Brian McRae and Ike Herman: Indie Game Developers, Designers, Podcasters

GDD 020 : Puzzle Design

GDD 020 : Puzzle Design

In this episode, Brian and Ike dive into puzzles and how to implement them in your game design. They compare games using puzzles as their main gameplay or as a feature thrown into the gameplay. They'll also discuss how they go about using puzzles in their own games. So, enjoy! Today's Developer Diary Brian has starting using Notepad ++ instead of MonoDevelop and Unity Visual Studio because it's so light and fast. It's a totally free, tiny little program that he changed all the colors to look like Unity and trained it to get all the key words in there. It's just fantastic! Ike has taken the opportunity to step back and put a couple of patches on the three games he has in the store after taking some of the feedback he's gotten. He also has a fourth and fifth game in the works! Brian explains that even though Fenix Fire hasn't released any games this year, they have a lot that is being incubated so they've had a really busy year and it's been the work for hire that's been able to keep them going. Brian and Ike also discuss the totally different approaches their companies have to releasing games and the importance of having your game featured in the initial launch. Puzzle Design As a starting point, puzzles should include a couple of key traits: It should be very clear what the puzzle is  - For example - With a jigsaw puzzle you know exactly what you're supposed to do, fit all the pieces together It should show progress as you're solving the puzzles - Jigsaw example - As you join more pieces together, not only are you building a larger cluster but you're also filling in this picture which is satisfying There should be some sort of a pay off when the puzzle is solved - Jigsaw example - The joy of seeing the picture all together gives a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of completeness Puzzles in Level Design The puzzle should be obvious with clearly defined rules. In games like Metroid and Zelda, the camera takes over and points the player to where they need to go. This gives the player a call to the puzzle and also shows the player the ingredients of the puzzle. The most common are a torch, a totem, a door, or a lock and key. You can be innovative as much as possible when designing your game because you have the amazing opportunity to design a brand new game and can do whatever you really want in it so why resort to something that has been done a million times before? But, be careful since it's very easy to lose the player the more you innovate. You'll still need to have a lot of conventional game design elements because if the game is too weird or out there then people won't be able to understand it.  Puzzle Games - Match 3 In a puzzle game, the call to the puzzle is the game itself and it's just a matter of learning what the mechanics of the puzzle are. Candy Crush example. Familiarity in games -  some players want something new but in a way that they understand it immediately Feedback Loop - the faster a path to failure is identified, the better it is Having clear, constant feedback is good - like a jigsaw puzzle trying to match pieces Sounds are very important - having satisfying sounds when making progress Effects are very important - Puzzle and Dragons example Having a tiny bit of input gives you tons of positive feedback - makes you feel great Prime demographic of match 3 games is women over 40 -  coincides with slot machine games Every Game is a Puzzle Anything that requires strategy, which is almost every game, the puzzle is defined by the fact that you have to make choices. Starcraft - The puzzle is how to win the war.  You have all these tools at your disposal and there's a constant change in strategy. Clash of Clans - The puzzle is when you go to attack a village which of your pieces do you put down and where. Gears of War - The puzzle is being in a large open space and shoot all kind of enemies. The AI is a puzzle and the level layout,

Duration: 1 hr 3 min

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