Panic at the Space Petting Zoo.

Posted by (twitter: @alternatehamlet)
May 1st, 2016 5:22 am

Hi everyone!

So this Ludum Dare, I made Space Petting Zoo Crisis!, a game that is designed for three people to play on one shared monitor and three cell phones. Because I’m that person who does weird things that makes games complicated. I know. I have a problem. I’m working through it.

 I plan to write up how I did it at some point, because people have been curious, but this is not that post. This is a “How to play the game no matter what your setup is!” post.

First, some assurances in big friendly letters!

Yes, you can play this game single player!


Yes, you can play this game with just a computer!


Yes, you can play this as a remote multiplayer game!

Okay, ready?

How to play without a cell phone

To play this game, you need a Host Screen and a Player Screen, both of which you can see. Ideally, the host screen is your whole monitor, and the player screen is your cell phone, but you can also do this: 


Open two browser windows. Arrange them side by side like this so you can see both of them, with the host screen much wider than the player screen. Open the game in the host screen, and click the link that says “Host a game”. Choose your options (details in the how-to-play section) and click “Create game!”

The next screen gives you some information on how to connect to the game. (You can reopen this box at any point by clicking “Show QR code” in the top left of the screen.) The first link is where players should go. Copy it into your player screen browser window and click join. If you are playing from a real cell phone, the QR code is probably the fastest way to join.


Now, the main problem with playing this game as a single player is that it takes a long time to move your character around the map just to adjust the generators. I recommend opening up three tabs on your player screen window so you can play as three characters and spread out.


You can now click on the ground in the player screen browser window to move your characters around.

How to add a remote player:

The remote player will also need to be able to see the Host screen and a Player screen. If the remote player is playing on just a computer, he or she will first need to set up browser windows as shown above.

To display the same host screen that the first player is seeing, the remote player needs the mirror link, which is the link after the QR code in that box with connection info. The mirror screen will also have that box, so the remote player can get the player link or QR code.

I recommend using some sort of voice chat so you can coordinate while you play. There is no chat function in the game at this time.

How to win!

To play, you need to find the generators and connect them in a loop. (“Find the Hamiltonian Cycle” for you graph theory nerds.)


Hard (8 generators) is a hardcore puzzle game for people who like hardcore puzzle games, so choose that if you’ve ever been annoyed that the difficulty settings on a Killer Sudoku generator don’t go high enough.

Normal (6 generators) is still pretty hard, but takes less time.

Easy (6 generators, direction cap of 2) is a good way to get a feel for the game if you don’t want to spend a lot of time on it.

If you don’t want to have to explore first and just want the puzzle game, check “show all”.

Play Tips:

  • It can help to find all the generators before you start connecting them.
  • Can’t find a generator? Look in the directions the ones you’ve found are pointing!
  • Spread your characters out! (Open three character windows if you are a single player.)

Solution constraints:

  • Each generator points to one other generator.
  • Each generator is pointed at by only one generator.
  • All generators must be in a single loop.
  • There is one and only one solution.

Here is a demo puzzle. It is from Easy Mode. I’ll walk you through it.


(Click gets you full-sized)

First thing we want to do is look for generators that have only one possible incoming or outgoing connection. In this case, all the generators have two outgoing connections, but notice that D is the only generator that can point to F and B is the only generator that points to C.

D and C can both point to A, but we know already that D has to point to F, so C has to point to A.


A can point to B or E, but if we connect it to B, then we have a small loop A->B->C->A, and we need all the nodes to be in our loop. So A has to point to E.

E to B would now also create a small loop, so E points to D. F is the only generator left, so it has to point to B, closing the loop. 


We won! Good job team!

That’s easy mode. Some tips for the harder modes:

  • Working backwards can be harder to visualize, but is just as useful as working forwards.
  • Each node has a path to each other node. Pick a node and start figuring out how it connects to the other nodes. If there is only one way to get from node A to node B, you know that entire path has to be correct.
  • “There is only one solution” is sometimes a useful clue itself. If A->B->C->D and A->C->B->D are both possible paths, you know neither of them is part of the solution.
  • There is no “pencil mark” option built into the game yet, but if you need to start guessing and checking, you can take a screenshot first.

Hope this helps! I’ll do a write-up for how I did the whole multiplayer networking thing at some point, so if you you have any questions that you’d like to see addressed in that post, let me know in the comments.

Oh, and about the name…

This game wasn’t quite finished. The finished game was going to have a story and a secondary logic puzzle.

Would have gone something like this:

You work in a space petting zoo. The reveal-the-shape-shifters grid in the shape-shifter exhibit has gone down, and a space school bus full of space children on a space field trip is on its way. Each of the three space animals is known to knock over one kind of space person (costing that person time) and hide from one other kind of space person, and with the grid down, you can’t tell which items in the exhibit are the space animals and which are benign objects. You can split up to work faster, or stick together for safety. Can you fix the grid in time?

See, that game would have been a lot harder for a single player.

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