Philly Developers Releasing A New Game Called “Jawns” | Philly Views
April 4, 2017

Philly Developers Releasing A New Game Called “Jawns”

Written by Matt Schickling

Will Stallwood and Dain Saint of Philly’s Cipher Prime developed another game, but they didn’t know what to call it.

This is a normal problem. It’s hard to name things, especially games you’ve spent hours and hours developing. It’s like naming a child, but with much less responsibility.

Usually the two create running names for games before they’re even close to done, and either stick with the running name or wait until something else materializes. This time, it was slightly different.

“We’ve been calling the game ‘Squares’ for a long time,” Stallwood said. “But it just didn’t fit the aesthetic.”

For an entire month or two, they thought about the name while working on it, in bars after working on it, at home after being in bars after working on it.

“If we had a name for this jawn it would be so good,” Stallwood remembered saying, and from there it snowballed in the most Philly way.


Let me break it down for you.

1.) They had a thing.

2.) They weren’t sure what to name that thing.

3.) They looked at it and it wasn’t immediately clear what the thing should be called.

4.) They called it a jawn.

Technically the game is called Jawns, the plural version of jawn, because the game involves multiple jawns.

Here’s a promo video Cipher Prime made for the game that doesn’t really explain what it is. It does describe soft pretzels quite well, though.

The Jawns website clears things up a little more:

Jawns is a more combative, less structured take on chess that arms two players with 15 lil tiles spread across a board. To win, the victor must destroy his opponent’s “main jawn” by lawing a tile on top of it. The current build lets users play against the computer’s AI or tag along with a friend in five different game modes like “Treasure Hunt,” “Numbers” and “Judo.”

Stallwood said it is indeed like chess but its not as tactical and therefore doesn’t wear on players as quickly. It was developed from a more basic game that used playing cards shifting around on a grid, with higher cards beating the lower cards.

From there it spiraled to include five game modes on a digital platform that gives players the ability to mix up the rules and play in 1.5 million different ways.

“A couple moves can completely change the game,” Stallwood said.

The game will be released on April 7 as part of the subscription-based Humble Bundle, which you can subscribe to for $12 a month. The bundle comes with a bunch of other games and is valued around $100, according to the website.

In six months or so, Cipher Prime plans to release Jawns independently, so it’s probably worth checking in on them every now and then as well.

Besides, the indie game developer community in Philly is tiny, and could use some more support. Stallwood could only point to about four game studios in the city.

He hopes naming the game Jawns can get more people asking about where it came from, and then the city, and then the small group of game developers who live here.

“How often do you get to write a love letter for your city with a game?” Stallwood said. “We’re here because we love Philadelphia.”

There’s a lot of other games to check out at Cipher Prime along with demos, trailers, and options to buy games.

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