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Arks of Mercy

by Tenoch - Competition Entry

Arks of Mercy

A Ludum Dare #17 entry by Noe Falzon (Tenoch)

Be the savior of an endangered nation, as the level of the waters rise ineluctably. Guide your people to the safest mountains, build boats, teleportation towers and mighty shelters before it is too late!

EDIT: tiny post-deadline bugfix. Archives have been updated. If you want to (and you should) judge the pre-deadline version, just assume the game would crash when trying to select a non completed ark =) Thanks to allen and Almost for reporting it!

How to run

Windows: double-click arks_of_mercy.bat, or similar. You can change the window size by editing the .bat files or creating your own.

GNU/Linux: run (depending on your file manager, double clicking on it might be enough). You will need the following libraries: Lua 5.1, SDL, SDL_image, SDL_mixer, SDL_gfx, SDL_ttf.

You can modify this file to change the window size (especially if the game doesn't run at the first try). For instance, replace the contents with:

lua main.lua 800 600
lua main.lua 1024 768 fullscreen

(or run these commands directly...)


The game was designed to be used with a gamepad (I have a DualShock clone), but provides keyboard replacements as well.

D-pad/Arrows : move
Left and right shoulders / S and F : rotate camera
Left and right triggers / E and D : zoom in and out
Cross / Spacebar : bring menu, select, action, etc.
Circle / G : cancel

And shortcuts, without which it is still possible to play:
Square / R : place beacon
Triangle / T : place boat

Now of course, all gamepads have different numbering systems and that kind of stuff, and since there is no ingame keymapper, you'll have to modify the file keymap.lua. It should be mostly self explanatory. You can of course modify the default keys as well.

Additional keys, mostly for fun:

1: toggle wireframe
2: toggle land color
3: print FPS rate
4: while held, water raises a lot faster
Escape: quit instantly


The inhabitants of this small world are pretty dumb. They will wander randomly, and only flee the water when it is really close. But they can get trapped on islands and die tragically there when the water comes, which is why you need to guide them.

1. Beacons

Place a beacon above the land by bringing the menu and chosing the weird four-piked item, or alternatively, by pressing "place beacon". The circle around it is its area of influence. Guys in it will be attracted to the beacon.

To remove a beacon, place the cursor close to it and press "beacon" or "action" (shortcuts come in handy when objects are close to each other).

Note that you have a limited number of beacons at the same time on the map. When the limit is reached, the first ones will disapear.

2. Boats

Create a boat on the sea by bringing the menu and chosing the flat round item, or alternatively, by pressing "place boat".

Pressing "action" near the boat will bring its own menu, with three items: load, unload, destroy.
Chose load, move the cursor to a land zone with people, and press "action". The boat will start moving towards the goal, and when it arrives, all the people within the area of influence indicated when aiming will try to board the boat.

There are only 10 places on a boat.

Unloading works the same. Sometimes the boat will not unload, because the terrain is not safe, try again seconds later, or further away.

Delete, well, deletes the boat, including its passengers.

There is also a limited number of boats, but the first ones won't be automatically deleted. Instead, the "boat" item will not show up in the menu.
Sometimes the guys are really dumb and throw themselves to the sea while trying to board the ship. Oh well...

3. Teleportation towers

The third item in the menu, tall pyramid with four legs, is a teleportation tower. Place it on the ground, like a beacon. Note that it takes some time to build. You can cancel its creation by bringing up its menu and chosing the delete item.

Once built, a new item will appear in its menu: linking to another tower. Chose it, move near another tower, and press "action". Note that the towers must be in line of sight. A red line (instead of the lightnings) indicate non line of sight.

Once linked to another tower, a new item appears: calling people. All the people in a close range around the tower will enter it, and reappear outside the linked tower. Use in conjunction with a beacon to attract people as close as possible.

Note that you are limited to 4 towers. Note also that the links are one way. If you can explicitly make to towers point at each other, it is in no way mandatory. You can make a network, or a chain, or anything you like. Remember also that you can change the target by selecting again the link item.

4. Arks

The ultimate shelter. The boats are safe, but they contain only a few people. To save your entire population, you need to build these huge floating cities. Each shelter can hold 100 persons.

You are not limited in the number of shelters you build.
Beware, the construction is not automatic like teleport towers. The construction speed is proportionnal to the number of people close to the ark! Use beacons to attract people really close!

Once built, the ark's menu contains one option: making the close people embark. You cannot destroy an ark, or unload its passengers.

Once the water reaches the ark, it will start floating to safety!

5. Victory?

There is no winning or losing condition. The aim is to save as many people as possible. The game stops when all the people are either dead, or rescued.

During the game, you can check your advance by bringing up the menu. The numbers shown are the people still in need of rescue, and the people rescued. The game always starts at 500.


The source code is under GNU GPL v3.
Music and graphics are cc-by-nc-sa.

GNU/Linux notes:

The game comes with a precompiled binary ( created on a Ubuntu system. If it doesn't work on your particular distribution, compile evolcore.c into a shared library, linked against the libraries mentioned earlier. You can use the provided SConstruct, if you have the scons building system installed.

Downloads and Links




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Comments (archive)

Riley Adams says ...

That was awesome! It took a second for me to understand how everything worked and the controls were a little iffy without a game pad, but that was actually really fun. Nice work!

Almost says ...

Kind of cool, though the controls seemed a bit awkward. I would've preferred a point and click system to an arrow keys and space bar system for precision reasons. I accidentally removed a beacon instead of bringing up the menu to place a new building near it several times. It also wouldn't hurt to have beacon rings always visible.
Also, night time looks like a lack of shading rather than a darkness.
And for the record, I liked the green and pink color scheme more than this brown orange one.

Geti says ...

Managed to get it working with some crazy workarounds, and it's damn cool :D I loved the feeling of a mass exodus and watching my little guys running around. neat!

localcoder says ...

I really enjoyed this. There's a great feeling of doom as the water rises and islands appear out of the terrain.

The 'centre pixel' control system is a bit awkward, especially when selecting objects on steep terrain.

The game felt well balanced to me. I had to use all of the construction types, with my last ark assembled just in time and hastily-built boats to pick up the last few refugees who couldn't fit.

Tozy says ...

Congratulations! Very Nice ;) Have played for a wile.

Hempuli says ...

I found it a bit hard to grasp what I was supposed to be doing. The teleports were cool, but are the big buildings supposed to take that long to be built? The game felt very stable and solid.

Perrin says ...

Thought this was really interesting, with a really great visual and audio style. Sadly I found the gameplay too confusing, as I really didn't want to sit and read all your instructions above. Really think it could do with more in-game help.

jplur says ...

fun and great use of the theme! I would really like to see this continued with mouse controls.

Endurion says ...

Not bad and quite well done. The controls are a bit awkward, a help text below the options would've helped quite well.
Especially when starting out it's not exactly clear which of the names in the readme are which building.

snowyowl says ...

This game was very fun to play! I liked the way you implemented the theme, in that a continent with a few lakes in it becomes a mess of islands with people on them.
I like the use of beacons for controlling people; there were a few times when it became inconvenient (perhaps the beacons' range is too small?), but hey-ho. The music is very haunting, overall it's great fun.
I saved 298 people using 4 arks and a boat (EDIT: I got the hang of it a bit more, and saved 423 people with only 5 arks. Any advance on 423?). It might be handy if, once you select the "load people" icon on the ark or teleporters, it continues to load them until it's full or you deselect it. But that's a minor issue.
(Extra credit for the Windows release. If you zoom in enough, your HUD can be covered up by water.)

someone says ...

Very nice. The controls are a bit awkward and help text would have been useful but the gameplay is good. I like the atmosphere.

Diet Chugg says ...

I liked being able to customize the color of the island.

Draknek says ...

This is really weird but quite cool. Controls are pretty much unusable though.

The Linux startup script should have #!/bin/bash instead of !#/bin/bash on the first line.

SonnyBone says ...

Man, I love this. The music is PERFECT. Needs some SFX and a graphical upgrade with some more structure and it will be GOOOOOLDEN.

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