"The Hermetic Order of Alchemists" - Alakajam 1

Learning the secrets of the Alchemists

Last weekend, the Alakajam held its first 48 hour game jam event, with the theme of Alchemy. I participated, and created a new game: "The Hermetic Order of Alchemists".

This time, I decided to make a puzzle game, about transforming and purifying alchemical substances. As in previous game jams, I created the game in Java, using the LibGDX framework. I made the pixel art using Aseprite, and I made the music using Bosca Ceoil.

Designing the game

The game mechanics center around manipulating a number of different substances. You do this by breaking them into their component elements, getting rid of surplus elements, and then reassembling the remaining elements into different substances. Each puzzle is presented as a trial, with a given starting number of substance, and a goal you need to reach. Then, using the tools at your disposal, and your knowledge about the properties of the substances, you have to transform your starting substances into the end goal.

Each substance has a breaking point. This is the hot temperature where it splits into its contained elements. It also has a binding point. This is the cold temperature where it forms from available unbonded elements. And finally, it has a reactivity rating. This determines the priority of this substance forming, if there are enough available elements to form several different substances.

In short, "The Hermetic Order of Alchemists" is a logic puzzle game. You have to decide which substances and processes that will lead you from your starting point and to your goal.

I tried to make each puzzle build upon the earlier puzzles. So while you can get through the earlier puzzles through trial and error, this will make it a lot harder to get through the later puzzles.

Time for some music!

Despite only having 48 hours in this jam, I still found the time to make sounds and even a musical theme for the game. As an extra touch, I added a little voice acting to the game, lending my voice to the annoying Master of Alchemy who are clearly not rooting for your success.

Play the game!

Try "The Hermetic Order of Alchemists" now!

Ludum Dare 39 - "The Liberation of Liberatia"

My Ludum Dare 39 game

I participated in Ludum Dare 39 this weekend, and made a new game. Just as last time, I decided to participate in the 78 hour Jam instead of the 48 hour Compo. While I was still adhering to all Compo rules, this meant that I could make a strategy game, and still have some time left for polishing the final game.

This time, the theme was "Running out of Power". During my brainstorming, I decided to interpret the word "power" as political power. From that, I then decided to make a game about overthrowing an oppressive government. The player weakens the regime by converting the population to their side, which ties in with the "Running out of Power" theme.

As in my previous LDs, I developed the game in Java, using the LibGDX framework.


Due to the scale of the idea, I decided that the genre of the game should be a strategy game. Since that genre is more complex, I also decided to keep the mechanics simple, by implementing the game as a "one action per turn" turn-based game, with alternating turns between the player and the  AI-controlled regime.

In my original brainstorm, this would happen by gradually taking control of various government departments, and then finally confronting the leader. But with a bit of prototyping, it became clear that this would take too long to implement properly. Instead, I simplified the scope a bit.

I kept the "population as a resource" element from my initial concept as the core element of the mechanics. As the game goal was still to overthrow the regime, I also needed to decide how to create that as an antagonist. Keeping the idea of overcoming multiple obstacles from my initial brainstorm, I decided that the antagonists should be three overlords instead of one.

liberate liberatia screenshot

Designing the game

By performing this simplification, the game concept was distilled into two aspects, that the game mechanics needed to cover: A way to get/lose the resource of the game (i.e. the population), and a way to defeat the antagonists.

The base mechanics in my turn based game, was to let the player choose one action per turn. So I mapped these two aspects directly into the actions that can be performed. Firstly, a category of actions that affected the population resource, i.e. gaining control over them, making the opponent lose them, or removing them from the game entirely. And secondly, a category of actions used to affect the antagonists.

The antagonists respond after each turn. Their actions affect the population in the same way as the player. I.e. taking control, making the player lose control, or removing the population from the game. This also introduced a lose-condition.  The game is lost if the antagonists control all remaining population.

I decided, that each type of action would have a base percentage change of success. In order to have a purpose for the population resource, this chance is boosted the more population the player controls. It is also lowered by the amount of population controlled by the opponent.

Lastly I added some extra features for variety. Each round has a random type of action gain a bonus, if attempted. The antagonists' chance of success become higher over time (reset by a successful action performed by the player). And you can perform "investigate"-actions against an antagonist, which give a small permanent bonus to later attempts to depose him.

Finally, some music!

In my previous LDs, music has always been on my TODO-list. But it always ended up being out-prioritized by other features. This time I planned on using 6 hours specifically on sound and music, and prioritized it as a "must-have" feature. So for the first time in seven Ludum Dare participations, I ended up with having actual music and sound for my game! I'm pretty happy with finally reaching that personal milestone. Next on my list: Making good music 😉

Play the game!

Try "The Liberation of Liberatia" now!

"Above Your Clearance" - a #1GAM game

A text-based "choose your own path" game, made in Java LibGDX.

For my May #1GAM entry, I have created a short humorous "choose your own path" style adventure game called "Above Your Clearance", using Java LibGDX.

In the game, you play as a Citizen in an oppressive society, who are unlucky enough to be selected for an important mission. You then have to navigate through a series of decisions. And you need to do so, without running out of credits or clones (extra "lives").

The setting is loosely based on a tabletop roleplaying game called Paranoia. I intend to use it as an introduction to new players of this game, as a sort of "primer" on the tone of such games.

My focus this time was to build a "data-driven" game: Every game location is displayed using a single reusable UI. The content of this UI is then changed dynamically, as the player progresses through the game. The game objects are implemented as objects with data, but without game logic. An example of this is the Effect object, i.e. what happens when the user chooses a specific choice. It has a type (which is the kind of effect it has on the world). It also has a corresponding magnitude. But it contains no logic about how to apply itself to the world. This means that Effect objects can be defined as data, e.g. in an external data file, or through an external editor. The game logic is instead handled by the core game logic. Here, specific functionality is excecuted, depending on the type and magnitude of a given effect.

Additionally, I made a few more experiments with the Scene2D GUI-api, including building some custom Actor components, that are easier to change dynamically during the game. This ended up working rather well. As I did for my latest LD-game, I also made a HTML-version of the game. The game should scale for both high-DPI and normal-sized screens as well, which also took some experimentation.

Play the game!

Try "Above Your Clearance" now!


Ludum Dare 38 - "The Morix Colony"

Another April, another Ludum Dare

As I have a few days off this week, I decided to participate in the Ludum Dare Jam this time. My intention was, that the extra time would give me the opportunity to create some more substantial mechanics. And as an extra bonus, that I would finally have the time to make some sound and music for my game.

The theme for this LD was "A Small World". I did not find this theme to be very inspiring, to be honest, but after brainstorming for a few hours, I did manage to come up with an idea: The player is a former noble in a galactic empire. He is banished to a small and politically insignificant world (applying the theme in both a literal and a figurative sense). From here, he has to amass enough money to bring him back to the imperial court. He does this by managing the resources of his small colony.

Planet Morix - Ludum Dare 38
The Planet Morix

The game therefore ended up as a turn-based strategy game. The player allocates his population to resource production, which accumulate over time. And at semi-random intervals, he will be presented with random events, where he has to make a choice about what to do.

The types of events vary: Sometimes the player gets an opportunity to buy or sell a specific kind of resource. Sometimes, with sufficient resources, he can upgrade his colony in various ways. And sometimes, he is threatened by hostile space pirates, demanding tribute.

The gameplay is somewhat similar to "The Organization", which is one of my previous LD-games. However, this time I had extra time from participating in the Jam rather than in the Compo. This allowed me to better balance the random events and resource allocation elements.

I made the game in Java, using the LibGDX library. This time, I focused on experimenting with the Scene2D GUI-api.

Play the game!

Try "The Morix Colony" now!


Creating a game each month for a year? I've joined 1GAM!

1GAM - creating 12 games in a row

I recently stumbled across a site called One Game a Month (also known as #1GAM or just 1GAM).

It presented a simple-sounding, and yet seemingly collossal challenge: Make a video game each month, for an entire year!

I've decided to join this challenge, with my latest MiniLD entry as my first #1GAM entry.

For the next year, I pledge to create a video game each and every month!

Why join?

I've noticed that I never release most of my game experiments and prototypes. Instead I work on them for a while, only to abandon them once a more interesting experiment turns up.

With the 1GAM concept, I'll have a reason to finish at least one prototype of some kind every month. And it will be a great excuse to experiment with some various ideas.

I've especially missed creating classical text adventures, so I imagine that I'm going to experiment with various frameworks for these in the months to come.

And of course, every four months, a new Ludum Dare entry will be added to the list...