Electric Organ

Electric Organ is a traditional roguelike with an emphasis on ranged combat. Character progression primarily takes the form of swapping out your organs as they are damaged by the environment, and upgrading them to make yourself strong enough to face the threats below the city.

It’s my 9th entry into the 7 Day Roguelike game jam. It placed 1st according to roguetemple’s leaderboard!

Download or play in a web browser on its itch.io page.

The game is open source, and its source code can be found here.

And the devlog I wrote while developing this game begins here.

The game’s menu screen without the text. A cyan heart in front of a city. The ground shows a magenta grid vanishing towards the distance. The sky is purple and peppered with stars.

Electric Organ is by far the most complicated thing I have ever built. It runs on an engine that I’ve been developing over the past 5 or so years, and the music is generated live by a synthesizer library that I’ve been developing for several months. It features a particle system, dynamic lighting, and procedural music and sound effects. Some of this technology I repurposed from previous projects, but getting it all to integrate together still took a lot of work.

It’s also dense with gameplay systems, the foremost of which is organs, where the player can add and remove organs from their bodies for various effects. Additionally, organs can have traits such as transient which causes the organ to vanish at a random point in the future, and vampiric which means the organ only functions if you’ve recently injected a blood vial.

There are vendors which sell organs, guns and ammo, and items. There are 14 different items with different abilities. There are 9 different types of enemy, with unique abilities, such as the venter which emits smoke that makes it hard to breath, the snatcher which steals items, and the climber which can pass over usually-impassable debris. And there’s a final boss with several abilities found on regular enemies, as well as a teleport ability that activates at certain damage thresholds, which serves to prolong the boss fight.

The combat system is a mix of ranged and melee. The game tracks the weapon held in each hand. Some weapons require both hands. Plus, you can install claws (a type of organ) which greatly increases melee combat but means you can’t hold anything in that hand. Getting hand tracking to work was probably the most tedious part of the whole project. The code is a mess, but it works.

Fighting the final boss on the bottom level of the city

I had a clear plan for the art style and gameplay going into the week. I’m currently obsessed with synthesizers and I’m developing a rust synthesizer library and wanted to showcase it in this year’s 7DRL by procedurally generating the music. The general vibe was largely inspired by the pulpy dystopian city streets of John Carpenter’s “Escape from New York”, the aesthetic violent nihilism of the game Hotline Miami 2, and the cyberpunk setting of Akira.

The core mechanic of swapping out organs was originally inspired by the artifact system in the Stalker FPS franchise, where the player can equip magical items which usually had both a positive and negative status effect. I thought it would be interesting if the player could equip such items without being able to easily unequip them, so adding an artifact would be a more significant choice. This original idea has been muddied somewhat in its implementation in Electric Organ, but the core mechanic of swapping and upgrading organs fits well with the game’s aesthetic and I’m still happy with how it turned out. One criticism I have is that it’s almost never worth it to harvest organs from the enemies you kill in the game, so I’d be interested in finding a way to motivate players to do that more.

In a smoke-filled street, the player is aiming a pistol at a Venter enemy.

I’m satisfied with how the 7DRL week went. I had an easier time staying motivated than in the last few 7DRLs and managed to spend almost every non-work waking hour during the week working on my game. It feels like I’m hitting up against the limit of the productivity I can achieve with my current tools. I say this every year but I do want to keep working on Electric Organ now that the jam is finished, both because I want to use it to improve my tools (or experiment with new tools), and because I really like how the game turned out and want to spend some time making it even better.

Message log death screen after the player attacked a vendor who then turned hostile and killed them

Once again, you can download or play Electric Organ on its itch.io page.