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An Indie strategy/rogue-like about life, legacy & love from the creator of Highgrounds. Lovingly dubbed "The 5-Minute Civilization."
An Indie strategy/rogue-like about life, legacy & love from the creator of Highgrounds. Lovingly dubbed "The 5-Minute Civilization."
2,355 backers pledged $46,190 to help bring this project to life.

Design Philosophy

Posted by Scott Brodie (Creator)

(We're well past 25% funded in just 48 hours! We're so appreciative of your support. Below is the first of a few in-depth articles I've written to hopefully shed more light on the design of Hero Generations)

When I started designing Hero Generations, my goal was to build a game that, through gameplay, would allow players to feel a complex set of emotions I had experienced myself. The lessons I pulled from that experience felt like universal human truths that others might benefit from experiencing too. During the early design process, I wrote the below summary of how I planned to achieve the aesthetic experience I wanted in the game. I figured I would share it with you now since details on the topic in the Kickstarter description are pretty light.

Hero Generations Design Philosophy

Hero Generations aims to be both a personal expression and experiment in distilling deep strategy gameplay into a shorter form experience. The intent is to build a game system around familiar personal life experiences everyone can relate to, and over time reveal insights about the following core themes:

  • What is worth our limited life time?
  • What do we sacrifice to pursue the things we love?
  • The value of thinking long term vs short term; planning for a better future vs immediate personal achievement.
  • The value of putting down roots vs staying free to explore passions.
  • The impact of nature vs nurture. 

Mechanically, I will reveal these themes via the following systems:

  • A hero with a limited lifespan, and permanent death. Each turn choice should matter because the stakes are high.
  • An expanding, variety of valid goals to pursue (it should be an interesting puzzle for you to chart your life path amid static, dynamic, and hidden objectives).
  • Quick-play sessions leading to rapid generational iteration. I want to expose the long-term effects of player actions as soon as possible, so enabling players to play many generations is key.
  • World permanence and persistence leads to a connection between generations, and allows players to leave a lasting (positive or negative) impact on the game world.
  • Generational variety through mating, to expose different choices with each new child hero. It’s not one story; it’s an exploration of a concept.

Other Goals

  • Making classic strategy game mechanics accessible in quick play sessions. Give people a replayable short form version of 4X Strategy that they can chain into longer epic legacies on their schedule.
  • Keep everything beloved about Rogue-likes, but fix the pain of permadeath by allowing players to continue on as an heir with similar characteristics.
  • Play with procedural generation to make each game varied and personalized.


The influence list for the game is quite varied. A number of games were useful references for solving hard design problems:


  • Oasis (single screen exploration structure, elegant, quick-play strategy)
  • Civilization Revolution (4x made casual, on console)
  • Passage (limited lifespan, rapid character growth/aging)
  • The Legend of Zelda (adventure unlocking structure, non-linear exploration, item system)
  • Super Mario World (aesthetic, surprise, “little world”)
  • Spelunky (random generation, accessible rogue-like) 


  • Risk (combat simplicity, design)
  • Minesweeper (uncertain/dangerous grid-based exploration with “tells”)
  • Super Mario 3 (mini-game integration)
  • Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne (Varied Quests types – victory pts/fame design unify varied goals)
  • LOVE (Procedural generation, graphical evolution)
  • Braid (careful match of visual tone and mechanical communication)
Approaching these non-traditional concepts in a game was challenging at times, but it has resulted in a design that I think has slowly taken the shape I wanted, and will hopefully get closer to the ideal as we work to flesh out the game more.

For more background on my approach to Hero Generations, you can check out this article I wrote long ago on the subject for Truth in Game Design

Thanks for reading,


Scott Brodie, Scott Tykoski, and 6 more people like this update.


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    1. Scott Brodie Creator on

      I believe they actually released an iPad version of Oasis somewhat recently, you may want to check the app store.

    2. Missing avatar

      Leon Moor on

      I tried to find Oasis a few months ago but it isn't being sold any more :(

    3. Scott Brodie Creator on

      Thanks John. Yeah, there are a number of games that I've played where there was an investment made in procedural or branching content, but that I never had time to go back to and play a 2nd time (Skyrim, WoW, Fallout 3 come to mind). So far in the prototype it seems to work out nicely making the cycles quicker. It creates some nice motivation in the mid-term ("just one more generation").

    4. John Scott Tynes on

      This is great, Scott, thanks for sharing it.

      One thing I disliked about Fable was how the good/evil system could only be fully explored across multiple play-throughs. On a single run you could see the world reacting to you, but you couldn't see the alternative. I thought one possible solution would be for your reputation to be location based, so maybe in a wilderness you play the hero but in a gritty urban area people fear you. But what I really wanted was something like the TV show Fringe, where you could sort of flip between realities at major choice points and see your alternate selves in their world instances and understand you were making a choice for all of you.

      I think your short-generations model is great and that its combination with persistent world state is a really strong idea. And kudos for setting out to make a game rooted in emotional experiences rather than just game loops.