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  • Designing For Short And Long Term Fun

    - James Kay
  • (This is a repost from the Piczle Cross Adventure devblog at

    From the very first game the Piczle series has been about adding some game-y-ness to the logic-puzzle formula. Even though most logic-puzzles in and of themselves appeal to puzzle fanatics, I truly believe that adding an extra layer or two on top of them can enhance the experience.

    The problem with a lot of game design ideas is that they are fairly obvious or at least sound very obvious when written down. In this post I'll try to explain a system I keep in mind when I design my games.

    The Multi-level (it's not a pyramid!) experiential graph

    As a mental road-map I often make myself refer to a thing, which I've never named, but let's say the "Multi-level (it's not a pyramid!) experiential graph" (like one half of the conjoined triangles of success). Every element of the game design falls within one of these bands. During development I try to compartmentalise design decisions within these bands and, more importantly, try to make sure the game has all of these bands, the bottom one being the most important.


    Immediate experience are things like control, and the very basic task of your game. What is the player actually doing the most, from minute to minute? Obviously in Piczle that refers to the actual logic-puzzle element. Do the controls feel right? When the player presses action is the result immediate and satisfying?

    E.g. in Piczle Lines DX I added little touches like the completed line animating, albeit very quickly, to fill out. Or when you deleted a line it would pop into a small shower of pixels. In Piczle Cross Adventureblocks and crosses animate in. When you move the cursor there is an subtle rumble (which can be switched off) and if you have selected the "auto-correct" option, when you draw a block incorrectly the screen shakes, the block flashes red. A lot of time has been spent to make this element of the game feel satisfactory. Afterall, this is what you spend most of the time doing.

    Immediate 2

    In Piczle Cross Adventures there is actually a second immediate experience and that is character control. As you move your main character, Score-chan, around the world it has to feel satisfactory. Tweaking movement speed continues as the project progresses. Dust clouds appear as she runs. She is the only character in the game to be animated with 8 directions of movement (everybody else, to save time, only moves up, down, left or right, but Score-chan can move up and left or down and right and all the other combinations as well). Score-chan has double the number of frames of animation compared to NPCs (non-player characters) as well. Her head-bob as she walks is more pronounced. She also has a host of idle animations.

    Exploring with Score-chan and Gig

    If I am to invite players to invest their time into exploring the world, finding secrets and puzzles it needs to control well and be fun.


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