Public Domain Jam – Kalevipoeg and the Base Code

In the next few hours, the game jam that I’ve been the most excited about this year is about to start. It’s the Public Domain Jam.

The idea for the PD Jam is to make a game based on existing stories or characters that are so old that they are no longer gripped by the chains of copyright. There are so many wonderful stories to choose from – Dracula, Odysseus, The Phantom of the Opera… well lets just say there are tons.

When the PD Jam was first announced I had planned to make a Frankenstein game. The main idea of the game would feature you playing as the main character robbing graves to cobble together different parts of different people to make a “monster”. The resulting monster would have had different stats and skills depending on which parts of which people you stitched together. Along with some compatibility issues too.

With this idea in mind I started reading Frankenstein (for the first time). I had watched the Bobby De Niro version a long time ago but my memory of it is very foggy. After getting around half way through the book (which is excellent by the way) I realised that most of what I had planned for my game never took place in the book at all. Frankenstein didn’t go grave robbing – he got his body parts using his medical connections.

Before long – with a little encouragement from Estonian friends on Twitter – I decided to switch my game to be about Kalevipoeg, the epic Estonian poem. That same day I took the English translation of the book out of the Tartu library and started to read it. It’s a fascinating tale though the eponymous Kalevipoeg doesn’t really come across as much of a hero.

Anyway, I decided that I would make an RPG style game – not too dissimilar in style to what you would play in RPG Maker – based around one or two tales from Kalevipoeg.

I have created a base for the game that uses bits of code that I’ve used for previous games. This will be my base that I will build the main mechanics (whatever they may be!) for my Kalevipoeg game.

The base code is 100% web based (HTML5/CSS/JavaScript/Canvas) and is able to import Tiled JSON files for quick level generation.

I’m fairly sure no one will have a use for it, but in spirit of the competition I have put it on Github so anyone is welcome to use it. Though really if you have experience with any other tool like GameMaker or Construct 2 you’re probably best sticking to what you know!

The plan is to keep updating it and use it as base code for future projects. It’s nowhere near as good as I want it to be but maybe one day I’ll be happy with it. 😉

If you want to use it, the code is available on Github. You can also try the live demo of the base code here. If you have any questions or feedback, please contact me on Twitter or leave a comment below.

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