larzdk a year ago on 3rd Alakajam!

So I figured I'd share some initial ideas on the themes that have been shortlisted.

I'm working with the extra constraint that the engine I'm building has been specially optimised for isometric gameplay. I imagine this would work best with RTS, RPG, Sim or 4X type games. That's cool, though, because I enjoy those kinds of games anyway. So my thoughts are around what can be done within those genres, as far as I can tell so far.

Any other ideas? I'd be curious! I've put the ones I'm struggling with the most first. :)


  • This is the trickiest one for me. UI can include everything from on-screen displays to user input. Without input or output from or to the user, do you have a game at all?
  • Perhaps just don't have one kind of interface that's common to isometric games, but that's either gimmicky (ie no mini-map) or annoyingly restrictive (ie close zoom).

Everything is edible

  • I guess the question here is "by whom"? Is it by you as a player, or are you trying to avoid being eaten, or both?
  • Could indicate setting ie a world based on gum drops and candy floss.

Buying your time

  • Generally a metaphor for not rushing things / good things take time. Slow, turtling strategies should work.
  • Could be taken literally - spending (in-game) credits gives you additional time to complete a level.


  • Could suggest the profession of a leading character, which might lead to repair in the game.
  • Potentially could suggest fixing a broken vehicle for escape, which might require resources that need to be extracted.
  • Could indicate that society itself is in a state of disrepair, and that the characters are attempting to fix it / crusade against wrongdoing.
  • Repairing could also suggest fixing a more local problem, such as fixing a city's financial troubles.

Always Growing

  • Could indicate a character's physical size, such as a child growing up, or as an enemy, a black hole that must be escaped.
  • Could describe an individual character with continuous progression.
  • Could also describe a non-character, such as a problem that keeps getting worse (like global warming).
  • Or it could suggest what the character controls, as in 4X "expand" being the goal.


  • Obviously, stealing physical items, or ideas from others.
  • Alternatively perhaps you play a detective trying to solve mystery of who a thief is.

Alone in Space

  • RPG of lone human in an alien world.
  • Sim of solitary human colony on another planet.

Weird weapon

  • Weapon could be interpreted broadly, for example the Ring in LOTR. It doesn't have to be physical - mean words have been considered weapons.
  • Weird can suggest the weapon is otherworldly or divine in nature / attached to a particular quest.

Trash and treasure

  • Trashing can also be a verb, as can treasure. In this sense, the theme is asking for destroying and cherishing things. Classic RPG stuff.
  • One man's trash is another man's treasure - could be finding items that seem useless but prove very useful maybe in some specific scenario.
  • Trash to treasure - could be a recycling sort of idea, where mundane items are combined to create more powerful ones.
  • Treasure among trash - in an environment full of trash, the player's goal might be to work out what the treasure is somehow and acquire it.

Dangerous Science

  • Could be that the player is conducting experiments/observations or they are coping with the effects of scientific progress.
  • In a sim-like genre, something like Jurrasic Park springs to mind: attempting to conduct science but with considerable peril. Maybe an outer space setting?
  • Arms-race type scenarios could have the player try to become as dangerous as possible through making scientific advances.
  • Or perhaps global warming / genetic engineering / military super-AI has gone too far and the player is fighting for survival.

Comments (6)

a year ago

It's a cool idea to discuss the themes like this. Here's my 2 cents:

No UI is tricky to me as well, especially in that's what would be allowed/not allowed is quite open to interpretation. I ranked it 10th, but at least I like how it basically lets you make any game, while forcing you to give extra care to how you communicate info to the player.

Always Growing and especially Weird weapon are close to recent-ish Ludum Dare themes so I'd kinda like to avoid them.

Buying your time, Trash and treasure, Thievery and Repair sound like classic video game mechanics, though the latter are more open to interpretation so I like them more.

Alone in Space is quite specific but a guilty pleasure of mine as an SF lover. I also recently completed Alien: Isolation, from which I could draw some inspiration :)

Everything is edible is super quirky, maybe not the most open ended by I love it. Another obvious interpretation to me would be Kirby-inspired gameplay. A more open approach would be to just make a character say "Everything is edible!" at some point during the game.

Which leaves Dangerous science as my favorite :D

(@LazerLord) • a year ago

Larzdk i really like the way you decompose those theme in to consept Mine is the Treasor and Trash one i did not really have a specifique idea when i sumit this concept but in general i was kinda seing that it could bring to those kind of scenario that you depicted.

For the "no UI" i kind a see it like a no menu and no user interface like not having "buttun and text display even removing life bar and scoring system" just the game with no external utility.

a year ago

Alright, I'm the one who suggested "No UI" and I suppose I should clarify what I meant by it (not that it matters much).

The way I envisioned it was having no healthbars or clickable buttons or stuff giving you ammo counts or anything like that. Basically, the equivalent of trying to play WoW with Alt+Z pressed.

Come to think of it, "No HUD" would have probably been much clearer.

a year ago

I think it should be interpreted as "Think of a game that would tipically require a UI and find interesting ways to make it playable without", like what Astroneer did: a crafting game with no UI inventory. its a narrow theme but its interesting.

a year ago

I really like the "Buying your time" theme, hope it makes it.

a year ago

@Akselmo I didn't know about its "methaporical" meaning so I was so confused at first, I though it meant to literally buy time and it felt like such a narrow theme. Now I find a bit more interesting and wouldn't mind it winning :D

Login to comment