In the previous post, we explained the long and winding road that we took in order to finally arrive at an art style that was consistent with the game we had in mind and that would also be aesthetically appealing. This saga of lengthy journeys, in fact, really began with the very conception of the game. We knew we wanted something simple and we definitely wanted to make something puzzle-based which would not only be addictive, but would also ensure that the players’ brains were stretched to the maximum.
Simplicity, as we’ve mentioned before, is the hardest thing to achieve. As soon as we were done with work on Just a Thought, we started throwing around ideas for a simple, grid-based puzzle game that would require minimal art. Not that we looked on simplicity and minimalism as an ends in themselves. The lack of a proper artist had tied our hands, but we at Yellow Monkey Studios believe in making the best of a bad situation.
Simple, addictive, well-designed: these are three factors with a whole lot of punch. We batted around a lot of ideas initially and came up with a few. What we really wanted to do with the game was emphasise on line drawings, something that had become possible thanks to the availability of touch platforms. This basic concept went on to lay the foundation for the game, as you will see.
As, you can see from the image below, we started out thinking in terms of numbers and grids, of shapes that could be cut and folded.
In fact, the first fully formed idea that we had was of a puzzle featuring a ‘meta’ shape, which would be composed of smaller, single units of a ‘base’ shape.
The challenge would be to fold or collapse the entire ‘meta’ shape to fit into one ‘base’ shape. Basically, the number of times the base shape is used would be provided, and the player had to figure out which base shape was repeated to ultimately create the ‘meta’ shape.
If you’re as smart as we hope you are, you will have spotted the glitch immediately. Here’s another example.
The game just wouldn’t have the depth required to make advancing levels interesting. In other words, anyone with a calculator could solve the problem by simply counting the total number of blocks, divide it by the given number and figure out the number of blocks in the base shape, and then it was just a matter of time. We didn’t want to make things as easy as that and so this idea became the first of many to be flushed down the crapper.
We continued to wade through a whole swamp of ideas, including a lot of mathematical puzzles, looking for a logic-based problem that would work in the context of a game. Some of the ideas seemed like they had great potential. There was one with three-legged aliens that seemed very promising.
There was Osama’s Riddle: a grim puzzle full of ruins of buildings bombed by Osama bin Laden.
Another one we liked was based on the Skyscraper Puzzle. Here, the player would have to fill colours within a grid, with a number outside that would indicate the total number of colours in that particular row/column.
Unfortunately, this was too much like Paint by Numbers and Picross on the Nintendo DS. Yet another idea landed in our overflowing trash can of ideas.
We knew there was a game lurking somewhere in the far corners of our minds; we just needed to find it. It was merely a question of sending out the hounds and galloping off on a hunt. Of course, what we found at the end of the ride was nothing less than a Pandora’s Box of troubles. But that is a story for the next post. And the one after that. And the one after that. And also, possibly, the one after that. You’ll never know unless you stick with this story (please do). So watch this space.