Fossil Sweeper - minesweeper meets palaeontology (was Bonesweeper)

Hi hi! My name’s Cheese, and I’m currently making a Minesweeper-inspired puzzle game called Fossil Sweeper, where instead of being about boring stuff like unexploded ordinances, it’s about finding the most exciting buried treasure, DINOSAURS!

I stream weekly on Twitch for “Fossil Friday” and also release monthly dev log videos. Here’s the most recent one (which is a bit bigger than usual, sumarising the 2nd year of development):

At the time of writing, I’ve been working on this larger version of the project for about 2 years, following releasing a little prototype that explored the basic premise.

My current short pitch is “Like Minesweeper, but you’re digging up fossils, and you get to build skeletons out of the stuff you find,” and structurally, the project is a Minesweeper-style game wrapped in layers of metaprogression, each with their own distinct gameplay:

  • Dig phase yields fossil chunks and possible misc fossils
  • Assembly phase lets you build fossil chunks into skeletons and reveals misc fossil contents
  • Museum phase lets you showcase your skeletons and misc fossils
  • Research phase lets you “spend” spare fossils on additional museum rooms, customisation options, abilities, etc.

All of these game loops are present in the game, and I’m currently focused on fleshing out the museum phase to a point where I feel comfortable moving from my quick-and-dirty first pass to a more-thought-out final implementation.

I’m making Fossil Sweeper with the support of a small recoupable grant from Screen Tasmania, a local State funding body mostly focused on film, but expanding into supporting game development. To help demistify the process and share what I’ve learned, I did a three part stream where I talked about my grant application, going over my pitch doc, preliminary budget, and navigating the feedback process.

Last, but not least, I’m not making Fossil Sweeper on my own - I’m working with composer Peter Silk (who collaborated with me on some of my previous Godot games, Hive Time, Bat Egg, and Supply Chain), and sound designer Jasmine Serrano (who is also working with me on In The Snowy Winter’s Wake).

I’m looking forward to sharing more with the community as I progress!

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Since doing the dev log in the first post, I’ve taken a little break from museum stuff to lay some groundwork on some bits and pieces that help increase the amount of variation in the game.

I’ve re-implemented skeleton size variation (weighted for adults, but also allowing for less-common itty-bitty-saurs). This was present in my first pass on the Assembly phase, but I’d temporarily taken it out while integrating it with the rest of the game. The skeletons and poses here are still placeholder, of course :slight_smile:

I’ve also finally gotten around to implementing non-square dig sites, which a) help make digs feel a bit less “samey,” and b) give a point of difference from traditional Minesweeper that’s less subtle and easier to convey than stuff like the excavation mechanic, limited-use special abilities, mistakes not giving an immediate game over, etc…

Organic-shaped Dig sites don’t have as big an impact on the feel of playing as those other things, but for prospective players who haven’t yet gotten interested enough to invest time in thinking through the gameplay implications, this will hopefully act as a superficial hook and increase the chances of a “Oh, maybe it is different from Minesweeper” type thought.

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Little later than I aim for, but I’ve got another dev log video up!

This one goes into detail on how I’m generating non-square dig sites, which as I mentioned earlier adds some really valuable variation to the game (it was fun to put this visualisation thing in the game for testers to poke around with if they want).