). Although it crashes frequently, isn't the most efficient method of game creation, nor is it easy to define AI behaviour, GameSalad is a great way for us to create this type of art without spending countless hours in Xcode. In other words, for you more adventurous Moment artists, I highly recommend GameSalad if you wish to give this type of art a go.

Peaceful Play:
For this project, I was going for the most nonviolent, peaceful experience I could think of. A scoreless game of hide-and-seek with the Son of Man seemed to me the most innocent form of game play imaginable.

However, upon reading Devin Monnens' War and Play, it became clear to me that what I created was a jihad against a Christian horde.


Okay, so through a certain lens, this game can be viewed as a seek-and-destroy mission. Please believe that that is not my intention. While I highly recommend reading Mr. Monnens' paper (an analysis of war in games of all sort), I intended this to be a calm, self-paced game of chase and reflection, family friendly for all.

Now that I have become better acquainted with the concept of conflict in games, I have a much better understanding of how to approach my next game, which will instead address conflict resolution.

Intended Rhetoric:
Naturally, I have chosen to try to say something with this game beyond that of just playing hide-and-seek, and beyond that of promoting a peaceful way of thinking.

First of all, there's the very act of searching, actively seeking Jesus, his friends, and more importantly spiritual guidance.

Also, there's the rule that you play as Jesus as often as you play as you. This is me trying to say that we are all one and the same as Jesus.

And yes, I do realize that I painted all characters as white people.

That, too, was intentional.

I'm certainly not a bible thumper in any manner; in fact, I addressed my issues with the Christian concept of God in an earlier blog about my first iPhone app. The Word. This piece of game art is mostly my attempts to reconcile with my own issues. I consider myself a spiritual seeker, yet have hit a road block which I believe I cannot get past until I work through previous foundational trauma. Knowing that I'm not the only one, I hope that this may help others along the way, or if nothing else, awaken others to a different light.

Intended Audience (and Inadvertent Alienation):
Intended audience, again, is mostly myself, and those in the same boat as I. Furthermore, I hope this game can be enjoyed by children while learning about selected beautiful ideas of the bible, without any of the hatred and violence that so profusely scatters its pages.

The problem is the inclusion of Thomas and Mary.

On the one hand, by including some gnostic literature that was not deemed acceptable by the church so long ago, I am trying to spread ideas that are foreign to most of today's Christians, but ideas that are just as enlightening as many other mystical traditions. I consider these relatively recently found writings (Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Mary) just as important as anything included in the New Testament.

Others will disagree. In fact, most may disagree. For that, I am heartily sorry. I realize that this will be a deal-breaker for many. But again, while I would like as large an audience as I possibly can, I will not sacrifice my integrity for a couple bucks.


I am incredibly pleased to have put my heart and time into this project, and am more than happy with the result. Yes, I believe I could have created something "better" by doing the coding myself.

But I didn't want to.

I wanted to enjoy the process of creating a painted work of art, which was both interactive (forgive the term, academics) and as animated as the paintings at Hogwarts. In this arena, I believe I succeeded.

Moreover, I wanted to use this as a tool to alter some signification when it comes to God. Has it worked?

I don't know yet; I have a lot of work to do.

In the meantime, the game is available here: iFound Jesus

Your comments are welcome here, and I would love to hear from you about your experience with this game.

Thank you all for checking in. I can't wait to show you my next project!


January 8, 2012

Cimmerian Cell: My First Card Game

Presented with minimalist artwork to replicate the style of early ASCII mazes, Cimmerian Cell is a logic-based adventure-style card game that brings the concept of randomly computer-generated dungeon games to a non-digital format. The narrative is intentionally left out for maximum imaginative play.

The rules are designed to be simple. There are no character stats to stumble through, and no complex battle system to learn. Games are easy to play for all ages, don't require hours to finish, and allow for virtually limitless dungeon-space possibilities, demanding endless and exciting replayability.

Cimmerian Cell is a single and multiplayer game, provided each player has their own deck.

45x ROOM cards
2x STAIR cards
3x MONSTER cards
1x SWORD card
1x SCEPTER card
2x Instruction cards

Check it out here: Cimmerian Cell

The kids had a blast play-testing this one!