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  • Writer's pictureLoi LeMix

From Game Jam Idea to App Store Release: CalligraTree

Updated: Jan 10, 2020

The Story

Ludum Dare

For Ludum Dare 40, we made a small little game about guiding branches to grow the most beautiful tree you can. You can see the entry here: CalligraTree JAM Entry. We were proud of our work, what we learned, and how we brought it together at the end. However to be honest, we didn’t have high hopes for the entry. It had its limitations, and we knew it.

  • “There’s not much of a challenge here”

  • “Is this even a game?”

  • “I don’t think I’d call this a game”

  • “Where’s the challenge”

  • “It gets quite boring”

These are the things we expected to hear. We were fine with that, as we knew we had made something a little bit unconventional for a Ludum Dare. As long as we scored pretty well (top 25% is good enough for me) in a couple of target categories (graphics and mood) we’d be happy.

The Results

Much to our surprise the feedback we started receiving was fantastic. We’re still not exactly sure what it is about the game that people responded to, but they did. People were playing, commenting, and best of all, sharing their creations in the game with us (without any help from the game mind you, we didn’t get that feature in). Maybe it was such a welcome pace from the fairly high stress level of LD40, maybe our short game loop helped us out, or maybe people just really like trees. For whatever reason(s), it seemed we had stumbled on something people were finding they enjoyed.

Ending with our first “top 10” in a category (mood), and 4 total “top 100” ratings, we were ecstatic with the results, and it helped keep that JAM fire burning. We wanted to do a little more!

Post Jam

Several of those that provided feedback were asking for a mobile version for themselves, or their friends. That sounded like a good idea to us, and gave us a good reason to learn that process with Unity (which we have recently switched to for our non-jam projects as well). So, from the time LD40 results came in, till early this week, we have been putting in some additional time to polish the game, as well as add a few features. I’d say we put another full 40 hour week total into the game over the course of this month and half. (We both have day jobs) This has resulted in what we feel is a solid app that keeps the spirit of CalligraTree in tact!

Available now, you can get them on:

Bonus: Because of my nationality, I was able to promote this game and share with it my Vietnamese friends and family on a local and global scale. The best thing was seeing my mom, an elder woman who has NEVER played a game in her life, enjoying some pretty zen-filled moments growing an Apricot Blossom, or as we Vietnamese calls it, Cây Mai.

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