The Order of the Phoenix is a fast-paced action game made for Ludum Dare 46 gamejam, where the player has to keep a baby Phoenix alive by fulfilling it’s basic needs.

The game was made during a strenuous but incredibly productive 72 hour time cycle. Prior to starting the project we had no actual plans or prior preparations done so everything was created during that short 3 day time span. The team for this game consisted of 7 people, I took the role of a gameplay designer, designing and implementing gameplay mechanics and managing the rest of the team.

My tasks

  • Designed and implemented gameplay mechanics
  • Managed a team of 6 people

Tools used

  • Unreal Engine 4


Gameplay Mechanics

Since the theme of the gamejam was “Keep it alive”, the main focus of the game is keeping the baby phoenix alive. To do so, the player has to fulfill the desires of the phoenix by keeping it warm and feeding it just the right food.

There’s two primary actions the player can perform, hunt animals with the crossbow or cut down trees with the axe. The player can not carry those items at the same time, so frequent switching is involved, adding extra layer of depth and complexity to the overall gameplay loop.

There are two possible end states for the game. Either the player has fed the baby phoenix enough food to make it grow into an adult, making it fly away or the player has let the fire underneath the phoenix to fade out, making it explode.

Lessons learned

Since I was the only gameplay designer / programmer in the team, all of the code-side of the game was left to me, making for a really demanding but also rewarding process. It was a good chance to get to use Unreal Engine and experiment more with how the engine works.

Due to the 3 day time limit and lack of extra help with code-related tasks I was forced to rapidly come up with ways to design and implement in-game logic in the engine. While the resulting code base is less than ideal, it served it’s purpose and the game is rather stable. I was also able to spend extra time on small touches and general polish (egg shaking before breaking, the trees regenerating)

Additionally, as a team leader it was a very educational and rewarding experience to guide and instruct 6 other team members in my team. Either by giving them tasks, advice or in general instructing them how to implement something or to create something for the engine. Everyone came through in the end and I was really happy to be able to work with this team.