The Small Worlds of the Ludum Dare 38 – Part Two

Sim World 2017 – Create it yourself

Sim World 2017 – Create it yourself

Many entries tried to focus on the creation of a planet. For example, in “A Small World: Planet Creator” you have to gather dust, rocks and water to give birth to a new luminary. Meanwhile you have to deal with an already existing Earth in “Your World: A Delicious Earth Caring Simulator!”, which you have to ‘feed’ like a virtual pet with various resources, so that it becomes habitable.

In such games we get the small fundament for a world that will grow massively, and we help it transforming into a wonderful place for many creatures. However, not always everything goes like planned. In “Genesis Planet Kit”, the player is in control of a planet generating machine, which builds small worlds by combining items like toy cars, a cup of coffee or iron bars. If one is not careful enough, a black hole gets created which will absorb anything in its reach.

Other games give you the opportunity to redesign an already existing planet. For instance, in the lovely weird digital toy “Balance” you can add so many rosa elephants, naked humans, cacti and flowers as you wish to your landscape, which might disturb the fragile balance of the place, but it is fun either way. Or take the drawing game “WORLD Paint”, where you can choose between several background images and place several items including cheeseburgers as decoration.

Many developers created building simulations, and of the most polished ones might be “Little Lands”. By building several structures like windmills, farms and houses to keep your population happy, they will work for you. That helps you in your quest to gather enough resources to build a flying vehicle, with which you then can escape from your floating island. Usually such simulation games are to difficult to make in the short timespan of only two to three days, but it seems that with the help of a theme like “A Small World” it actually is possible, simply because you do not have to invent too many building and interaction types anymore, as they would not fit in a tiny game environment either way.

Generally spoken it means that having a smaller game world in mind can lead to creating smaller, but still remarkable game experiences, because you can focus on the essentials. In this sense, “Our little island” was very minimalistic too, but still effective. Here you have nothing else to do but to collect the branches and plants that your brother fished out of the sea. By putting the branches together, you create their new home. This simple goal and gameplay makes it a heartwarming jam submission.

Stacking to the top

Stacking to the top

Another very interesting trend can be found in the game mechanics. Some entries tried to stick with a horizontally fixed game world which could be expanded vertically by stacking stuff. Some of them follow a pretty simple concept, like the physics game “STACK”. Here you want to reach the forbidden floating islands in the sky, so you stack objects like cardboard boxes, furniture and tables. In the puzzle metroidvania “TINY” you play as a super strong creature, which can even stack complete buildings reach new unknown areas and puzzles.

Some of those games can be very tricky; one of them is “Therrain”. In this jam entry you must defend your island and the structures on it from acid rain. Whenever you fight off a specific amount of rain drops, you are able to build new structures to get nearer to the cloud. When you are near enough to it, you can slap it with your umbrella, which will make it go higher.

Another great stacking game is “Path of the Rabbit”, where the players have a fixed five to five tiles big board in front of them. Each turn they are forced to stack a new tile on one already existing field. This way they can alter the path of the animal, leading it either to oases or new enemies. The concept may sound easy, but the players will have to face two challenges. First of all, it is not possible to stack as many tiles as you want to on a field. When the maximum amount of tiles on a field is reached, it becomes useless. The second problem is the fact that players cannot change the tile they have to place, making it sometimes very difficult to create new working paths.

A tale of snow globes and jars

a tale of snow globes and jars

Many participants also thought of completely bordered worlds and how they could be the center of an interesting jam entry. Especially snow globes seem to carry a magical aura with them, as they were often used. They allow to tell stories which are just possible in such a scenario, and thereby many story-driven games and toys were created around them. For instance, “Glass Houses” tells the short story of the uprising of a violent religion, right after a crack in the globe happened. Meanwhile a little girl finds comfort in a snow globe in “Snowed In”, after she was jinxed into it.

Some entries want to evoke the players imagination more actively. They do not tell one single story, instead they give away many narrative fragments of different plots. In “Globe” you have to click mysterious buttons to get to see something, while in “Scenes in a Globe” you have to rotate the container to get involved in the atmosphere of a farm, a desert or even the whole universe.

Close-Up, part 2, image 2

But snow globes were not the only choice, of course. “Tiny Worlds in Flasks” allows the players to build their own worlds inside of petri dishes and bottles, while “Bon Voyage” invites to several trips in a one single suitcase. Another famous kind of container was the cardboard box. That is why in “[BOXAVERSE]” you can find a magical box, which is the home for tiny humans. The adorable puzzle game “A World in a Jar” wants its players to mix several kinds of soil and seeds with each other, so that new plants get created.