We wrote down over 50 associations and ideas and tried to come up with a compelling
gameplay concept for most of them.
The most promising ideas revolved around the player tracing their own steps, time
manipulation, and doing things backwards.
From the previous years we learned that we tended to over invest in theme-related
mechanics, and the expense of good gameplay and fun.
We decided to invert the process: start with a fun game concept and try to make it
relevant to the theme with the narrative or the setting.
We made a list of genres that were interesting to us. Either because we liked playing
them, or because they posed interested challenges. Or both :)
The list included: an FPS, a 2.5D platformer, an Action RPG, and a Spelunky-like
We settled on the Action RPG mostly because we wanted to make a game which can be
controlled only with a mouse.
Our previous js13k games were first-person and controlled with WASD.
Mouse controls mean that the game can be played casually with one hand. It can also be
played on phones without any extra touch UI.
It’s also a well-known and intuitive enough to not require a tutorial.
We wanted the game to look amazing: full of life, details and lighting. The look and feel
should make the game stand out among ca. 250 other submissions.
The goal was to make something that would look like it wasn’t possible to make in 13
We chose voxel graphics for a few reasons:
Low-res voxel assets are fairly easy to create.
They can be packed and optimized for size by storing voxel offsets and colors.
We had some experience with WebGL's instanced drawing and knew that the performance was
great, which meant we could get away with rendering thousands of voxels in the scene.
The gameplay should be simple and easy to pick up. It’s a jam game — people will only
spend a few seconds with it before deciding to continue playing or moving on.
The Wild West theme was inspired by horseback riding and backcountry. We
instantly liked it because of how distinct it was.
A cowboy hat is just a handful of voxels and it’s instantly recognizable.
A sun-scorched desert only needs a couple of props: rocks and cacti.
Before we knew it, Michał created a reference scene in Magica Voxel, which sealed the
We collected a lot of reference material: movie posters, 2D illustrations, 3D game assets,
original newspapers from the 19th century, our own pictures from trips to Utah and Arizona,
Last but not least: we wanted to truly immerse ourselves in the Wild West:
We watched Sergio Leone’s Dollar Trilogy starring Clint Eastwood.
We listened to a lot of Ennio Morricone. Check out the Greatest Western Themes of
all Time on Spotify for a taste of spaghetti westerns.
An action RPG inspired by hack and slash games, but with shooting. More action than RPG,
really; RPG features didn’t make it because of the size constraints.
Focus on shooting and fun. Designed as a five-minute-long experience which can be replayed
Simple fetch quests: kill the boss bandit and return to the sheriff for a reward.
The goal of the game is to earn as much money as possible. There are two ways in which you
can achieve this goal: through bounties from the sheriff and by collecting gold bars lying on
The overworld (the town) with friendly NPCs: the quest giver (the sheriff), the merchant,
and random inhabitants walking around.
Two locations outside the town: a desert and a gold mine. Generated randomly as a maze
with some walls removed.
You control the main character with the mouse. The left mouse button sets the walking
destination, and the right mouse button shoots bullets from your character’s gun.
The control scheme is a little bit more involved, actually. The left mouse button can
also be used to trigger shooting as long as the mouse cursor is over an attackable enemy.
This made it possible to play the game entirely with a single button, or by tapping the
The right mouse button is guaranteed to trigger shooting in the direction of the mouse
cursor. It’s safer to shoot this way because it eliminates the risk of accidental clicking a
walkable tile next to an enemy, which would make your character walk to it. This is similar
to how in Diablo you can shift-click to shoot in place.
The town, the characters and the quests are generated from a daily seed which resets every
24 hours at midnight UTC. At any given time the world is exactly the same for all players.
@Socktaters on Twitter suggested we call the reset
“High Noon.” :)
The layout of the desert and the mine is randomized every time the player enters them and
doesn’t depend on the seed. See Terrain Generation in
the Graphics chapter.