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  • Results from Game Design Challenge: Literary Inspirations

    - staff

  • William R. Spear, GrapeSoda Designs

    Edgar Allan Poe: The Conqueror Worm

    Edgar Allan Poe has finally made it to the kingdom by the sea in order to court his beloved Annabel Lee. But before the lovers can embrace, poor Annabel is gobbled up by The Conqueror Worm, Poe's personification of the inevitability of death! The intrepid Poe leaps down the thing's gullet only to come face-to-face with his life's work, made real by the Worm's ghastly biology. As E.A.P., you must fight off your morbid creations so you may rescue your child bride. Arm yourself with the Cask of Amontillado, protect yourself with the "Mask" of the Red Death, and befriend the Raven in order to run, slide, and fly past the demonic constructs of The Conqueror Worm!

    Will everyone's favorite gothic Romantic save his beloved Annabel Lee from the vermin fangs of The Conqueror Worm? Or will he see her......NEVERMORE?


    Edgar Allan Poe in The Conqueror Worm is a constant-motion platformer for the iPhone. In it, the player must travel through the grotesque anatomy of the Conqueror Worm in order to rescue Annabel Lee. Along the way, the player will face enemies and environments that are reminiscent of Poe's best-known works. The game is notable for three major reasons: its constant-motion control scheme, its literature-inspired levels, and its dynamic user-set difficulty.


    The game is a "constant-motion" game, which means that once the level begins Poe will not stop running until he completes the level or touches an enemy/obstacle. Should the latter occur, Poe will return to the last activated checkpoint and start running again.

    The player reacts to threats by either jumping over them or sliding beneath them. These actions take advantage of the iPhone's touch-screen capabilities. In order to jump over a threat, the player makes a vertical thumb swipe up the left side of the screen. In order to slide beneath a threat, the player makes a horizontal thumb swipe across the bottom of the screen.

    As the game progresses, Poe will need to perform more advanced maneuvers such as extending/reducing his slide time, dive-rolling, and making extended jumps (with some help from a pet Raven). These maneuvers will be tied to special thumb swipe combinations.


    Each level is a combination of the Worm's internal anatomy with one of Poe's famous works:

    • The Brain: Modeled after "The Raven", full of velvet curtains and falling busts of Pallas.

    • The Heart: Based on "The Tell-Tale Heart", where Poe must dodge the light of bullseye lanterns lest they alert the flying vulture-eyes.

    • The Stomach: In the Pit of this level, Poe must dodge many a bladed Pendulum.

    • The Intestines: Filled with the Red Death, the intestines change the game controls from jump/slide to swim/dive.

    Dynamic Difficulty:

    In order to increase replayability and add an extra dimension to the game, the player is also responsible for making dynamic difficulty adjustments on the run.

    Poe is equipped with a Cask of Amontillado, which refills itself over time. The player can drink the Amontillado by tapping the Cask button in the bottom-left of the screen. When Poe drinks, he quiets the Worm's demons. There are fewer enemies, fewer obstacles, and Poe will slow down to give the player more time to react to threats. But as Poe's buzz wears off, the enemies and obstacles return and he increases his running speed.

    The player's final score is tied into how much Amontillado Poe drank throughout the game. If this number is high, then the player's final score will be low, and vice versa. This will also be visualized at endgame through unique cutscenes containing Poe and his rescued sweetheart. This will hopefully inspire players to retry the game at higher difficulty levels (i.e. by abstaining from the blessed Amontillado).


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