Showing posts from February, 2013

Review: Senkai Puzzle for iPhone and iPad

Senkai Puzzle is a well presented puzzle game for iPhone and iPad which was originally released a couple of months ago. The first version left me a bit cold because after solving the puzzle for the first time, which isn't too difficult, it lacked a clear objective to motivate playing again. An update has just been released, and the game is now a lot more interesting, in a Spinpossible sort of way.
At its core, Senkai is another group theory, sequential movement puzzle. It is played on a 2x2 arrangement of cubes, and this is the start position:
A move consists in turning a pair of cubes around their common axis, like this:
Of course the goal is to return to the start position after shuffling.
The user interface is very well done and uses swipes to turn the cubes. An excellent detail is that you can move the cubes just a little, to see what's on the side faces, without actually making a move. You can do that also to see what's on the back face, but that's not needed because …

Review: Spinpossible for iPhone and iPad

Eric Kelsic of ALX Games contacted me about the free puzzle game that he and his friends Alex Sutherland and Alex Sheive have developed: Spinpossible.

The basic idea is simple: take a puzzle based on group theory, like Rubik's Cube, but easier; and make the main goal of the game not just to reach the solved position, but to do it in the optimal number of moves.

The playing board of Spinpossible is a 3x3 grid, containing numbers. A move consists in rotating a rectangle of any size (including 1x1) by 180 degrees.
For example here is the starting position of one of the tutorial levels:
the first move we make is to rotate the 1x2 rectangle containing the 2 and the 5, leading to this position:
now we rotate the 3x1 rectangle containing 1, 2, and 3, and we have reached the solved state:
If you can solve Rubik's Cube—and by solving I don't mean using a set of operators learnt from a book, but consciously applying the concept of commutator to reach the solved state—you should have no pr…

Review: Monorail for iPhone and iPad

Glenn Iba recently wrote me about his puzzle game Monorail for iPhone and iPad.
There was no need to: that game was already installed on my iPod and it's one of the most interesting puzzles I know.
The goal of the game is deceptively simple. You start with a grid of points, with some pre-drawn lines connecting a few dots:
Starting from there, you have to draw a closed loop that touches all points and doesn't intersect itself, like this:
All the grids provided have a unique solution, which is somewhat surprising initially: the pre-drawn lines are such subtle clues that they almost don't seem to be there.

These puzzles are also known as "Round Trip", and have been published in magazines since the early 1990's. Glenn Iba has collected some of them in a book; an extended introduction is available on his web site. It is an interesting read and shows how to approach the puzzles with logical reasoning without trial and error.

The puzzles are similar to Slitherlink, the di…

Felicia Day

If elections were held for King and Queen of gaming and geek culture, I imagine Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day would be on the short list of nominees.  In fact, it was seeing a headline that Felicia Day was going to be hosting IndieCade that got me wondering if perhaps I should enter my game.  When I was actually at IndieCade and saw Felicia at the awards party, I was really hoping that she’d walk around during the Press/VIP time and play some of the games.  It would have been a thrill for me to show her my game.  But alas, I never saw her.  No big deal, but it’s kind of become a secret unfulfilled goal that’s stuck in my head.  Well, not really a goal, because there’s not much I can do about it, but an unfulfilled “cool thing that would be really neat if it happened”.
Every so often, I search for “Hidden in Plain Sight” on Google and Twitter to see if anyone is talking about it.  The other day, I saw a post from someone named “Josie Kavadoy”, responding to someone else asking her what sh…

Productive Week

It is has been a very productive week at Purple Duck Games. We accomplished many things on both the Purple Duck Games and the 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming sides of the business. To recap this is what has happened.

Deus ex Historica (4WF) - We recently got the subscription for the Deus ex Historica up and running. All the kickstarters that supported the project should have received a link to the subscription and we have put three characters through initial layout and up for sale.

The plan at this point is to get four more characters up a week. Two on Mondays and Two on Thursdays. If I can squeeze more in I will but PDG is not a full-time operation.

Heroes of the Fenian Triarchy (PDG) - Heroes of the Fenian Triarchy is our first of a series of player-focused books that explores the Lands of Porphyra in detail. Written by Josh McCrowell this product clocks in at 52 pages of content is chocked full of information needed for players to build characters from the Fenian Triachy. Its not out for sale,…

Review: Pudding Monsters for iPhone and iPad

You probably don't need to learn from me about Pudding Monsters, a top quality game from Zeptolab, the makers of the classic Cut the Rope.

The basic idea at the core of this puzzle game has been used before. You make the pudding monsters slide on the floor; once they start moving, they won't stop until they hit something. If they don't hit anything and leave the screen, you lose and have to start again.
Even if the basic idea isn't new, I don't recall it having been used this way. When two monsters touch, they join to form a larger monster. The level is solved when all monsters are merged.
There is a lot of variety in the puzzles, because all kinds of different elements are introduced throughout the game: monsters that leave a sticky trail, sleeping monsters that cannot move until another monster joins with them, ice blocks that break after being hit, cloning machines, arrows, and so on.

Additionally, there's the customary three star rating system; stars are earned…

Puzzles, what are they good for?

I recently came a across this article from AdventureGamers about puzzles, and it got me thinking. The article covers the different ways in which puzzles have been swapped for other activities over the years, something that I am very interested in. There is so much great about adventure games that just seem to be held back by their puzzles. It always seem that they break the flow of the experience. I find that many adventure games are more engaging to play when you have a walkthrough close at hand. Of course, consulting a guide has it own share of problems, and is far from an optimal way to play. Some other solution must exist.

Ever since we started Frictional Games, a big goal has been to try and fix this somehow. With each game we have incorporated new ideas in order to deliver a more streamlined experience; to try and minimize the problems that puzzles tend to cause.

When we started our Super Secret Project our initial idea was to get rid of traditional puzzles entirely. A focus from …

Superpowered by M&M and Sorcerer Bloodlines.

As most of my readers know Purple Duck Games is not my day job so sometimes things can be slow to get moving. However, this week I'm on holidays so naturally that means I have lots of time to work on Purple Duck Games projects. So far, it has been a very productive week with one of the larger 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming  products getting some movement and at least on Purple Duck Games release as well.

First up, we have release a subscription for the Deus ex Historica line. The complete Deus ex Historicai book will likely be over 300 hundred pages when finished, so in order to tackle this one easier and get content out to our kickstarters quicker we have decided on doing series releases. Each of the heroes and villains will be available independently of the subscription if you only have interest in certain characters as well.

The first of the serial releases is out now and details the time-travelling archaeologist, Danni Cipher, who acts as the guide and narrator to the rest of the charac…

Unboxing videos and posts from around the web

I have a few things to cover in this post.
1)The Forums are up Yay! The old forum suffered catastrophic failure due to my ISP changing database format without warning Boo! I suppose if I look on the bright side it means I will have a fresh start with the KS backers (I will send out invites to the private section of the forum when I have time to dedicate to game development)
2)Updated instructions are now available in PDF format on the main product page of the website. This includes the updated Crusader instructions. You will also find them here in the bolg in the INSTRUCTIONS page (right hand column)
3)If you are a retailer that is stocking DreamForge product, I would like to add you to my links. Please post a comment here and I will add your information. You don’t need a web presence, I am happy to add the address and phone numbers of brick and mortar locations.
I took a moment to use a little Google-fu and search for unboxing videos and builds. Here are a few that I was able to come up …

Review: Khalou for iPhone and iPad

Khalou is a very nice free puzzle game for iPhone and iPad by Aurelien Wenger.

The instructions are only in French, so understanding the rules might be difficult, but don't despair! I'm here to help.
The game is played on a 4x4 board, filled with stones. Stones are white on one side and black on the other, and are randomly placed at the beginning:
The goal is to make all stones white. This is done by making a number of moves, where all the stones in a group are turned upside down.
As you can see in the instructions page, the only allowed moves are:
Turn all 4 stones in a row, column, or major diagonal;Turn all 3 stones in a L shape, anywhere on the board.The instructions continue with an example:
At the top is the start position. Then the first and second columns are toggled, leading to the position in the middle. Then a L-shape in the center of the board is toggled, leading to the bottom left position. Then the final L-shape leads to the solved state in a total of 4 moves.

Now if y…


All changes have been made in bold red type and noted with a red circle. Without the CAD files I was unable to add in missing component renders but I did make notations as needed.

For PDF copy click here

Review: MatCube for iPhone and iPad

Some incredible things can happen on the App Store.
The other day I downloaded MatCube, a free game for iPhone and iPad by Eizo Ono. Nothing on the iTunes page suggested that it could be a great puzzle: I couldn't even understand the description, because it's only in Japanese, and the screenshots made it look more like a proof of concept than a full featured game.

Still, I'm glad I downloaded it, because I was blown away by how clever it is.

Actually, it's not even one puzzle. It's 4, or 8, or 24, depending on how you want to count them. Let me explain.

This is the initial screen after launching the app:
The grid of 3x3 cubes is the goal position. This is the easiest difficulty setting, where each cube has only 2 colors: 2 opposing faces are red, the others are green.
When you tap the Shuffle button, the cubes are randomly scrambled, and you need to get back to the goal position.

The first thing that I thought when I started interacting, was "this is Lights Out on st…

Purple Mountain VI: Well of Stars in playtest

Today we started our internal playtest of the Well of Stars. This is the sixth level of the Purple Mountain megadungeon. We had four players today who played:

Human inquisitor of Gerana 6 (Thomas Boxall)
Human sorcerer 6 (Michael Vanderstelt)
Obitu fighter 3/rogue 3 (Patrick Kossmann)
Qi'tartactician 6 (Mark Gedak)

Jeff isn't doing a lot of talking in the group. He tends to speak by telepathy within the collective as much as possible. We botched up some of the initial investigation and ended up going to Purple Mountain by foot instead of by teleportation which slowed things down. It was also reveal that the inquisitor is prejudiced against psionic creatures so he is no longer part of my collective. We killed some harpies, derro and met an undine queen who was later eaten by crysmals.
Pretty smooth session, no player character deaths yet. I suspect there will be though because we do not have much in the way of healing in our group.