DevLog Watch: Curious Expedition, Lift, Office Management

Tesla! Flight! Offices.

The problem with turning this into a regular column is that I have to write it regularly. I have clearly failed this week, but that shouldn’t stop you enjoying day-late development blogs and GIFs from around the web.

Includes: dinosaurs, Nikola Tesla, flight sandboxes, conference tables, ‘game jams’.

The Curious Expedition

Adam already sent a little love in the direction of The Curious Expedition, but as a “roguelike-like expedition-sim set in the late 19th century,” I think we could stand to give it a little more.

Basically, you posse up with a group of natives, some helpful dinosaurs, and a scientist like Nikola Tesla, and you explore a strange land. You travel via a game map, need to keep your crew kitted and fed, and there are turn-based battles when you encounter an enemy.

The DevLog currently contains 30 pages worth of posts, many of which are GIFs and screenshots and news from the developers. Check it.


I have a soft spot in my heart and an expensive flight stick on my desk, both devoted to simulators which aim to capture the majesty of piloting planes and helicopters. But while I appreciate the complexity and accuracy of yer X-Planes and Flight Simulators, I still long for other approaches to the genre.

Lift is a flight sandbox which allows you to design and pilot your own creations. It has an accurate physics model, but there’s no concern here for accurate cockpits and careful switch mechanisms. Lift is about building something silly and seeing if it might actually fly.

There are builds of the game available for your browser, Windows, Linux and OSX, but the DevLog is worth following along for two reasons. One, because there’s a lot of GIFs and images detailing the creation and tweaking of the game’s physics system. Two, because forsy, the game’s developer, isn’t yet set on what direction the game is heading in. It’s exciting to watch it come together.

Office Management 101

Part of the reason I write these posts is because I want to encourage game developers to talk more openly about the creation of their work. Too often we only get insight into the development process after a game becomes a hit, when it’s finished and everyone is talking in hindsight, but I think there can be real value – and entertainment, obv – to seeing things happen and change in real-time.

That’s why I’m covering Office Management 101. Its DevLog is currently pretty short. It started in December and there’s only been a few updates since, but the game sounds interesting already. It’s an office management sim inspired by Theme Hospital and Kairosoft games.

I want to know more about how this game is made. How do you build a save system for a game like this? How do you balance it? How do you limit the number of animations required so it doesn’t overwhelm its two-man team? Developers have been too busy to write much about the game thus far, for good reason, so for now I’ll have to look at the in-progress screenshots and wonder.

From the archive

In other news, I hope everyone got a good diversion out of Super Duelling MiniVans. If you haven’t then go to our site and download it immediately. This game rocks! I think that the idea of a 24 hour game is pretty interesting.

In fact, I would love to see some big time gaming gurus get together and do this for fun sometime. I think it would be way cool to go back to the original flavor of Game Developer’s Conference when it was smaller and more intimate and have a code bash party where teams of big name coders and artists get together for some fun to compete on some level in a 24hour game creation fest. Imagine what kind of wicked stuff that someone like Sweeney, Carmack or Sid Meier could come up with if locked in a room with the likes of Paul Steed or Cliffy B. Of course there might some legal issues involved, so how about people within companies getting together to do this once a year and then sharing their efforts publicly as freeware? Imagine what Valve or Id or Blizzard or Epic or Raven or Human Head could do in 24 hours? Hmmmm… (Of course I think the first rule would have to be that the game had to be coded completely from scratch- no using engines or pre-established code other than what comes free from Apple or Microsoft or what have you…)

This is Tim Gerritsen, Business Development Director at Human Head Studios, suggesting in 2000 that maybe people getting together to make games in 24 hours would be fun. Maybe he’s right? I don’t know what we would call those, but I think these “game creation fests” might one day take off.

I can’t find a working link to Super Duelling MiniVans, but I would like to play it, if you lot can find it out there.

Right, done for the week. Are you a game developer, be it programmer, artist, sound designer or miscellaneous other? Are you writing regularly about the creation of your own game, expounding on design decisions, bragging about animations, or querying your public about future features? Email me.


  1. RedViv says:

    Nothing combining Tesla and dinosaurs could be bad. Which is why I have been very intrigued by Curious Expedition ever since its announcement. Bonus was that it reminded me of Paraworld, which just had a too weird setting for being of a very broadly approachable genre, and thus failed. Or maybe the world was just not ready for zombie vikings versus pirate ninjas, all riding or handling dinosaurs.

    • Spakkenkhrist says:

      ” zombie vikings versus pirate ninjas” ? Sorry I’ve just been sick.

      • Geebs says:

        “Tesla meets Dinosaur Edison” would probably be pretty bad

  2. Stardreamer says:

    I saw that second image in stages:

    1. Man firing a cool energy beam (from the header image), My interest was piqued immediately. I love cool energy beam weapons!
    2. I then saw the entire image but focused on ENERGY BEAM VAPOURISES LARGE HYENA-THING OMFG, that’s amazing!
    3. Then I read the name of the little person dressed in black. Nikolai Tesla!!!

    This, ladies and gentlemen, was a master-class in how to attract and keep my attention, and prise open my VERY selective wallet. The list of historical scientists and other notaries sealed the deal forevermore. WHEN IS THIS RELEASED???

    • SuicideKing says:

      I processed that image like this:

      1. Hmmm reminds me of Pokemon (when i saw the layout and the attack options)

      2. Nikola Tesla?

      3. Person in suit directing an energy beam at a hyena.

      4. Accumulated (1) to (3) and went “oh!”

      5. Saw “scientist level 8”, thought about (1) again.

      7. Noticed dead native, wondered why natives are depicted like that (with spears and topless), realised setting and thought “okay, appropriate i guess”

      8. “sounds cool!”

      Unrelated, but the map reminds me of the Age of Empires minimap in some ways.

    • Tei says:

      I hope the Mark Twain character can use a inflatable trebuchet to launch mininukes.

      • HiFiHair says:

        “Nikola Tesla electrocutes hyenas”. There’s the elevator pitch. Call the Weinsteins.

        • GameCat says:

          “Nikola Tesla electrocutes hyenas. There are rideable dinosaurs somewhere.”

          I made it even better, we can split revenue in half.

          • The Random One says:

            “Nikola Tesla eletrocutes hyenas while Charles Darwin takes notes from atop his dinosaur.”

    • Hypocee says:

      Fanboy alert: You should check out the comic Atomic Robo, in particular volume 5 The Deadly Art of Science, concerning the hidden Tesla-Edison battle behind the War of the Currents, and volume 3 The Shadow From Beyond Time, which doesn’t have on-page Tesla but does feature Charles Fort, H. P. Lovecraft, Carl Sagan and many lightning guns against a nonlinear extradimensional monster whose invasion spans a century.

      link to

  3. BetamaxDisco says:

    If Tim Gerritsen had his finger on the pulse of 2014 back in 2000, does anybody know if he’s proclaimed any insights for 2028?

    • Geebs says:

      He didn’t just pioneer game jams, he was also there right at the beginning of the trend for games about the Norse pantheon totally sucking

  4. SuicideKing says:

    Lift and The Curious Expedition both have my attention.

  5. thvaz says:

    I’m impressed you still didn’t covered the (sometimes very fun) devlog for Dwarf Fortress. The developer updates often (each 3-4 days) and some of them are very long.

    link to

  6. forsy says:

    Thanks for including Lift in the article! And you even included one of my favorite gifs. Mounting the sky whale was a major milestone.

    I am the developer, and as mentioned in the article I am still working on an overall direction for the game. Feel free to shoot me any questions on here or the dev log!

    • Bugamn says:

      Look, that game is incredible, and I don’t say that to all developers.

      • forsy says:

        Thanks for the kind words.

        I think what is most incredible is the amount of awesome and crazy stuff that has been built by the handful of people that have braved the plane editor. It isn’t the most enjoyable thing to use at the moment but there is some pretty rad stuff coming out of it.

        Unfortunately the current build does not have the functionality to support properly sorting and ranking the plane designs so a lot of the cool stuff is buried deep in the list. Another update or two and it should be better.

  7. Lanfranc says:

    No disrespect to Johan Huizinga, but I don’t think a medieval historian would be my first (or second or third) choice for an expedition into the wilderness.

    • MartinWisse says:

      Oh, he would be in his element in the waning hours of the day.

  8. Sam says:

    Of course I think the first rule would have to be that the game had to be coded completely from scratch- no using engines or pre-established code

    Interesting how this is the only rule suggested, and its removal has arguably been central to the development of modern game jams. Originally Ludum Dare insisted that everything be made from scratch. The idea being that you start the weekend with a blank text document and a compiler and leave it with a game. That has completely changed now with the great majority of entries using existing engines and game creation tools, even the “old skool” programmers will bring at least their own library code.

    As a result the old game jams were much more about showing off your programming smarts, and a bit of memorisation of the OpenGL API. Working alone and ending the time with something like a functional platformer was an achievement. It also being a good or interesting game was extraordinary.

    The shift to allowing engines and tools in game jams has been vital to their role today, but also completely changed what jams were about. From a test of programming to a test of game design and asset creation. Perhaps inevitably, media coverage never quite caught up with the change and is still often full of gushing about how amazing it is to make anything at all in just 48 hours.

    (I don’t mean to imply that he’s wrong to suggest it as a rule, and it’s quite likely he’s only doing so to avoid tiresome code licensing issues.)

  9. quietone says:

    I love, love, love this column.

  10. MartinWisse says:

    Incidently, I do hope Mary Kingsley will have a good, stout skirt in The Curious Expedition.