Mobile Puzzle Box Project
First Mechanical Prototype
With this initial prototype box, my goals were to establish the core controls and to implement a few rudimentary puzzle components. With these elements, I can create a proof of concept for more intricate puzzle boxes.
Though many mobile puzzle games similar to this have the player tap or slide directly on the puzzle components to move them, I chose to use UI buttons to control these same functions. By limiting the number of options the player has for interaction, I can reduce any potential confusion. At the same time, by showing all control buttons for pieces that don't necessarily utilize them, I can encourage the player to "fiddle" with the puzzle pieces until they find the right input. This better emulates the physicality of an real-world puzzle box.
March Update :
Critical Player Feedback
Good player feedback is going to be the crucial to the success of this puzzle game. Particularly with the limitations of mobile controls, many puzzle games fail when players aren't able to understand the interface: what objects can be interacted with, how they can be manipulated, and how different puzzle pieces interact with each other.
For these reasons, I added a ripple effect to show the player when and where they've tapped on the cube, and floating UI to show which puzzle piece they have selected. Certain puzzle pieces can be locked until others have been solved; to demonstrate this, I have locked pieces rattle when the player attempts to move them. More feedback for these locked components is required, since I do not believe the current feedback is enough to communicate the functionality.
April Update :
I was going back and forth in my head for awhile on how I wanted to implement hints into the game. I feel like they are necessary, but difficult to get right. If they're to specific they'll give the puzzle away, but if they're too simple they won't help at all.
The hint fairy will track all the moves that can be done in the puzzle, versus all the moves the player has already tried. When the player asks for a hint, the fairy will select a move the player hasn't tried. It will then indicate this move to the player by hovering nearby the selected component, and displaying the button icon for the move that can be performed to it.
I haven't yet implemented the hint tracking system (next update) but the animations are really cute.
Hint Fairy 2
The hint fairy is finished.
I set up the game to compile a list of all the available puzzle moves at start, and then keep track of which moves the player has already done. When the hint button is pressed, the hint fairy program picks an available move in the list and moves the hint fairy toward the corresponding puzzle piece, to display the associated move.
I came across some issues in the development of this system that still have to be fixed. Namely, the list of moves need to be ordered in a way that makes sense for a given puzzle. I also need to determine the optimal solution for providing hints to the player, at a rate that isn't frustrating but also doesn't remove the challenge. However, I will most likely focus on these issues after I start making real puzzles.