free your darlings

This is a screen shot from a demo I made a few years ago. I'm not a designer. I just threw some clip art toget...

This is a screen shot from a demo I made a few years ago. I'm not a designer. I just threw some clip art together and used it to pitch the game to a game developer friend of mine. He thinks it could fly. :) The zeppelin has picked up a cow and some bananas. The bananas will be used for luring the monkey out of the trees so that it can be picked up on the next revolution.

Published: 2022-11-06

Hindenburg Zoo

Flappy bird meets puzzle game

Synopsis: You are the pilot of a zeppelin and your mission is to fly around the world and collect animals for the Hindenburg Zoo. You have to avoid crashing into objects and maneuver the zeppelin in position to pick up objects and animals. Flying close to smaller objects on the ground will pick them up in the zeppelin. Flying close to larger structures will crash the zeppelin. User can drop the picked up objects from the zeppelin at any time. The zeppelin cruises at the same level all the time as long as the user does not interact. The user can make the zeppelin dive but it will ascend back to cruising altitude again when the diving is canceled. The zeppelin can travel as many revolutions around the world as it takes to complete the assignment.

Sometimes it takes ingenuity to collect the animals. That is the puzzle part. A simple task would be just pick up and move objects that are blocking the animals you are after. In my demo I use an example where you have to pick up a bunch of bananas and drop them close to the trees where the monkey is hiding. This will lure the monkey out and you can pick him up on the next revolution. Puzzels will get increasingly hard to solve with each level. Sometimes there can be multiple solutions to the same task. Just make sure that the approach does not mess up some other part of the assignment.

The objects in the world react to the surroundings when you drop them. The tiger for example, it will eat other animals close by. This can be useful if you want to lure it into position by placing a cow nearby, but it can be a bad thing if the tiger gets too close to other animals that you need to collect. It is for the player to figure use how to move objects and animals around in order to complete the mission. Moving things around can also start a chain reaction. Objects that are available one revolution might be gone the next as a reaction to something the player has started. A dropped boulder could stop the water flowing in the river, causing vegetation dry up and die, and therefore zebras get hungry and have to move to another area. Or placing a beaver next to a tree will make it cut the tree. The tree becomes a bridge for animals to cross a river. A good game designer have to rig each world so that is interesting and full of variation.

For each completed mission there will be upgrades available for your zeppelin making it able to carry heavier objects, dive faster etc. Each completed level also results in new requests from the zoo as well as a new worlds in which to collect the animals. Since almost anything can be picked up there is room for a lot of side stories in this game. Even if they are not really relevant for your mission they might be amusing and could teach you something for upcoming levels.

See the link below for a "playable" demo. It is lacking animations and proper design. I just threw some clip art together. I created this many years ago and was not intended to be published so never mind reviewing the code.

The demo is in English, requires a keyboard and a screen resolution of at least 1500 x 950 pixels.

Project plan

The basics of the game with a zeppelin diving and picking stuff up should be fairly simple programming. But there will be a lot of work for game designers and animators as all the animals can interact with all other animals and objects.

5% Done
  • Present the concept (this article)
  • Playable demo
  • Put together team of developers, illustrators, project leader, level designers, sound designers och animators etc
  • Create game engine
  • Character design and animaitons
  • Game design, levels and side stories
  • Sound & music
  • Test and iterate
  • Release the game


  • Game engine $16 000
  • Characters and animations $80 000
  • Game design $50 000
  • Sounds & music $6 000
  • Release the game $2 000
  • Total $154 000