Lonely Planet is the game I made at iD Tech Camp at the University of Washington between eighth and ninth grade. I took their 5 day C++ introductory course in a group with seven other kids, and our counselor was a recent grad of DigiPen, a nearby college specializing in game development. (The team hired at Valve to develop Portal in 2006 was hired right out of DigiPen.)
In “Lonely Planet”, you are a solitary astronaut stranded on an extraterrestrial world where the local aliens have stolen 5 parts to your space ship, rendering it useless. Using your quick witted text entry and “fight or flight” game mechanics, you must defeat enough of the alien onslaught to retrieve every part to your ship so you can go home.
The game has some incredibly basic turn-based RPG elements in it, where the player can spend their turn either running away from an overpowered enemy, attacking the enemy to deal damage or expend their turn to discover whether or not the alien has a part to your ship. (You normally don’t discover whether an alien has a ship part until after you’ve defeated it.)
The player has only one weapon, your trusty laser gun dealing 25 damage with every attack. The enemies, on the other hand, have a much wider array of species, as well as weapon types and damages.
After you’ve found all 5 ship parts through facing different enemies, you win the game! It’s pretty simple, and the game isn’t as polished or feature-filled as I might have wanted it to be but the main thing I got out of the week at UW was a better grasp on programming and some personal connections I had never made outside of the camp. I learned pointers in C++ after not knowing anything about them before, I got a semi introduction to hash tables, I organized every object ingame into a C++ class and I still play games on Steam with friends from the camp. UW was also a new thing for me, and in a good way: staying in dorms was a different, but not uncomfortable way to live life, and getting to collaborate with code monkeys like me on projects we all cared about was something special. Going from being the best programmer in your age group to just “average” sounds depressing at worst and humbling at best, but it’s more than that. It’s exciting.
Download Lonely Planet here!