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David Newton

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Another game to waste your time! [Feb. 1st, 2010|11:35 am]
David Newton
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Last night, I posted a test of a puzzle game I was writing on to the Feedback forums at TIGSource to ask opinions about the difficulty level. I wasn't going to put it here quite yet because it wasn't actually finished, but as it seems to have been plastered all over Indiegames' feeds as of this morning I'd feel a bit silly not announcing it myself.

Boxplode, then, is a Flash puzzle game I'm writing where you have to clear the boxes from the screen by clicking to start chains of explosions. In this prototype version there are nine levels, including three tutorials.

Test-type version for the game currently known as "Boxplode"

The original request for commentary still stands! Is this laughably easy or totally impossible to work out? Too many alternative solutions or not enough? I don't know, but there's a little winners list as an incentive to persevere to the end (you need Javascript on for it to recognize your entry).

Thanks for any opinions, thoughts on how much sense the tutorial makes, reports of how many restarts you found yourself having to make, and so on. A known issue just now is that the actual explosion sounds might lag for anything from a quarter-second to a week.

Ironic that this happens to a game I wrote in two days rather than three years.

[User Picture]From: kibet
2010-02-01 07:20 pm (UTC)
I never read the tutorial other than a cursory glance. I found not noticing the pillars until the unhelped game and had to work it out for myself. I noticed it later in the tutorial after I hit F5 instead of R.
I found the difficulty average and set at the right level for the beginning level-medium of flash games. Considering the other flash games I have played have around 30 levels then it set well for that.
The hardest levels were the four moves with four boards and the watch your step nuclear one.
Nuclear one and the four moves one, I would say about 15 restarts, 5 restarts for the rest I think. The double layer one was a nice easy one to bring in the concept and if you put in some nuclear reactions it would have been more difficult for future levels. Another idea would be that since the moves are only blocked when they have a block on top, partial removal of the top layer to work on two levels at once would make future levels more difficult (if that makes sense).

All in all the sort of procrastination game that I like, so good job and look forward to higher levels if you decide to take it further.
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[User Picture]From: davidn
2010-02-01 07:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks for all of that :) This was never meant to even be considered an actual game until yesterday, just a test of the mechanics! But I'm definitely going to have to reorder and add to the levels now...

I've heard from others that "Watch your step!" stands out as the first properly difficult one - it actually came from a simpler level that I'd made impossible accidentally, until Whitney noticed that she could do it if she had two more moves. And so they were added.

Did you manage to do the two-layered level by removing the entire top layer before touching the lower one? I hadn't thought that was possible, either.
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[User Picture]From: kibet
2010-02-02 08:39 am (UTC)
I have went back and redid the dual layer one so I can give coordinates on the completion steps.
1. on the 9 block - Row 1 column 2 clicking north on the '2' Block
2. On 9 block - Row 2 Column 3 Clicking north/south on the '2' block.
3. On the upper level 5 block - Row 1 column 1 Click east on the '1' block
Lower Level
4. Row 4 column 4 - Click east on the '2' block
5. On the 4 block - Row 1 Column 1 Click North on the '2' block
6. On the 6 Block - Row 1 Column 1 Click east/North on the '1' Block

On the comment you made below, it is difficult to gauge the difficulty level as you know the answer. Luckily it is small games as people are willing to try them out.
Also having limited moves is also good as it does limit the solutions. I don't think i have managed to do them under the clicks so even if there are alternate paths, unless someone mentions one then it appears that there are no easier solutions.
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[User Picture]From: davidn
2010-02-02 05:39 pm (UTC)
Ah, so you can do it that way... thanks for going back and checking that :) I have to wonder if the rules I've set for the game so far inherently lend themselves to there being multiple solutions and the order in which you click not mattering (the bomb blocks, round ones and top layer were added on in that order later after I'd made the basic layout for the game).

It's interesting that even though there have been alternative solutions so far, nobody that I know of has managed to complete a level in fewer clicks than I thought you needed. I'm sure that like everything I release, someone will become better at it than I am eventually :)
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[User Picture]From: kibet
2010-02-02 06:23 pm (UTC)
I suppose it depends on what you class as multiple solutions. For example, is the starter block the one solution or the 1 direction on the starter block the one solution? Example being the '3' block on the 1 click game, you have to start it on the '3' but it is not direction dependant.
If it is block specific then you can always make them a metal block so can't be used. Shame the game tests don't write back what moves the person used.
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[User Picture]From: davidn
2010-02-02 06:25 pm (UTC)
Yes, I do seem to have had a lapse in my usual spying instincts! I don't even record how many restarts were made (though I probably would have spent rather more time on this if I had known that the game would have had a release beyond about three people as I'd intended on Sunday). Perhaps I'll sneak that in in future tests.
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[User Picture]From: kibet
2010-02-02 06:40 pm (UTC)
A restart counter would be really good as I would aim to do less restarts that way, rather than just giving it a try.
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[User Picture]From: lupineangel
2010-02-01 08:58 pm (UTC)
Cool game! I had a few problems with the Watch Your Step level until I figured out that, to 'turn away' from a booby-trapped option at a T-junction, the chain had to be coming from the 'vertical' branch of the 'T', rather than the 'horizontal' - that is, the options had to be for it to turn left or right, not straight-on or to the side. I ended up accidentally nuking myself a few times before I eventually figured out the distinction. Still, it's a good game - it's a nice simple premise, but it's easy to pick up the idea of what's going on and what to do, and the double-layered one was a nice touch for a finale. I did wonder whether the idea with that one was to take out the whole upper layer first, but when I noticed it was possible to take it out by halves I just did it that way and never went back to see if you could do it the other way.

The difficulty is probably about medium for a Flash game - it didn't walk you through, in the manner of most easy settings (or hell, the whole of Portal), but with the exception of Watch Your Step (which became solvable once I figured out the trick to it above) it didn't keep you stuck for more than 5 minutes or so per level. Nice work! :)

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[User Picture]From: davidn
2010-02-01 09:07 pm (UTC)
I'll probably rewrite the whole tutorial when I carry on with it (I instantly regretted the Windowsy look!) and make it a bit clearer - probably make rounded blocks a different tutorial from the bombs, too, to demonstrate the concept before it gets too involved. The bomb tutorial was originally the "Watch Your Step" level but it was far too hard for an introduction! And on its replacement I got rather carried away with that as well - that might work better as an early "actual" level in itself.

I'm really enjoying being able to just write a base engine and then plug new levels into it as it goes on - especially the double layer, which I'm going to have a lot of fun with in future level designs :) The difficulty seems as impossible to gauge as I had first tried alone - some people will pass levels instantly, others will be stuck on them for hours. Thanks a lot for testing it out and giving your feedback!
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