Boat Journey

Boat Journey is a turn-based game where you drive a boat through a procedurally-generated landscape on a voyage along a river destined for the ocean. Accept passengers to have them help you on your journey. Fight monsters, collect junk, trade the junk for fuel, use the fuel to travel to the ocean.

You can play it in a web browser or download the game from

The source code for the game is at

Text-based drawing of a boat at the end of a pier

This was my 8th 7drl. I’m relieved that the gameplay turned out to be fun during last-minute playtesting. I’ve had the idea of making a game about driving a boat to the ocean for a while and in my thought experiments before making this game I struggled to come up with enjoyable short and medium term game loops. But the loop of “collecting passengers so you can use their abilities to steal junk from islands without getting defeated by beasts and then you can use the junk to buy space for more passengers and also fuel for your boat” actually turned out to be quite engaging.

Screenshot of the inn building

This year I decided to make the art style very minimal. My last few 7drl entries feature multiple characters per in-game tile which made it possible to create very detailed graphics. Here’s an example from last year’s game Rain Forest.

Example of the graphics in last year's game Rain Forest feature 3x3 character tiles per in-game tile

While it looked beautiful it meant that every new type of object I added to the game required designing a 3x3 character block to represent it which turned into a lot of work over the course of the week. This year I’m back to using a single character per in-game tile which meant I spent much less time making the game pretty and more time on proc-gen and mechanics. That said I’m still very happy with how it ended up looking.

Screenshot showing how night looks in the game

Making a proc-gen river with proc-gen towns along it and the dungeons under the city took 3 of the 7 days which is by far the most time I’ve spent on purely getting procgen working for one of these. Normally I make a single level generator with knobs that can be turned to change the levels as the game progresses, normally just by adding more or tougher enemies. Boat Journey has 4 distinct terrain generators that all populate parts of a single large map. First the game generates the path of the river and creates gaps for the town, swamp, and city sections, and carves out the ocean. Then each of those sections is populated by a terrain generator made just for that section. Finally the dungeons under the city are generated, though I borrowed the dungeon generator from a half-finished tutorial series I’m working on.

Screenshot of the dungeon

Also for the first time my game includes hand-drawn character portraits which I’m quite happy with. I think the complement the moody, unsettling aesthetic I was aiming for.

Screenshot of the Innkeeper menu from the game showing the innkeeper's character portrait

Before the jam I made a tool to help draw images with text and I used that tool for all the hand-drawn art in this game.

Screenshot of the text-based image editor

You can play or download Boat Journey here: