Creating a game within a few days is no small feat and is often more about a showcase of what developers can do than delivering an polished game. On rare occasions a game that is created during a game jam is actually quite fun and might grow into something bigger. Like Little Lands.
Robin Field participated in the last Ludum Dare in which developers must create a game from scratch within a weekend. While the end result may very well be in a alpha state, the organisations states that the software presented must be usable. Little Lands is exactly that, but more fun than you might expect from only one weekend of programming labour.
It’s all very little
Without anymore puns about the name of the game, Little Lands is a small city-builder. You get to build some houses and some buildings to generate resources and that is pretty much it. The catch is that you have to do it on a tiny plot of land that only expands slowly over time. Therefore you expansion is slow and a challenge.
The end goal is quite simple as well: escape from your tiny plot of land with an airship buy building said airship. You can achieve this quite easy with some resource management and fending of pirates that will try to chip away your already small plot of land.
Pushing the limits
You can finish the game in 15 to 20 minutes and there is little reason to repeat the process. Somehow I still did exactly that. The main reason is that there is no save or pause button, so every build must be completed (or abandoned) in one session. This triggered me to push Little Lands to its limits and see how many people I could get on the slowly expanding plots of land during a session.
Usually I get satisfaction from progress over (a very long) time in games, but the fact that the tiny simple city you create only exist right there and then is a strange, yet relaxed feeling. There is no pressure, just some citizens that you can send of into space any time you want. Also the fact that the style resembles something of a medieval theme for Simcity 2000, helps.
You make it you break it
Now that Ludum Dare is finished, Field has the opportunity to expand and polish the game. That is great, because he has already fixed a few bugs and he plans to add some planned features that he did not have the time for during the game jam. Like foot soldiers. Unlike the walls that are supposed to hold them back, the actual land units did not make it into the game.
Still it is a risk to expand further on a very basic game, because it derives much of its novelty from the simplicity. Adding a pause button for example might seem like a good idea, but might very well break the game for me. Luckily Robin Field has said in the comments he got on the game that he is hesitant to build on the simple concept, because he is afraid he might break the game.
It is a though dilemma, because the game as a lot of potential to become more than a weekend project. I remain indecisive about the end stage of this game, but in any case you can play Little Lands right now.