YoYoGames Competition #4

Once again, YoYo Games has announced a game-crafting competition, this time following the “green” theme “save the planet.”

I’m actually quite excited about the theme selection this time around.  It presents an argument rarely seen in video games, and could spawn some pretty interesting creations.  Not only will I be looking forward to seeing what aspects of environmental awareness can turn into successful games, but I will also be ready for the more off-the-wall games, since the wording of the rules has left things a bit open.

From the official announcement:

These days our planet seems to be in a constant state of peril, together we ride the unicycle of fate atop the high-wire of self-destruction. Our busy little lives seem to be warming up the planet, and no one really knows where that will lead us. Worse, global warming isn’t the only green problem: pollution, acid rain, over-crowding, starvation and drought, and extinction threats are all waiting in the wings.

We’re often told that the only solution to these collective problems is mass action – the message must be spread to as many as people as possible if our own environmental compromises are to count for anything. Computer games are a great way to reach people and get them interacting with these important debates. What we’re looking for in the next competition are games with a message, games which encourage the player to get involved.

Politics: Most of us at YYG believe there’s something to this global warming idea, but we’re not out to indoctrinate our gamers, or game makers. Whatever you believe, it cannot be denied that the debates themselves are important, decisions made here will affect all our lives. If you firmly disagree with the green message then feel free to make a game where the world must be saved from a bunch of crack-pot environmentalists.

Finally, we’re still on the hunt for the perfect casual game. The most important thing is that the games are fun. Don’t get too carried away with the theme at the expense of gameplay.

As with previous competitions judging will be conducted by YoYo Games and Prof. Overmars, with community response taken into account.

P.s. Yes, we are aware of the irony of using energy-hungry computers to communicate a green message. Better this than 300 games about saving princesses.

The contest will end on January 4th, 2009.

The announcement at the GMC brought about the usual slew of questions about what fits within the rules and what doesn’t, but thankfully most concerns were laid to rest when our friendly YoYo Games admin dropped in.  Hopefully we won’t be seeing a lot more silly “does _____ fit the rules?” questions for a while now.

Though I’m starting to have a strange feeling of deja vu about all this, I think I’m going to try to enter this competition.  I’ve got a pretty decent idea for a game right now, even though I’m not sure if it completely fits IGDA’s description of “casual,” and I think that if I can pull it off, it’ll be a pretty fun little app.  I’ll post more news on this later though, as I make some progress beyond the basic engine.

Since I never really got around to programming the whole thing, and I kind of left it on a cliffhanger here at the blog, I thought I’d share my idea for my last competition entry now.  My idea, a puzzler which never really came to fruition, was to create a game where the user is presented with a side-scrolling course full of obstacles, and tasked with moving an object (a water capsule) from one side of the course to the other (to a fire).  To do this, the player is given a limited amount of robots that can be placed anywhere on the course, and then programmed by dragging one of a limited number of “scripts” onto them, which would tell them which direction they could throw the water capsule.  A number of courses with obstacles of different type would be included, and as the player moved through each level, the game would put more emphasis on using each robot and script to its fullest to traverse the obstacles.

Maybe I will continue this one day…  I’ve already got much of the level graphics and base programming finished.  But for now, it’s on to the green-er pastures of competition #4.

So who else is entering?


  1. Yourself - Over a year ago

    It reminds me of that game EricDB made forever-ago. You programmed a little fighting robot by dragging tiles onto a circuit-board. I had so much fun watching the code execution pass from one tile to another.

    Also we’ve been learning this LabView software in our Aerospace lab classes. Apparently it’s a compiler but the language isn’t an actual language but a bunch of elements you connect together with wires. It’s actually pretty cool. Way back when I made something similar but it was only for logic circuits. You could place inputs, outputs, and various logic gates and connectors. I used it to build a miniature computer (that could add integers).

  2. xot - Over a year ago

    I always wanted to make something like this. I have a pretty large design file for a game with similar mechanics that I’ve been working on longer than any other — over 20 years. I was inspired by the classic Robot War by Silas Warner. It was one of the biggest inspirations for me to become a programmer. Of course the Apple II that I ran it on was so approachable and open it was possible for a ten-year-old kid to teach himself programming with that alone.

    A pair of games from a bit later in the era I found much later in life are fantastic. The first is called Rockey’s Boots. It’s an educational game for the Apple II, and a really good one. It was written by Warren Robinett of Adventure (Atari 2600) fame and works very similarly. But instead of slaying monsters and traversing mazes, you are assembling digital logic circuits in various forms to sort parts on a conveyor belt.

    But adventure wasn’t far behind with the far more ambitious is Robot Odyssey. What you are working on sounds a lot like it. Robot Odyssey is built with an extended version of engine that runs Rocky’s Boots. Various robots in the game world have different powers and sensors. The player builds logical circuits as a brain for the robots. The object is to make your way through an underground city, getting past obstacles with your programming ability. You should check it out if you haven’t. All games mentioned are for the Apple II (and others).


  3. xot - Over a year ago

    Ha, I was reminiscing so much, I forgot to answer the question. I want to enter the competition, but if history is my guide, I won’t. I’ve wanted to enter all of them but can’t quite make the time. I have a great idea that fits the theme perfectly, but it has an old school arcade game outlook on life: it can’t be won. Too cynical?

  4. Yourself - Over a year ago

    “Too cynical?”

    Ever heard of the second law of thermodynamics?

  5. xot - Over a year ago

    As a great friend of mine is fond of saying: “Entropy wins again!”

  6. Requiem - Over a year ago

    The three rules of thermodynamics: You can’t win, you can’t break even, and you can’t get out of the game.

  7. kc lc - Over a year ago

    “Entropy wins again!”
    — xot

    You’re thinking too big. Think small. Really small. It doesn’t always win.

    Anyway, I made a robot game once too. The player selected a set of “actions” and then turned it loose. It wasn’t very good but it was fun to watch for a while.

  8. Joel - Over a year ago

    So do you think that a game of saving the world from a huge, unreal threat would be okay? Because my game is about meteors and saving the world from them. Because the name is “save the world” or something like that. Do you think this is acceptable?

  9. FredFredrickson - Over a year ago

    Sounds fine to me! :)

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