Sokoban Garden: Android game created with Blender, Inkscape, GIMP

Sokoban Garden: Android game created with Blender, Inkscape, GIMP

A new indie gamedev company Kivano Software released Sokoban Garden — a game created with just free software, such as Blender, Inkscape, GIMP, FontForge, Audacity and others.

Kivano Software is Jakub Grzesik and Izabela Latak, the programmer and the graphic designer respectively. They are young, ambitious and they seem to have a soft spot for free software. Looks like it works: the game already got Silver Medal from Playandroid.com magazine.

Work on the game started in May. It’s difficult to say exactly how much time the team spent on its development, because Jakub was also writing his master thesis, and Izabela was finishing her accounting course that she took specifically to be able to handle financial work in their future indie game dev company.

Toolchain

The making of Sokoban Garden is very well documented in the following video.

Let's sum it up. Blender is used for all the models, exported to OBJ for further use.

Creating a ladybug character with Blender

Inkscape is used for all UV textures:

Creating a UV texture with Inkscape

As well as for all sprites:

Creating sprites with Inkscape

While GIMP is used for prost-processing the sprites:

Editing sprites with GIMP

Izabela chose Inkscape and SVG for source file format for a very simple reason:

When we published our previous game (JellyBalls+), we did a lot of graphics purely in GIMP. Soon it turned out that standard phone screen resolution was rising very rapidly, and we had only our low-resolution graphics. So at some point people started to feel that our game had poor graphics.

As a matter of fact, Inkscape was also used for the game design package and tweaking letter shapes in the game's typeface which was then generated with FontForge.

Sokoban garden prodict design

As you can see from the video, the game was notably prototyped with physical models first. Izabela explains:

When I worked on a new game, I like to create small paper prototype. This is helping me to feel and understand desired atmosphere for the game. It helps me to find proper style for the game.

Finally, they also used YASC — an open source implementation of the Sokoban game for Windows. But in a quite different way:

YASC was used only as a tool. It’s very nice for creating and testing sokoban levels. Initially we were trying to design our levels on the paper. But then it became obvious, that this is very tough task (we can’t test these levels easily, sometimes we were not even sure if certain puzzles were solvable or not).

YASC is great “command center” for every experienced Sokoban fan. Thanks to this program, you can play Sokoban, design your own levels, modify them of the fly, try to make them harder, and finally you can check if your levels are solvable.

But what about producing the games? What game engine did they use? None, as it turns out.

No game engine? Really?

Another notable thing is that the team deliberately decided against using a game engine. Jakub has a point:

We wanted to develop this game entirely on a Linux machine. That is the reason why we don’t even look at professional engines like Unity, or ShiVa 3D (a ShiVa 3D port for Linux is a work in progress though).

When it comes to Blender engine, it’s not designed for mobile games (I’m not sure if there is awork in progress on that right now). I think I should also mention JMonkey engine here (if someone is trying to make their own decision).

In the end, we wanted to be sure that it will be relatively easy to publish our game for other platforms in the future. We would love to make an Ubuntu port some day.

So instead they used the Universal Tween Engine to animate decoration elements, as well as breathing animation for the ladybug character, and the libgdx library for building the whole game.

“This libgdx library was quite easy to use,” — says Jakub — “it doesn’t impose anything, so you are not forced to do things in “one proper way”, you can experiment as much as you like and however you like”.

Did it work well enough?

Sokoban Garden screenshot

Even with low-poly object the game looks and feels quite fun.

Workflow

Jakub and Izabela had a lot of troubles with project management in the beginning and even tried to use Basecamp. That didn't work well. “I wanted to make some indie games” — says Izabela — “not learn how to perform good project management!”

So they tried to simplify it all and went for services like Dropbox and Google Docs. Izabela explains:

In Dropbox we create folder structure for things that are “waiting for deploy” and it’s equivalent for already realised things.

We also use Google Docs a lot. We especially like drawing functionality. Thanks to drawings and instant synchronisation we are able to discuss quickly new ideas. When it comes to code management, we are using Mercurial because of its simplicity.

The future

As you read this, Kivano Software is working on their next game due to be released in two months. It's going to be a variation of “4 in line” with a twist, and the team is using the very same toolchain.

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83 Comments

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  1. What a fantastic testimony of FLOSS-only in Indie gaming. :) Great game BTW.

  2. Good article (as always) and very nice workflow on this game design. Enjoyed reading it.

    Game looks marvelous.
    I don’t have Android here and now, but I watched sample video, and must share similar feeling as one of the reviewers on Google Play - bug breathing is a bit scary or so. It appears neat and somehow realistic, but it has also unsettling effect
    Maybe on purpose, don’t know

    Cheers

  3. How come I can’t find anything anywhere mentioning what license the game itself uses?

  4. This game was created to earn money for a living, so it is closed source :)

  5. Ok, thanks for clarifying. I do not blame the developers, and I understand the complex realities that could make them go that way, but I do not accept the simplistic idea that to-earn-money-for-a-living, it automatically follows that software should be proprietary.

    Our economic system is unfortunately set up to bias developers to choose proprietary licenses in order to get paid. That’s unfortunate. I’m actually working on creating a new fundraising system to help pay developers who choose Free/Libre/Open licenses.

    We should celebrate developers like this who make the most of FLOSS tools. I certainly don’t want to demonize them. But we should not accept the idea that proprietary licensing is necessary to make money.

    Their license decision, while understandable, is unfortunate, not a happy thing.

  6. Alexandre Prokoudine 03 December 2012 at 7:42 pm

    @Aaron Is your system a public project at this point?

  7. Basically I agree with you, but I don’t really see a point in open sourcing game like this at this point (I don’t really see a point in open sourcing any commercial game at start point - espacially on android - that simply does not make any sense. And this is not not only my opinion. Some developers who are constantly putting huge amount of work into open sourced game libraries think exactly the same). (Im more like Linus, not Stallman when it comes to philosophy). But I clearly see the point in open sourcing tools for creating games (I’m currently developing a small one, (level design tool you can see on the video) and this one at some point will definitelly be open sourced).

  8. @Alexandre: No, I am still working out legal status, policies, and the technical system is just a work in progress. We’re recruiting a steering committee and lots is yet to do. If you’re interested, send me a private e-mail.

    @Jakub: I am more sympathetic to RMS than to Linus, but I am still pragmatic. I want everyone to be included and work together. I respect the practical need to get paid and that’s why I’m working on helping improve funding for FLOSS. I also AGREE with you that there is a continuum where some things are more important to be Open than others. But an Open Source game means others could improve it or create interesting spin-offs, could learn from the source, could use bits of it in completely different games, and if it is copyleft (e.g. GPL) then the modifications could be brought back into the original game. The same values of Open Source still apply here.

  9. Aaron Wolf:
    I don’t think that this is good place for this kind of discussion, but you are off course right in many ways. Unfortunately there are exceptions and deviations. Specially on modern mobile platforms overcrowded with bugus developers. There are many clones of “open sourced game samples” on the market right now (sometimes they don’t event bother to change assets - absolutely zero added work, and sometimes they are earning real money because users simply don’t care). This makes me a little more sceptical person. Unfortunately Android is a jungle :). But as I sad, I really don’t think that this is right place to have this kind of discussion, especially that this might be a very long conversation :)
    I think that we should stop at the point, that we are understanding and respecting our points of view.
    Cheers :)

  10. @Jakub: fully agree. The issues you bring up are real. They aren’t caused by Open Source, but by the problems in the Android world, the lack of awareness of these things on the part of users, and the problems with ubiquitous advertising as the funding mechanism. Given these problems, I can’t really blame developers who deal with them by choosing proprietary licenses. But it isn’t ideal. I hope we can keep in mind what the ideal is and keep working toward it. But we need to accept compromises.

    I also agree that we shouldn’t hijack this thread.

    There’s much to be grateful for in FLOSS regarding this remarkable game anyway.

    Cheers

  11. I agre with you Aaron…developers have their reasons and I can understand that but an opensource game can become a great game with some support from other developers also. Many minds are always better than one :)

  12. just wanted to ask that if the sprites created with inkscape are postprocessed with gimp, won’t they be ‘rasterized’?

  13. @Vivek yes, our final output is png file.

  14. @Jakub thanks for reply. there is a point in the article about decision to choose inkscape and svg,but since the final output is in png, do generate sprites for different screen sizes?

  15. @Vivek currently we are using the same files for every screen size. But if some day we decide to create hd version of the game (for desktop or new generation devices) it will be much simpler thanks to svg format capabilities.

  16. wow! that game looks amazing!
    and then i find out its done entirely with FOSS!

    super impressed!

    installed on my android.. it runs so smoothly!

    mind blown!!

  17. Pretty impressive for an open source made game. :)

  18. What a great game!

  19. Amazing to play with and yes it would be more fun to play it in HD.

  20. Please can this work on blackberry playbook device?

  21. Alexandre Prokoudine 17 March 2013 at 7:50 pm

    @samuel, doesn’t Blackberry have its own OS? :)

  22. Mind blowing Game!!

  23. Great design and the interaction with the screen looks quite smooth. Great job!

  24. What a wonderful game. Perfection in its creation. I wish you all the best

  25. The game is really very engaging, good design UI, functionality and good package in all. keep doing good work mate,

  26. Great Graphics and sound effects we have of this game really enjoying

  27. Where most developers go wrong is they fail to market their games properly. I see it time and time again where a developer has created a great game and sets it up on the android platform but doesn’t do anything to create buzz. So the game only sees a fraction of the potential.

  28. Hi, what a great web blog. I usually spend hours on the net reading blogs on various subjects. And, I really would like to praise you for writing such a fabulous article. I honestly believe there is a skill to writing articles that only very few posses and yes you got it. This is really informative and I will for sure refer my friends the same. Thanks

  29. This game is good looking. Thanks.

  30. What a fantastic games !!!

  31. What an amazing game. You guys are so talented.

  32. How long would it take to learn how to do this from scratch? Are there any recommended books to get you started?

  33. Sokoban Garden look very nice and the graphic is really awesome !!! nice job really , like it !

  34. Soo cool a you guys are… Nice Graphic

  35. Great game, great tools, great attitude! Best of luck in your future game development projects. :)

  36. I am always in search for amazing android games. I really liked the Sokoban Garden game. Kivano Software really worked well with creating this game with just free software. Thanks for sharing about the game.

  37. I’m looking to looking to get into the field of mobile game development. What would be the best starting off point in relation to courses to take?

  38. It’s a great insight into the making of a game, always loved this kind of stuff.

  39. Sokoban Garden look very amazing and the graphic is really awesome !!! really nice job , Soo cool a you guys are,,i love android games, great tools, great attitude! Best of luck in your future game projects.

  40. Great article about my loved Sokoban :) Thanks!

  41. I dint know that you can make games for free with all those free tools. The game looks very good for a andriod game.

  42. My god that looks hard. Thank God I’m in film! - Scott Craighead

  43. Great insight into the making of a game. I always loved this kind of stuff.

  44. Great game the idea of the game it’s an old one but the graphic is great

  45. If i was making a game like this could I use images that I’ve sourced on Google, or do I have to get permission to use the images in my game?

  46. Nice work to all,  The graphics are really first class.  You did a really great job.  Unfortunately I don’t develop them, but I respect those who do.

    Dean

  47. Nice game.I’m looking to looking to get into the field of mobile game development.

  48. Great game ! great attitude! Best of luck in your future game development projects. ;)

  49. Good article and very nice workflow on this game design. Enjoyed reading it.

  50. Wow what a great post!  I’ve always wondered how indie game developers make games, but to think that it can be made using just free tools is very eye-opening.

  51. Your post has given very useful information, keep publishing the same information like this always.

  52. Yeah Gameplay is Really Fantastic. When u gonna launch an HD Version of the Game?

  53. What a great game!

  54. Nice i like game adroid :)

  55. wow! really a nice grapics editing, keep it up bro!,,, waiting for your next post :)

  56. I am always in search for amazing android games. I really liked the Sokoban Garden game. Kivano Software really worked well with creating this game with just free software. Thanks for sharing about the game.

  57. You are really great at what you do, wish I had those skills!

  58. Awesome creativity!
    I really like this Android game.

  59. Wow!this game is really very enjoyable.I think everybody like this android game.For this,I want to tell my facebook friends about sokoban garden.

  60. Sekoban Garden is the best i like it

  61. A very addictive puzzle game, love it. Not exactly original, but that doesn’t really matter if something so enjoyable.

  62. Not bad for an Android game. The graphics and gameplay seem above average.

  63. Pretty impressive for an open source made game. :)
    I’m looking to looking to get into the field of mobile game development. What would be the best starting off point in relation to courses to take?

  64. My spouse and I stumbled over here by a different web
    address and thought I might as well check things out.
    I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to going over your web page for a second time.

  65. This game looks awesome. I can’t believe it is done with FOSS. WOW!

  66. Ah! So that’s how you create the game.

  67. waw,this game great,i like game android

  68. What a great game! Very nice, looks awesome

  69. Making a very cool game. But I do not have Adroid: ‘(

  70. Wow, never really looked at these game builders before now, I’m tempted to start a project!

  71. Seems to be really fun

  72. wow this game looks great! I just to play Sokoban on my old prehistoric PC :), it was one of my favorite mind games. Android games are getting more and more complex :) I like it

  73. wow its cools , but i dont have android :(

  74. What a great game! Very nice, looks awesome !!!!

  75. Awesome !!!
    I really like this game.

  76. It looks awesome, great game to play

  77. Nice,that looks really good. Thanks for sharing this!

  78. Sokogarden is really interesting. Because lately inkscape have gotten a lot of competition. Same with Blender. They still going strong, but software such as Daz Studio, and Toon Boom which can combine blender and gimp to one if you go for a more cartoony style.
    Teller
    blog / vfxsoftware.net

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