Climate Jam 2021

Jason Martinez

This year’s Climate Jam, hosted by IndieCade, encouraged game creators from around the world to make games that explore solutions to address a rapidly changing planet.

One of the great submissions we’d like to feature is called Energy Keeper, a platform game that lets players maneuver a scavenger robot named Ralph to collect resources and build windmills. Wind power is one of the fastest-growing renewable energy technologies. With the falling costs, mature technology, and an extensive global supply chain, many countries have installed wind-generation capacity onshore and offshore in the past two decades. 

Ralph cares a lot about the earth, much more than many humans. In order to build windmills, he’ll have to gather resources while avoiding enemies and traps along the way. As the player, your objective is to build 5 windmills to bring power to a city.

Building a windmill requires players to collect four types of elements in the game; each one of those elements has a different effect. For example, one improves solar energy and another improves energy gained from fireflies. Players will need at least one of each element to build a windmill. These elements can be placed anywhere in the game, from up in the sky to down under the ground. 

Energy Keeper is developed in 2D graphics and its setting changes with players’ actions. The interface is also well-designed in detail. For example, when players go underground, or when the night arrives, Ralph’s left eye lights up, serving as a flashlight to help lighten his way. The game also uses adaptive music to interact with players. For example, a ding sound is incorporated into the collection of one element, while other elements also have their own sound effects when being collected. The music also changes as the night falls, in which players can hear raven caws and dog barks, adding more intensity to the gameplay. 

Energy Keeper was designed and developed by Nielisson, Taylor Rumsey, and Itay Amram. It is made for the Windows platform only and can be downloaded here.

Another beautifully implemented game that caught our attention was Off-Grid Solar Cabin Simulator. The game, as the title suggests, is a resource management simulation and interactive diorama where players have to live “off the grid” in a solar cabin. Players can power the cabin using solar panels that they purchase. While in the desert, players must balance their energy usage with their quality of life. This is achieved by powering on and off several appliances, such as a fridge and a PC. By powering on the PC, players can build their own off-grid solar simulation within the game — a cool concept! 

While players are managing their supply of solar panels and batteries, unexpected events may take place! Storms can blow panels away unexpectedly, or cloudy days may decrease the amount of solar energy available. What is consistent, though, is a monthly allowance of Federal Energy Credits to spend towards buying renewable energy components. Players can gain more currency by selling batteries and solar panels, but they must do so wisely! 

The game was inspired by one of the creator’s own real life experiences designing an actual off-grid solar energy system in the desert. Peter Nichols, who worked on the game’s design, art programming, and sound, used his own observations and electrical engineering knowledge to make the simulation. By playing this game, audiences can learn about real life concepts, such as photovoltaic energy, which serves as a clean, renewable source of energy using solar radiation. 

See if you have what it takes to survive in an off-grid solar cabin! Play Off-Grid Solar Cabin Simulator here.

We enjoyed seeing all the fun and impactful games produced at this year’s Climate Jam! Check out the other fantastic projects from this year’s event here.