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In the Time of Pandemia

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2 5 Points

Make par at Zone 2. Lower score is better.

3 5 Points

Make par at Zone 3. Lower score is better.

5 10 Points

Make par at Zone 5. Lower score is better.

4 25 Points

Make par at Zone 4. Lower score is better.

6 25 Points

Make par at Zone 6. Lower score is better.

7 50 Points

Make par at Zone 7. Lower score is better.

8 50 Points

Make par at Barrio Otso. Lower score is better.

COVID Conqueror 100 Points

Make par in all zones. Lower score is better.

Author Comments


You're a crisis manager of a town under the grip of COVID-19. Your mission is to save lives.

*Instructions inside.

*Includes a sandbox mode with level codes to share.



# "COVID Conqueror" trophy now unlockable. Thanks to @HerbieG for the report.

# "4" medal now worth 25 points. Thanks again @HerbieG.


# Adjusted par scores. Thanks to @redgamehunter for the feedback on this.

# Long simulation codes in sandbox are no longer concatenated. Thanks @PBSfanboy for posting your code.


# Streamlined the level progression. Compensated for lost points by increasing the value of the remaining medals. Acknowledging @Ericho for this.


The compound I stay at is about to be cordoned. We've been contact-traced by the police, swabbed by medical personnel covered in protective gear. One of our housemates works at a government hospital and tested positive for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.

The pandemic closes in from all sides. What can a game-maker do in a time like this?

I've been asking myself this question since the beginning of community quarantine. I'm based in Cebu City, now the top hotspot fior COVID-19 in the Philippines in terms of incidence proportion. I'm at a quarter called Barangay Guadalupe which goes in and out of first place for most number of infections. The once lively streets are empty while yellow tape festoons more and more houses like the aposematism of poison frogs—except it strikes fear in both marked and onlookers alike.

A local writer compared the experience of pandemic to the Five Stages of Grief. In my case, I went from denial to a form of suspended depression. As if in a fog, I felt helpless as the pandemic tore through the City. I wanted to do something, anything, to help, and perhaps truer, to find a lifeline out of this dark place between helplessness and despair.

Games can make abstract concepts accessible, awaken empathy, and move people to action. Games can allow us to explore the possibility space to not only see but live through proposed solutions and their consequences. The final push to action came from a Facebook post by Raph Koster calling for an interactive COVID-19 simulation where he sketched the game design that became the starting point of this work.

We thus developed In the Time of Pandemia—a simulation game in which you take on the role of crisis manager of a town under the grip of COVID-19. The core art, music, and code were created during Jamdemic 2020. After the jam, I proceeded with development in pockets of lucidity in the next three months—implementing a sandbox mode, searching the literature, and iterating in light of player feedback.

To quote the statistician George Box to qualify the scope of this piece: "All models are wrong, but some are useful." The game incorporates data from published sources to attain plausibility. However, it's a toy model roughly approximating a complex and evolving phenomenon.

In the end, the attempt to articulate a game-maker's perspective on COVID-19 has enabled me to somehow transcend the chaos outside and the turmoil within. It's become a welcome respite from isolation, a thread connecting me to a diversity of talents who've been truly generous with their expertise and encouragement. As incidences continue to rise here and in many parts of the world, our hope is that the game will be of some use in showing what it takes to flatten the curve and in advocating for communities most in need.

Take care.

Khail Santia

July 23, 2020


Notes on parameters and limitations including the references can be found here.

I consulted with experts on the plausibility of our model, but having made the final decisions, I take sole responsibility for the flaws in this work.

Your suggestions and feedback will be much appreciated.


Inspired by & based on Raph Koster's call & game design sketch for an interactive COVID-19 simulation.

Lead Game Developer: Khail Santia | Visual Artists: Ramon del Prado, Linya Fernandez, & Troy Logramonte Valdehueza | Composers: Algernon Van Peel, Filip Žarković, & Jom Ouano | Mathematical Epidemiologist: May Anne Estrera Mata.

Engineering Feedback: Scott Cameron, Daniel Fernandez, & Juan David | Medical Feedback: Mariane Faye Acma, Kiselle Campos, & Noeme Sobrevega | UX Feedback: Séverin Larose, Louis Tessler, Nathan Valdez, Wyndel Sañoza, Annel Pabitu, Pope Vergel, Ashley Uy, Raphael David Condor, Harry Rodriguez, Keiji Santia, Crina Escabarte Tanongon, Angelica Norrie, Charlotte Mae Efren, Beverly Mae Kirit, Maia Diaz, Queenie Maria Guibao, Cerino Ligutom III, Renz Torres, Carla Bien, Janyl Tanoy, Mary Queen Villafañe, Gregg Lloren, & Jay Jaboneta.

Special thanks to Kaelan Doyle-Myerscough for organizing Jamdemic 2020, Grant Sanderson for making the video Simulating an epidemic, John Albano for pioneering the same themes tackled here, Milan Andrejevic for recruiting Filip, Jovelyn Carmona-Quizon & Vicente Patalita III for showing the game to your students, Richie Eve Ragas for the introduction to May Anne, & the Household of Eugene Faelnar for keeping me fed in these months of lockdown.

Dedicated to the frontliners in the fight against COVID-19;

to Jocelyn & Leizel, who are in the thick of the battle.

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Hey everyone!
Can someone do this code:
I got 3 deceased.

Pretty neat management game! A bit frustrating at times since you don't really feel in control (people refusing to isolate on your command, etc) but I guess that was the whole point since it's realistic (but if it was, perhaps the game could've been shortened to get to that point quicker so as not to frustrate the user when you want them to go for a high score which they have no control over besides luck at times). It really dumps you with a lot of info at the start and it was difficult to digest all at once: the game does try to help by having a info read-out and a reference menu you can go to, but I really wanted there to be more reference material on the game screen, either by making the info read-out bigger and more easily readable, or by providing a legend/key for peoples status since I was having difficulty remembering them on the fly. I also feel like if you need to constantly explain that a lower score is better, it might just be easier to change the score formula calculation so that a high score is better, so people can just use their natural instincts, haha. Anyway, while it was a bit confusing and frustrating, its still pretty fun and delivers a nice message effectively through its gameplay (and frustration) so kudos!

Whatever that could be said about the current state of the world is here, seeing all of this, how in the latter game people refused to go into quarentine or couldn't affort to survive in the hospitals because the money was running low or simply decided it wasn't as bad until they got into the red stage is nerve wreaking.
it wasnt a "fun" exprerience, but it really opened my eyes, that is not only the people on the news sayin that the virus is fake, there are people out there who cant afford staying in home and therefore are putting their lives at risk since there are no other options for them.
it really moved me, it was a sad expereince, but a necessary one.

I loved the mechanics and presentation though if I may make one complaint: the game itself lacks a little bit of substance. I finished the whole game perfectly and I barely did anything. Other than that, I hold your game in high regard.

kikill responds:

Thanks for your review @SirMoFoDans! If by wanting more from the game you mean obstacles that prevent you from clearing a level, we didn't go that route because we thought that this simulation should end with a cleared level whether that's saving everybody or the exact opposite. For challenge though, we put in par scores for you to beat through strategic use of the actions at your disposal (and a little bit of luck). Best regards.

very interesting, yet simple and really actual game! thanks !

kikill responds:

Thank you @MaraZ!

Credits & Info

3.83 / 5.00

Jul 31, 2020
6:54 PM EDT