Capoeira – a real life game

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I have been traveling these past months and I can’t say that it has not inspired me in many ways. Russia was a great country and before I even noticed I made some achievement icons for RhubberMan that kinda contained that red Soviet feel ūüôā

But my latest trip to Serbia took my inspiration for a spin like never before. I was on a big Capoeira event where almost all of the most famous Masters held classes for students from all over the world. I have been training for 5 years and the feeling is still the same as the first day I tried it. JUST GRAND!

But as I mentioned in a previous article¬†once you have the Eyes of game design you see everything as a game. Capoeira is easy to be regarded in this manner because this is exactly what it is – A GAME. It is a cultural phenomenon, a martial art that can really help with self-defense, a big spiritual boost, a healthy life philosophy and much more…

For me Capoeira means a lot, but on my blog I would like to focus on game-design and will try to describe Capoeira as a game:

Capoeira is a real-life¬†multiplayer¬†game played by minimum of 2 players but it is usually played by more than ten people. Everything starts and ends with and within the circle called the “roda”. It is a circle formed by people who are waiting to enter the game (to go inside the circle) and people who are playing various instruments.

A top down view would look like this (gta 1 style):

roda

Rules are everywhere. The play zone itself is formed out of players, so it is easy to make the zone smaller or bigger. The diameter of the circle is directly connected with the difficulty of the game. If it is extra small, that’s ULTRA HARD difficulty, while when it is large, the game is in easy mode. Players that are playing are guided by the music played by the band called “Bateria”. The type of the beat and the tempo directly dictates the speed and type of movements they use in the game.

Here is an example of the most basic beat:

Movements are split into escapes and attacks. One attacks, the other escapes then attacks and so on. Accompanied by acrobatics and smooth circle shaped movements, Capoeira is fun¬†to watch almost as much as it is to actually play. All movements require speed, strength, endurance and stamina (RPG elements ūüėõ ) and players get tired quickly(especially level 1 players).

This is why players switch often. A rested player who was forming the circle (on cool-down) by standing (while at the same time clapping and singing the song currently played) goes into¬†the “entrance” zone (see photo above), kneels and waits an approval from the leader of the band. Once the approval is given¬†he/she enters and plays with the more rested player inside the circle. The other player who is taken out of the game quickly goes to the “exit” zone, catches his breath, stands still and instantly starts singing and clapping. As new rested players go in the “entrance” zone, tired players go to the exit zone and thus the circle moves flawlessly from both sides. Everyone will play, everyone will rest, players will mix so that everyone plays against everyone.

It is a simple yet brilliantly made game system which evolved through the course of around 300 years.

As with many games, Capoeira also has many secrets for those who know where to look. More experienced players already have the skill “fluent in Portuguese” which enables them to understand every song and decipher the story behind it and the metaphor it represents. For example through a certain song a Master can secretly notify his student of a certain change in the game, warn him of a dangerous opponent or tell him to go easy. Another skill that is developed through continuous game sessions is the ability to always be aware of your surroundings. In this game, multitasking is key! Players must be aware of everyone’s attitude while standing in the circle, they should also clap and sing at the same time, follow the game of the players inside the circle, follow the songs, move a bit when the circle moves, watch their breathing, be ready to go in and to go out and lots of other things ALL at the same time.

Therefore, Capoeira is a big game with a lot of mini games which offer tons of variety and make every session feel fresh and different – there’s just sooo much to learn. One class you’ll learn to play on an instrument, on another you will learn your first direct hit, another time you will only sing.

The only game element which is not present in Capoeira is safety. Usually games keep players safe. Whatever happens in the game doesn’t apply in real life. Being a real life game, Capoeira influences all aspects of one’s life, if you make a mistake, you will be hit, if you don’t sing with real emotion the lack of energy will be felt and other players won’t get buffed by you. So please do not regard Capoeira as a versus fighting game. It is a cooperative game which teaches about team spirit, friendship, happiness, compassion, hardships and overcoming problems.

It is a game everyone should try.

Read more:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capoeira

Play this game:

http://www.shockwave.com/gamelanding/capfighter3.jsp

And no matter where you are in the world, ask for the group called Senzala. There you will learn to play the game!

http://www.barrapulmao.rs/ -Capoeira in Serbia

http://www.decacapoeira.com/ -Capoeira in Serbia for Kids

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The languages of Game Design

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If you want to be a game designer you need to be more than that. By more, I mean being a: friend, boss, 2D & 3D artist, composer, coder, level designer, writer, producer and much more… While working on Rhubber Man with a team of three people which grew on the Alt Ctrl Game Jam to FIVE I found myself in different roles. Among them were:¬†art director, developer assistant, project manager, product owner… which are quite different positions from what I’ve seen from the corporate atmosphere of companies I’ve worked in. The work of these people is highly complicated and has evolved over the years into many separate fields which all posses a science of their own. A casual game designer knows game design, but only knows bits and pieces of everything else. Apart from the ability to create a game in your head, you need to have the skills to put that on paper and to explain your idea clearly to everyone in your team. But¬†“clearly explain” can become a big issue here. Communication is vital in an indie game dev. team and in order for the game designer to be listened and understood he needs to speak several languages:

  • Coder Language:¬†Game Designers don’t need to know many programming languages but they should try and learn the basics of the languages or engines which are used in the team. They should also try and recognize which engines could suit their coders better. ¬†For example, before we started using Construct 2¬†I found about the game engine through LudumDare, got into it a bit and then explained the basics to my dear coder Helion. Today, Helion is light years away from me in Construct 2 but this is how it should be ūüôā Coders want simple and straightforward solutions, they are interested in the functions and features that¬†a game¬†will have. They don’t care about art, story or¬†music. Yet once there’s a complete prototype they give valuable feedback on all the things they don’t care about ūüôā

 

  • Art Language:¬†These are the people who will listen to the game’s story. Artists are interested in transferring the feelings of the game designer¬†in the game. If every thought is turned into suitable art then their mission is complete. They love to draw, make sketches, make errors and can be lazy at times. You can always go into details with them, talk about the smallest things such as a character’s eyebrows, muscle veins, texture details etc… Go really in depth with them, open your creative self and listen to their ideas. Artists care about art, story AND music!

 

  • Music Language:¬†I consider myself weakest in this language although I have spoken in twice already with¬†my dear sound engineer Bole. Don’t know how other game designers speak this language but I do with an almost finished product. I usually work on a prototype and sometimes show it to the composer, but ¬†nice game-play with some art already implemented is as a far more suitable choice. Having this, the sound guy will fully understand the game and the feel, he will look at the colors, the characters and enemies and the game will speak his language instead of you. Two times have I done this(not to many times to generalize anything) and two times the music and sound effects did not fail. ¬†Music people are also interested in the art and story. It helps them find the best suitable notes and mix them into something wonderful. The best way to talk their language is to know their language (have some musical background), but if you don’t then describe what players should feel in given moments. Should this be scary, should it evoke happiness or sadness? This is the essence of the music language.

 

  • Player Language:¬†Maybe the last language¬†in this list but a really important one. Presenting the game to your dev. team is one thing, presenting it to the players is completely another. The main difference here is that the other languages in this article thought you how to communicate separate areas of your game. Here you are talking about a complete product. Yes, you can have a development blog, show-off art and music, but If you’re constructing a smaller game you’ll most probably be presenting the complete game. In that case, people regard your game as a….well as a game! They won’t pay special attention to music, art or eyebrow animations (there’s that eyebrow again) but they will feel everything as a part of the experience. So what you should present is the experience itself. It’s the gameplay, the feeling of playing the game. Because this is what will make people try it, buy it, play it, enjoy it. Master this language and the players will be many.

As you can see, the life of a game designer can be hard but becoming a master game design linguist will ease project management, will ensure that all “sectors” of your team work flawlessly and will give birth to a game everyone enjoys playing.