Build ‘Em Shmup – Gaiadi

I would have called it ‘Islands of DEATH’ myself, but then I’ve always been of the opinion that suffixing or prefixing names with ‘DEATH’ improves them tenfold. Gaiadi is Kyle Pulver‘s sketchbook-like contribution to the most recent Ludum Dare game jam. He designed and programmed it on his own within just 48 hours, and despite his claim that “this is super rough, and probably not very playable in it’s current state”, he went on to win the contest. Rightfully so – a lot of most excellent gamettes were created as part of Ludum Dare 17’s Islands-themed challenge, but Gaiadi really feels like its onto something. Something half-RTS, half-shmup…

Yeah, it’s rough’n’basic’n’unfair, but the vaguely tower defencey concept works well despite this. You’re killing things to gain currency, which you in turn spend on stuff to help you kill things. The difference is that you are in direct control of the killing rather leaving it to automated turrets (though you can build some to help you out) – which means you have to carefully time when you’re building and when you’re shooting. You don’t get to sit back and watch here, sonny.

The hand-drawn baddies will attack your island-based constructions as well as you, so there’s a manic strategy to careening around the screen trying to draw fire away from valuable structures whilst simultaneously panicking about how low your own health is. It’s always about where you put yourself – near health, near ammo or near construction – and whether you spend your coin on much-needed instant help or save up for the bigger, game-ending structures.

The number and hit points of enemies ramping up as you build new stuff is unfortunately a little off, forcing you into essentially unwinnable situations, but c’mon – it was made in 48 hours. 48 hours! I barely manage to feed and bathe myself in that time. Pulver says he’s considering bulking it up into something larger and more polished, and I like this enough to hope he makes good on that.

Download Gaiadi here, and witness its frenetic gestation in the timelapse video below:


  1. PleasingFungus says:

    Sounds like that Drone game Quinns was so upset about a bit back. Except with islands, I suppose.


  2. DrazharLn says:

    I think this beats Zombie Hotel… Sid Meier, you have been displaced :P

  3. itsallcrap says:

    Once upon a time I thought I might have the potential to be a half-decent creator of little games like this.

    Having seen how good the competition would have been, I’m very glad I got a day-job.

  4. DMcCool says:

    I for one like the video more than the end-product game. I like to imagine it as real-time, with the creator of the game as Johnny 5.

  5. geldonyetich says:

    I was wondering what he was developing in that. After playing the game fairly hard, I crashed out with an error:

    ERROR in
    action number 2
    of Step Event
    for object obj_enemy_shark:

    Error in code at line 14:
    bullet_dir = point_direction(b_x, b_y, target.x, target.y)
    at position 52: Unknown variable x

    Doing a bit of a search on the net, I was able to derive that he was using GML, which is part of Game Maker.

    I really aught to pick up Game Maker some time. Between this, Spelunky, and Drone, it looks like it can put out some pretty good games. (Contrary to the absolutely awful bunch of kid chicken scratchings you’ll usually see featured on YoyoGames’ website.)

  6. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Impressive, to say the least.

  7. Pani says:

    What software is he using in that timelapse video?
    I spotted photoshop but don’t know the others.