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  • Results from Game Design Challenge: Literary Inspirations

    - staff

  • Marius Smit, SAP Software Developer, Masters Student (Computer Science) at the University of Pretoria

    My proposed game is based around the story of Noah's Ark as presented in the Bible, the Quran, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and other ancient literature. The game does not focus on the religious aspects of the story but rather approaches it as a logistical problem to be solved by the player in a casual puzzle/strategy game.

    The player controls Noah and his three sons who are instructed to construct an ark and gather up as many animals as possible before the occurrence of a great flood. Whilst the player is allowed to only gather certain animals and supplies, greater rewards are earned by building a larger ark and filling it with a greater variety of animals.

    The game's core mechanic is the constraint satisfaction problem of filling the ark with animals and arranging them in a manner that maximizes their happiness. Noah's sons can be instructed to gather a variety of supplies such as wood, metal, hay, and foodstuffs. These supplies are used to increase the size of the ark, build cages that fit specific animal types, stockpile for the coming flood, and fill the needs of different animals.

    Noah's sons can also be sent on expeditions to gather animals which brings random pairs of animals to the ark. Each pairing of animals such as lions has certain needs such as a food type (lambs) and each pair also produce a side effect such as refuse. Other animals need to be placed in proximity to the cages of these animals (lions) to ensure them they will be fed (sheep, rabbits) and to clean up their refuse (insects) which makes the animals happy.

    The arrangement needs to be accomplished without placing certain animal types next to one another as in the classic river crossing puzzle with foxes and chickens. The player therefore constructs different eco-systems within the ark whilst keeping the animals under control. Happy animals grant the player bonuses, for example, lions protect Noah from raiders, sheep serve as food, insects dispose of refuse etc.

    The game has three phases:

    1. Construction of Ark before flood. (Build, arrange animals, gather resources) - Longest phase

    2. The flood. (Repair, re-arrange animals, ration fixed resources) - Shortest phase

    3. Releasing animals after flood. (Dismantle ark, distribute animals whilst keeping happy, build monument from remaining supplies) - Second longest phase

    The monument constructed is made from idols representing the animals saved and its size depends on the resources that remain. The monument serves as the player's trophy for finishing the game.


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