Gremlin Laboratory is an idea created by Mallory Thompson whom I met at my first game jam making Woodcutter Adventure. She asked me to come on to assist with making the game and focus on implementation while she focuses on art. We’ve been working on it since early 2019, but with Mallory going back to school and us both working full-time it has been rather slow.

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However, while I was unemployed I poured a ton of time into improving and implementing new features. The main premise of the game is that the gremlins themselves want to make “designer” gremlins to sell to the peoples of the world, infiltrate society, then topple it. It’s not set in stone yet as we haven’t gotten to implementing any of the simple story components yet, but that’s the idea.

Gameplay! As you can tell we don’t have many UI assets yet

Many of the implemented features of the games are polished to a shine currently, as I focused on improving already implemented features before moving onto anything new. The gene splicing part is rather simple, building off of what you learn in biology class about punnet squares. Much of the data is loaded from xml files, such as what the goal is for that level, and random other genes are assigned to make it easier to develop. I’ve also added some behind-the-scenes algorithms to make the game more user friendly, such as a complicated algorithm involving splicing the same gremlins multiple times. The player wouldn’t enjoy clicking “SPLICE” 20 times to get a random result, so each time they do with the same pair of gremlins the game is more likely to use a genes they’re looking for (denoted by the goal on the top right).

The complicated splicing algorithm mentioned above

As my first big project it has been really fun to work on, but a lot of work! I’ve recently spent a lot of time integrating controller support, manually handling UI selection, as most of the game takes place on the UI layer because it’s a puzzle game, and improving user experience. Since elements on the screen change often, due to the adding and removing of gremlins, what can be selected must be updated often.

On top of all that, it is the most code I’ve ever wrote outside of school or work for a project and I’ve learned a lot about project management and code design because of it. I’ve also been using source control for the first time with a personal project! It is a project I’m really happy with, and I hope Mallory and I have more time to work and expand on in the future.

Mallory’s Instagram can be found here, as well as links to some of her other art and the indie pin database that she operates herself.