Thursday, November 28, 2013

Zen Garden Puzzle: Evolution of graphics design

My new game, Zen Garden Puzzle, is finally ready and is waiting for review from Apple. If nothing goes wrong, it should be on sale a couple of weeks from now, just in time for Christmas.

I had talked about this game almost exactly 6 months ago. My original intention was to write regular updates and release the game in September, but development was harder than expected and it absorbed me completely. I'll try to make up now for the lack of updates.

When I review games, I try to see past the presentation and judge the core mechanics, but it's undeniable that a good looking game is more enjoyable than a bad looking one.

I wanted this game to look good, but I do all the graphics myself and as an artist I'm not half as good as as a programmer. To overcome my limits, my initial plan was to make a minimalistic game, with very simple abstract graphics. Initial prototypes looked like this.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Indie puzzle games and the charts

In my review of Strata I mentioned how the game was strangely listed in the TouchArcade weekly list of new releases, even if it had been released a few weeks before.

This was a wonderful occasion to check how much media coverage influences the downloads of indie puzzle games, so I've been keeping an eye on how it was doing in the charts.

The results speak for themselves. Here is a graph taken from App Annie (click to enlarge):

Friday, November 22, 2013

Review: Strand for iPhone and iPad

I was surprised to see Strand mentioned in yesterday's "What's out today" article on TouchArcade, for a couple fo reasons. First, because it is not the kind of game you often see covered by TouchArcade. Second, because it was actually released three weeks ago, and I had it in my list of games to review since then.
In a market flooded by clones of Flow (something that I will have to talk about sooner or later), Strand is a refreshingly new take on the "connect the dots" genre.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Update: Circles 1.1

Apologies for the infrequent updates of the past few weeks. I'm at the end of the final push to put out my new game on the App Store. More news soon.

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed Circles, a game which seemed promising but turned out to be only a different presentation for a common puzzle.

I'm happy to say that the author quickly addressed the shortcomings, and added new configurations which are quite original and challenging, and require some serious thinking to be solved.
I've updated the review with all the details of the new puzzles, so give it a second look.

©2013 Nicola Salmoria. Unauthorized use and/or duplication without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicola Salmoria and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review: The Mansion: A Puzzle of Rooms for iPhone and iPad

In 2006, a group of students of the Sungkyunkwan University, lead by Kim Jonghwa, developed an original game called Rooms. It can be played online on JayIsGames.
Later it became Rooms: The Main Building and was ported to several systems, but the iOS version is no longer available.
A sequel has now been released, called The Mansion: A Puzzle of Rooms, sharing the game mechanics, but with a completely different setting.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Review: Circles: Rotate the Rings, Slide the Sectors, Combine the Colors for iPhone and iPad

The first release of Circles was quite boring. From the screenshots it seemed something different, but in reality it was just another impersonation of the ubiquitous toroidal sliding block puzzle. The only difference was that instead of the usual square grid, in this game the tiles are warped to form a circle.
Luckily, version 1.1 fixed this by adding several new configurations that are guaranteed to make even experts of sliding block puzzles scratch their head.