April 20th-23rd 2012 :: 10 Year Anniversary! :: Theme: Tiny World

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The Underground Court

by caranha - 48 Hour Compo Entry

You are a faerie, half insect, half man, who lives in a world separate from our own. In this game, you must venture from your comfortable home underground into the realms of men, in order to find delicacies to your queen.

Your final goal is to enter the very lair of Men, avoid his monstrous guardians, and acquire the ultimate prize for your queen. Can you do it?


This is my second dare. My initial idea was based on the movie "The Secret World of Arrietty", where a family of tiny people lived hidden in a house, taking food from the house while avoiding the "big people".

The original plan was to have other aspects to the game such as expand your own underground realm with specialists to help you, dealing with humans who would try to close the ant holes, etc. But due to my terrible time management, I only got so far as the "keep the queen alive, and go for the prize" part.

At least, compared to my previous LD entry, this was a big improvement. Mobs, Music, Real time, pausing, this game has many technical options not present on Maze Explorer, even if it might look a little less polished. More info about that on my upcoming post-mortem.

Downloads and Links




dr_soda says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 6:17am

I notice a theme developing in your games. This is the second one in a row I've seen where avoiding starvation is the goal. I can't tell if it's just me though, but this game seems incredibly difficult. The queen's food stores drop precipitously and the only foods I found, garbage and roots, don't restore enough to make them worth the effort to collect... and that effort is *copious* because the controls are a bit overresponsive.

On the other hand, I'm impressed with how far along this path you managed to make it. This was a really ambitious concept and a nice take on the theme to boot.

caranha says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 10:34am

To be quite honest, I ended up falling back to the starvation theme by accident... In the initial concept of the game, the main goal was to try not to make the humans angry while doing many tasks that gave you points. However, I ended up implementing hunger first because I was already used to it, and in the end it became the central theme of the game as I ran out of time to do other stuff. And I had 0 time to balance it, so yeah, the game is probably too hard :-(

Tumaini says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 1:28pm

Nice game, though very difficult.
Once I figured out the controls and that you had to stand on the middle of the queen to feed her, it became possible to venture outside (and get fruits), but those cats/rats were fast!

Kimau says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 1:55pm

Found the controls frustrating and I kept having to look at the help. The generation of the caves is nice but getting caught on the edges takes away a bit of the fun.

Enjoyed the audio

Danvil says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 2:20pm

The game is too hard... Especially the cats who follow over the whole map.

23 says ...
Apr 23, 2012 @ 2:58pm

Like everyone else, I thought this was really hard because of the responsive controls, quick enemies, and very short timer (queen's food supply). With tweaks to those it would be a lot more fun...

triplefox says ...
Apr 24, 2012 @ 8:48am

The only negatives I really have for this are that the game moved too quickly(especially the cats) and it would have been nice to have more polished graphics. I made it to the end after a few attempts. Nice work!

caranha says ...
Apr 25, 2012 @ 1:29am

Everyone, thanks for the feedback!

I guess the main problem with the movement is that I ended up implementing it as entire tiles (16 pixels), and the engine did not allow anything more precise than that. I will try to work out how to do tile-free movement/collision before the next dare.

Pierrec says ...
Apr 25, 2012 @ 6:23pm

Looks good, but my computer really got some problems with Java Games, and I don't know why. they lag A LOT, even when downloaded :(
I don't want to play the game in the wrong conditions and risk to rate it worse than it worth.

Sanguine says ...
Apr 26, 2012 @ 3:13pm

Since you played my game, I thought I'd play yours. Pretty cool, a bit difficult though. My Queen kept dying.

And at what you said about my game, I did realize but I thought it could not be used. Will fix in future versions though :)

caranha says ...
Apr 26, 2012 @ 3:47pm

Hmmm, I think a lot of people don't get to realize that the bushes regenerate fruits over time. If you feed your queen on the initial bushes for a few rounds, you should have enough food to find the correct way to the human house.

racarate says ...
Apr 26, 2012 @ 5:40pm

Web didn't work for me (Safari, OSX) -- I heard amazing music but saw only a white screen.

demonpants says ...
Apr 26, 2012 @ 5:42pm

Pretty fun, but you're pretty much screwed once you're seen by a cat thing, and there's nothing to be done about it. I tried retreating into my hole but they were just outside and killed me immediately.

Diventurer says ...
Apr 26, 2012 @ 7:29pm

Nice game :P
Kind of hard though ;)

Hazard says ...
Apr 26, 2012 @ 7:49pm

The game idea is great and intrigued me a lot at first, but sadly the gameplay is very frustrating. Firstly, the queens starting food should be higher. There isn't really any grace period in the beginning. When you get in the first time the queen starves before you even got a clue whats going on and oriented yourself. Secondly, the controls are infuriating. Exactly getting onto the tile you want to be on is almost impossible. Even a quick press of a key usually sends you over 2 tiles. It sometimes took me more than 10 seconds trying to get onto a ladder or something, just because i always overshot it. Thridly, when a cat sees you, you are dead. Its almost impossible to get away. Maybe i'm just slow, but overall the game seems to be just way too fast and overresponsive, which ruins the exprience for me. Sorry if that sounds very negative, but this is meant to be constructive criticism and i hope you percieve it as such. But i'm sure i would enjoy a slower "grampa edition" a lot. ;)

caranha says ...
Apr 27, 2012 @ 12:11am

Hey Hazard, no hard feelings.

To be quite honest, I am quite disappointed with the game myself. The problem is that I wanted to do something different from my last entry, while using the same tricks -- that is specially true for the movement.

I'm not sure I'm going to fix all the problems in this game, though -- it would probably be better to just re-make it from scratch with the same idea, and a non tile-based engine.

SonnyBone says ...
Apr 27, 2012 @ 1:12am

The controls felt nearly perfect once I loaded my character down with fruit. It's just too fast by default, causing me to skip over the ONE tile I needed to be on to pick up or drop or enter. The title screen music is SO GOOD! I really dig the concept, and it would be nice to see the world expanded with some more life... like others buzzing around and working underground and such. The cats are like LASER BEAMS, though! You can't outrun them at all. Great use of theme as well.

jwolf says ...
Apr 27, 2012 @ 6:27pm

Nice concept. I like the idea, but have to agree that the controls (at least when unburdened) are too hard to use. Also, the food attrition rate is probably too high for new players.

Jilius says ...
Apr 28, 2012 @ 1:43am

The game suffers from some issues, like the speed the queen starves and frustrating and somewhat unresponsive controls. The cats are also too fast and its hard to run away from them while carrying food.
Aside from all that, it was a decent game and i had fun once i got the hang of it. Didn't beat it though since it was too hard for me.

Moth says ...
Apr 28, 2012 @ 9:27am

Pretty silly and fun! It reminded me a bit of the old game Sim-Ant. The queen was pretty cute and the cat noise was fairly hilarious. They're really fast! On several occasions I got the cake but then on my way back through the safe route, a cat got me as soon as I exited the other end of the tunnel.

I amazingly managed to get through the clustered area full of cats once by dumb luck. I hope in future versions the cats will give you a little more reaction time since it's really brutal in that you can farm food to get the food count above 100 and then get killed by a cat you weren't expecting :P A larger viewport could also help with this. I like the effort that you put into the graphics and sound.

It was pretty hilarious when a cat would get excited and chase you but immediately go to sleep a split second later :P

I'll be interested to see expanded versions of this!

davidwparker says ...
Apr 28, 2012 @ 3:26pm

Didn't run for me (OSX, Chrome).

caranha says ...
Apr 28, 2012 @ 4:02pm

David, did you try the fat jar as well? Do you have the java plugin installed? Any error messages?

kddekadenz says ...
Apr 28, 2012 @ 4:14pm

Nice little game, but the movement sucks.

cakemonitor says ...
Apr 28, 2012 @ 6:14pm

Great game - I'm not sure why people found it hard (except for the very fast cats who never give up the chase! I think they could be made slower and/or to give up after a few seconds chasing). I found if I avoided having the cats spot me in the first place then it was easy. The queen didn't die once and when I took her food supply to over 100 I gave up assuming that there is no win condition?
Overall a great entry. Well done :)

SusanTheCat says ...
Apr 29, 2012 @ 12:10am

As has been said before, I found this difficult due to the over-sensitive controls.

caranha says ...
Apr 29, 2012 @ 12:10pm

Cakemonitor: Thanks for the remarks. There is actually a win condition -- if you see the title screen, there is a human house somewhere in the map, with a special item for you to pick up inside. If you bring that item to the queen, you win the game.

netguy204 says ...
Apr 29, 2012 @ 3:13pm

Darned cats!


I wished I could fly over walls (I'm a fly, right?) and get away from the darn cats. The controls were so fast that I had no hope of really diving into my hole to get away from them so once I activated a cat it was game over.

Clever concept. I hope you add build!

ehtd says ...
Apr 29, 2012 @ 4:08pm

wow, really difficult.

HD408 says ...
Apr 29, 2012 @ 5:10pm

Fits the theme, good music and graphics, but it's so hard (especially the cats) and short. Has some potential.

R3ason says ...
Apr 29, 2012 @ 6:00pm

Quite interesting! I like the fast-paced nature of it. As others have said, I think the cats are pretty fast, and the movement is a tad over-responsive. I did like, though, that you move slower and slower the more food you are carrying (I assume this is a feature and not a bug? :D ) Good stuff, thanks!

Catman says ...
Apr 29, 2012 @ 7:51pm

I really liked your music, reminds me of amiga games! :)

I also liked the game idea and the mood, the cats actually scared me the first time!

I do find that the game is quite hard, tho!

Too bad there is no building

caranha says ...
May 1, 2012 @ 12:19am

R3ason -- The moving slower thing is a feature, not a but. You have a cooldown of 1 for movement when you're not carrying anything, +1 for every 10 of "weight" that you are carrying.

The idea is that you are as fast as the cats if you are unladen, but if you are carrying food you can't just outrun them, but have to find your way around without getting noticed. Of course the idea would have worked much better if I had time to balance it.

MrBarnslig says ...
May 3, 2012 @ 6:26am

Fits the theme perfectly! Tuned to be pretty difficult - the one hit kills with the cats along with the quickly starving queen make it really hard. Not sure if that was your intention. Moving around is a bit fast as well. If it was a bit more reasonably paced it could really have something. Looking forward to build!

Rex Peppers says ...
May 7, 2012 @ 1:45pm

LOL I hate those damn cats! :-) If only running those cats into the water or a wall would cause them some satisfying harm...

caranha says ...
May 8, 2012 @ 4:19am

That is a pretty neat idea, if I ever try my hand at re-making this game!

Alexandre says ...
May 8, 2012 @ 4:37pm

I tried to play, but the game is very hard, due to the queen's starvation, and the difficulty to have precise movements. Maybe a roguelike movement system would have been easier to play?

tcstyle says ...
May 8, 2012 @ 7:14pm

It's a pity this is so unfinished cause the basic idea is great. The game's concept feels quite oldschool, in a good way.

Cake&Code says ...
May 13, 2012 @ 6:38pm

The controls are a little difficult to use, and it's quite the challenging game to avoid starvation, avoid the cats, and get food at the same time. The cat sound effects made me chuckle and the art was cute.

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