Any conflict ? Fight ! No, don’t fight.
Summer 2014, religious conflicts and international conflicts get bigger and bigger, I want a game that brings a little something to my credo (at that time) we can solve conflicts without violence that I apply since my childhood. So I ask Louis and Gwenaëlle, two game designers currently interns at Equilibre Games to think about ideas of video games that are simple to play and answer this credo. They show us the ideas they come up with, we select some of them, brainstorm with the whole team and here it is: characters from three different cultural territories have to co-exist on the same territory, a puzzle game with hexagonal tiles and constraints to respect for each character to put on the board.
Hey, it’s the Game Connection event very soon, we could present this game to publishers!
Yes, at that time we go deep into the mood of different people having conflicts they have to solve. I let graphists go where they want for the visual style of the game, game designers take care also of the level design (we are a small team, each one of us make multiple tasks) and we get a very good game, with about 30 levels with a great difficulty curve.
An arabian man, a russian woman and a basque face each others
Three populations, Iran conflicts, a big fat Cliché: we did not pass. In fact, we did not even think of that, no one in the team, including me, that leads all of that, I did not realize that could shock or create any issue: that was totally aligned with the news, so why put that aside? We assume, that’s all. And it’s not about fighting each other: on the contrary, we show that it’s possible to live together!
At last, publishers we meet like the concept, the gameplay idea but they say that visually, it’s too oriented for them to integrate the game in their catalog. I let you judge.
Ok, so what is the gameplay?
Maybe I should detail that to you: you have to put on the field characters one after another, each one with its own sensibility. Some can require 2, 3 or 5 fellow citizens next to them, some won’t be bothered to be next to 1, 3 or 6 foreigners (people from another culture) with them. You have to put the citizen on the correct location without starting a conflict. From 0 to 6 as we use hexagon tiles and so you can’t have more than 6 people around one.
Each level is designed by hand, with a level editor coded for this game, we have buildings that complete the design on higher levels: water sources for example will increase tolerance of characters near them, temples decrease the needs of citizens, etc. The landscape is also put by hand, with rivers, carts, and other purely cosmetics elements.
Ok then, but what is the link with French Tech?
After failing to sell this concept to publishers, and the fact that we can not handle publishing by ourselves, we decide to include this game in our white-label catalog, but of course with different visuals, very simple, and the ability to have infinite number of levels. That’s also a promise of our catalog, the infinite gameplay, so we replace a part of the designed levels with a procedural generation of levels. And I can assure you that took a little while to find the correct algorithm to have a nice difficulty curve with interesting levels. The first release was in fact quite a mess.
Why do I speak about French Tech?
That was our first customer for this game: the SPN network that I was some months after Vice-President, is a network that has many goals, one of them being to help and promote digital companies and the area they reside in, which represents around 200 companies at that time, nothing else. When they were chosen to create the themed network for #edtech and #entertainment of the New Aguitaine region, we helped communicate about that with a smartphone, using French Tech colors, a reskin done for this event. We even included a little chick drawn using the same guidelines as the French Tech roaster, congratulations to Meghan for that as the chick had an awesome welcome among players!
So here it is, almost two years after an engaged game, he finally reached the stores as a watered down version under the name of Edutainment solver.
(sorry for the not synchronized audio)
- Development: James Van Der Straeten, Jérémy Valéro
- Game Design, Level Design: Gwenaëlle Legoff, Louis Denizet
- Graphisms: Stéphane Landry, Meghan Martin, Coralie Sanchez
- Sound effects and music: Game Audio Factory
- Additionnal development: Frédéric Rolland-Porché, Benoit Constantin, Guillaume Thorel