Clockwork Cosmos

This game is a solo project, made for a university brief stipulating that it must increase in difficulty until the player fails. I’m quite proud of it; I think it looks nice and it’s more or less entirely the game I meant to make.

You can play the game here.

Some experimentation with procedurally placing objects led me to circles rotating asymmetrically around a central point.

Thinking they looked like planets, I tried to give them a purpose relating to their real-world counterparts. Earth is in the middle, harbouring life, and must be protected. Jupiter’s massive gravity attracts asteroids that might otherwise strike Earth. Mercury is close to the Sun, constantly baked by its rays. I took some scientific liberties to say Mercury absorbs those rays to prevent them reaching Earth.

I tried to keep the aesthetics as minimal as possible. Everything is always in motion. Everything is circular except the Sun, separating it visually. The colors are all flat and solid. This extends to feedback as well; I really didn’t want to add timers or numbers. Mercury shakes and glows a dull red as it cools down after absorbing a ray, and the ray turns pale yellow. Earth has green continents of life inside it, losing one if it’s hit by a ray or an asteroid, and gaining one after some time. The asteroids explode in red and yellow waves when they hit a planet, or the sun. Upon surviving a wave, a dot is added to a small ring around the sun to inform the player of their score and progress.

The game is fairly intuitive, and most players immediately recognise that Earth must avoid rays and asteroids, though occasionally they try to protect all the planets. Some don’t see the way Mercury can absorb the rays, or that Jupiter attracts the asteroids. The meaning of the score dots is also unclear.

I was intending for the mechanics to be revealed through play, so I suppose I’ll have to accept that it doesn’t always work.

One thing I’d love to add is sound and music. I find it much more immersive with a fitting soundtrack (God is an Astronaut – Age of the Fifth Sun), and I find myself imagining droning power chords along with the rays. There’s no sound in space anyway, though.

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