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The elements being mashed up here are:

  • Reincarnation with incremental environment changes for progress (ala Shirin, Roguelikes)
  • Player and enemies each move one square per turn (ala Nethack)

It's an odd coincidence that these both stem from the roguelike tradition, but that's how the RNG crumbles.


The design I came up with for this one is as follows:

  • You play a fruit fly and are trying to transport your genes to Fruit Fly Nirvana
  • The mundane world you are trying to escape is a series of levels; each level is an 8x12 grid of squares
  • You are the spawn of laboratory fruit flies who have been genetically modified to be unable to fly; you can only "hop" from one square to the next
  • Your goal is to move from the bottom row of a level to the "exit" in the top row of the level (which takes you to the next level; nirvana is reached via the exit of level 99)
  • Various obstacles make this task an interesting challenge
  • Your lifespan permits you a fixed number of moves before you kick the bucket
  • On every level, there is a prospective mate; if you can position yourself next to them, you mate and generate a bundle of eggs
  • When you inevitably die (be that from old age or a hostile environment), the torch is picked up by one of your offspring, who hatches from your most recent mating site
  • If you exhaust the supply of eggs at a mating site, you may have to roll back to previous levels to resume your quest

Play It

I decided to write this one in Scala, so that means no HTML5 version. You'll have to download the jar file and run it with java -jar samsara.jar.

Here's a screenshot of my awesome programmer art, to whet your visual appetite.

I'll put up an Android APK that you can install at some point, but I need to implement touch controls before that will be viable.


Obstacles are both passive and active.

Passive obstacles are mainly just impassable squares, which make the geometry of the level interesting, though we dress them up as tree trunks or stones. But there are also some gameplay opportunities in passive obstacles like a trickle of water which can be bridged by picking up a leaf from somewhere on the level and dropping it onto the water to create a bridge.

Active obstacles are things like spiders, ants, frogs, etc. which amy move around the level themselves and which might crush or eat you if you are not careful.

Currently implemented passive obstacles:

  • trees

Currently implemented active obstacles:

  • frogs - eat you if you pass in the 2x2 region in front of them, turn left or right if you step into the 1x2 region to their left or right
  • spiders - eat you if you step within 2 squares of them (as calculated by Manhattan distance), otherwise they move one square randomly; they also sleep for a random period after eating you to give your progeny a chance to slip past


To give the game a nice rhythm, the environment cycles through the four seasons, each of which has characteristic terrain, passive and active obstacles. Each season lasts for five levels, which means that you cycle through a full year every twenty levels, for a total of five full cycles on your way to Nirvana. It could also be interesting to "blend" between two seasons as you pass from one to the next (on the last level of the old season and first level of the new season).

Seasons are not yet implemented, but I have some ideas for seasonal variation.


  • Primarily brown terrain, with spots of orange and green
  • Streams of water that must be traversed by placing leaves on them


  • Ice terrain which causes the fly (and other critters?) when landing on it


  • Vibrant green terrain with splotches of brown dirt
  • Puddles of water as obstacles (made traversable by leaves)


  • Mostly green terrain with bits of yellow and brown
  • Spiders come out in summer
  • Streams (as in fall) with fish which swim back and forth and eat you if you try to cross a leaf while a fish is adjacent to it


  • When you roll back to previous levels, I made the game keep only one level of "future". For example, if you die on level 5 and have to roll back to level 2 to get to your previous nest, level 3 will be the same level 3 you played before, but level 4 (and all subsequent levels) will be newly generated. The most important thing here is that they have a new mate on them, otherwise you can get into situations where a single fly's lifespan is not enough to get you to a level with a new mate. It's also not that fun to go through multiple levels that you've already traversed.
  • Currently the level generator can create "unwinnable" situations where there's no way to get to the next level without dying. It doesn't happen too often, and you can just kill off your remaining flies and use the previous tweak to cause a new level to be generated, but that's very unsatisfying when you have to do it. So I might introduce a sleep period for all critters, so that you have a chance of getting past any critter regardless of level configuration. Or maybe I'll try to come up with some other way, like tunneling through trees at triple (or more) the normal movement life cost.

Other disorganized notes


  • allow kamikaze into sleeping spider; kills you and spider?
  • make mates "edible"
  • don't position any MOBs within one square of a mate?
  • make frogs sleep a bit after eating?
  • require you to "walk" toward mate to trigger mating?
  • if you enter a screen and someone is there (spider) move to nearest empty spot?


  • beetle - what would it do?
  • ants - march across/down the screen, splat you if you are on the tile into which they are moving


  • trees cast nice bushy/leafy shadow on the ground
  • as fly hops from tile to tile, scale the fly image up as he moves toward the camera then back down as he plops onto target (use gnatty buzz SFX for each hop)


  • double (16x24) or quadruple (32x48) the resolution of the terrain to allow for more organic looking coloration, and then define passability by the "majority content" of the 8x12 square
  • terrain coloration and distribution would be an interesting place for the "blending" between seasons


  • PC - arrow keys; already implemented, quite comfortable
  • Mobile - swipe (from fly, or from anywhere really) in the direction of motion
  • Mobile - tap top/left/right/bottom quadrant of screen to move in that direction
  • other?