Category Archives: My games

Color/Shift demo 1.01

The Color/Shift demo has been updated due to feedback. Notable changes:

  • Pawns may now be dragged freely until they cross a grid line, at which point they snap to the axis on which they have moved the furthest.
  • Neutral walls are no longer the same color as the grid lines.

Color/Shift demo

Since Slide originally came about as an entry for OneGameAMonth, I thought it would make sense for me to release the Colorshift demo as one as well!

iconWindows iconNG Get it now!

This is an early release that doesn’t add any additional levels beyond those included in Slide, so if you’ve played it already there won’t be a lot more to see here besides a bunch of bugfixes and some polish to the core mechanics. I’m still working on adding a bunch of extra features, like drag-and-drop support for custom levels and a menu to replay puzzles you’ve beaten already or resume where you left off.

I’m working on native builds for Mac and Linux, but for now non-windows users can play in a browser at Newgrounds.

Please let me know what you think! I’m still in heavy development and I’d love to incorporate your feedback and criticism.

What’s in a name?

I’ve heard it said that it’s easier to name something before it even exists than to try to sum a thing up into a name after the fact, and I believe it. For nearly every game I’ve ever made, it seems like naming the darned thing is the task which takes the longest to complete.

Slide was an exception to this. I had the name picked before I made my first commit to the source repository, and it remained throughout the entirety of development. When I released it there was no other game by that name anywhere on the internet. I was feeling pretty good about it.

Yesterday I went to make an IndieDB profile for the remake. I created a boxshot image, collected screenshots, entered all the required information…and pressed submit.

  • There is already a game listed with the name Slide on Indie DB.

Tragedy!

I checked out the conflicting entry and came to the realization that, while I had become attached to the name “Slide” in reference to my own work, it really wasn’t a great fit as it described only the most basic mechanics. In this new game, the core mechanics are all about puzzles based on ice sliding in classic Zelda and Pokemon games. It obviously has a lot of polish and has likely been in development for a while, so even though I had technically released my game first I didn’t want to be “that guy” and ask that it be taken down.

And so began a frantic day of brainstorming as I tried to come up with a new name before the rapidly approaching OneGameAMonth deadline of November 4th.

Fortunately this all has a happy ending. The name I chose (with the help of some good friends) is Color/Shift, and I’ve retroactively renamed it in all my posts about this new release. Not only is this new name more tightly related to the core mechanics overall, but it’ll also help me distinguish between the original prototype and the new commercial release. All’s well that ends well. :)

Color/Shift soundtrack teaser

For its first release, Slide used music by General Fuzz, one of my all-time favorite musicians. Unfortunately, the fact that I’m selling the extended release meant using his work was no longer an option, so the upcoming version will feature an all-new soundtrack by Chris Logsdon. Here’s a work-in-progress demo of one of the songs that will be included!

Slide++

When I released Slide, nearly everyone who played it encouraged me to get it working on mobile devices, but unfortunately the framework I used to make it wasn’t compatible with iOS or Android. For the past two weeks (well, three including a massive false start, but I’ll get to that later) I’ve been working on porting it to Haxe/OpenFL with that very goal in mind.

break

At this point I’ve reimplemented about 99% of the mechanics of the original game, and added a heaping helping of polish to the whole mix. I’m planning to release it on all three major desktop platforms (Windows, Mac, and Linux) and Android for sure. Windows Phone 8 and iOS are two other targets that I’d like to hit as well, but I don’t currently have hardware to test on.

You can still play the original game here, and keep an eye on the official page for the remake here.

Slide

My OneGameAMonth entry for July is a puzzle game called Slide.

You can download the game here. The music is from the amazing General Fuzz’s album Miles Tones, which you can download for free on his website.

I’ve never made a puzzle game before, so this was a great way to broaden my horizons. It turns out that coming up with puzzles is really, really hard at first. If the systems of the game are straightforward it can be difficult coming up with problems that don’t have immediately obvious solutions, but a puzzle game with opaque mechanics is never fun to play. Eventually, the process clicked and I was coming up with puzzle ideas faster than I could open a new level in the editor (the vast majority, alas, never made it past their first iteration before being scrapped).

Since the mechanics in Slide are pretty simple (strictly speaking there are exactly three of them), designing levels was all about challenging the way the player would . It was really interesting to think about what the obvious move in a certain scenario would be, and then subvert that idea and require a move that was slightly different in order to solve it. I still remember playing Rush Hour at the age of 12 or 13 and suddenly having the realization that just because a piece could be moved all the way to the other side of the board, in some cases it was necessary to stop one square short. Most of the levels in Slide are based on this kind of approach; get the player used to behaving in a certain way, and then introduce a situation where that behavior won’t result in the desired outcome after all.

Of course, in order to be able to solve a puzzle one must first understand the systems involved. Slide’s tutorial follows my design philosophy of teaching through curiosity; when shown a screen that is empty save for an interesting or out-of-place item, the player will eventually be drawn to that item and will try to interact with it. This kind of exploratory learning is something I try to encourage in all my games, and I think it is especially suited to puzzle games.

There’s no clear point where Slide’s tutorial actually ends; after a certain point it simply stops introducing new systems. I didn’t want to communicate to the player at any time that there was no more to learn, because a puzzle game can only last as long as it is able to expand on itself in interesting ways. I had originally planned to ship the game with a minimum of 25 levels; it ended up having only 16, and I think that 16 was enough. I might come back and add some more someday, and I included the Ogmo editor project file with the release bundle in case anyone else feels like creating some of their own, but I’m satisfied with the final count. I feel that going further would have resulted in the inclusion of a bunch of levels that rehashed old mechanics and added nothing new to the experience.

When I started work on this project I had no idea what it was supposed to end up like — my entire plan consisted of the words “puzzle game” and “colored squares”. Fortunately the design seemed to flow naturally as I worked, and I’m very happy with the way it’s turned out.

If you liked the game, or if you created a level and want to share it, please let me know!

I’m an international superstar

Of all the games I’ve made so far, Hypothermia has seen the most success. I somehow managed to get reviewed by both Indie Impressions and IndieStatik shortly after release, which drove a lot of traffic to my site that I just wouldn’t have had any way of attracting otherwise. I check back on the download counter every now and then and it’s fun to see that it’s still being downloaded over six months after I released it.

Today I did a search to see if there was any coverage I had missed out on and found this:

http://www.bilibili.tv/video/av441497/

Someone from China did a Let’s Play of my game.

This is the best feeling in the world.

I know how to count to three in Chinese, and that’s about it. Watching this video was really interesting for me, because even though I didn’t understand his words I could still tell what he was feeling as each phase of the game played out; worried tension as he got close to losing, and then surprised relief as he finished the game and got the good ending. It really makes me happy that I was able to create something that someone from a totally different culture could enjoy and relate to.

When I design games I try to use as few words as possible while still conveying the story. I like my games to be accessible to as wide an audience as possible; particularly one that might not be able to speak English. Baseborn and Humphrey’s Tiny Adventure were both designed in this way, and I’m while Hypothermia’s two endings each have their fair share of text, the rest of the gameplay didn’t rely on any dialogue. Until today I’ve never had the kind of reach where this kind of accessibility mattered, but this makes it all worthwhile.