PROJECT NAME: Jan-Jan The Jeepney
SINCE: August 30, 2011

I don’t know if many people are aware of this, but I have a day job. I work as a Producer for Anino Games, Inc. during regular office hours and Jan-Jan The Jeepney happens to be one of the games the company has co-developed with the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the now defunct Commission on Information and Communications Technology. I am blogging about it here at Sarimanok.PH because it is an artistic, as well as a cultural, endeavor. Looking at the game’s content alone fills me with pride as a Filipino. In fact, I never really grasped how rich our culture is — its many facets almost left forgotten by younger generations — until I started playing it.

Every time I mention this edutainment project, even in passing, a few of my colleagues would joke about how generations of Anino developers had already worked on Jan-Jan except them. True enough, this has gone through several hands (many of the developers in the credits are no longer with us). Thing is, this is one of those projects that we consider as pets. The mission and vision behind it are borne out of love for country and culture. That’s why it’s ABSOLUTELY FREE for download.

I was happy to be part of the tail-end of this project, even though I had to take off my Producer cap and go back to my webmastering skills just to be included. Anyway, here are a few details about Jan-Jan, before I talk about my participation.

From the press release:

Jan-Jan the Jeepney is an edutainment game for children aged 7 to 12 years. The game makes us of open source technology and was made to have low system requirements. It uses IT to make cultural learning more appealing to Filipino school children who are increasingly becoming tech savvy. It aims to encourage computer literacy while teaching them about the country’s geography, history, and culture. The game was designed to ensure that public school students aged 7 onwards can easily play and understand the game.

In Jan-Jan the Jeepney, the player follows a flying three-dimensional jeepney named Jan-Jan as it explores the country, from the Vigan Houses of Ilocos, to a Mosque in the ARMM. The objective of the game is to collect all souvenir postcards from different regions by visiting the historical landmarks. Each landmark has an informative video or an engaging mini-game, where ‘Tarsier’ and ‘Agila’ take turns in mentoring the player.

The mini-games include 2D and 3D puzzles, rhythm/coordination games, spot the difference, find and click, question and answer, and dress-up/decoration. Rhythm and coordination include ‘dance games’ and ‘music games’, where the character can dance to or play native Filipino compositions.  In ‘Dress up and decorating’ mini-games, the player will learn the variations and styles of clothes from the past, and will be able to decorate houses and karosas.

Conceptualized in 2005, ‘Jan-Jan the Jeepney’ was launched in 2010 through the efforts of a team of 50 game developers from  Anino Games, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and the Commission on Information and Communications Technology.

As this had been already produced a long time ago, the task given to me called for my Communications Manager’s cap instead of my actual job title. This is one of my favorite things to do, going back to my default skill: web development. I immediately went to work, along with Communications Officer Vana Laurel (for the content) and Senior 2D Artist Aileen Martin (our ad hoc artist).

I asked Aileen to use the existing Jan-Jan assets to create a masthead that had a lot of floating elements (clouds etc.) while I worked on the rest of the site’s front (look and feel) and back (structure and programming) ends.

Jan Jan 2011 version 1.0

Jan Jan 2011 version 1.0

The first design we came up with was…well, very blue. I initially liked this better than the second design because of the negative spaces. Version 1.0 relaxed me, so to speak.

During our presentation, however, Anino Games CEO, Niel Dagondon, said that he wanted vibrant colors, since Jan-Jan is such a colorful character. Many of the other directors agreed so we went back to the drawing board — with Vana actively participating in the entire look and feel while Aileen wove magic with her pentab. This time around, we made use of yellows, reds and oranges, which are reminiscent of the Philippine flag. This resulted in version 2.0, which later grew on me. (It took me longer to implement this new design than version 1.0, haha!)

Jan Jan 2011 version 2.0

Jan Jan 2011 version 1.0

Overall, I’m just happy to say that I have been part of this project even though I weren’t there during the development phases of the actual game.

I have been working on commercial games as a producer. Those feed my belly. Jan-Jan, however, is a project that feeds the soul. It aims not only to uplift Filipino talent, but also to educate players about the beautiful aspects of Philippine history, arts and culture.

This truly is a project that is worth mentioning here at Sarimanok.PH and has a place up there among my favorites.

You can find the credits for the whole development teams here.