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

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by Eggplant - Competition Entry

Here it is! My entry for Ludum Dare 36. I actually feel pretty good about this one. It's not perfect, but it's far more polished than anything else I've done.

You are the leader of a small group of villagers. Your people start in the ancient caveman era, and through science, slowly advance to the modern age. Your lands are plagued by monsters and you must escape! Advance your technology to build a rocket and flee to a better home.

The game was created in Java using the standard libs. The art was created in Gimp and the sounds were created in BFXR. All assets/code were created by me within the 48 hours.

Feedback is welcome and encouraged. Please let me know what you think and especially what I should have done differently! Thank you all and happy Ludum Dare!

Downloads and Links


anjack says ...
Aug 28, 2016 @ 8:56pm

I'm very impressed! You made a complete game in a very short period of time. Better than I've been able to do, lol.

BoltKey says ...
Aug 28, 2016 @ 9:50pm

It is a great concept and theme usage. But the execution has several problems.

A tutorial, although it is very boring thing to make, is very important, especially in games like these. Very few people are going to read help before playing. I had no idea what I was doing, and I was completely lost the first time I played it. In this case, two consecutive texts in the middle of screen saying "Each house has 3 people" and "Drag professions to houses" at the start and "You need 10 food to replace dead human" a bit later would be enough for me.

It would be much better and intuitive if there were buttons for professions near each house. It felt really weird (and uncomfortable) that I had to drag it to them.

Hp bars would be really convenient.

Also, the random movement felt weird. I know how hard it is to implement proper AI, but I think this is one of the games where it is almost necessary.

The professions were not very visually recognizable. At first I thought the medics were bleeding soldiers. It is hard to recognize at first glance a soldier just by several black pixels in his hand. It would be better if all the professions were as contrasting to others as scientists are now.

I just found a self-sustaining configuration which is 4 swords, 3 foods, 1 science and 0 medics. Medics seemed very weak to me.

And ending animation would be nice.

Eggplant says ...
Aug 28, 2016 @ 10:14pm

@anjack Thanks!

@BoltKey Thank you for the feedback. In hindsight I really should have put a better tutorial. Also I'm obviously a terrible artist which made it hard to differentiate professions. I appreciate the input. :)

Eggplant says ...
Aug 28, 2016 @ 10:57pm

@BoltKey I tweaked it to resolve some of your concerns. The entities now have health bars, there is a brief explanation of how to play in the GUI, and there are now icons showing each unit's profession. It's still not perfect but it should help. :)

Eggplant says ...
Aug 28, 2016 @ 11:02pm

I also improved the medics.

danilafe says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 6:13am

Seems rather slow, kind of like a run-in-the-background kind of game.
Good concept nonetheless!

danilafe says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 6:14am

Also, the fire in the middle, profession huts...
Any inspiration from spore?

Eggplant says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 12:06pm

@danilafe Thanks for the response! I actually didn't think of Spore when making it, but I can see the resemblance!

AWOL says ...
Aug 29, 2016 @ 8:53pm

Nice Work!

Eggplant says ...
Aug 30, 2016 @ 2:13am

@AWOL Thank you very much! Unfortunately I cannot try yours since I am on Linux but the screen shots and description look very cool.

tmpxyz says ...
Sep 1, 2016 @ 5:14am

Hmm, it seems I don't have too much control on what happens. And why does the title screen says LudumDare35? :D

Eggplant says ...
Sep 1, 2016 @ 5:07pm

@tmpxyz, you indirectly control the people by changing their professions. And thank you for catching that I can't believe I missed that. XD

n42k says ...
Sep 3, 2016 @ 9:36am

Runs fine on Linux. Gameplay itself is interesting and hooked me for a bit, managed to figure it out easily, I love these kinds of games! The AI could be improved upon, I had enemies in the middle of the screen tearing through everything when I had lots of houses dedicated for defense. The user interface is hard to use, can't really tell which profession I'm dragging to which house.

Eggplant says ...
Sep 3, 2016 @ 3:05pm

@n42k It was developed on Linux too. :) Thanks for the responde! The AI is definetly the biggest problem with the game in my opinion, and the profession confusion is due to my terrible art.

thiagofr says ...
Sep 5, 2016 @ 1:14am

It's in fact a very interesting concept but I think that a simple caption on the side of each profession's icon would be perfect. At first I was completely lost, only diferentiating soldiers from medics. The other two icons did not mean anything to me.
After learning which one was which, it was very fun to play! Congratulations!

Eggplant says ...
Sep 5, 2016 @ 1:56am

@thiagofr Thanks a lot! That's a good point. I'll remember to make clearer GUI in my next LD game. :)

nardelli says ...
Sep 5, 2016 @ 4:56am

Your game is very good! Linux here too :D My score was 658!

We used libGDX. What lib do you used? No one???? Swing? Awt?


galhajaj says ...
Sep 5, 2016 @ 1:47pm

OK... It throw me into the fray without any explanation and suddenly i saw details in small letters with vogue description of the goal... so I played and didn't understand a thing. BUT - I fell in love with graphics and the dynamics of the game. and I am sure that if I only understand the details I would enjoy it! The move between eras is cool BTW. nice job

stefvanschie says ...
Sep 5, 2016 @ 2:06pm

The game was nice, but it didn't have much action to it. It simply was clicking and a little bit of strategy. The graphics were good though.

Eggplant says ...
Sep 5, 2016 @ 2:43pm

@nardelli I didn't know there were scores, but thank you anyway. XD I used swing/awt. I've been playing a bit with LibGDX and it looks like a cool technology!

@galhajaj I should've focused more on a tutorial, I'll try to do that in my next LD game. Thank you for your feedback!

@stefvanschie Thanks for the response! I designed it to be sort of a run in the background "idle" type game where most of the game was watching how you're people were doing and then determining whether or not you should change up their professions based on that. It's certainly not a design that appeals to everyone though.

Dietrich Epp says ...
Sep 5, 2016 @ 3:43pm

It's a very interesting concept but it seems a bit hard to control. I can assign a hut to "sword" but it seems a bit random since the people assigned to that hut have wandered to the other side of the screen. I liked figuring this game out, well done!

Linus123xbb says ...
Sep 5, 2016 @ 5:33pm

This was a very fun game, it also used the theme in a innovative way. It is always nice to see strategy games in ludum dare. Great job!

Sep 5, 2016 @ 7:47pm

This was a neat little game. Props for doing it in vanilla java. There are a few ways I'd improve:

>Once you've assigned each house a job, you can't do much but sit back and watch it happen. Maybe you could add more buildings at the cost of science points?
>The sounds were really high pitch for me. They weren't bad at all, just quite annoying since they were quite loud.
>Since you can just sit back, an option to speed things up would be a nice feature.

However this was a really cool idea and has more strategic aspects than you might see from first glance, e.g. you need food to replace someone, so food should be a priority... but that's sacrificing science points. Maybe focusing more on the strategic aspect like this could've made the game even better.

I know I put a lot of improvement ideas in here but I promise this is purely constructive criticism. You did an awesome job to do a 48hr standard java game (something I've been doing for a while and have never seen anyone else do thus far), so well done! :D

chrisdugne says ...
Sep 5, 2016 @ 8:03pm

Dealing with a population is very appealing,
- I didn't get how were linked the house with the people exactly, seemed like the closest changed profession ?
- Difficult to see the fights actually, there is to much to look at at the same time : )

48h to build this, you must have so many ideas coming up to add to the gameplay, sweet ! Good job.

Eggplant says ...
Sep 5, 2016 @ 9:10pm

@Dietrich Epp Thanks! Yeah I can see that being confusing. You just have to pay attention to who's professions are changing.

@Linus123xbb Thank you very much. I appreciate the feedback. :)

@AnaglyphCoding Those are good ideas if I ever decide to continue developing this. Sound was really hard for me to implement in Java but I'll have to learn more about adjusting the volume and such. Thank you for the response!

@chrisdugne What happens is each house spawns 3 people and then it's respective 3 people change professions based on what the house is assigned to. So even if the 3 people have gone to the other side of the screen they'll still change to whatever the house is. Thank you for your comment!

Pikby says ...
Sep 6, 2016 @ 12:08am

Very interesting game, but I found that the concept was a little bit complicated and if you had more time a tutorial would've been appreciated. It's an interesting demo and i recommend expanding it in the future as it has the potential to be an interesting game with more features and better explanation.

Eggplant says ...
Sep 7, 2016 @ 2:13am

@Pikby Thank you! Explaining things in my games is definitely not my strong suit, but I'll have to improve on that next time.

Strike says ...
Sep 7, 2016 @ 11:03am

This was actually a very exciting game to play. I managed to reach the end, but it was a zombie apocalypse scenario XD
The random movements makes it a bit hard. As well I'm not sure about the medics. Are they supposed to touch the other person to heal ? In the end I just took turns between almost full farming to get population back and full science to progress. Then moving to full warriors to clear the screen. Except at the end when my population decreased drastically and I was very near the goal so I tried to change my approach.

Sometimes it feels like a very passive game, but watching it is very enjoyable. And actually, once you can spot which guy belong to which house, you can fast switch his job. Let's say you see him farming and an enemy is approaching. Then it's time to quickly turn him into a warrior, and back to farmer once the monster is dead. And this is when I understood that it is actually a very fast paced game XD

Very good job. It was a really fun experience !

komilll says ...
Sep 8, 2016 @ 8:54am

I think this game is hardly unbalanced. Of course it's game jam so you have limited time to balance everything so I understand it. But it's more like "find best combination and watch things happening". I think that medics are totally useless because if you want to get your villigers back you just need 10 food. So best method was getting ~3-4 fighters, and the rest 4-5 houses spend for food or science. If you have too few people you're increasing food houses and if you have full people you invest in science. Of course you can go for 3 sword, 1 science, 4 food and do nothing until the end of the game. The concept isn't bad, but it needs a lot of polishing and balance. Espacially becauase each era means nothing for player. Instead of making unnecessary assets, you should focus on core gameplay.

Eggplant says ...
Sep 9, 2016 @ 2:55am

@Strike Thanks! I appreciate that.

@komill I agree. It does need more balance for sure. However the dificultad increase with increasing eras, due to higher population of monsters. I know that it's far from perfect though. Thank you for the response. :)

Sep 11, 2016 @ 8:18pm

Neat game! I included it in my compilation video series of Ludum Dare 36, if you’d like to take a look :)

Eggplant says ...
Sep 12, 2016 @ 10:49am

@Jupiter_Hadley Thanks so much!

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