Ludocrazy - independant games
   Daniel Renkels portfolio.
2014 april 
Silent Totems

This game is an idea of Yann van der Cruyssen and Daniel Renkel:
A smart puzzle based adventure in an abstract world with some strange (and hopefully funny twists).
We are developing it for Android (phones, tablets, consoles) but its delayed until we can sort out some gamedesign issues and find time together to finish it.

If you like to try it out, you can find a (probably buggy) alpha version on the market:

Download alpha for free from Android Market:

2010 December - Dev Diary: Prototype
This is taken from a prototype written in Processing by Yann some time ago. When i came across it, i immediately fell in love. I adored the minimalistic visual style and got captured by the world-like feeling of this simple prototype. The multiple background layers are unlike classic plattformer games, where they are just static paralax scrolling decoration.

But here instead they have those abstract characters roaming the world, which makes the background more alive, truly a game world that should be reachable by the player. And thus our intention for Silent Totems is for the player to be able to travel to the background and be able to also play there. Using the strange machines and interacting with the so called "walkers", helping them to solve strange problems.

2011 January - Dev Diary: Landscape traveling
While the game focuses on puzzle solving gameplay that wants to tickle your brain, already moving through the world is ment to be different to other games. Silent Totems achieves this by having a "wrap around world". Something in the past only strategic games like Civilization used (by having a donut shaped world map which they display flattened in 2d). In Totems it comes down to the fact, that once you run enough to the left (while the screen follows you and the world scrolls by) what has been on the beginning on the left of the world now can be entered "comming" from the left (see video at 0:11, when the "ting" is hearable).
So imagine you have big wall in a level that you can not pass, then you can simply run far enough away from the wall to get to the other side. Actually Totems has a wall-creature: A wall that you can convince to move away so you can access stuff that was hidden below the wall - not behind it, thats easy to reach as i told you already :)

But wrapping (which is quite easy to understand as a player, but makes a lot of trouble to program) is not all that we wanted to be special about the players movement. So how do you get on the background layers? Can you talk to characters there? Well, we have those nifty Teleporters standing around, and when you find a cyan one on your current layer, you can travel to the layer that is one step backwards. While you can search the layer that is one step forward for a teleporter with yellow light, which will allow you to instantly travel there. But later, when you are solving more compliacted puzzles, there will also be shortcut teleporters that allow you to jump to a layer far away.

Ah, and while we're at it: We are also doing something special as audio background of the game. The music is divided into different tracks (lets say one for each instrument one can hear) and those tracks volumes are controlled by the current layer the player is on. So if you continue to play and have to travel to a different layer via teleporter, the music will softly change. From a bright nice mood in the easier layers, to a darker more tense sound in the difficultier layers.

Hint: play all the videos on this page with audio turned on, so you can hear some excerpts from Yanns great work.

2011 February I - Dev Diary: Relatives are relatively similar
So the game is about puzzles. But its intentionally not about grid based board-game like maze solving (this time not, next game will be again, i promise). It's also not about classical adventure-style combine inventory items.
Instead its about easy things that are as strange as possible without loosing "normal" players with "normal" brains. So one of the mechanics is about remembering and visually recognising shapes.

Silent Totems world was once inhabited by nice "people", doing their daily business. Until evil came by and they had to fight it. Ofcourse the good people won and evil was banished, but as usually there was a price to pay: Many of the peoples family members got turned into stone and as if that wouldn't be bad enough where shattered in the world. So even with the right magic to bring back the missing relatives to life, still they need to be found.

Thus you will meet the folks of Silent Totems who will ask you to find their relatives (A), and when you bring the pieces to them (B), they will be able to bring their loved ones to life and give you pieces theyself found of others (C). Which you then can once again pick up (D) and combine with further shapes (E).

And to make the game interesting, it does not have only a handfull of predesigned levels with few characters, but instead there is a huge amount of interestingly shaped creature characters that will sometimes make you smile and sometimes cringe. (Well, their names should make you giggle, atleast it lets us smirk all the time).

2011 February II - Dev Diary: Don't grill the thirsty fish
WARNING: Spoiler(s) ahead. Basically all this texts here contain some spoilers (and will in the future). So if you want to get the full "i don't even know one bit of the game" puzzling experience, don't read this developer diary :) Or forget about it ASAP.

I want to introduce another gameplay mechanic: Water. Which can be somewhere as a lake, flow somewhere down the hill, be split into multiple puddles and remerge into a sea. Basically it will help you solve some puzzles you can't otherwise solve (i don't want to spoilt this here), but it will also deny you some pickups. Because you float on water, but some heavy pickups won't; which makes them un-pickup-able for you.

Enter: the Drinker. A quite large and quite thirsty fish. Of course you get thirsty, jumping on your nose through a land without enough water for you to swim. Nevertheless the Drinker is a helpfull animal. Just ask for its help and it will not only suck in water puddles and lakes until its tummy gets full, but also spit the water out whereever you want it to be.

Mainly this helps picking up things from the bottom of lakes, because no lake left means you can easily walk there in order to pick them up. But beware: The game will also feature lava puddles. And of course Drinkers can't drink anything, or can they?

2011 March I - Dev Diary: the Totems are quite silent
Probably what one should call the main gameplay of Silent Totems will be the gathering of totem parts. The game design intention is to have a clear goal driven gameplay available. With the game having many sidetracked puzzle ideas, which sometimes are selvserving or fulfill extra tasks, there is also the need for a central task where the puzzles will help to fulfill it extra well.

Totem parts will be scattered all over the game, some only playingly requiring you to stumble upon - and collect them. While others will be hidden and require you to discover them. Some will be easy to pick up, others will struggle and make it hard for you to get them.

In february i talked about the relatives you can help throughout the world, you will want to do this - besides helping them rejoin with their families - in the hope to get further totem parts from them as a reward. To motivate players more, we even have a storyline where a desaster is about to happen, initially told to the player by our totem maker - the "guy" you can see on the pictures.

Bring enough totem parts to him and he will errect a totem pole from the parts, hopefully preventing the desaster to happen. And while you're at it - there is even a game achievment you can earn from fulfilling his wish of a extra high totem pole ;)

So the game tries to be two things at once: a strange gameworld, that has its own distinctive feel to it; but instead of a whole storydriven adventure the second "anchor" of the game will be the many rather small things the player can do. While some tasks being simpler, most will require the player to look carefully at clues and experiment with the possibilities.

2011 March II - Dev Diary: some totems don't like totem-poles
Have you ever considered a life on a totem-pole? Imagine a whole day, sitting ontop of someones head, while at the same time have someone else sit on your head. But its not about less space and much pressure, its also about the fact not being able to move at all. And now imagine this every day of a year, many years.

Dislike that? Well, i guess you can understand now how the fleeing parts in Silent Totems feel. In order to catch them you will have to come up with some really good ideas, or else you will never get recognised as a true talented totem catcher. You know: Gotta catch'em all! ;)

2011 April - Dev Diary: Task Cards
The game centers on puzzles and player interactions with the strange gameworld, but we think that storyline driven gameplay makes not as much sense on smartphones as does short play sessions with smaller tasks. So most of our puzzles are independant, available in parallel and can be played in any order. Its up to the player to experiment with puzzle elements available everywhere and find out how things work together.

We have more or less 3 levels of difficulty: more trivial tasks given by characters, some harder puzzles that help / extend the results while fulfilling the tasks and very hard puzzles that depend solely on the players puzzle solving intuition and/or sheer cleverness :-)

All puzzles result in immediate feedback, either through a bit of story dialogues, visible effects and last but not least in fulfilling one of our Task Cards.

Task Cards are what you can see on the screenshot above, simple "collectible" cards, which feature all possible puzzle situations of our game. So if you solve a puzzle you will fulfill its Task Card. This will allow you to keep track of your progress regarding all puzzles possible in the game (its definitely more than the number 3 on this screenshot indicates ;)

But additionally unfulfilled Task Cards will give you vague hints on what could be possible and present you some sort of carrot-on-a-stick, teasing you to experiment more with the games elements.

2011 Mai - Dev Diary: Visual Achievments
Whenever you reach, gather and gain things in Silent Totems, you will be able to walk towards the Photographer guy on the first layer and ask him to take a picture of your rewards which will then be uploaded to the website. There you can associate a display-name for yourself with the picture.

Of course this achievement screenshot allows you to compare yourself with your previous states to see your progress of our sandbox’ed and probably chaotic game world, in a quite ordered way. But it also allows you to compare yourself to others and especially take a look what they reached and what you are still missing.

I’m also hoping people who like the game as much as we do, will use it to show it to others. Giving the players achievement screenshots public URL to friends far away, or show it to people when you are in an environment where you can’t start the game on the phone (often also called “workplace” or office ;)

You can right now take a look at other peoples Visual Achievments they have gained so far.

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Graphics & Website Design Copyright (C) 1996-2020 Daniel 'sirleto' Renkel / Ludocrazy Games.
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