Escape from Molehill Mountain

It’s 1:00 pm now on Saturday, less than 24 hours after the theme’s release. I had a chance to sit down with Michael Epstein and Brian Kokernak to talk about their project, Escape From Molehill Mountain.

Michael and Brian teamed up during the meet-and-greet portion of Game Jam, in which graphic designers, coders, game designers, animators, artists, and the rest of the participants try to aggregate into workable groups.

Taking the idea of the heartbeat literally, Brian and Michael are developing a cat-and-mouse style game which places the player in a dark environment with monstrous Moles after him. The moles, since they live underground, are blind; however, they can sense your character’s heartbeat. Their goal is to catch you; your goal is to get out alive.

Their group’s inspiration for the game revolved around Brian’s excitement for the auditory theme. “I loved that it was based around a sound—it’s better than just a description. Sound is extremely important in games.”

They want to create a visceral experience that excites the player through rising tension in the game. As you progress, you get more and more nervous, making you shake and mess up, which makes you even more nervous. But coming from an arcade perspective, Brian wants to make the game widely playable and simple.

Gameplay appears to (due to its preliminary stage)  revolve around monitoring your character’s heart rate. Performing different actions will change his heart rate. Walking slowly minimizes it, while outright sprinting will effectively tag him for the taking.

The game is top-down 2D, and the player is controlled via accelerometer. Tilting your mobile device slightly will make your character walk slowly. Holding it vertically will make him run as fast as he can.

Their main concerns are, like most teams’, getting the coding and art finished. Michael, who is creating the art, didn’t do much over the evening. Brian is working with unfamiliar code, and worries (rightly so) that a 2-hour coding session could take 20 hours.

The final presentation of their game can be viewed here:

To play the game go to the game’s global game jam site here.


  • Michael Epstein
    • Studies: at Northeastern
    • GGJ Role: Art and programming
  • Brian Kokernak
    • GGJ Role: Music and programming

Interviewed and written by Andrew Kirschner.