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Author Topic: Puzzle Games  (Read 17387 times)
fog
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« on: December 17, 2007, 08:28:48 PM »

I'm currently working on several different puzzle game demos so I thought I'd get a few opinions on what makes a good un. Smiley

Most of the popular ones have very simple rules and are, in truth, incredibly repetitive.....but writing something simple and repetitive doesn't always make for a good puzzle game so what extra ingredient makes some games special?

Also some form of simple skill always appeals to me such as the block positioning in Tetris or the bubble aiming in Puzzle Bobble (Bust-a-Move)  Very simple skills to master but they do give an added sense of satisfaction when you make a good move that you can't get from games like Bejeweled.

Anything else gameplay, graphic or audio that make for a good game and what sorts of puzzlers do people like and dislike?
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Ptolemy
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« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2007, 11:53:33 AM »

I'm a big fan of puzzle games where instead of having a points based progression through the levels, the game and indeed the levels in it have an element of stubbornness to them.  The main example I can think of is boxworld. A sokoban style game from the mid 90's. Most points based puzzle games get old quickly because you have to go through the first levels again which are fairly mundane and are still somewhat time dependent, like in tetris.  I think there is a lot of value in puzzle games where you enter at the level you got to last time and some such levels may take a month or two of having a crack every now and again, or you may just have to sit down and go through the option methodically in order to solve the problem. Another example of a game where this was the case is lemmings.  Sometimes it takes some time away to come back with fresh legs. (I know lemmings still had an element of time restriction in it but it was internally within the level rather than having the levels run into one another as you progress as far as you can.)

I agree that in puzzle games simplicity is key, especially when it comes to the later levels of a puzzle game.  The key in my opinion is to use the simple rules/concepts to manipulate the simple design into difficult situations/problems to solve.  It should be clear in by the second level if not the first, what the limitations of your control within the game are you should never struggle to solve level 10 for example, only to finally work it out and find yourself saying... Oh I didn't realise I could even do that.

And that's my 2 cents.
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perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim
-Be patient and tough; some day this pain will be useful to you.

A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears.

As material fortune is associated with the properties of the body, so honor belongs to the soul
- Ptolemy
donny
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« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2007, 03:36:46 PM »

hmm...
my kuroba (oh man, i got to get back at making that) was based on chess
so i think you could use a single element from something bigger...
u should try to look at boardgames for 8-year old kids

the graphics should be interresting enough to keep lookling at, or you could use another "skin" for each level.
but in games like duotris you'll have to make sure the colors are easily recognised (actually that was a problem for me in duotris:D)

sounds should be... fluffy...
and vary even whit in the same cause of the sound (yet not to hard) especially for events that occur often
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fog
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« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2007, 05:25:08 PM »

Thanks for the comments Smiley

I'm a big fan of puzzle games where instead of having a points based progression through the levels, the game and indeed the levels in it have an element of stubbornness to them.  The main example I can think of is boxworld. A sokoban style game from the mid 90's. Most points based puzzle games get old quickly because you have to go through the first levels again which are fairly mundane and are still somewhat time dependent, like in tetris.  I think there is a lot of value in puzzle games where you enter at the level you got to last time and some such levels may take a month or two of having a crack every now and again, or you may just have to sit down and go through the option methodically in order to solve the problem. Another example of a game where this was the case is lemmings.  Sometimes it takes some time away to come back with fresh legs. (I know lemmings still had an element of time restriction in it but it was internally within the level rather than having the levels run into one another as you progress as far as you can.)
What I'm trying to do where possible is have a couple of different game modes.  All modes use the same gameplay rules, controls etc but the aim is slightly different.  For example in "Arcade Mode" you might play in a single level where it just gets faster and faster but in "Puzzle Mode" you might have as much time as you want to clear certain blocks from a pre-designed level layout to progress to the next level.  That way, hopefully, people will find a game mode that suits them whatever their tastes (unless they hate puzzle games altogether Smiley )


but in games like duotris you'll have to make sure the colors are easily recognised (actually that was a problem for me in duotris:D)
Yeah I though colour recognition might be a problem for some people in Duotris.....that's why you can change them in the external file Wink
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donny
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« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2007, 08:22:04 PM »

maybe you chould have mentionned that:p
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fog
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« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2007, 07:55:33 PM »

maybe you chould have mentionned that:p
I just did. Smiley  but yeah, I thought I had mentioned it in the instructions but apparently not.....although nobody that I can remember has ever complained about problems before.
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Banzai
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« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2007, 07:59:23 AM »

I personally like puzzle games where you can choose what difficulty you want right when you're going in.
I'm also not a big fan of timed games, or games where you race against the clock, especially in word games because
I get more satisfaction taking the extra time needed to find a particularly complex word or sequence that you wouldn't
otherwise be able to spare the time to find in a timed game. It also makes it nice so you can set it down and come back
to it if want to (work being one of the main places I play puzzle games, this is a requirement).

I enjoy a number of puzzle games, but probably my all time favorite is picross. The version that I play I particularly like
because you choose how big of a grid you play on (larger = harder), and it randomly generates the field of dots.
This way you have an infinite number of puzzles so you never run out (which I believe is necessary to achieve any longevity
out of any puzzle game) and so that you can't 'guess' at dots just because you think you've already figured out what the
picture is (most picross games have you solving for a picture). I like it because it's the same kind of process used in Sudoku
but you don't have to keep track of nearly as many possible states (just on or off instead of 1-9) making it cleaner and less
frustrating. The version I play is found on Puzzlemaniak. A homebrew collection for the DS. I also play some of the other games
found on there occasionally, mainly Galaxies, LightUp, and Minesweeper.
 http://www.puzzlemaniak.com/blog/
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fog
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2007, 05:43:27 PM »

Interesting point you make about difficulty.  Some people like slow paced games where you can take as long as you like over each move and others prefer a faster paced game.  I could add a difficulty slider so people can adjust how quickly a game plays to their own preferences but that leads to a few problems notably with balancing the other elements of the game that contribute to the difficulty.

As I said earlier, my current solution is to have several totally separate game modes, each playing at a different speed and having different challenges.  We'll have to see how successful that is Smiley


I also play some of the other games
found on there occasionally, mainly Galaxies, LightUp, and Minesweeper.
 http://www.puzzlemaniak.com/blog/
Nice.  I'll have to stick that on my DS.

Can't say I've ever got hooked on Picross but I do play a lot of Slitherlink on the DS (still the best game on the system IMO) There's a nice online version here:
http://vgreality.com/alphaex/flashloader.php?f=flash/slither_demo_v13c.swf&w=430&h=510&n=Slither%20Link
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JDog053
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« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2007, 11:22:30 AM »

As a big puzzle games fan and one of the leading players on the XBLArcade puzzle scene with having #1's in Hexic 1 and Hexic 2 I can certainly tell you what good puzzle games need.

Scoring, the scoring has to be consistent and yt must allow for more advanced players to take the biscuit when it comes to finding a scoring method that works. Ways a scoring method can be good for example...Combining many of the same coloured pieces to remove them and gain points based on how many you removed over the base amount. Multplier pieces when combined in a single larger cluster will have a greater score then say a cluster of non multiplier pieces. Bonus pieces can allow people to accelerate their score if they remove those within a large cluster of normal pieces by say having a multiplied score added to their base score and in a multiplier cluster more points could be created and given. If you could do a Double-Kill, Triple-Kill, Over-kill, Killtacular, Killtrocity, Kilamanjaro, Killtastic, Killpocalypse, Killionaire style system for removing bonus pieces so people can hear it as it happens, would be cool, you could do your own versions or something.

Goals, Set clear goals for the player by limiting them to numbers of colours they must remove to progress to the next level or a scoring limit for them to progress to the next level. A big cluster of say Golden tilepieces if they are removed to continue to the next level or gain points ending your game. Like the Halo 3 ranking systems people could gain medals, I.E Zoots depending on how many points they get in a single cluster and how many overall and how many in their lifetime.

Rivalries, Create puzzle pieces which aren't friendly ones that say if next to a large cluster that is getting removed detonates causing one last reaction clearing the board giving you the points on the board but ending your game (say a Black Pearl cluster in Hexic but more potent) They aso have a higher detonation cost aswell so the reward for detonating is higher then other pieces. Good players would save these pieces up and have them accellerate a chain in value for massive points (I just need to make this game if you don't sounds cool). Camelion pieces, pieces that change colour depending on which colour they are next to would be bad because if you click ona camelion piece it ends your game with no points advantages, Camelions could disappear after a while and have a move counter on its tile to show how many are remaining, multiple Camelions could be in a single board at once.

Effects, If people do impressive things in game reward them with kck-ass effects as a reward based upon their efforts with a sound of equal magnitude to boot.

Thats just my two cents =D
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fog
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« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2007, 12:50:58 PM »

Thats just my two cents =D
Two cents?  There are enough thoughts in there for a dozen games Smiley

The scoring system is what I'm trying to work on now but, as I never play puzzle games myself for highscore kicks, it might need a bit of tweaking during testing.  I know I definitely need to add a mechanism for achieving a bonus multiplier of some kind.

Love your "kill" ranking system Smiley
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JDog053
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« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2007, 03:23:07 PM »

Thats just my two cents =D

Love your "kill" ranking system Smiley

Oh you do ? Thanks =)
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fog
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« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2008, 11:09:51 PM »

This is quite a general question but how do people like their puzzle game graphics?  Actually that is a bit too general so to be more specific.....how do people like their puzzle game FX?  Do they like them subtle so they don't distract from the puzzling or do they like them to be a little bolder, creating a more immersive experience?

I'll obviously include an option to switch the FX off but it's going to be difficult to include any other options due to the nature of the FX.  It'll either be "on" or "off" so for the "on" option I need to get the balance just right Smiley

Heh. I'm not entirely sure that I should be writing puzzle games given the way I like the games to look.  I'd say masses of spinning neon coloured shapes with motion blur and screen shaking isn't what your typical puzzle gamer is used to or really wants.  Tongue
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donny
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« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2008, 12:28:36 AM »

i'd do it like what you did with DUOtris: when there's actually nothing happening, the blocks are just falling, only atmospheric FX is used (motionblur etc); but when the player has ashieved something, or messed up, you'd use massive FX (wobbely screen etc)
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T_M_C
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« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2008, 04:39:33 AM »

I'ts a bit tricky to really give an answer one way or another until i se your game in action, but as a general rule, i think i would go for the More Fx option. 

I'm usualy a short term puzzle game player, in which case flashy fx adds to the game experience.  If i were a long term player i suspect it could get a little annoying, depending of course on how well it's done.

But if you look at the variety of casual games available now, you'll see that the graphics and fx for recent games has risen to quite a high standard.  So, if your planing on a comercial release i would suggest high quality presention and fx is essential.

TMC
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JDog053
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« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2008, 10:19:43 AM »

The atndard in-game effects should be pretty drole for example matching 3 of the same colours where people are heralded with say a simple explosion as teh pieces are removed, but that should increase exponentioally in size depending entirely on how many pieces are removed. if pieces get locked to teh board show an animation of pieces getting locked to the board or if its a chain reaction then have the chain get faster as it approaches the end and more explosion effects as it happens. If its a game over then have the screen do a crazy effect where say all of teh pieces are struck by lightening and burn up or something of that ilk !

Pretty much make the game/game demo what you want since its yours. Present it how you want it to be presented making sure that you yourself are happy with it ! Thats all that matters, then of course whether the other people like it is upto them. ATM none of your games dissapoint which is good ! 
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