Puzzle Game Design - Thought?

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Puzzle Game Design - Thought?

Postby mattheweston on Wed May 30, 2012 1:08 am

What do you guys like in puzzle games say you have a tetris game do you like to see a story that adds to the puzzle game? Different game boards/backgrounds/themes?

What makes you say I just gotta download/buy that game when it comes to puzzle games?
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Re: Puzzle Game Design - Thought?

Postby Van-B on Wed May 30, 2012 7:05 am

I always liked the way Puzzle Bubble/Bust-A-Move handled it. For one thing, there are characters and a plot which are presented really well - plot is pretty much irrelevant, but it's nice to know there is one. The main thing IMO is that there are 2 recognisable characters, and that sets the game aside from the typical puzzle games. Same thing with Puzzle Fighter, having characters for the player to relate to can help a lot I think. I am working on a puzzle game myself, used to be quite mechanical, so we decided to add in characters, 2 kick-ass monkies, and it made a big difference, suddenly the game is a lot less 'cold', and has real charm.

There are so many puzzle games out there, making your game stand out is pretty vital - it has to be fresh somehow, has to be presented well and have good mechanics. Even if you made, say a Sudoku game, I'd still say spend a lot of time on visuals, graphical effects, particles, it all helps to keep the players interest, and hopefully get them past the demo reactions and onto being willing to buy the game. I'd even advise that you get a really good artist to do the main visuals, like a Bejeweled game, I'd get someone to do a load of really snazzy sprites, those shiny gems that everyone likes, because although I could probably make something that looks ok - someone else would always add quality that I couldn't. Often it's adding polish that takes a lot of time, especially with a puzzle game with randomly generated puzzles, coding is usually straightforward, so spend the 'free' time adding visuals. Personally I like to add effects as I go, because it can be fun to work on particle effects etc, usually it's a welcome break from the usual puzzle game coding drudgery.

Sound effects are very important too, because you'll be playing sampled sounds over and over and over and over again, you have to get good sound effects that don't grate on the nerves - and that is a real hassle. Thing is, you have to really listen to other people when it comes to your own visuals and sound, it can be difficult to spot dodgy graphics, or annoying sounds when you've invested time on them yourself. It can help to make the sounds dynamic, like have them change pitch and volume before playing, add environmental sounds to help break the sound effects up and give a more organic feel. For instance, in my puzzle game, I have this chain that the player moves up and down to rotate a connnon, originall I had a looping machine sound, and I'd change the volume to suit the player actions. But that got old pretty fast, so I changed it for an old pulley, squeeking and creaking as it goes round - kinda patchy too. Now though, you don't notice the sound really, it just squeeks and creaks now and then, very organic, subtle, and not at all annoying. Main thing is to avoid repetition, and if you can't avoid it, try and mask it as best you can. One thing that I like, is having the scoring sound change pitch depending on score - os getting say, a 3 gem match sounds different to getting a 4 gem match, then when you get combo's, you end up making little ditties, also - this can attract peoples interest, they hear some weird plinky-plonky music, and will always investigate.
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Re: Puzzle Game Design - Thought?

Postby MadPumpkin on Sat Jun 02, 2012 1:29 pm

What really makes me buy a puzzle game more than anything else isn't whether or not is HAS a story, or whether or not the characters are well constructed in particular, it's whether those things, and other game details connect well with the puzzle aspect that you're dealing with at that time. Taking ourselves back to the classic that does this so well you have basically every Zelda game. But I love Silent Hill series and Portal for how flawlessly their puzzles are apart of the rest of the game too. I try to pour myself into making everything work with everything else, especially puzzles :P. So if I play a game with awesome puzzles no matter how it's presented to me, I'll most likely appreciate it though.

Current Thoughts:
Most notable Zelda game, Ocarina of Time
  • Right from the beginning you're forced to dodge boulders as they come at you, and go through safer pathways in order to get a blade that contains quite a bit of story for one item.
  • In every temple you solve massive rooms full of puzzles, and each hallway or smaller room has puzzles to take care of in order to progress.
  • Puzzling works fantastic with the story line because you're basically going through these temples in order to get to the main goal, and fight the evil Gannon Dorf who has made them
Most notable Silent Hill, SH 2
  • Lots of keys, and things that you need to do before you can get into certain places, this sets a well defined "You can't go here yet" without actually forcing the player to go to one place right off
  • All of what you might call the "major" puzzles in it like the ones that include a special room, or for example right near the beginning is a clock that you need to push after opening it and turning the hands in a special way, have something to do with the story that you can gain from paying attention and making self connections and reflections. (Which I think are quite important even in the most general of game design)
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