Results From Game Design Challenge: Snow Business

By Danny Cowan [12.24.19]

 As another cold winter descends on the northern hemisphere, so does the season's constant companion: snow, and lots of it. This polar precipitation provides a beautiful blanket of white that's both gorgeous to look at and a pain to clear out of your driveway.

While snowy landscapes have been popular settings for games, a select few titles revolve around using or engaging with snow itself. The 1990 platformer Snow Bros involves the titular characters creating snowballs to destroy enemies, while the C64 game The Snowman challenges players to build a snowman while avoiding anything that could melt their icy pal.

For Game Career Guide's latest Game Design Challenge, our readers designed games with snow-themed mechanics. Here are our top picks!

Best Entries

Adair Tabb, Student at the University of Montevallo, S'no Bother! (see page 2)

Ali Akbar Muliadi, Game Designer from Indonesia, Snowman Drill Tank (see page 3)

Eddy Alain NJIKI.T, Game Design Student at ArtFX in Montpellier, France, Fear the Sun (see page 4)

Michael Clemons, Indie Game Designer from Chicago, IL, Middle of Nowhere (see page 5)

Isaiah Swinton, Student at Carver Center for the Arts, Frostheart (see page 6)

Adair Tabb, Student at the University of Montevallo, S'no Bother!

The Premise:

Winter is a tough season for a lot of people. With shorter days and plunging temperatures, it's harder to do everything that needs to be done from day-to-day, much less tackle the annual challenge of the holidays. It leaves many feeling overwhelmed, or unable to keep up with the complications colder weather might bring.

Luckily for the people of one small village, Poff the snow sprite is unbothered by the harshness of winter and has plenty of time on their...well, they don't have hands, exactly, but that won't stop them from helping out however they can.

Controlling Poff, the player will assist people with specific tasks--but they can't be seen by humans, or caught by troublesome pets. The first part of the game will take place before the invention of the furnace, in a small village struggling through a harrowing winter; this is where the basic mechanics will be introduced, with tasks such as bringing in forgotten firewood, closing a door left ajar, or putting leftovers from supper in the snow so they don't spoil.

As the player progresses, time does as well. The invention of the furnace makes it more difficult for Poff to help inside the house, for fear of melting. The village grows, making it more difficult to move around undetected. Eventually, the levels catch up to modern day, and as they do, some of the challenges the player must overcome and the tasks they must complete become more complex, such as finding a way to help a human pay a power bill or fix a burst pipe. The tone of the game will shift as well, from brightly hopeful to a grimmer kind of dedication to help.


As a puzzle/stealth game relying almost exclusively on environmental details to build the narrative, but requiring 3-D levels and objects (similar to The Untitled Goose Game), the Unity engine would be perfect; the game itself would translate well to both PC and Nintendo Switch.


Stealth: The only time Poff is entirely invisible to humans and pets is when they are motionless in a patch of snow. Otherwise, they must use shadows and the environment around them to break line of sight and hide before a pet pounces on them or a human comes over to investigate.

Melting & Recovering: Poff can't stay inside a heated house for long or they'll begin to melt--returning outside and rolling in the snow will get Poff back up to their proper size.

Moving objects & Movement restrictions: Poff is limited in what kind of objects they can move; they cannot shift objects that are too large or too heavy, like an anvil, but firewood and grocery bags are alright. Likewise, doors and windows often require either too much strength or dexterity for Poff to open by themself--however, closing them is fairly easy.

Experience Goal:

This game is meant to speak to the difficulties of surviving winter even in modern day as at-risk groups, such as homeless populations, the elderly or very young, and those in poverty. The progression from an older time at the start of the game to our world today is meant to impress upon the player that the basic needs of people haven't changed, and that for many today's winters are no less harsh or deadly than the winters from before the advent of central heating. It's also meant to show, overall, that even a little help can go a long way.

Ali Akbar Muliadi, Game Designer from Indonesia, Snowman Drill Tank

Multiplayer game using snowman that is similar to tanks. The nose, usually from a carrot, functions as a drill to destroy snowball. He moves inside the snowfield to fight other players. Your task is to destroy as much snowball as possible, then get a heart symbol and also attack your enemy to make it freeze. You will fight in snowfield.

You also have to be careful with attacks from your enemies and also poison symbols that may appear from snowball. If you are hit by an enemy attack there will freeze for 3 seconds and return to start. If you get the poison symbol you will freeze for 3 seconds and return to the start and the heart symbol will also be reduced.

Drill attack symbol to get the power to fire a drill like a bullet. You can hit various snowballs and get symbols inside. You can also attack enemies. But be careful because you can also deal with poison symbols.

Snowfall will repair snowball that has been destroyed by the player. It will be repaired in 3 seconds. After good again, you can destroy it again. (sorry for bad English, I translate this from google translate)

Eddy Alain NJIKI.T, Game Design Student at ArtFX in Montpellier, France, Fear the Sun

Fear the sun is a puzzle and platform game with level design inspired by Super meat boy..

Synopsis: You play as a snowman, who had his hat blown away by the wind and who is trying to find it in a in a climate-disturbed world. So you have to cross the hot areas as quickly as possible before melting and reach the winter areas to regenerate yourself.

How to play

All levels are structured in the same way, but have a different level design:

You have to go through the level as fast as possible. 

You can move, jump and throw your head one time. If the snowman or just his head pass the finish line, the level is complete.

the more time passes, the more the snowman melts. The bigger the snowman is, the more he can reach high platforms and the more the snowman melts, the faster he is and the smaller he is. 

So you will have to play with your size, and throw your head at the last moment to survive in this journey and find the snowman's hat.

Michael Clemons, Indie Game Designer from Chicago, IL, Middle of Nowhere


1st person survival/adventure

A father and son bonding at a hunting trip ends tragic on a late-night winter highway, leaving you, the son, alive to fend for yourself.


The game starts off with the player, Jonah Holler (son) coming to the realization on what has happened. Now, He has to roam through the wilderness fighting off wildlife animals and unsuspected dwellers while maintaining body temperature and health. The player will be equipped with a backpack that hold items (ammo, first aid kit, machete, etc.) anything that he will need in an effort for his protection and survival.

Your survival depends on how well you're monitoring these 2 bars: health and body temperature. Health bar represents the player's vitality that can be maintained by how well you avoid any attack, injuries, freezing and hypothermia. Body temperature represents the player's body temperature that must be keep above freezing levels. When it starts to diminished, the player will start to shiver and next will experiencing fuzzy vision and may cause your health bar to decline. In the event of body temperature is plummeting, the player can either seek a shelter or create a campfire (with the contents you gathered and saved) in order to warm up.


Isaiah Swinton, Student at Carver Center for the Arts, Frostheart

Frostheart is a 2D Puzzle-Action game in which the player controls a cryptid snow being made entirely of snow while it hunts down a camera crew looking for it.

The gameplay centers around your snowy environment and the player's physiology. The player's main resource for completing tasks is their snow, which is both their health and size. Every step you take lowers the amount of snow you have. Other actions can also deplete your snow levels: Firing, taking damage, bigger jumps, etc., etc. The player can recover snow through entering mounds of snow or absorbing snowballs. Snowballs could be created by rolling snow into a ball with a specific input and then pushing said ball around to make it grow. It could then be absorbed, as said before, or used a projectile, platform, or faster method of travel for the player.

Using these abilities, players could fight against the camera crew and their hunters. Frostheart is broken into levels which the player must raid enemy camps and clear any captured evidence of the beast and prevent the crew from progressing further. The player could use their attacks to directly incapacitate the crew with attacks or knock them out by setting up traps and using environmental objects. After knocking out the crew members the player can choose any way to dispose of any evidence of him, whether it be through stealing all the camp's equipment or scattering their bodies abroad in the icy snow.

The camera crew poses as an obstacle as well as the objective for the player. Around the map, the camera crew sets traps around the camp which can either alert them to the player's location or hold the play down until the crew arrives to capture them. The camera crew can also utilize their equipment to capture pictures of the player. If they capture the picture and safely retreat, the player loses the game.

The camera crew may also have weaponry on themselves allowing them to hold the player back with guns or other weapons to lower the player's snow levels. Other obstacles may appear in forest animals and environmental objects, both of which can be turned into a tool with a certain level of interaction. Animals can impede progress or cause harm. Environmental objects are physical barriers and cover for the player.

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