Thursday, July 23, 2015

Flash Game Mini-Review: Hexad

Oh, god, the music! It's so catchy! It burns! It burrrns!

Hexad is a quick little puzzle game where you click on groups of hexes to remove them from the screen.  If, in doing so, you separate the connected hexes into groups, the smaller groups all disappear.  The goal is to make all the hexes disappear given a limited number of clicks.  Some hexes can't be clicked on, so you have to find a way to put those into a small group to make them disappear.

Hexad Level 9
I don't know why, but this level killed me.
Each level offers at least four ways to beat it, since you can click on each of the four colors as your last move, and you get a mark for completing the level and ending on that color.  My minor complaint about that is that in some levels you can win two ways just by repeating your previous moves verbatim but switching the order of the last two hexes you click on, so there's not always too much challenge in discovering a completely new sequence of moves.  However, you also get more stars for beating a level under the maximum number of moves (although I think you might also get three stars just by beating a level with all four colors last).

It's a fun little minimalist game that has some challenging replayability to each level (if beating a level once isn't challenging enough for you), but the biggest draw for me is the music.

I don't know what that tune is, if I've heard it before or what, but my god does it ever get stuck in your head.  When you click off the game, the music pauses, which is a blessing, because if it didn't, I'd be listening to it until I went crazy.  They must have tested this game without that and sent half their tester to the nuthouse.

Now that I think about it, it sounds like the Super MarioLand music somewhere.

Do do do do, do do do do...

I take it back! You can do other stuff and listen at once! I'm doing it now!

Wah doot doot, wah doot doot...


Friday, July 17, 2015

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It's been a pretty long haul getting lots of FissureVerse stuff moving along.  I basically spent each week thinking "this will be the week where I can't get anything done", but then I get great responses from artists and can post some art (and make other adjustments to the cards and rules).  This week I finally got nothing.

Notice there is no paper in the typewriter. That's metaphorical of something.
Now I think I'm a little burnt out with FissureVerse, and of course I've been itching to get back into Latchkey ever since I set it aside.  It always one of those things where you change your mind the moment you've made a decision.

So this week I guess my post is just this update.  The schedule for me is: next week I'll make at least one post (if I still have no work on FissureVerse to report, I may do a game review), but I'm off on an adventure the week after so no post for that week.

When I get back, I may settle down and start cranking on Latchkey again.  I'm reconsidering a lot of things I was doing (including making the interface less than six big blocks), so the project may get restarted, which, on the whole, is probably a good decision, so I can use proper programming practices from the get-go.  I will likely also reconsider some mechanics.  But I guess that remains to be seen.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

FissureVerse - Symbols, Frenzy Bluff Attacks, and New Cards

First: six cards get new art!  Thanks to Mariel, cubehero, and Saana Viinikka for the art!  All of them are awesome people and awesome artists!

Coded, Twister, The Cursed, Through the Mud
Click to read the macabre!
I'm so happy to be getting more art for Frenzies and The Noise! Of all the different categories of cards, they've been lagging behind the most, but all of these catch the darker, more brutal tone of these kinds of cards.

For the flavor text of Coded, I considered writing "Never give up, never surrender!" in binary or hex, but neither come out looking interesting, so I decided a more Infinite-esque quip would do better.

For Twister, it's got a bit of a similar theme to Solidity's Turbulent, but I tried what I could to break it off from being identical.  In lieu of flavor text, I decided to make the special rules a little twistery.

I might have considered flavor text for The Cursed, but trying to get the special rules text to be logical enough without being awkwardly verbose was a challenge enough in itself.  Besides, I think this guy looks sufficiently dark and brooding to warrant a more silent card.

Typically when I find a great piece of art, I go down the list and see what could be a potential match.  For the last piece of art above, I was hemming and hawing over a bunch of different cards, like Brainwash or Corruption or Decomposing, but when my eye glanced over Through the Mud (a card my eyes usually glance over, as I never expect to find art for it), the name jumped out at me.  I did not expect to find such great art for Through the Mud so fast.  It looks like he's draining her energy or strength, which works in a wonderful way, taking the metaphoric visual of dragging someone through the mud and making a more literal and macabre act out of it.

I also like how I'm now tying cards together.  I like to think that The Derelict live on Grime, or possibly the Plains of Filth (maybe Sewerlife coexists with them), but now I've gone a step further in cohesion to give flavor text from other Crusaders.  I had done it with Trail of Emptiness (giving it a Song of the Walkers), and I hope to do it with more, as I can find places for them.

Brim of Despair, Limbo Rock
Click for more macabre and sadness.
Brim of Despair gets a nice revamp.  I changed the flavor text to be more disturbing, and in line with how Solidity acts.  They aren't the jokey type like The Noise is, so I removed the old mixed up quote I had and replaced it with this new text.  I think it works in that brutal, Stockholm Syndrome way Solidity likes to operate.

Limbo Rock gets to keep its old flavor text, but I think I've found just the right art to capture what I was getting at.  I think of Limbo Rock as being something of a holy site or pilgrimage site, but I always thought it would be tough to find art that's just right.  Luckily, like Through the Mud, I found the art long before I expected.

If you haven't noticed on the cards, I've also added symbols to them all.  I wanted to make sure colorblind players could distinguish factions and turn order, and I think I found a good way to do it.  I'll try my best to refer to each faction by name, rather than color now.

The symbol of The Infinite is, most logically, an infinity sign.  The symbol for The Noise is a heartbeat/pulse/sound wave.  I think those two work the best in terms of making a literal translation of their names.

Of course, Solidity and Emptiness were tougher.  What was I going to do to show Solidity? A cube? So I went with something that shows their personality and place in the cosmos: a spiky crown.  They are the rulers of the universe, the movers and shakers, and the King rules from his throne on Capitalia, with the Bishop of Hatred whispering in his ear, his legion of Thunderheads striking fear in the hearts of the people.

For Emptiness, the obvious thought is to have no symbol, but of course that's just unsymmetrical.  So I went with a leaf or feather, because they are tribal, nature-type people.

You can see these symbols on the Location cards inside the colored dots for turn order, and you can see them on the bottom of each Crusader card.  I used to have a tilde there, and I still do for Rogations, but I figured that was a good space-saving spot to put those symbols, so when you're counting up cards at the end you can quickly spot the symbol on an outer edge.

Of course, once again this only effects cards with art and cards that will get art (I am so bad at organizing templates and such).

Lastly, a new change that affects the rules: you can now not only Bluff Attack a Conditional Rogation, but you can also Bluff Attack a Frenzy.  I altered the way the rules work a tad so you get a choice of rewards for doing so, and if the Opponent wasn't bluffing, they get a few options to rectify the situation.

It's been a few posts since I actually linked to the drive, so here it is.

I do want to make a change to the goal of the game, or at least how points are potentially scored, since doing a bit of calculating leads me to believe the factions are imbalanced.  I almost want to hold off on that though, until I get some playtests and get a bit of a gauge on win ratios.  A heck of a lot of factors can go into this kind of thing.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

FissureVerse - More on Rogations, because I'm nuts.

Let's start with the card art this time:

Click to see bigger!
I decided to put this guy by OTKMan1995 on Echoes, because... because!  Echoes, despite having great attributes, always felt like a weak card to me, perhaps because of the name.  But with this art, I feel like it's now a must-have in Solidity's deck.

Click to embiggen!
The art by TheMichaelMacRae for Battlefield looks like a movie.  The only change I made to the flavor text was an exclamation point.  You'd think in the heat of battle, you'd be shouting, not growling, eh?

Anyways: quite a few changes to the rules.  I've updated the language to keep vocabulary correct, but I've also added rules so you can gain tokens from Rogations, and you can now Bluff Conditional Rogations.  You can also call a Rogation's Bluff as a Crusade Action.  (I made it a Crusade Action because it costs Tokens to perform).

I'm sure I'm missing something in the rest of the rules, too, especially since I had to add a whole bunch of rules and clarifications which I thought were already in there.

I've also gone through and added the Faction label on all Crusaders at the bottom of each card.  This will help colorblind people easily differentiate between Factions.  I'll have to fix Locations, as well, so each colored dot somehow says something more.  I'm thinking of the Faction letters within the dots, like S for Solidity in Yellow... but I feel like that might look off.  Oof--I just realized I need to make the Special Color Text something else as well...

In the same spot as the Faction labels on Crusaders, I've added the type of Rogation to each Rogation, so now there is absolutely no guesswork as to whether a Rogation is Immediate, Lasting, or Conditional.  It also looks better than bolding the first few words of each Rogation.

Now I wonder if at some point I'll come up with different styles of Frenzies...