Friday, August 29, 2014

Into the World of Duende!

By: LJ Gutierrez
Let's start things off with a technical definition for the word Duende. A duende is a fairy- or goblin-like mythological creature from Iberian, Latin American and Filipino folklore. Duendes may also have some traits similar to goblins and kobolds. The word is often considered to be the Spanish and Portuguese equivalent of the English word "sprite" or the Japanese word yokai and is used as an umbrella term for any fairy-like being such as goblins, pixies and elves. (Source: Wikipedia)

It started when I had an inkling to make a game for my own daughter. I thought to myself, what type of game can a one year old like her play? I saw her tapping at just about anything she can see on my Galaxy S2. I had an idea. I'm going to make a Whack-a-mole game! Shortly afterwards I went to the play store and downloaded some Whack-a-mole games. I observed how they are played, and when I got the feel of it I started designing one of my own.

Racer X, a Road Fighter clone
This wasn't really the very first computer game I ever made. I have some experience in game development. After all it has been my hobby since college -- when I first learned about programming. Sadly though my works range from what can only be considered as mini-games (e.g. Worm, Road Fighter clone) to short RPGs, where only 1 out of 4 is actually finished and downloadable somewhere on the internet. Long story short, my degree of proficiency in game development is just a notch above that of a hobbyist's, and I owe this to six months of working for an actual Game Publishing company. I wasn't delusional about my experience, but I know where my talents lie. I was confident that I can publish a game for commercial consumption, but I know that I had to start small.

3D Snake
Trio of Destruction, a JRPG
Heraldry: Freija, the game that I really wanted to make someday

As you can see, I'm no stranger to creating game environments. Over the years I have developed this ability to conceptualize how I want my game to look like, and how to present it to people. For the Whack-a-mole game I was going to make, I had to think of a theme. I had to think of characters people can relate to. I had to come up with something feasible. Lastly, I want to put a little of my own childhood in it.

When I was a child, I use to hear a lot of stories about these small creatures called Dwende. Our folks would tell kids stories about the good and the evil types of dwendes. Primarily they're tools to ensure we are well behaved. When we tend to wander off they would say that we're disturbing the dwende's homes, pointing at the lump of earth they called punso. A few years later I've learned that they're either anthills or termite mounds. While I was generally scared of the bad dwendes, I'd always imagine meeting at least the good ones.

Since dwendes are a memorable part of my childhood, I chose to base my first game around them. The premise of Duende! is simple: the Duendes are out and they want to play with you! This mirrored my longing to meet an actual dwende and play with them when I was a boy. There was a story for the game, but I've decided to go with a simple, more casual tone for the presentation. After all this is just a whack-a-mole clone. There's not much story to add to make it any more interesting. If I do decide to tell their story, it will be in a different game. Maybe a RPG or a Strategy game, who knows?

If ever I get the chance to turn Duende! into a strategy game,
I'll definitely be borrowing elements from Pikmin.

Let's get to know our little friends, shall we?

First off we have the Green duendes. They are most common types and are easily captured. They are Patrick, Annie, and Clomp.

Patrick and Annie are fond of people, while Clomp is very shy.

Next, we have the Blue duendes. They are also common duendes, but more sturdy than most, due to the invisible barrier they cast on themselves. They are Harry, Marilyn, and Principe.

In case you're wondering, Harry is the twin brother of Patrick. Marilyn was obviously inspired by Marilyn Monroe, and Principe was inspired by Prinsipe K from a local sitcom Okay Ka, Fairy Ko!

Prinsipe K

The only Red duende featured in the game is Doze the Sleepyhead. He likes to sleep all day, and hates it when disturbed. He shoots out projectiles from his slingshot.

Bully is a Black duende who dislikes people. He is big and strong and can throw projectiles with his bare hands.

The game features two kinds of Yellow duendes: Pat and Momo.

Pat is Patricks and Harry's brother. Yes they are triplets. Momo likes to travel and to tinker with things. These two when combined with other types of duendes give out bonus score and a special effect for manipulating time.

Mother Queen is the only White duende in the game. She has the power to heal wounds and restore lifeforce. She is very kind and caring. She can cast a protective barrier on herself too, being a powerful duende, but she chose not to for the sake of evening the playing field.

Living on the trees is Mama Jujoo. She is a Fruit duende who, along with other Fruit duendes, take care of the trees that bear fruits.

The Hermit is a type of duende that hates company. They are very reclusive and will even go as far as to zap other duendes away (back to their home world, don't worry).

Finally we have the court Jester. In the game he is referred to as the Cymbalist. He is very playful and pleasant, although a little too mischievous. He intentionally makes noise to wake up the cat and get the player into trouble.

Catch the Cymbalists before the make a noise!

And there you have it. Now you know a little more about the duendes. On my next Duende! coverage we will discuss the game mechanics, the combos, and the quests. Hopefully I can drop some hints that will help you on the tougher levels. See you again soon, and don't forget to leave your comments!

In case you haven't played Duende! yet, you can download it from the Play Store:
Duende! on Google Play Store

To contact the author of this post, write to

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hobbi Games Says Hello

Hello World!

Welcome to Hobbi Games. We are a small Philippines based team of game developers who wish to create games that people would love and enjoy. We all have full time jobs and this little venture is something we do on the sideline. Speaking for myself though, I'd be willing to quit my day job and work on Hobbi Games full time. Hopefully that day would come real soon! :)

To introduce ourselves, I am Lorie Jay Gutierrez, founder, CEO, and owner of Hobbi Games. I'm a professional Software Engineer by day, ninja graphics artist, programmer, composer, and game designer by night. Aside from programming, I like to draw, play music, play video games, and play tennis.

The co-founder, and the person actually responsible for the name “Hobbi Games”, is Jacquelyn Gutierrez. She’s a programmer mainly responsible for the backend and platform specific features (Achievements, Leaderboards, etc.). She’s got a professional background as a Facebook game developer. In case you’re wondering about our surnames, she’s my wife. She also likes to play tennis, and dancing.

Jayson Cerbas is a hardcore gamer who currently works as a Senior Software Engineer. He started learning game development using XNA Game Studio, cross-platform game development using Cocos2D, and Unity3D. Aside from programming, he also likes 3D Graphics modeling and animation, playing a guitar, playing video games, playing basketball, and collecting/playing Magic: The Gathering trading card game.

The newest member of Hobbi Games, Aesel James "AJ" Loreto, is a Systems Executive based in Singapore. He is learning his way around the game development world and is now focused on assisting with logic programming. He enjoys singing, and playing video games.

A bit of history here, Hobbi Games was founded by me and my wife sometime last year (2013). Since playing Age of Empires from a friend’s house way back then I've been aspiring to become a game developer. Having to set priorities in life, I had to choose a different path, and am living it right now, but I've decided that it’s time I follow the road I've always wanted to follow. Anyway, all this personal stuff is better written on its own article. :)

After Hobbi Games was founded we worked on our first game, Duende!. It was late October 2013 when I started drafting the designs in my head. By November I had some sketches out on paper, and by December the coding started. Having just heard of Unity 4.3 and it’s new native 2D support, I decided to go for it. Before Unity 4.3 I’ve already messed around with Cocos2D, Android SDK, and Unity3D for developing games on the mobile platform. Unity proved to be the easiest to develop into, so I went with that. I had to learn C# along the way, but being familiar with Java, and professionally experienced with C++, I didn’t have any problem at all. It also helps that my good friend Dr. Google always have the answers.

We worked on Duende! for about a month. I was mainly working on the core gameplay and graphics, Jacque works on the platform-specific parts. When the core game was in place we decided to contact our closest friends who were also into game development. Incidentally these were my former officemates from my previous work. I figured I only needed an extra hand for Duende!, since it’s a relatively small game. That was when Jayson joined the project. He worked mainly as the level programmer/designer and helped shape Duende! to what it is today.

Despite working as a team, we don’t really have an office. Of course me and my wife are in the same house, but on Jayson’s case we only communicate through chat and occasional meet-ups to discuss concepts that would be difficult to express in writing.

AJ joined the team when we're working on our third game, Super Tiny Monkey. Like Jayson, we only communicate via chat. He is based in Singapore after all. He’s mainly a programmer, but occasionally shares input regarding game design.

Hobbi Games is new, and young. I'd like to believe that we have a good thing going for us here, and we count on your support so we can continue making good, fun, and enjoyable games!
- LJ Gutierrez

Gnome More War Switch Preview: The World

Gnome More War takes place in the fantasy continent of Skyra. It features 6 maps scattered across the central part of the continent. After F...