Global Game Jam 2014: Kiki Vs Bouba

KvB Lv2 screenshotA death match between KIKI and BOUBA in a fast paced, sports arena. Face your friend, or enemy, in this futuristic, bouncy, tactical sport of area domination and control!

Click here to play in browser

||– Instructions –|| * Player 1: W,A,S,D * Player 2: I,J,K,L * Maintain the lead by covering the walls with as much of your “taint” as possible. Connected areas give more points! * If you’re in the lead, hit the other player to win the round! * Let the cat and mouse chase begin.

This weekend I took part in the Global Game Jam, hit the jump to see more shots and see the development process!



After gathering into team, we got our heads together and started to throw ideas around. The general tone of things we were throwing around at first were somewhat action-puzzle-platformer based, such as an idea involving a blind spot and changing ones view of a scene using different glasses, a game where the mood changes as the player changes, a mad computer AI sucking people out into space and a kindergartener using their imagination to escape daycare.

Multiplayer/co-op was something we were eager to pursue, and after scratching our heads as to how we could implement that into an action situation ( It was hard to see a ‘game’ in many of our ideas), I suggested we turn away from 2D platformers and perhaps think about other ways players could interact, such as a sport. We also considered games such as “Go” or Chess, where one player must use strategy to win territory over another, though turn-based games were ruled out as Design were eager to keep the game fast-paced. From this we got our base idea- a game where you would compete, in an arena, to make the world more like yourself – to see the world as you are by changing it.


moodboard KBsm Visual/Tonal influences moodboard

The Arena

I started by looking at the arena, as this would help to set the tone.

court variationsI created the art on my cintiq 12wx, which isn’t that great for colours, so everything is about 50% more saturated than how I thought I was painting it. In the end this didnt take away from the ‘arcade’ feel we were going for, so I didn’t push the assets back to base.

KBWallsI went for a deep blue as the base colour as it remains relatively neutral and provides a better base to contrast other vivid coloursagainst.

Kiki vs Bouba – FX

The two ‘teams’ competing in the arena are based on the sound/shape experiment ‘Bouba/Kiki effect’, something which came up during our brainstorming session. Read more about it here.

The basic premise is that you’re shown a spiky shape and a rounded shape, and asked which is Kiki and which is Bouba. We never actually tell the player who is Kiki and who is Bouba, you’re free to decide for yourself, or to project your own interpretations, seeing the shapes not as they are but as you perceive them. Getting the character designs for Kiki and Bouba correct was important, but first I considered basic shapes and colours for each, while our sound guy worked to define the noises each made. Our base assumption was that Kiki would be something of a crystal creature, while Bouba would be more squishy and gooey, the idea being that Kiki and Bouba were deadly bio-engineered organisms who spread themselves around the arena, leaving patches which would grow and eat into the world. In practical terms, however, we had two ways of doing this – either the characters would leave decals on the walls/floor, or they would leave masks which would show an alternate arena colour scheme/texture. The final look was achieved with some coder trickery, below are my exploratory sketches.

KBsplats For a while I was looking at a green vs pink colour contrast, below are the backgrounds /effects which are themed this way. The final game switched to an orange/green look as the final effect was slightly different to what I thought it would be, and an orange/green effect worked better with the additive glow effects and made the game feel more vibrant.

GOOP-(2) CRYSTAL-(2)kB splats2

Character Design

Next came the character design. I started with the blobby green character, who I imagined would be some sort of fungus or squidgy bug like creature.

boubaCharThe character had to be simple so that it would not get lost in the action. The only animation we would have would be in the characters bouncing and rotating as it moved around the arena, so I tried to keep the design somewhat symmetrical and neutral so that there was no ‘correct’ position for the character to stand in.

boubaThe final character. The spiky crystal character was far easier and faster to design!


kiki GUI

The designers tasked me with adding two GUI elements to the game- a ‘swing-ometer’ style element to show who was currently winning, and a basic timer.


Of course, we had a problem, in a game where the arena and playspace is so important, adding these elements on top of the arena would necessitate either them being slightly transparent, or changes to the level design in order to get them to fit in place. Back to the drawing board, this time looking at using spaces which would not be blocked by in-game elements.

GUI2One problem I noticed was players not being sure which character they controlled, so I placed K and B on the sides relative to the starting position of each character/player. (The game is played by two people on a single keyboard). Of course, we never refer to Kiki and Bouba as their names, so the letters were swiftly changed to show a silhouette of each character instead! ( The final game uses a simple bar in place of the white neon of this concept and some intro and win/lose text which was created while I slept )

Level Blockers

My final task was to paint in the walls which created the blockers in each level.

level1 level2 level3

Final Game

jam screens

Click here to play in browser

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