Angkot Gets the Hollywood Treatment in New Video Game

Screenshot of a new video game that sees an angkot racing through Jakarta’s streets. (Photo courtesy of Oray Studios)

Screenshot of a new video game that sees an angkot racing through Jakarta’s streets. (Photo courtesy of Oray Studios)

The angkot is one of the country’s most notorious forms of public transportation. Loved for its price but loathed for its relentless habit of innocently stopping anywhere it pleases.

The long-existing minibus is, for better or worse, an intrinsic part of Jakarta’s urban experience.

Coming in a wide palette of red, green, but mostly blue colors, the joke is that the angkot seems to have a mind of its own — just like most of the public transportation vehicles in the country.

Aside from that tradition of picking up, dropping off, and simply just stopping to stock up on passengers anywhere and anytime it pleases, the angkot is prone to running at its own speed — tortoise slow, thunderously fast (or at least as fast as its rusted engines allow), or an egregious mix of the two for the benefit of those riding behind.

These characteristics make the angkot the perfect subject for a video game; a fact not lost on the guys behind Indonesian developers Oray Studios and Inmotion.

“Angkot the Game” is a minimalist game that has players racing down streets to get as many passengers as they can before dropping them off elsewhere. There are numerous challenges, providing a chance to see things from the angkot drivers’ perspective. Players also have the ability to buy and change parts to turn their vehicle into the ultimate angkot.

The game began as a simple Flash game for Facebook, released in 2009 to local acclaim before being banned by Facebook for reasons unclear. It has since been reborn into a more complete and detailed game titled “Angkot the Game: Kudatang Lagi” (Here I come again), which is free to download and play.

Iqbal Aribaskara, who cofounded both studios, said he and his fellow developers were already brewing on the idea during their college days years ago, when they were just video game fans dreaming of creating their own.

“Many of us used the angkot to and from university,” he said. “We realized that the angkot driver’s routine had all the components for a game. They had a routine objective of collecting their daily deposit, and faced the challenge of competing for passengers with other drivers.”

Iqbal added that the work contains inherent achievement rewards (when they make good money) and a form of punishment (when they simply don’t).

“We only needed to turn those components into an entertaining whole to play as a game.”

The two studios worked together in creating a Game Design Document, which lays out point by point the basic rules and objectives of the game. When they settled on those ideas, Iqbal and his team moved onto the design stage, where they decided on what kind of graphic and technical tools they could use.

The design and illustration-focused Oray Studios then worked on visual mockups which the Inmotion programmers then tried to realize.

Through a lot of sleepless nights, the developer finally launched an Alpha (preview) version of the game on Oct. 2, before following it up with a Beta version on the first day of December. All in all, Iqbal says the second iteration of the game (the one currently available on their website) took six months to complete. The developers are still working on an even more complete version of the game.

Iqbal says that the studio plans on expanding on the game’s universe, and creating different games it relates to — not necessarily involving an angkot.

The game can be downloaded for free through angkotgame.com

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