Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Setting a scope for the blog

The release of my first personal mobile game project marked the beginning of this new blog. But what other purpose does this blog serve? Given the topic of the first post, one obvious purpose is posting blog posts about releases of new game projects, but as making games is currently just a hobby that has to fight for the limited free time available, there isn't going to be a lot of those. So the blog needs some additional goals as well.

The primary idea of the blog is to write about the game projects that I work on or have worked on previously, but this is not restricted to just writing a blog post as a game is released. It is also about going more in depth on how a game functions and how to play the game, and hopefully eventually writing a bit about the related phenomena, if a game happens to get some amount of attention from the players or from the media.

A secondary purpose for the blog is making remarks about games in general, be it about specific single games (that I perhaps find particularly dense?), certain game genres, history of games, on-going trends or anything at all related to the industry. I don't currently have any such topics that I would definitely want to write about on my mind, so there might not be much activity on this front though. But we'll see about that.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cubendor - a new 3D block puzzle game is out globally!

I've just released my first mobile game globally for iOS! You can find the game here: Cubendor for iOSThe game is a truly unique take on the classic Tetris for a few of reasons, which I will go through in this blog post:

1. It's all about the surface

Sure, the game is a 3D block puzzle game, which is less common than a 2D block puzzle game. Still, there have been some 3D Tetris variants around too. However in my experience they've usually had one somewhat fundamental problem: it's hard to see what the overall situation with the blocks is as you can't even see the lower blocks through the blocks in front. Also, if a game requires the player to fill out an entire plane of blocks, getting even just a single "smash" can feel pretty burdenous. This can be even more complex if the block group compositions are 3-dimensional by nature.

Cubendor is different in this sense, as you always operate on the surface of the Cube - which makes it a sort of middleground between many 2D and 3D puzzlers. This means that even though the player doesn't always see everything, he or she can easily rotate the Cube to check the overall situation: nothing is hidden behind the surface. The falling block compositions are also always 2-dimensional by nature and instead of having to form an entire plane, forming a line is in principle as simple a task as it is in Tetris: simply align 6 blocks in a line, whether it's on the horizontal, vertical or the depth axis.

Rotating the Cube in Cubendor.

2. You do not control the falling blocks

The other characteristic that sets Cubendor apart from other Tetris-style games (and most other block puzzle games for that matter) is that the player isn't in fact controlling the falling block groups (such as Tetrominos in Tetris), but rather the canvas (the Cube in this case) into which they fall. This means that the "bottom" of the cube isn't constant, but can be changed by the player at will. In other words the user has a lot of control for what's going on.

3. Scoring system that rewards planning ahead

Scoring systems in block puzzle games have one thing common (with no exceptions I can think of): the more you do with one move the more you gain points. Cubendor is no different in this sense, but compared to other games of the genre, I believe Cubendor requires more planning to get the best scores. It's not just a matter of getting the max amount of lines (like 4) smashed at once or having a good enough luck to get some "delicious" combo. It's also a matter of on how many faces of the cube you are able to do it, and to pursue this goal, some deeper planning is required - in fact the amount of points scored is a matter of four factors, but I might get deeper into that with a later blog post. This planning of course includes managing the risk: not getting too greedy trying to get the best points for a single smash, while also trying not to settle for the small scores.

All in all, I hope these characteristics make the game stand out. I know I'm still learning to get better at the game and I hope someone will come and truly show how the game should be played - and in the process make my current personal record look pathetic.