Fantastic Contraption Classic on Steam!

Adobe has announced they’ll stop updating the Flash player on December 31, 2020. At that time, the original Fantastic Contraption will cease to be playable in most browsers. We’ve got new projects on the go but didn’t want to let our very first game disappear when Flash does, so I’ve ported it to desktop PC as:

Get it now on Steam and RobotCache!

Yes, it’s a classic. 14 million players, 13 million shared contraptions and 70 thousand user-created levels over the last 12 years. It’s been used in schools and has inspired folks to become engineers and game developers. After its initial release in 2008, there was a mobile version (retired), a sequel, a spinoff (unreleased), a spiritual successor (also unreleased), another spiritual successor (Incredipede), and a 2016 VR evolution.

The desktop version includes FC2!

The game’s lesser-known Flash sequel was made in partnership with InXile Entertainment’s Flash wing Sparkworkz. You can still play a free version of it on Kongregate.com, though the online features are long since broken.

It features magnets, moving levels and challenge modes like green (no powered wheels) and clean (all pieces must end off the screen). It’s included as a bonus with Fantastic Contraption classic!

From @BrianTheDrumer‘s epic 2016 Greatest Contraptioneers 5 compilation

When I started the PC port, I was surprised to find the Fantastic Contraption community still active despite our near-total neglect.

The new discord server is hopping with friends sharing custom levels, organizing challenges, and modding the game. Their enthusiasm turned what was going to be a quick and dirty job into a more caring update, as they helped me add some new features and fix things that had been broken for a long time.

I’m thankful solutions are ranked since there were a million to choose from for this trailer.

Flash had a big impact on our lives and on the game industry, and though it’s been effectively dead for years, it’s still sad to see it officially go. Check out this excellent visual article by Jonas Richner for more about this important medium.

Exocolonist Demo in the Steam Game Festival

For a limited time (June 16-22 2020) you can play a free demo version of I Was a Teenage Exocolonist here on Steam! Don’t miss it!

Whoo!!

This is the first publicly playable version of Exocolonist, a 1~2 hour cut-down version of the first tenth (one year) of the game. It’s rough but gives you an idea of what the game will be like when it comes out next year. I’m so excited (and scared) to share it with you!

We’re also doing a Developer Q&A Chat on the afternoon of Wednesday June 17th. Come join us on Discord and have your questions answered!

We’d planned to show Exocolonist at real life games festivals like PAX West this year, but with the trials and tragedies of 2020, large gatherings were one of the first things to be cancelled and will probably be one of the last things reinstated. PAX West just announced they’ll be hosted online this year.

Rebuild 3 & Deep Under the Sky at Pax West 2014

I’ve been thinking about the booths we’ve run in the past, like showing two games at once in the Indie Megabooth, or the time we paved our booth with astroturf at GDC, and all the challenges of showing a VR game in crowded public spaces.

I miss the energy of the players and the excitement of seeing something we made in a physical space (we’ve kept all the signs we ever printed – one wall of our apartment is covered in them).

Fantastic Contraption at the Tokyo Game Show 2016

But to be honest, there’s something nerve wracking about watching people play my games. And I’ve never felt so close to dropping dead from pure exhaustion as I did after 4 days showing at PAX (parties every night instead of sleeping, as you do). So going digital this year is a bit of a relief. Plus this way you get to take your time and play a longer demo without people queued up behind you.

The biggest downside is that I won’t get to meet you in person… But we can get partway there if you join the Exocolonist Discord server.

If you get a chance to play the demo, please come tell me & the team what you thought!

See you there!

– Sarah (Northway)

The Skillful Exocolonist

Like any good life sim, Exocolonist has a variety of life skills. They affect which options you can choose during events, and how hard battles of that type will be.

Primary Skills

Skills are organized into social, mental, and physical suits, which matter mainly for card battles.

It was hard to narrow it down to only 12, so some are a bit overloaded – most knowledge is shoehorned into Engineering (the dry sciences) or Biology (the wet ones), while social sciences, arts and humanities are absorbed into your Creativity skill.

With survival on the line, some skills will come up more than others, like your ability to recognize and and interact with alien species (Animals skill).


SkillSuitWazzit for
EmpathySocialUnderstanding other people
PersuasionSocialCharisma to command people and speak in public
CreativitySocialArtistic ability and capacity for novel ideas
BraverySocialFor both social and dangerous situations
ReasoningMentalProblem solving and general knowledge
OrganizationMentalDedication to neatness, management
EngineeringMentalStudy of machines, physics, math, and programming
BiologyMentalStudy of plants, chemistry, and the human body
ToughnessPhysicalPhysical strength and stamina
PerceptionPhysicalAbility to find things and sneak past things
CombatPhysicalTactics and weapons
AnimalsPhysicalFamiliarity with xenofauna, hunting, ranching

Battles and Perks

Battles can challenge any skill, and are played out the same way whether your Combat skill is being tested (eg during sparring practice) or your Engineering skill (eg fixing a robot or taking a math test). Yes, you can even have an Empathy battle! More on battles later…

Once a skill reaches 30%, 60%, or 100%, it will unlock perks which grant permanent effects. Creativity unlocks crafting recipes, Organization lets you equip more gear, Perception makes collectible resources easier to find. Some unlock new career choices, shop items or give you a boost in battles.

I’m still ironing the perks out but they’re going to be cool and help make every playthrough different.

Kudos, Happiness and Rebellion

Three skills are different:

Kudos is the game’s currency – a virtual coin used mainly to reward children. For the most part the colonists don’t use money and instead share resources according to need (yeah… they’re Space Commies). But when someone goes the extra mile, or your kid finally cleans up their bedroom without having to be asked, it’s customary to say thanks with a few kudos. They can be spent in the supply depot on small luxuries like candy and fancy clothes.

Stress increases when you work, battle, explore, do just about anything. Too much and your performance suffers. It can be reduced by spending time relaxing.

Rebellion and Loyalty are at opposite ends of the same dial. It starts in the middle, and is affected by how you deal with authority. Neither rebellion or loyalty is inherently good or bad, but if the dial swings far to one side or the other it will close some event options and special endings and open others.

Colony Stats

The colony itself has hidden stats like Food, Defense, and Morale. These are directly affected by your actions – every time you forage for a new edible plant, or help repair an automated turret, or perform a particularly beautiful song on your photophonor. But you’re just one child and I don’t want to overstate your importance, so they’ll either be tucked away or hidden completely.

Although your actions may affect whether your colony survives, thrives, or fails, Exocolonist isn’t a colony simulator so much as an RPG. You’ll have your hands full managing one teenager’s skills, equipment, and future.

Energetic and loyal Anemone

In I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, only 100 other colonists made the 20 year journey from Earth, so you know all the other kids who were born on the ship with you. Scrappy, athletic Anemone always wins at sportsball, and once the ship touches down on Vertumna she spends all her time playing outside.

NameAnemone
NicknameNemmie, Annie, Nem
EnhancementArmor plated lizard skin
BirthdayFirst week of Dust
LocationGarrison / Sportsball pitch
Dialog colorRed

Anemone’s design is loosely inspired by Little Orphan Annie and her beautiful sea-creature-like curls. Her energy and smile can melt any old curmudgeon’s heart, even Chief of Security Rhett who finds himself in charge of a new sportsball pitch and a team of wild young things led by Anemone.

As she ages, her mop of red hair grows out to an unruly lion’s mane of curls.

Anemone, age 14-16
Kom, Anemone (age 10-13), and Aunty Seedent

Anemone idolizes her older brother Kom, who’s training to join the security force and helps coach the kids’ sportsball team. Her mother is Chief Steward Anne, in charge of the quarters and galley, who the kids fondly call “Aunty Seedent”. She’s often concerned for her daughter’s safety, as Anemone ignores her advice and fearlessly faces down whatever comes her way.

Her mom has reason to be worried! Throughout the 10 years of the game, time and tragedy will shape Anemone’s teenage personality, and she’ll go through some drastic changes. In her late teens she’ll eventually trade in her sportsball for a plasma gun and join the colony’s defense force.

You’ll miss her innocent smile, but when the going gets tough you can count on Anemone to defend her friends.

Anemone with Vace, age 17-19

Her genetic enhancement is tough, armor-plated skin and protective bone spurs. Character artist Mei and I considered giving her feline characteristics like claws and a tail, but instead extended her scales all the way from her jawline down her back and sides a little like a Trill’s spots.

Sometimes her scales itch… but with her active life Anemone needs the added protection.

Sol was a Teenage Exocolonist

Sol, aged 17-19

Sol – full name Solanaceae – is the default name of your character in I Was a Teenage Exocolonist.

Your parents are farmers, and they named you after their favorite taxonomic family, the nightshades, which contains potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and tobacco.

Flulu and Geranium, your parents

You are your father’s Little Tomatillo, his Brave Gooseberry, his Spunky Petunia, and his Busy Aubergine. Your dad’s a sweetheart… but a little embarrassing.

Your mom’s the realist of the family, always trying to get you to work hard and toughen up. You may butt heads with her, but it’s usually for your own good. It’s your choice whether you take her advice, or roll your eyes and fidget like a proper teenager.

Sol, age 14-16

Exocolonist starts with a short character generation which takes place during the first ten years of your life on the colony ship Stratospheric before it lands. You choose your name, your gender (two sliders for appearance and pronouns) and a genetic modification.

Before the colonists left Earth, they “acquired” valuable gene editing tech to give themselves an edge on their new planet. All the colony children have one augmentation. You can pick:

PerkSkillEffect
Extra fingerscreativity + 10Increase Creativity and Organization faster
Eagle eyesperception + 10Increase Perception faster, events while exploring
Absorbent brainreasoning + 10Increase Reasoning, Biology, Physics faster
Super strengthcombat + 10Increase Toughness and Combat faster
Calm temperamentempathy + 1025% less Stress
Nothing at allkudos + 3025% more Kudos because you tried your best

Through a series of other choices you pick your childhood best friend, starting skills, and early childhood memories. These memories take the form of cards.

A child’s first memories (temporary art)

More about these cards and Sol’s list of skills in future posts!