Game Design and Project Resources: The Workshops Quarter => Computer Game Development - The Indie Alley => Bigosaur => Topic started by: bigosaur on June 20, 2022, 11:08:33 AM

Title: Block Buster Billy
Post by: bigosaur on June 20, 2022, 11:08:33 AM

I have been toying with an idea for a puzzle game for a while. I have released a bunch of puzzle games so far, with varied success. Rogue Bit has been the most polished product so far, but it's a game for a very niche audience of programmers and computer hardware enthusiasts. Seeders has been a hit and miss. It has awesome puzzles, but Box2D physics is somewhat inconsistent, so you often figure out a way to solve it and then spent of lot of time trying to execute. It removed and changed a lot of those in the Seeders Puzzle Reboot version, but it still isn't perfect. The Game is ON was a very fun game to make, but it doesn't seem so fun to play. The actual fun was coming up with a scene that fits the idiom, but trying to discover it while playing just doesn't feel that good.'

I took all these lessons from the past experience when making Billy. I wanted a game that has tight controls, so I picked the turn-based approach. The puzzles range from very easy, to very hard. Similar to Baba Is You, you can play with the blocks until something 'clicks' and you figure it out.

The game is powered by the same engine I used for Rogue Bit, so it scales the graphics nicely to 4K monitors and beyond. The fact that the mechanics are based on numbers and basic math, makes it translatable to every language. The only thing that really needs translation are the level names, but they aren't really that important to the gameplay as they rarely give a hint. Most of the time, the player has all the tools and is left to discover the solution on their own. I made a first level set which teaches you the ropes, so you aren't lost in a tough puzzle immediately.

Making this game was also fun for me. I had a very interesting approach for this one: I would get some basic idea, try to build a level from that and then try to solve it. When it was too easy, I would add stuff that make it harder - to the point where I felt like it was unsolvable. Then I would try to solve the level for 30-60 minutes, to see if I can come up with some original way. If I manage to do it, that's a perfect level. Of course, sometimes it really is impossible and I have to loosen some of the restrictions.

While developing the levels, I would often notice alternate solutions that require completely different approach. In such cases, I would split the level into two levels - and then edit each one to make sure either of the two approaches only work in one of the levels. I love that feeling when a player comes into the level thinking 'Oh, I know this' and then get stumped when they see that a single block is missing or something has moved by one tile and it requires a completely different way of solving.

I'm done with puzzles involving equations, inequations, adding and subtractions. I plan to add multiplication, and possibly variables and have about 120-150 levels for the final game. I plan to release on Steam and Nintendo Switch. Maybe mobile platforms as well? Not sure about that yet.
Title: Re: Block Buster Billy
Post by: Jubal on July 01, 2022, 11:09:03 AM
Thanks for the key! I've enjoyed it so far - I think it's a bit less up my street than say The Game Is On was, because the block-pushing/maths logic isn't as close to my core enjoyment stuff, but I got through the first island and a chunk of the way beyond that quite happily, and I'll definitely go back and try more of it sometime soon. The puzzles are reasonably challenging but usually were fine after a few tries, which felt about right.

I think my only criticism would be the maps and the nesting of them - it felt weird in the second (or third?) area when some "slots" on the map led to just one puzzle and some slots led to a whole extra nested map. It sort of threw off a sense of progress because it meant you didn't know how far you were through a level, and I think that sense of progression/completion is really important for a game like this where the enjoyment is mostly from beating lots of puzzles. I wonder if it'd also help to vary visual themes in the maps a bit to help the sense of changing things up, rather than just sort of endless nested green islands that get a bit confusing.