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Transcend 0.3 shot small.png
Level 1, in windowed mode.
(more screenshots)
GenresArcade/shooter, music
Latest release0.3  (Announcement)
Release dateAugust 30th, 2006
DeveloperJason Rohrer
Code licensesGPL, public domain
Media licenseGPL
P. languagesC++, Dia
LibrariesGLUT PortAudio, X
Transcend is a free game. This means that the source code is available to be studied, modified, and distributed. Most projects look for help with testing, documentation, graphics, etc., as well.

Transcend is an abstract 2D shooter game created by Jason Rohrer. The game's source is licensed mostly under the GPL, but with some public domain code as well.[1] The latest version is 0.3 released on August 30, 2005.[2] Rohrer was motivated to create the game out of frustration with the game industry's lack of creativity.

Its dynamic graphical engine can smoothly morph from one complex shape to another.


The player controls the player’s glyph, which is connected to the center of a grid, which marks the plane. The glyph can travel anywhere on the grid, taking Elements from the border of the grid, and bringing them into a collage in the center of it.

The enemies in the game are called anti-glyphs — a major one and several minor ones.

Since the player’s glyph’s shots become strong enough to destroy the minor anti-glyphs if any collage exists, and the major anti-glyph, if the collage is big enough, the anti-glyphs will try to stop the player from making a collage.

By hitting the player’s glyph, an anti-glyph’s projectile makes it drop any Element it is carrying and moves the player’s glyph to the center of the grid; when hitting an Element, it moves the element away from the center, thus potentially breaking the collage.


A red, yellow and blue line — the music cursor — appears on one side of the collage and moves to the other side repeatedly throughout its existance, producing musical sounds defined by the Elements in the collage, and their position. When traversing an Element in the collage with its red part, the sound made is more on the right side, blue on the left, and yellow in the center.


The closer to the center of the plane the elements are gathered, and the more symmetrical the collage is, the stronger the player glyph’s projectiles are.

Major anti-glyph and levels[edit]

The minor anti-glyphs can be destroyed by a single projectile with any collage of one or more Element, but the major one needs more power.

When the major anti-glyph is destroyed, a Portal opens in its place, and the minor anti-glyphs die, thus allowing the user to experiment with the Elements and Music cursor, and eventually leave the level through the portal for the next one.

The levels differ in look and qualities of anti-glyphs.

Version history[edit]

Version Date
0.1.2[3] 2004-09-25
0.2-IGF-2[3] 2004-10-15
0.3[3] 2005-09-01


Move forward
Move backwards
Turn left
Turn right
S Strafe left
D Pick-up or drop an Element
F Strafe right
[space] Fire

System requirements[edit]

Minimum to run
  • Keyboard
  • X11
  • OpenGL libraries
Minimum to play as intended
  • Stereo headphones or speakers
  • OpenGL acceleration
  • 400 MHz or faster processor


Transcend got 4 out of 5 stars based on an average of 8 ratings on[4]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]