7DRL, the 7-Day RogueLike challenge, is one of the oldest still-going gamejams out there, and still among the most interesting. Every year a number of surprisingly interesting games come out of it. One year, back when @Play was on GameSetWatch, I took it upon myself to look at every game that succeeded at the challenge that year. I think it was 2011? Even though it took weeks, enough time that I vowed I’d never review every game again, even some of the lesser ones had some interesting aspect to them.
This year will undoubtedly add yet more game to that backlog, hooray! That was a sarcastic hooray, I won’t deny it. But it was also, in a sense, an honest one too. More interesting and unique games mean more fun for everyone, fun that doesn’t cost $60 + DLC prices. And making them means more experienced gamedevs making things they like, things that don’t rely on multi-hundred dollar triple-A outlays of cash to realize, and that helps us, very slightly yet perceptibly, reclaim gaming culture from the wash of monotonous big-money content with which we’re all inundated.
It all starts March 2nd, so if you’re interested in participating, get ready to make! And it all ends, mostly, on March 11th, so get ready to play! (I say mostly because technically the challenge isn’t absolutely time-locked. But it’s a good period to aim for and build hype around.)
We love it when we find weird and unique indie games to tell you all about! Our alien friends to the left herald these occasions.
EDIT: there was a WordPress display glitch that was causing images to overlap the text. I’ve changed the formatting a bit to keep it readable.
There’s hundreds of new games released every day, and there’s no way to can even find out what they all are, let alone try all of them. So there’s an inescapable element of randomness to what meets my eyes, and thus to what I bring to you. It’s useless to ask, “Why did you link to that silly little trifile when Important Game by Known Developer goes without remark?” Our finds are always going to be kind of idiosyncratic.
So it is with this one, Feydome, a slight but fun game made in two weeks for a game jam. It’s a laid-back 3D exploratory experience where you’re a barely-garbed, at first, fairy, searching an eerie abandoned village for clothes to wear. Movement is by WASD, with the Q and E, or else the left and right arrows, rotating the camera. Yes, it’s an exploratory dress-up game!
At the start your fairy is weak and can barely fly at all. You find glowing orbs that each grant a tiny bit more wing stamina, but never enough that you can fly indefinitely. Each orb very slightly extends the amount of flight time, by around one or two frames. So you’re always tied to the ground, but there are a lot of orbs to find, and that extra time adds up.
The fairy can glide if you hold the fly button down, even when out of energy, and if you keep tapping the space bar you can glide much further, which is a huge help. It helps to devote one hand to this, while using the other to move forward.
While you can rotate the camera, you can’t adjust the angle vertically, so you can’t look above or below, and there is no mouselook. The developer says that an expanded version is being made, maybe these control oversights will be addressed in that.
The pieces of clothing, 29 in all, are in weird chattering spheres that are stuck all over to the walls, floors and ceilings. When collected, a sphere stops chattering, which is of great help in tracking down the last few. Clothes go into your Customize Menu. You start out with just a Tied Fiber top and Leaf Panties bottom, but each item you find helps to make your wee friend more presentable in polite society (if there were any in this game).
There are no enemies, and no moving objects besides the fairy. While it’s difficult to get around at first, it’s surprising how even an extra half second of flight time expands their horizons. Mind you, there is no reward for finding all of the clothing. There is no ending; the journey is entirely the point with Feydome. You’re left alone in the abandoned world, you and your wardrobe, until you exit the game. There’s no save function either, but the game’s so short that it can be finished in one sitting anyway. Maybe 40 minutes in all, if you focus on finding everything.
But it’s fun to explore! It’s a satisfying gameplay loop, finding orbs, using the extended flight time to find yet more orbs, and punctuating the process with occasional new clothes. I’m sure this kind of gameplay has been done before, but this is a neat example of it, and it doesn’t cost anything to try.
Ski-Free is a beloved part of casual gaming from the days before it was called that, before even internet use was widespread. Distributed as part of Microsoft Entertainment Pack 3, it predates even Windows 95, and even Windows 3.1! It goes all the way back to Windows 3.0. Checking up on the game in Wikipedia reveals that a version of it is included as an easter egg in current Microsoft Edge (go to edge://surf in that browser, if for some reason you use it).
One of the most remembered things about Ski Free is, if you get to the end of the course and keep going, eventually a yeti will chase your skiier down and eat him. A submission to GMTK 2023 gamejam, Yeti Upsetti is Ski Free in reverse. You play as the yeti, and try to chase down skiiers. You can run in all directions, but even so it’s very difficult to catch any of those elusive sportspeople. They’re very good at avoiding your abominable grasp. The only strategy that has worked for me at all is trying to chase them into obstacles, which gives you two short seconds to grab them for a monsterly meal before they get back on their skiis and coast away. Except to be told many times that you’ve died of starvation, and that you’re a terrible yeti. Which, fair, I don’t live anywhere near a snow-covered mountainside in real life.
A quick note today, the 7-Day RogueLike challenges begins tomorrow! Try to make a roguelike game in seven days! This will be its nineteenth year, and its sixth on itch.io! Slashie, Darren Gray and Jeff Lait are running it again this year!
Consider joining it to make a game, or consider playing this year’s entries, or those of previous years! Last year there were 65 official entries. Regularly, a number of really interesting games are entered, but all manner of entries are accepted and are playable each year, from nearly professional to barely hacked together, and ranging from full classic style roguelikes to only slightly inspired by the general idea of procedural generation.
I love the 7DRL Game Jam! One of the oldest jams out there, on March 2 they’ll begin their 19th year! It asks participants to complete a roguelike game within a week. I even covered every game that succeeded at the challenge one year for @Play on GameSetWatch a long time ago.
Public enthusiasm for it has ebbed and flowed over that time, but even last year 65 people are recorded as having completed the challenge. And every time there are a few games that are hugely interesting! A rating system helps to reveal those games that might be particularly interesting.
If you’d like to participate this year, well, you just can, they’re clear that you don’t need their permission and there is no real prize for doing it. But if you want to participate during the official period of the challenge, this year it’ll start on March 3rd. We have a reminder post here on Set Side B ready to roll out the day before it begins, so keep watching our pages for it!
Here is a brief look at the highest-reated 7DRL games that made it last time:
First: Mercury Salvage is a graphical roguelike about cleaning out derelict spaceships.
Second: The Mage’s Student is a deck-building roguelike centered around magic, and has to do with fighting off ” the many creatures guarding the Newt-Core and the Transformative Cricket…”
Third: Death Stranding RL is, as should be obvious, based on Hideo Kojima’s game. It has an interesting look for a console-based game.
We live in a golden age of game jams, thousands of people every month make little games in absurdly short amounts of times, and surprisingly often those games are even interesting! What that says about the nature of game creation is very interesting, but not the subject here. That would be Godot Wild Jam (itch.io), a monthly themed and judged jam where the thread of continuity is the use of Godot, the amazingly small yet feature-packed free and open source game development system.