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Puzzle game design--feedback requested!

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I've had an idea for a puzzle game for a while. Basically, it's a cross between Columns and Tetris. Square pieces drop from the top, as usual. Each piece is composed of four "blocks" of two different colors, of a possible four. When three or more blocks of the same color are touching, they are eliminated, with more blocks eliminated equaling more points, and combos worth double points. When any block goes off the top of the screen, the game ends. Pretty basic, I know, but would it be too easy for the play field to fill up? I mean, in tetris, you can fill holes easily because of all the different-shaped pieces, and with Colums, they were all vertical lines. But, with this game, it might be dificult to fill in gaps in lines, because of the comparatively akward shape of the pieces. If you think this would be true (that this would be difficult to play without filling up the board too quickly) how could this be countered? I was considering eliminating completed lines, at a penalty to the player, but I don't know... Also, I'm thinking about adding in a second game mode where you use traditional Tetris pieces, but, as in the origina mode, you match up colors, not complete lines. Each piece will only have two diferent colors, of a possible four. Any comments on this one?

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I love puzzle games, and have been meaning to create one of my own.

One way to counter the possibility of the screen becoming cluttered could be: once the piece is set in place, treat each individual part of that piece seperate. This way, you could allow the pieces to shift and adjust whenever a line or group of colors is eliminated.

There was a version of Tetris (played it on the GBA) that used a mode similar to this. The mode was called "Cascade".

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You're having each block fall seperately when it lands? That game is going to be way too easy.

I'm working on a blocks-related game for work right now. The way ours works is:
- there are 4 colors
- blocks fall in chunks of 2-4 (no limitations on number of colors per chunk)
- block chunks don't retain their shape, blocks fall individually when they land
- blocks clear when 4 or more are touching

Now, with just those rules there, the game is way too easy. Things get cleared without the user even trying. In fact, you have to *try* to lose (maybe that could be the game: try to fill up the board). So in our game, we make it challenging by throwing in lots of special blocks that mess you up, like blocks that are unmatchable, blocks which scramble nearby colors, etc.

When I first read your post, I thought you were having each chunk of blocks retain its shape when it lands (so blocks don't fall individually, and its possible to have holes in the board). I think if you did that, it might have a good difficulty level.

And if it's too hard or too easy, you can always change little details like the number of colors, or the number of adjacent blocks required to clear.

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Actually, that IS what I meant--each square piece retains its shape after it lands, but, afterwards, when lines are cleared, etc. the piece splits up into four seprate blocks--i.e., when spaces are cleared underneath column A of a given piece, but not column B, column A moves downward the designated number of spaces.

*shrugs* break in the communication somewhere...

as far as *your* idea, Pina...that sounds pretty good! I was trying to stay away from "special" blocks myself (I was going for more of a retro flavor), but it sounds like you've gor it worked out pretty well!

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Oh okay, I think that'll work out =) You'll end up with a lot of combos taking place, when you clear a block and the remaining pieces fall down into cracks and cause more clears. And combos are always fun.

Also I will be totally honest here, I'm not crazy about all the special blocks our game has =) Personally I would rather if we could make a challenging game out of a nice simple set of rules, without a lot of random or "special" stuff going on. I think a great example of good design, and quite frankly a work of art, is Lumines. That game only has TWO block colors, only ONE "special" block (which hardly ever shows up) and all the blocks that come down are in 2x2 shapes. And despite all that simplicity, it's totally challenging and engrossing. Now *that's* good game design.

Anyway, hope your game works out well!

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