Building a Zen garden or Japanese rock garden requires focus, a sense of harmony, and good fortune. It is a meditative practice, and like all such practices the most important thing is: can you get the highest score?

Get Your Rocks Out is a digital roll-and-write game (think Yahtzee). The aim is to make the highest scoring rock garden that you can, using that day's selection of rocks and other items.

[In beta -- let me know if you hit problems]

*** Special thanks to for great ideas and general feedback ***

How to Play

Each turn you will be presented with two items for your garden. You must place at least one of them to continue, but you may place both if you wish.

Click on an item to select it. Click again to place it.

Not all squares in your garden will be available every turn. Those that are not available will be shown with a cross.

Each item has rules about how it should be placed in order to score well. Invalidly placed items will reduce the score. (Space, RMB or the eye icon will show a useful view of which squares are safest).

There is also an optional style suggestion which offers a bonus for certain placements -- e.g. rocks in the north of the map, or leaving a row or column empty. Hover over the compass for more info.

Once you are happy with the placement, press the green button to proceed to the next turn. You will not be able to amend the items after this point.

The small gauge between the items shows how many remain. When you're down to the final item, the pressing the button will score the game -- you don't need to place the very last item if you don't want to.

Why not post a screenshot online with the hashtag #RocksOutGame?. Not only would that be a fun way to compete with your friends, it would validate my choice not to code leaderboards of any kind in what is, essentially, a score-based game.

Items and Placement

Big and Medium Rocks

To be valid, these rocks must be placed in accordance with the following rules:

  • They must not be adjacent to other rocks; for a big rock this means within 2 squares, for a medium sized rock, 1 square.
  • There must not be any other rocks in the same row or column. Note that shrubbery or lanterns negate this alignment, so rock--shrub--rock is fine (as long as the rock has enough space around it).

Low Rocks

These function similarly to Medium rocks, except that you only need to worry about one axis re alignment with other rocks. (Horizontal for left/right rocks, vertical for up/down rocks).

Small Rocks

To be valid, these need to be placed with no other rocks in a 1 square radius. Extra points can be scored by positioning other items at the "knight's move" positions -- see the green squares.


To be valid these need to be placed with no medium or large rocks in any of the squares at the immediate north, south, east or west.

Extra points will be scored by aligning with other lanterns, horizontally or vertically -- the further apart, the better. This alignment is blocked by big or medium rocks (but not low or small)


This can be placed anywhere, but extra points will be scored if placed next to existing shrubbery.


Water must have no rocks in the immediate vicinity. If valid, water scores between 1 and 3 points, based on how close to the centre of the map the water is. 

Mystery/Gift Crate

The contents of these mystery crates will only be revealed when the turn ends. The Mystery Rock crate will always yeild a rock of some sort (so place accordingly). The Gift crate will be Shrubbery, Lanterns, or maybe a kitty.

(Gameplay note: the crate's content is not completely random; placed in the same position on the same map it will give the same outcome).

Other considerations

  • The Border -- while rocks and lanterns placed on the outer edge can be valid, you will lose some points for them (shrubbery is fine). Conversely, there is a bonus for keeping the border clear.
  • Faultless Bonus -- if all items are placed in valid positions, you will earn an extra bonus.
  • Style Bonus -- points are awarded for placements that meet the maps style prompt. There is no penalty for not meeting the style.
Rated 4.7 out of 5 stars
(20 total ratings)
Made withGameMaker
Tags2D, Pixel Art, rocks, roll-and-write, zen-garden
Average sessionA few minutes


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I went freestyle and my fountain grew bigger with low rocks. Am I garden wizard ?

Possibly! (There's a magical fountain that turns up very rarely.)

This is a really neat game! I've been playing it a whole bunch - it's chill and nice.

I did find one bug today: in this game and one earlier game, I had a big rock on the last turn that I tried to place and removed because there was no good position ... and the game scored it as a 10-point rock anyway.

Thanks again for putting it together - it's been really neat, and I've liked a lot of the gardens I've made.

Glad you're liking the game. Thanks for pointing out that bug, I'll see if I can fix it.

(1 edit)


Additional information if it helps: the bug also happens for medium rocks and low rocks. I don't know if maybe the rock is recorded internally as being present but offscreen instead of being absent? It might be worth checking every item type and seeing if it gives its corresponding nothing-nearby-for-bonuses points; I've not been double-checking small-rock points and I don't think I've had a leftover lantern or shrubbery in the time since I noticed the bug.

Edit: Was able to confirm today (2020-09-27) that unplayed small rocks count for 1 point, which tracks.


I have finally had a chance to fix this bug (let me know if you find otherwise.)
Yeah, all the rocks use the same scoring mechanism, and initially I was a bit confused, because I definitely had logic at the top of the procedure to set the rock's score to zero if it wasn't on the board.
I spent a while thinking that somehow how it detected 'on the board' wasn't working. Finally, I realised that while I was setting the score to zero for these rocks, I wasn't actually stopping it from carrying on through the rest of the scoring routine anyway!

I regret to say I might be back with another bug - undesirable behavior, anyhow. This is a ... I wanna say "Journey to the North" seed? These have a Style bonus equal to the number of squares of path left clear.

As you can see, it placed the path on the narrow section in the middle for 10 points when the left edge is clear for 12. Aesthetically, I have nothing but approval for this - it looks way better than a path on the edge would - but my impression was that the game would pick the best-scoring path when multiple were available. It feels like something that merits communicating if that is not so.

Again, thank you for the game. I've got thirty-three end screens of games saved to my hard drive because they're just pretty.

The path mechanics are set up to choose the valid path closest to the center of the garden (or arbitarily, if 2 are equidistant) so that behavour is intentional, BUT (a) there's no way for you to know that which makes it impossible to optimise for, (b) it probably is more reasonable to expect it to score the longest path.

I'm a bit torn, because I think central is more likely to look pretty, and I've tried to build rules where pretty gardens score well (this hasn't been completely successful, but it is the intent). I'll have a think about it.

Thanks for pointing this out. And for playing; glad you're enjoying it.

My first thought is to indicate that in some way in the UI? Like, in the explanation of the style rule. Not sure how to elegantly, though.

(2 edits)

I think I may have found another bug? It looks like the magical bamboo isn't registering as an object when other objects are doing calculations during the scoring phase.

Thanks again for all your work!


nice game, very relaxing, i really like the theme. <3<3<3


oh man I've been playing this game for like two days straight now I love it so much! what are your future plans for the game? I'd love to have more structured levels to go through. the randomly generated ones are fun but it does mean the difficulty can be super variable. 

Thanks! I'm glad you're enjoying it. I have got some plans for new items, and scoring possibilities.

I'm afraid that hand built levels are not very likely at the moment, though I do want to try and tweak the randomness to hit the sweet spot more often (it's not easy though). I suppose I could curate seeds that are particularly nicely balanced, though to be honest, I quite like the fact that one day it might be quite easy, the next you've got to make the best of a bad job. We'll see!


That sounds cool! I'm looking forward to whatever you end up doing :D


a fun puzzle game!

cool! :)

Hey, at some point last night I broke the location/placement code. It's fixed now.