Art Club Challenge is a mobile game that takes the Bob Ross approach to painting: Everyone can do it, so don’t be afraid to try. It’s Cleveland-based Polytundra‘s debut title, and it will be out on iOS on March 1.
You’re playing with a limited palette in Art Club Challenge. Using just red, blue, yellow, and black, you must create paintings based on prompts. And you can only use certain shapes as well, like rectangles and squares. These constraints are intended to help people explore their creativity as they progress through the story and complete challenges.
“When designing the game I wanted to address the phenomena where, if you ask a classroom of first graders, ‘Who can draw a horse?’ every single one of them will put their hands up,” said Polytundra founder Jarryd Huntley in an email to GamesBeat. “But if you ask a classroom of ninth graders that same question, only one or two of them will put up their hands. The reality is each one of the ninth graders can still draw a horse, but at that point in life most people have learned to judge their art in comparison to others. I wanted to show people through the game they can make art, at any skill level.”
Though Art Club Challenge is Polytundra’s first game as a studio, Huntley has been active in the local game dev scene. He runs the Cleveland Game Developers organization, which hosts a number of events including the annual Global Game Jam. Art Club Challenge initially started as a game jam project, inspired by the theme “minimalism.” After demoing it at a local multimedia event, Ingenuity Fest, he decided to build out the game further. One of the features in the full game is an online art gallery, where players can upload their paintings.
“Throughout the weekend [at Ingenuity Fest] I watched each person play the game slightly differently and design unique pieces of art,” said Huntley. “Part of adding the online gallery was because I wanted to see how everyone designed their art. But the main motivation was to show players all of the creative solutions people come up with using only a limited set of tools.”
Huntley had his own set of challenges throughout the development process because of limited resources. He primarily worked on the game part-time, and he leaned on the Cleveland Game Developers community for playtesting and support.
“Additionally, when I started working on the game, Cleveland and the Midwest weren’t typically thought of as hot spots for game development,” said Huntley. “Local games showcases, and growing events like GDEX and other regional conferences have changed that. But when I got started I had to turn to the local startup scene, and my game development peers in places like a Chicago, NYC, and Toronto to learn about the business side of starting a game studio.”