Josiah Lebowitz: Game Designer, Writer, and Narrative Designer
About Me Resume & References Project History Game Design Writing Samples Art and Graphics

Car Washer: Summer of the Ninja

Key Details

  • Platform: Action / Casual Game developed in XNA for Windows and XBLIG
  • Development Period: Oct 2008 - February 2012 (Original Release); Summer 2015 (Updated Steam Release)
  • Current Status: Released
  • Awards: Intel Level Up 2010: 3rd Place - Best Game for a Laptop


  • Josiah Lebowitz: Designer, Writer, Producer, Sprite Artist
  • Tim Michaud: Lead Programmer
  • Nick Jepsen: Programmer
  • Paul Pardee: Programmer
  • Chris Dusold: Steam Programmer
  • Jessic Lang: Artist
  • Nick Pfisterer: Sound and Music Composer

Samples & Documentation

Project Overview

Car Washer is an arcade style casual game designed with both PCs and consoles in mind. Players control a high school student who hopes to earn some money during summer break by running a small car wash. Unfortunately, the nearby Ninja Car Washing Corp. doesn't want any competition. The player must wash cars quickly to keep customers happy while using ordinary car washing tools to fight off the attacking ninja. The complete design calls for several arcade type modes as well as a mission based story mode.

Project History

The initial idea for Car Washer came about as part of a design challenge to create a pitch document which could convince anyone that a game called Car Washer would be a good idea. After returning to UAT for my Master's, I was eager to begin a new game project. After my previous projects, I had little interest in creating another mod and decided to focus on a casual game that could be easily completed by a small student team. I had two potential designs planned and, after a bit of thought and discussions with professors and prospective team members, I choose to focus on Car Washer. XNA was chosen due to its popularity at the time and the ease of development for both Windows and Xbox Live Arcade.

Paul Pardee was recruited to handle the programming while I worked on the details of the design. Unable to find a skilled sprite artist to join the team, I took over that portion of the project as well. Things progressed quickly through the winter of 2008, but stalled in early 2009 as both Paul and myself became overloaded with other work.

In the early summer of 2009, Nick Jepsen joined as an additional programmer. Paul, still having little time to devote to the project, took on more of an advisory roll. We completed our third milestone and began testing the resulting alpha build in mid July.

Nick and I continued our work on the game, in hopes of having a demo version completed in time to enter in the Indepent Games Festival. We recruited Jessica Lang to do the high quality art (such as the title screen illustration) and Nick Pfisterer to create the sound effects and music to aid in the effort.

The demo was completed in time and entered it in the IGF Student Showcase. With the demo complete, we continued working on the additional features needed for the full game. In November, the Car Washer demo won third place in the Intel Level Up 2010 contest's Best Game for a Laptop catagory.

Nick found a new job shortly after and had to leave the project. Progress stalled for quite a while as I searched for a new programmer. Finally, in winter of 2011, Tim Michaud joined the team and, together, we completed the game in early 2012. Car Washer has since been released by my indie label, Pen and Sword Games.

In early 2015, Car Washer was rather unexpectedly approved for a Steam release via Steam Greenlight. As the rest of the team had moved on, I recruited Chris Dusold to handle the neccessary programming work, while I focused on new features, including Steam achivements and trading cards. The Steam edition was released in late summer of 2015 and updated shortly after with some improvements based on player feedback.

What I Learned

More than anything else, Car Washer taught me the value of expecting and planning for delays. What was originally planned as six month project ended up taking several years, on and off, to complete. For future indie projects, I plan to ensure that I have multiple people available to handle any tasks that I can't take care of myself. That should go a long way towards avoiding the delays that plagued Car Washer.