Global Game Jam 2013


A string of doomed travelers attempt to cross the desert wasteland. Only through self-sacrifice can even a single traveler survive. Die of thirst and accomplish nothing. Collapse from exhaustion however, and leave your precious water reserves for the next traveler. Will anyone survive?

How to play

Alternate Z and / keys to run a traveler across the desert. Water is consumed at a steady rate. When the travelers are hot (in the sun), extra water will be consumed by perspiration until their body temperatures can lower in the shade. A traveler will die if all the water is consumed (blue bar on right) or upon collapsing from exhaustion (heartrate too high). In the case of the latter, any remaining water will stay with the corpse. Upon replaying the game with a new traveler, the water can be consumed by stopping by the corpse. You may choose to sacrifice the traveler through over-exertion and leave the water for future travelers to get further until one can survive.

Conception and Theme

We evolved our concept by layering on aspects of meaning to the idea of a beating heart.

First was the idea of a person having heart as an aspect of persistence, never giving up despite the suffering of their body. Often, the beating heart is shown as the last indication of life in even the most grievously ill person.

Second was the idea of the heart beat as a nascent expression of exertion. The harder you body works, and the weaker it gets, the more your heart struggles to beat. Both physical and emotional stress will increase the heartbeat.

Third was the idea of sacrifice. One who has a lot of heart has the capacity to give of oneself for the greater good. In this case, travelers can chose to over exert themselves enough so that they expire leaving a lot of water in their remains. In this way, they make it easier for others to make the journey.

Finally, a heart is intrinsically married to the concept of life. Especially in games, where its use as symbol for health is so ubiquitous as to belie any need for explanation. Since our traveler passes through a hot desert terrain, water, an essential elixir of life, must be balanced with its use as a source of energy for the player. By reminding players of the need for something many of us take for granted, we are underscoring the plight of over 780 million people all over the world who lack access to clean water.


Programming and Design - Rick Felice

Programming - Ryan Giglio, Corey Jeffers

Design, Writing, Audio, Additional Art - Heather Arbiter

Character Art - Chris Crawford

Alternative Controllers

Thirst was demonstrated using JoyToKey to map the buttons on a dance mat to the key strokes. Any tool that will map the buttons from another control to the Z and / keys should allow you to play with the controller of your choice.

JoyToKey website: