October 14th, 2016

I wasn’t planning to spend my weekend hacking. Then Maarten said, “Hey, let’s enter Ludum Dare“.

Ludum Dare is a game-writing challenge. A theme is given on Friday, and you need to submit a finished game, incorporating that theme, 72 hours later.

This time, the topic was “ancient technology”. That didn’t really inspire me right away. I didn’t want to make a game about some pseudoscientific pyramid nonsense, nor did I want to make some SimCity or Civilization clone with buildings and a technology tree.

paleoThen we thought, what if we embraced the limits of ancient technology rather than their advances? Let’s go all the way back to the very first technology: stone tools. We wouldn’t even include the basic building block of 4X games: the building. We’d make a pure hunter-gatherer sim, set a hundred thousand years ago, in the Paleolithic.

Life among hunter-gatherers isn’t about building or farming for the future: it’s all about getting enough calories today.

What did Paleolithic people eat? Well, if you don’t know yourself, you probably have a Paleo Diet friend who will be excited to cave-man-splain that to you: they ate meat, berries, seafood, and no grain or processed foods, they’re poison, man. When I thought about that, I realized that that was the touch of self-referential anachronism that I wanted for our game: our actual Paleolithic tribe would succeed or fail based on how well it follows the Paleo Diet.

Obviously there are no processed foods in the cave man era, so your cave folk can’t accidentally eat a whole box of Oreos (as I have several times during game development). And there wasn’t grain, in the modern sense, before agriculture. But apparently Paleolithic people ate grass, and it was poison, man.

So that’s the kernel of the game. You control a tribe. Eat a balanced diet, avoiding grass (which is highly available), gathering berries (less available), and hunting meat (scarce, and sometimes dangerous). Try to survive the scarcity of the winter. Team up to hunt the mighty wooly mammoth, and your food troubles will be over, one way or another.

Want to try it? Sign up for the beta! Be the first on your block to be killed by an elk!

PALEO: Hunt and Gather BETA Sign-Up

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