Ludum Dare 36 — August 26th-29th, 2016 — Theme: Ancient Technology

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Sumer Game

by Rico The Jammer - Competition Entry

A cuneiform scripting exam.

WARNING: The game uses the mouse wheel so it's unplayable in its embed form without using full screen. For a better play experience, you can also play it on the web link below.

Downloads and Links


Aug 29, 2016 @ 2:01am

The game is functional, but the scoring mechanisms are part untested and part flawed.... Post your scores so I can have some sense of how to tune it.

CMLSC says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 3:20am

I could imagine that some people would enjoy doing this(especially if there were relaxing music or something), however, I don't really care for games like this. The game appears to work fine though. :D
I couldn't exactly figure out how to end a level...

Aug 29, 2016 @ 3:22am

Oh man, this game is very tedious, and it's slightly annoying that I can't see my score after each individual tablet. However, I really enjoy this concept! Maybe if each tablet had less symbols, then this would be less hard to get through.

pogo575 says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 3:33am

Cool concept. Rotating the stylus didn't work for me. But without audio or feedback that I had done something right I lost interest quickly.

ReboundGames says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 3:38am

The controls/mechanics work well enough (probably not so well on a touchpad but that's true of most things.) I don't have the patience to do 3 whole tablets. I feel like it should be scored line by line, and maybe have a time limit or some other way to add challenge. Perhaps the clay will lose the imprint if you wait too long?

KevKevOnFire says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 4:24am

Yeah, agree with the tedium. Things work fine, but I was struggling with the attention span to do one, nonetheless 3 tablets. This could be helped a lot by providing feedback more often (ex. every line) or additional challenge.

Aug 29, 2016 @ 4:34am

@CMLSC : I agree that some music (no time is my excuse!) would be nice as would be a way to make the experience more... tactile somehow. Sound effects could help, better visuals too, etches that are analog instead of just small or big could also help... Oh and to complete a level you need to use the kiln to bake the tablet.

@TheMysticalBard : I totally agree with you! The initial idea was to have a score after each tablet, but the clock made me scrap that. As for the length of the text, it was decided early from a visual standpoint (to have a finished tablet that looks filled) and then later (too late!) I noticed that it made each level last too long.

@pogo575 Oh? The mouse wheel is not working or are you using a touch pad? I should add a keyboard option to change the orientation of the stylus... As for feedback, in Easy you can see how well you are etching over the guides, but it's true there is a big gap (both in time and concept) between what you are doing and the score you get (not to mention the scoring techniques are a bit... yeah...)

@ReboundGames From a pacing perspective, I don't disagree. From the perspective of the theme though, it's difficult to score line by line because things are literally not "set in stone." I agree though that the tedious activity of a sumerian scribe is not made less tedious in this Compo and that something like your ductile clay idea would help gamify the task.

NinjaNic says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 4:43am

It's a cool game, but it's annoying when you scroll and then the entire page scrolls. :(

Interesting new game, though!

scriptorum says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 4:47am

Orienting the stylus was finicky and I got frustrated quickly. I like the concept. I think you'd be better off starting with smaller sequences of characters to draw to ramp up the difficulty.

rjhelms says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 4:52am

Interesting idea. I agree with others that the pacing's off: especially at the start, smaller chunks before getting feedback would make the gameplay more compelling.

My final score - on easy - was 57/100. Especially got dinged on calligraphy, overall getting an 8 - well, I guess I'm no Sumerian calligrapher.

The mouse wheel gave me trouble trying to play the game embedded on the Ludum Dare website: no matter what I did, it scrolled the page as well as rotating the stylus. Worked fine when I followed the link, though. May be worthwhile disabling the embed if there's not an easy way around that.

Aug 29, 2016 @ 5:42am

@NinjaNic hahaha it's terrible and I did not notice. I'll edit the description.

@rjhelms the calligraphy scoring was conceptualized early but implemented in the last few minutes before the deadline. It currently is silly (I compare what the player does to what the player should do in a very very crude way), unbalanced (I compute a value, but I have just guesstimated what would be a very good value and what would be a very bad one and derive the grade from these two wild guesstimations) and possibly just bugged (because... well... wrap up time coding!). So don't feel too bad if you get poor calligraphy grades!

justinooncx says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 5:50am

Very interesting gameplay... but hell if I can sit through and finish one whole tablet! Has a lot of promise, though, and I can cross off writing in Akkadian off my bucket list.

Ghen says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 7:25am

very nice take of the theme, very good idea and execution, indeed playing at the web very helping since scroll button is needed

couple of things tho, it seems that the "nail" cant rotate the other way around it seems, it'll be nice if its also implemented which will be a bit dynamic and in some cases, time saving

Azlen says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 7:47am

After many minutes of tedious labour using a trackpad, I finally finished ONE. Now I have to do another? Maybe I'll come back to this later.

I like it, but it takes a whole lot of time.

RasmusErik says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 7:54am

Really like the concept and theme.

Some minor suggestions for improvements:
- on screen button to change orientation, if you do not have a mouse wheel
- a way to return to the menu (maybe I just overlooked it)
- perhaps ability to try shorter texts (I didn't have the patience to do the full text)
but that is details.

All in all very nice game!
Thanks :)

Bogden says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 8:00am

Really neat idea.

The grading is a little wonky. Spelling is only 25% of the grade, but it seems like that's where the most interesting part of the game is. I tried again and just clicked through all the levels and baked empty slabs, and ended up getting 0s on spelling, but 100s on everything else, so the score was actually pretty high.

I really like the concept of writing like an ancient student though. Awesome use of theme, and really cool idea. Reminds me a bit of the Papa's Pizzeria / Diner Dash genre.

Definitely would recommend adding some background music for a game like this too. Could be very zen (or super hectic)

micheleV says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 8:04am

The concept is very interesting and the execution is very good!
Here some suggestions:
- using a mac I had a real hard time trying to change the orientation
- smaller tablets would make the game easier to approach
Being said that, because of the orientation issue I was not able to finish the first level so maybe my impression is biased.
Good job!

peterthehe says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 10:02am

An interesting game concept. However, to make the game better, you could add some music in the background. Though overall, good job!

spacewarp says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 11:22am

Not much for me to add it seems. I like the idea but the scoring needs work.

RhythmLynx says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 2:58pm

I like the idea and the control scheme. It'd be good to explain the cooking thing first though, I spent ages on my first tablet then overcooked and had to start again

aschab says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 4:17pm

Add the game some background music and it might be entertaining. Couldnt bake without "overbaking" it. Nice idea

Aug 29, 2016 @ 5:07pm

@RhythmLynx Yep yep, I feared that would happen (that's why at the 11th hour I added a note about it in the controls explanation text).

I like the idea of the cooking being done with subtle visual feedback instead of a gauge, but that means you will almost certainly fail at first and, with the current order of events, it's very likely that you will try to cook for the first time after spending a (too) long time etching your first tablet. That's not very nice... In fact that's the opposite of nice!

I probably should force people toward the "free play" mode by calling it differently, putting it on top and highlighting it in some way. I'd rather have people learn the craft through experimentation rather than through a rigid tutorial though.

Aug 30, 2016 @ 3:17am

A great idea, but some more game-like elements seem in order. At least sound would make it something to sink time into.

Nevertheless, it is very unique and it would be cool to see it developed further.

svyatozar says ...
Aug 30, 2016 @ 5:36am

Quite playable. Something similar could probably work for learning Chinese...

leialus says ...
Aug 30, 2016 @ 6:00am

I enjoyed this game, but I do not see my progress, that's kind of frustrating.

qzqxq says ...
Aug 30, 2016 @ 6:40am

Interesting idea, but I kind of got bored of it quick. I like the grading screen though.

tonynogo says ...
Aug 30, 2016 @ 7:07am

I love your idea ^^
Great job.. the control are very well-thought-out!

jakatpemadi says ...
Aug 30, 2016 @ 10:38am

I like the mechanic of the game. Learn ancient writing in clay tablet, eh computer. Great!! :D

Amine Tcherak says ...
Aug 30, 2016 @ 11:44am

Very Nice i love your Game Good Works )=

Sean says ...
Aug 30, 2016 @ 9:11pm

It's a decent concept, but like others have said it's very tedious. The "overcooking" also seems way too sensitive; it's especially annoying to fail after having spent so long working on a single tablet.

Also, I tried doing a quick run where I didn't put any marks before baking and ended up with a 68%. That's some pretty lenient grading for 0% of the work!

xirion11 says ...
Aug 31, 2016 @ 3:28am

Its not my type of game but is a really interesting idea

colapolka says ...
Aug 31, 2016 @ 5:37am

I like that the baking mechanism relies on visual ingame feedback instead of an interface clue. Sometimes its simple things like that.

The scoring mechanism - as pointed out - is obviously broken though, it rewards you for not writing at all and baking right away (100 points on both time and caligraphy).

In terms of theme execution - one of the best entries i've seen so far. What's more ancient than writing? It's literally the starting point of recorded history.

Aug 31, 2016 @ 1:13pm

Nice idea but the first tablet in the easy mode is already way too much work.
I get the idea very quickly, but really didn't found the motivation to complete it... A simple "how-to-play" tablet with max. 8 different signs would have been great. Then a linear progression with let's say +4 signs per tablet and so on.
Also some fitting music/effects would do wonders. :-)
The mouse-wheel as an essential control mechanism is suboptimal inside the web (as you mention) - but why not use the arrow keys?

Zeriver says ...
Aug 31, 2016 @ 7:23pm

Fun little game, i could see this as some sort of minigame or puzzle in adventure game. In easy mode there are too many symbols to fill i mean it's easy mode so completing it should be a bit faster and require less effort. Also nice use of theme. Overall solid game.

Yumeito says ...
Aug 31, 2016 @ 7:46pm

Nice game. The gameplay is much more interesting than hero's robot. And I managed to get 59/100 once even buy cooking the tablet without doing the calligraphy :) The first time I overcooked it so I decided to just cook it directly lol....I need music

Yumeito says ...
Aug 31, 2016 @ 7:46pm

Nice game. The gameplay is much more interesting than hero's robot. And I managed to get 59/100 once even by cooking the tablet without doing the calligraphy :) The first time I overcooked it so I decided to just cook it directly lol....I need music

Yumeito says ...
Aug 31, 2016 @ 7:47pm


Sabina Lis says ...
Sep 1, 2016 @ 4:17pm

Hi there! It is interesting, and works well, i didnt know how to go back to the stylus after using the water. I think given the score, there should be visual info on time limits. I didnt have patience to do the hole tables, so i just put simbols everywhere and cooked it and still got 74/100: 2 spelling, 100 steadiness, 91 on caligraphy, 100 time. I liked the idea of it, it looks neat.

reheated says ...
Sep 2, 2016 @ 2:17pm

Innovation: I've never seen this kind of gameplay!
Fun: I started off on easy and didn't "get" it. Then I switched to normal and started to see the fun in it. In my opinion, this could be quite fun if it had (i) no easy mode (or rename it to tutorial), (ii) much shorter levels and most importantly (iii) a displayed time limit on each level (or a bar that moves across the message at the top, and if you fall behind, you fail the level) - then it becomes a frantic handwriting race!
Theme: Definitely!
Graphics: Does the job, though imagine if you'd had beautiful hand painted graphics! (Oh, who am I to talk.)
Audio: N/A
Humor: I tittered after making a tablet in free play.
Mood: It could do with sound and music (and, as mentioned, arty art)
Overall: A creative idea and there is the seed of something fun. I imagine a series of levels of increasing difficulty (tighter time limits or longer messages in the same time limit) with a quality requirement that needs to be met to reach the next level. As it is, I have to play through three levels to find out how well I did, and that gets in the way of the enjoyment. Anyway, it's a very creative idea.

Diptoman says ...
Sep 4, 2016 @ 12:23am

The idea is great, just mechanically needs some elements to make each playtime shorter with more feedback. As it stands, there's not much "fun" to be had here. Some background music would have been good too. Overall though, very original, so props for that.

Alphish says ...
Sep 8, 2016 @ 8:10pm

Well, I won't be particularly original here if I say that I find the idea interesting, but the execution way too time-consuming and unrewarding? ^^'

I especially didn't like how I finished my tablet, then tried baking it, then I overbaked it and I lost my tablet. After meticulously putting in all these tiny little marks and having it all go to waste, I kinda quitted. For what it's worth, you could have very well thrown that mechanic away. >.<

I wonder how that game could be improved to make the gameplay not feel as much like a chore; the premise itself isn't bad, after all...

puppetmaster says ...
Sep 8, 2016 @ 8:43pm

Unique kind of game.
I like game with some archaeological touch.
Missing the oven soundfx! :)

Thx for commenting mine, sorry it was in a unfinished state.
If you like to tryout the post combo version (with implemented rules and check for winning conditions)

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