Results from Game Design Challenge: Artistic Endeavors

By Danny Cowan [03.22.16]

While critics continue to argue whether or not video games qualify as art, many games feature art creation as a primary mechanic. From De Blob's painting-as-protest action platforming to Splatoon's paint-based weaponry, the opportunities for games about art are endless.

For Game Career Guide's latest Game Design Challenge, our readers designed games in which players create original works of art throughout the course of gameplay. Here are our top entries.

Best Entries

Cole Higgins, Student at Herzing University, Gallery (see page 2)

Shea Morris, Game Studies and Design Student at University of Montevallo, Colorful Witchcraft 
(see page 3)

Matt Crowson, Student at University of Montevallo, Tame the Flame (see page 4)

Emily Freeland, Student at University of Montevallo, Painted Forest (see page 5)

João Gabriel Guedes Pinheiro, Game Designer at, Color of Your Blood (see page 6)

Sara Perry, Game Studies and Design student at the University of Montevallo, Pawrtists (see page 7)

Cláuvin Erlan José da Costa Curty de Almeida, Graduating Student at UFRJ - Universidade Federal
do Rio de Janeiro, Sculpturing Rumble
(see page 8)

Cole Higgins, Student at Herzing University, Gallery

The objective of the game is to be a profitable art seller (being able to make $1 million a year), and allowing creative freedom on a virtual canvas. When the game starts, the player can choose the size of the easel they will work on, and then be able to paint, draw, or sketch whatever they want. Once the piece is finished, then it can be hung up in a gallery, so the player can look back on their previous work whenever they want, as well as arrange the pieces in different layouts and upgrade the gallery to a larger workshop or studio as more art is created, as well as sell to private collectors or businesses.

To allow complete creative freedom, the player will be given a large selection of brushes, paints, pencils, and pens so the desired effect is able to be achieved. Charcoal and sponges will also be available. However, these classic art supplies will not be the only ways to create art. Paint guns, shoes dipped in paint or charcoal, old clothes that can be patterned together in new ways, matches or lighters, even selections of food to be arranged. These unorthodox supplies will have to be unlocked and purchased.

Once the player's gallery has reached 15 works of art, the first size expansion will be available, with several selections of new space to choose from; bay windows, better lighting, increased square footage, etc. Once 25 works of art are created, the player will be allowed to move up to an exhibition space and put their art up for auction within a price range, and the final selling price will be randomly selected between the upper and lower amount of the range, as art value is subjective.

As the game goes on (and presumably the quality of art), the price ranges will increase, so the player will either make quite a bit of money on a single art piece, or make barely sustainable money on several. Time will elapse in monthly stages, and the player will have 5 years to achieve a yearly net income of $1 million, taking into account expenses for out of the box art supplies, and further upgrades to the studio.

Several strategies can be employed; the player can take it safe, and not spend too much on art supplies outside of the standard refills of the base items and try to save up money that way, which would lead to a fairly steady income, but at the risk of not making money very quickly, which could lead to running out of time, or the player could invest in far more unorthodox supplies that have the potential to sell for much more even earlier than usual, at the risk of selling for less if the "market" doesn't approve. The choice is entirely up to the player.

Shea Morris, Game Studies and Design Student at University of Montevallo, Colorful Witchcraft


◦   The player is a young witch who has just started her training in magic. When a mad scientist threatens to end the practice of magic forever with his army of mechanical soldiers, it's up to the player to create spells and stop the enemy.


◦   The game takes place entirely in a large town that is home to a group of witches and their apprentices.


◦   Magic in this world is drawn from colors and patterns. The player starts the game with a blank spellbook, and she must learn to create her own spells to fill in the pages.

◦   Spells are created by utilizing different combinations of shapes, patterns, and colors that they place on the pages of their spellbooks. Each element the player can add has a unique effect: the color red creates fire magic while the color blue creates water magic, triangles make a long-ranged attack spell while circles make a defensive spell, etc.

◦   Spells require mana to be cast. If the player has no mana, they can't cast spells. Mana is regenerated over time, but can be restored quickly by drinking mana-restoring potions.

◦   Potions are created by mixing different ingredients together. The player has access to three ingredients that are easily recognized by their color (red, blue, yellow), and the final color mixed from those ingredients determines the potion type: yellow-green potions restore health, orange-red potions restore mana, red-purple potions give the player a speed boost, etc.


◦   There are a few factors limiting the number and types of spells the player can make:

◦   As the player levels up and learns new spells, the enemies will become stronger as well, gaining resistance to magic that must be overcome by constantly adapting the player's strategy to use the newer spells.


◦   When the player defeats the mad scientist in the final boss battle, the game is won.

◦   If the player loses all of their health, then they must restart at the last save.


◦   Being creative with the spellbook will earn the player many rewards. Certain NPCs in the game will be impressed if you manage to create a spell they'd like to see, and will give you various gifts. And of course, there would be an achievement for unlocking every single spell in true completionist fashion.

◦   If the player is lazy with their spellbook, they will eventually become unable to defeat enemies. The player's teacher may also take away stats or items from a player who stagnates.

Matt Crowson, Student at University of Montevallo, Tame the Flame

Overview: Tame the Flame is a video game representation of the powerful hold that anger has over the human mind and what marks it can leave.

The game is shot in a first person perspective in a formless room filled with hues of cool, calm colors like greens and blues and whites. The ambient sound is a slow soundtrack of soothing piano instrumentals, however, as the player explores this large room, there will be some areas where the piano will start to sound out of key and dark splits will start to form on the walls while a bright red exudes from the split, causing the cools to become a dark red.

The player will then have to interact with the wall by spreading cool colors over the growing split until the ambient music returns to normal and the spreading has ceased. However, the dark scar will remain on the wall with a red discoloration surrounding it. This represents the scars that anger and aggression leaves on the mind. The player will have to deal with these occurring all over the room. If the room is engulfed in red representing the player succumbing to anger's hold, the player will lose.

The player will have a certain amount of time to beat the levels. After the time is complete, the player will have the opportunity to walk around the room to observe the scars that anger has left on their psyche. 

Emily Freeland, Student at University of Montevallo, Painted Forest

You live in a colorful world, an expansive rainforest of bright flowers, lush leaves, and refreshing waters. Life's pretty great, even if you do have to dodge predators every once in a while, but now a new threat has emerged. Slowly, methodically, your colorful world is being drained. Leaves have lost their spring, flowers no longer produce nectars, fruits fail to produce-the world's gone amok, and you're pretty sure things will only get worse if this continues unchecked. Why, especially when your species is so reliant upon these colors: a sort of ink-secreting frog.

Hopping into a journey to solve this predicament, you'll face obstacles as you try to navigate your way through the puzzling forest landscape, all the while leaving a trail of ink in your wake. Once a colorless (white) object is colored, it'll retain its original properties: leaves that help you bounce further, vines that grow at an alarming rate, flowers to attract a variety of brightly colored insects-everything plays an important role in your progression.

If you land on a colored object which is different from your current color, you absorb that object's color, gaining variable powers with each. While red you could jump farther, while green you move faster, and so on among other skills you'll find throughout the game.

Going through water will clean your palette, so to speak, so while not inherently dangerous to get wet, it could prove detrimental to solving a puzzle. Lily pads and rock plugs may need to be manipulated in some manner to preserve your current color. Further, eating a bug will cause you to become two-toned-a frog with up to two variable skills at once. Perhaps you need to glide while also shrunken down a size in order to get through a hard-to-reach crevice? This second color can only be cleaned with water, so choose which bugs to eat.

Being frogs, it seems only natural the player can traverse horizontal and vertical surfaces, but the player cannot travel on certain surfaces. These are likely in the vein of thistles, cacti, hot rocks, falling water, or any number of non-solid and harmful objects. While the player might even find it appropriate to climb across a ceiling, such opportunities would not render a level mind-numbingly simple.

Through this puzzle platforming adventure, will you find and defeat the cause of this forest desaturation, or will you be forced to live in a world without color?

João Gabriel Guedes Pinheiro, Game Designer at, Color of Your Blood

This design is called Color of Your Blood, a fighting game that tries to have a more realistic combat, while having some degrees of abstraction.

Each character design is ruled  by some color: the Red character is more active, and looks more passionate in general, always looking for something to put himself into, while the Green character looks less threatening.

Also, based on what the colors represent, each fighter has a differential: not enough to say that Black is overpowered and White is too weak. Green, for example: green is more neutral, so his stats are more balanced, while Red is a more "powerful" color, his attacks are a little bit faster, and strike harder, than Blue, who can withstand more hits.

The reason why the game is called Color of Your Blood is about a core mechanic of it: each character is composed by two legs, two arms, a torso and a head, and they are always "bleeding", always losing part of their health bar. If your legs or arms are dead, by losing all their health, the player can't use that part of the body anymore. If you lose the health of your torso or head, you lose.

As players are moving all around the place, bleeding and marking the ground and furniture with their blood, they may face other fighters: as each player must look for the health of their bodies, combat is not about doing some insane strikes, like giving a flying kick, that looks cool, but will increase your bleeding and it's somehow easier to dodge than, let's say, a direct punch that's faster and more likely to connect.

While the characters are fighting - four players would already be a interesting number, enough to have more "real looking" fight where everyone is punching each other, but not too much to a point where you can't see what you're doing -, the furniture, ground and walls become a canvas: the blood in the ground, of the color of your fighter, the blood you spilled will let marks... if you submit it to the game, sharing it to another players, you are telling the very own story of that match, that's unique to you and the players you faced in it.

Now that everything's explained, the game is played with a controller, where the left analog controls the movement, and the right one where you'll strike: as the buttons at the right side control the strikes - right leg, left leg, right arm and left arm -, you can change easily where you'll strike, looking to cause more damage to the enemy. If you don't give a direction for the attack, it'll target the torso automatically. The shoulder buttons, though, are to apply modifies: one to block, using the right analog to control where, one to grapple, one to do a insane stunt that moves you faster, and one to do a insane strike, that causes more damage.

Sara Perry, Game Studies and Design student at the University of Montevallo, Pawrtists

In Pawrtists, the player is an animal artist trying to create and sell their own art.  Pawrtists is a mobile-based game with two modes: standard and casual.  The player will start as an artist trying to make it in the big city.  They must fill painting requests from customers in order to gain reputation and make money to pay their monthly rent.

Reputation is the player's popularity in the art community.  When they reach predetermined reputation levels, their art will be placed in a gallery, advancing their level and unlocking new features, including new customers, paint colors, animal choices, and more difficult customer requests.

Money is required for the player to pay their studio rent.  At the end of each in-game month, they will be required to pay rent.  If they cannot, the reputation they earn that month will be lowered.  Rent will increase as the player unlocks new levels and upgrades their studio.

To earn reputation and rent money, the player must complete customer art requests. In standard mode, the request will come in the form of a picture, which the player must recreate before the timer runs out.  The art request will be influenced by different art styles, with some clients preferring Cubism, for example, and some preferring Impressionism. The request image will remain in the top right corner of the screen for the player to reference as they try to recreate the image.  When the timer runs out, the player will have a choice between selling the painting to the customer or giving it to them as a freelance job.

If the player chooses to sell the painting, they will receive money and reputation according to how similar the painting was to the request image.  The player will receive more money than reputation.  If the player chooses to do freelance work, they will not receive money, but will receive more reputation than they would if they were to sell it.

As the player is gaining the rewards from their customer, they will also get their artist bonus depending on which animal they have chosen to be. Each animal type gives bonus money and reputation when working for certain clients. The elephant, for example, would give a bonus to clients who prefer Impressionism. The players' animal can be changed throughout the game.

The player also has the option to use their money to purchase supplies upgrades, like special canvases or types of paint.  Some of these upgrades will be permanent, but the majority will have a limited number of uses.  These supplies will give a small money and large reputation bonus when used, but will need to be repurchased when the uses run out.

Along with the standard game mode, players also have the option to play in casual mode. Casual mode operates similarly to standard, but the player does not operate under a time limit when filling customer requests.  They still receive money and reputation, but less than they would receive when playing in standard mode.

Cláuvin Erlan José da Costa Curty de Almeida, Graduating Student at UFRJ - Universidade Federal
do Rio de Janeiro, Sculpturing Rumble

Genre: Competitive Multiplayer  Arena Third-Person Shooter

Number of Players: 1 to 4

Platform: PC

After a heated discussion, in that far away place where souls gather, about which sculpturer was the best in history, egos clashed more than they should and all great artists of clay, stone and metal are deciding who's the best of them... in a completely not-related way to the problem: the last one standing is the one!

The game's objective is to do as much points as possible through hitting your opponents in the arena with projectiles. The characters can use as projectiles raw materials(clay, stone, ivory, metal, plastic...) - the fast shots -, finished sculptures - the "charged" shots: bigger, more point-making, but takes time to charge and charge faster if the character doesn't move and unfinshed scultures - the mid-charged shots.

The raw materials, hitting or not someone, end in the ground and can accumulate, allowing everybody to use it to create terrain as walls, stairs, elevated planes... - similar to quick-casting spells that need raw material around to be done - this can be used to get an strategic advantage(wall to block shots, stairs to reach higher places...).

Unfinished sculptures can stun opponents and deal damage to buildings. When buildings take enough damage, they crack and finally, if even more damage is done, are destroyed.

Finished sculptures give more more points in case of hitting and has distinct effects(as Cares de Lindos' Hand of The Colossus, a slow, big and pushing projectile). If a sculpture hits a building, it fuses with it, and starts hindering the thrower's opponents by a set amount of time(in the above case, the Hand of The Colossus would grab and smash any enemy close of it).

To avoid the projectiles, the characters can walk, run, jump and roll.

At the end of each match(ended by parameters of score, time or amount of raw material in the arena), it's possible to watch with a free camera the result of each battle: a space of fusioned art, architectonic variety and player-generated ruins. Each result can then be saved for more appreciation and sharing in the future.

Each arena, sculpture and character will be a representative of a culture and/or artistic style, from the pre-historic first statues to the modernism of our age. Arenas can have different rules which allow for varied matches and art scenarios, as the "Construction Site", where all buildings must be built touching direct or indirectly the starting wall, or the "Colossus Prototypes", where max height reached by someone's buildings also count for the final score.

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