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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogs[Android puzzler] bloq (out on Google Play)
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shpen
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« on: September 06, 2014, 08:48:04 PM »

bloq





I've been really impressed and inspired by all the work I've seen on here, but I found myself getting frustrated and disillusioned when trying to create my own project on the same grand scale. Instead, I have decided to start smaller and focus on a simple 2d puzzle game for Android.

I was toying around with the idea of using the same sliding control scheme as games like Threes/2048 and The Nightmare Cooperative, and I remembered how challenging some of the ice sliding puzzles were in the old Gameboy Pokemon games, so I thought I would attempt to create something along the same vein.

Below is a gif of the initial prototype. Black blocks are static walls, solid red is the sliding block, and red/black box is the target.



I'm planning on adding more complex game mechanics such as multiple colored sliding/target blocks, edge wrapping, and more. Let me know if you have any ideas on how I can make this game more fun. Thanks!
« Last Edit: March 02, 2015, 09:45:27 AM by shpen » Logged

shpen
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« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2014, 12:41:50 AM »

Spent the last week fixing bugs and adding 3 new mechanics:



I'm hoping to be able to design the level progression in such a way that I never have to explicitly describe how blocks work. To do that I will have the first level containing a each new mechanic be fairly simple and then ramp up in difficultly.

A coworker also told me she also heard that having a linearly progressing difficultly is less rewarding to users than having difficulty possibly go down on the next level. The idea behind this is theory is a slightly easier level will fool the player into thinking they were really clever to have solved that level without as much difficulty than the one before it. I think this method will fit in well with my point about introducing new mechanics. I guess I just don't want it to be too obvious that the next level is easier on purpose.
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shpen
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« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2015, 05:28:21 PM »

Been a long time since I updated this. A lot has happened since then in my personal and professional life, so I took time to focus on that before returning to this. Fortunately, I do have something nice to show.

Here is a mockup of the design aesthetic I am going for. I would appreciate any feedback you all have for ways to improve it. Thanks!

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bdsowers
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« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2015, 07:29:40 PM »

Looking good!

You mentioned adding 3 new mechanics. I would avoid throwing in too many mechanics, and instead try to be creative with a small number of mechanics. It's easier to convey to players, and they can feel clever when they work out how to use a mechanic in a new way.

There are a lot of games similar to this. One I played a gagillion years ago was Duck Tiles. Perhaps you can find some inspiration there?
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shpen
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« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2015, 09:47:07 PM »

It's interesting that you make such a point, considering how many additional mechanics Duck Tiles has and how quickly it introduces them. My plan was to have the first 10 or so levels being just plain and simple 1 colored block, but afterward introduce a new mechanic every 10 or so levels to increase difficulty. I just don't know if I can be clever enough to use too small a set of mechanics in interesting ways haha. Hopefully when I get to the testing phase I can get input from people after they play through it.
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shpen
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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2015, 02:17:25 PM »

Applied the design to the actual game, and resized it properly to fit a phone screen. Ignore the gradient banding. That's just an artifact of gif compression.



I am not sure what to do with the space beneath the play area. I was originally going to make the game ad-supported and put ads there, but I feel like a better model would be to make the game free with the first half of the levels and then charge $1 to unlock the second half of the levels. Does anyone have experience with monetizing an Android game like this?

I still also have no idea what to call it, so the title screen is missing an actual title. Open to suggestions!
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shpen
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« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2015, 07:30:32 PM »

Decided on a name: bloq. Wanted something block related, but almost everything I could think of was taken. I was surprised to see that this was not!

New gif today showing the addition of animations:



I also have a playable build for you guys to try! LibGDX is awesome in that it supports exporting to multiple platforms, including HTML5, but unfortunately I have been having problems with that and have not been able to get it to work yet. So instead all I have for now is an exported jar.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/pzrgovgm43852f0/bloq.jar?dl=0

Hopefully I can get the HTML version to work, since I know not everyone wants to download and run random jar files. But hopefully some of you are willing and can give feedback. Please note, the levels are not fully fleshed out yet, so difficulty does not scale up properly.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2015, 07:42:35 PM by shpen » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2015, 07:52:45 PM »

Since I am trying not to use any English in my game, I needed to develop a tutorial mechanic that does not teach the user how to play through text. Instead I used an animation to show the user how to play. If the user tries to click around but doesn't make any blocks move, I animate a hand to show them how to interact.



I was also looking into ways to encourage users to share my game on Facebook, but I didn't want to use a hard-barrier like locking out levels unless they shared. Instead I thought a nicer solution would be to grant the user 3 skips for a Facebook share. This way the sharing is completely optional, but they are rewarded by overcoming a difficult level that they get stuck on.



Here is the button placed in the mockup. As I said, I am trying not to use any English, so I'm trying to convey the meaning through symbolism. Do you guys think the message here is clear enough?
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« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2015, 08:44:57 PM »

For the Facebook button, I don't like it personally. I think it should be a button in a similar colour scheme to the others, which brings up a little popup with whatever symbols you want to use including the Facebook logo or a "like" button.
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shpen
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« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2015, 09:51:07 PM »

Like this?



It's actually how I had it originally, but I felt like blue color I use for my blocks was a bit too bright there. Or do you mean that it should just be a regular dark-gray button?
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shpen
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« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2015, 01:03:08 PM »

It's been a very productive week. I got a lot of things done, including:

  • Increasing movement speed on large levels: Previously blocks moved at a constant number of blocks per second, but this made larger levels more frustrating, since it would move slower across the screen. I changed the speed to be dependent on the level size. I originally tried making them move at a constant speed across the screen, but on large levels that felt too fast, so instead I have it increase gradually on larger levels.


  • Toning down glow effect: Friends who played it complained that it looked "blurry" or "low resolution" because of the glow effect I use on the blocks. I did not want to revert to plain solid colors because I thought it would look dull, so I tried my best to tone down the glow effect without making it look too flat.


  • Reworked Facebook/skip button: As cow_trix suggested, I needed to rework the Facebook/skip button. I think I originally misinterpreted his suggestion, but now I have it as a simple black skip button, which when clicked will popup an overlay with a button for Facebook or the Play Store. I added the play store, because a friend suggested that she might not feel comfortable sharing on Facebook, but she would not mind paying a small amount to get a few skips. Since $0.99 is the minimum allowed in the US, and that seems steep just for one skip, I think I will give 3 skips for that amount (or sharing on Facebook). Does that seem like a reasonable amount?


  • Added tutorial for restarting levels: Most levels that use multiple colors are designed in such a way that you need to either match all colors in the same move, or save one color block to help boost another one. If you match the wrong color first, you will be stuck and have to restart. To teach this to the user, the first 2 levels that contain this mechanic will have a tutorial animation after the user makes the the wrong match. I don't want to have the tutorial be active for every level with this mechanic, since I feel like it will be too much hand holding for harder levels. But I definitely am concerned that people might falsely expect the tutorial to always appear if they make such a mistake and will fool themselves into thinking the level is still solvable. Does anyone have any suggestions for how I can approach this, or do you think the current system is fine?


  • Adding a bunch of new levels: I've spent a lot of time working on new levels. They were much easier to build when they are small and simple, but I can sometimes spend an hour or two just working on one complex level, since it's tough to make the level challenging enough without accidentally introducing short cuts or breaking the solution. Below is a preview of some of the levels I've made recently.

I spent a little more time trying to get the HTML5 version to work, but gave up because it was taking too long and not a good use of my time. I really would like people to try playing it and provide feedback though, so I have updated the desktop JAR and also provided an Android APK below:

Android: https://www.dropbox.com/s/hjamdgq7eyvqna4/bloq.apk?dl=0
Desktop: https://www.dropbox.com/s/pzrgovgm43852f0/bloq.jar?dl=0

Android permissions are for internet access, which is to run ads (which are currently disabled in the beta version).
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shpen
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« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2015, 03:31:00 PM »

Another productive week flew by!

  • Store swipe during movement: If you previously a swipe before the moving blocks stopped, it was ignored. Now, I store it for a few milliseconds and apply it as soon as the blocks stop, so it feels more forgiving if you swipe a little early.


  • Finished adding levels: Total of 40 levels have been fully built. The last one took me quite a while to build, and at first I didn't even think it was solvable. Took me a while, but I managed to solve it and prove it's solvable, although I was only ever to do that once. Since then, I have not solved it a second time. I think that's good, though. I want the last level to be challenging so you feel like you really accomplished something when you finish it.


  • Added sound effects and music


  • Added background animations: The style of the game is very minimalistic, but maybe a little too much so. People were saying it felt a little too plain, so I added a background animation to the game to make it feel a little more alive.


  • Created teaser trailer: Watch it here:



  • Created company + website: Created an LLC for my game studio: Space Cat Games. Also created a website to feature bloq: http://www.spacecatgames.com

All that's left to do is integrate Google Play Games service and setup in-app-purchases, then I should be ready to publish!

As always, here are the latest APKs and JARs for testing:
Android: https://www.dropbox.com/s/iog6vcmsdloxxjn/bloq-beta.apk?dl=0
Desktop: https://www.dropbox.com/s/epxy4fp1mvc2o45/bloq-beta.jar?dl=0
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shpen
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« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2015, 09:43:07 AM »

Bloq is now finished and available on Google Play!
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.spacecatgames.bloq

I am running a promotion on Reddit right now to get some attention for the game. You can check it out here:
http://www.reddit.com/r/Android/comments/2xojrv/dev_bloq_minimalistic_puzzler_free_unlock_code/

On there you can find a code which will unlock the full game for free.

Thanks for reading and following me along my journey to release my first game!
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dancing_dead
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« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2015, 12:26:35 PM »

Quote from: google play description
"I like it." - My mom.

nice touch Grin
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