Quick Design Note: The zen tutorial principle

The best tutorial is the one that is not a tutorial. Introduce the concepts to the player in a way that does not feel like he is doing an actual tutorial. Lots of players prefer to skip explanations, thinking they are smart enough to understand your game. They might be, but there are always details they will not catch and later feel frustrated. With a free game (with IAP or other free to paid model) that means they will throw it away.

Quick Design notes: from the game designer trenches

I usually carry two things with me: a tablet with Flip, and a small pocket notebook with a pen. When I ask people to try the game, I sit next to them with the notebook and write quick notes pointing out what have they misunderstood about the game. I decided to share some of this notes in a more generalized (but still short) way, in the hope that they might be interesting for other game designers, and even for users. They will come in short posts, no more than a paragraph each, as “Quick Design Notes“.

Of puzzle game design, Threes and clones

Threes vs. the clones Probably most independent game developers have read by now the long post about cloning of their game, from the creators of the Threes. If not, I encourage you to read it now. I personally learnt about 2048 before Threes. Somebody showed it to me, proudly pointing out that it was made by a friend of him. He seemed unaware that his friend had cloned another game, and it would not surprise me if 2048 developer had no ill intentions at all (and the developers of Threes seem to hold nothing against him). The problem with puzzle games … Continue reading Of puzzle game design, Threes and clones

Translations coming!

Now that Beta1 was release, I’m again adding new features. First one is localization/internationalization. Not a lot of localizing to do, as there is almost no “localizable content” in the application, so it is mostly translating. I’m naturally starting with Spanish, then German will follow, and probably French and Polish, which are the languages I can get easily translations for. Adding multiple languages to an application in the middle of development is not so easy, and less with something like Unity, which encourages you to create content directly in the editor, but does not provide tools for multiple language management. … Continue reading Translations coming!

To Hint or not to Hint

I spent a lot of time at the beginning of the game development working in the generation of the puzzles. In logic puzzle games, puzzle generation is often puzzle solving. So then, when I generate a level, I also have the solution. In this case, the shortest route from the initial configuration to the final, “solved” one. That’s how I can say that a puzzle can be solved in N moves. But I know not only the amount of moves, but also which moves and in which order. And not only do I have the list of correct moves from … Continue reading To Hint or not to Hint

The ‘Sided’ and ‘Image’ Puzzles

So far I’ve shown images featuring the regular (‘Simple’) puzzles and the ‘Wired’ ones. But there are two more puzzle types: Sided and Image. Sided puzzles are unlocked pretty fast, you must only master a Simple level (which means, solving 10 puzzles from any of its levels). The main difference between Sided and Simple is that now orientation matters. Sided puzzles were the first variation I implemented, and required rewriting a considerable part of the puzzle generation code, and how I manage the puzzles internally. It is quite interesting for me to notice how people react to them: they immediately … Continue reading The ‘Sided’ and ‘Image’ Puzzles

New pieces design concept

After receiving several comments about the graphic style, I decided to retouch it a little. It was already the 4th or 5th iteration in the design, and I was very happy about it. I was fully aware that there was a lot of room for improvement, but I also knew that some people just say “it is bad” when they mean “I don’t personally like it”. Nevertheless, I decided to change the font for something slimmer thanks to suggestions by friends, and try to give the pieces also a more delicate look. I like to play with the combination of … Continue reading New pieces design concept

Interface design for Flip

If I have to choose the task that takes the most time for Flip, it’s without doubts the user interface / user experience. I go around everywhere with a tablet with the game loaded, and on every occasion I have, I ask people to try it and takes notes. And I take *Lots* of notes. I’ve probably already tested it with 30 people, and there is not a single time where I do not notice some improvement to make. And it’s not only about changing fonts or colors, it’s about people understanding what is going on without me having to … Continue reading Interface design for Flip