Urustar

Game Design From Outer Space

Follow the rhythm of the Universe!

Samsara

Samsara


It was back in 2012 when we – as a company – joined a Global Game Jam (GGJ) for the first time. Our team was made up of 6 people: the four of us (Federico, Marina, Lorenzo and Alessandra), Luca (a funny tall student who was getting an internship at Urustar) and Alessandra’s husband (yeah, he was so eager to join a GGJ and see what it was about we just couldn’t deny him this pleasure).

That time the assigned GGJ theme was somehow really cool: the Ouroboros.

Ouroboros is a circular symbol depicting a snake, or less commonly a dragon, swallowing its tail, as an emblem of wholeness or infinity

When the jam officially began, we sat around a table and the (pretty long) brainstorming started. We immediately focused on the cyclicality of the Ouroboros and, aiming to create a game which could somehow represent its symbolism, we looked into Samsara:

Saṃsāra
or
Sangsāra
is the repeating cycle of birth, life and death (reaincarnation) within asian religions, according to which, a person’s current life is only one of many—stretching back before birth into past existences and reaching forward beyond death into future incarnations. During the course of each life the quality of the actions (karma) performed determine the future destiny of each person.

 

It seemed to us that the Samsara perfectly exemplified the Ouroboros, so we went for it and built our concept around the wheel of life and existence which is used to represent the Samsara in iconography.

We draw a fancy wheel and a little hamster spinning on it restlessly (just because there’s no spinning wheel without a hamster, right?), then we planned the evolution to be experienced during the gameplay, which had to represent the process of cycling through one rebirth after another, going from lower to higher realms of existence.

At this point we had set the evolution of the “being” running on our colourful Samsara wheel, who was meant to evolve from snake to God level through a given amount of intermediate steps. That was when we figured we could turn this little game into a rhythm game and make so that the evolution depended on how good a player was at following the rhythm and hitting the right key at the right time.

So, the final goal of our game became this: Follow the rhythm of the Universe in order to live your life, die and reincarnate into a superior being. Reach Buddha and set the hamster free. And that’s basically it.

All in all we were happy with this first experience at a GGJ: it was fun, we successfully tested our team and, yes! we managed to finish Samsara on time! You know, you can’t take that for granted when you join a game jam!