The Dojji Ball Story

The journey from face-slapping robot to iPad party game

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Dojji Ball began its life as a concept for a game where a mocking robot actually slaps you in the face if you’re too slow.

The concept was inspired by the games “Knife To Meet You“, where a robot with a real-life kitchen knife takes swipes at your finger, and “Line Wobbler“, a one-dimensional dungeon crawler that uses a colored LED strip as a display.

My grand plan was to use a 100-LED strip arranged in a circle, 8 buttons for players to hold, and a robotic hand that physically slaps you if you’re too slow to dodge the AI-controlled ball of light that circles the strip.

I began the project by modeling the game on an iPad with dots on the screen representing the lights of the LED strip, and the multitouch screen simulating the player buttons.

I figured I could work on the AI for the ball of light, tune the difficulty and get everything working on the iPad before taking it to the LED strip and introducing the threat (and hilarity!) of getting physically slapped in the face by a smart-mouthed robot.

And then something happened.

The game was kind of fun on the iPad, even without the sarcastic face-slapping robot!

I realized I had created a different type of video game where your actual finger is the player, as opposed to the typical video game where you indirectly control something on screen.

There was something very visceral and satisfying about playing a game at the full speed of your finger without having to translate your intentions through a controller to an on-screen character who never quite does what you want as fast as you want.

And another fascinating dynamic emerged as well.

I observed the game bringing people together shoulder-to-shoulder, laughing as they were forced to crowd around to get their fingers all on the same display—something I haven’t seen in modern video games.

It was a video game where the touchscreen was merely facilitating real-life physical interactions between real people together in the same physical space.

The exact opposite of virtual reality—a physical reality game!

Excited by these discoveries, I abandoned the slapping robot idea (I’ll get back to it eventually!) and fully embraced the touchscreen.

I created a new “capture” mechanic where players slide their fingers to battle over items that appear in the center of the circle, and a “pass” mechanic where players pass a ticking time bomb between each other until it explodes (“hot potato” style), in addition to the original “dodge” mechanic.

I even added a “fire” mechanic for some play-testers who really wanted to shoot each other, and I’ve got more features on the way that I’ll reveal in a future update to the game.

I think I’ve stumbled onto something really unique and exciting with Dojji Ball, and I hope you all have a blast adding it to your party game repertoire!

-David

P.S. Watch this space for the release announcement, and come play Dojji Ball at the Winter Play NYC Game Expo in Times Square, NYC on February 2! Tickets are free!

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