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Falling Block Puzzle Game

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We've all played them, the infamous "tetris clones". Most of them have very little in common with Tetris, relying on color-matching instead of geometry. I've always enjoyed these games so I'm designing my own in my spare time. My question to you guys is what makes these games addicting? There are only so many different ways to line up colored blocks, so making it unique is going to have to be done in the details. What I have right now is a very straightforward color matching game. There are four different colors of blocks, they fall from the top two at a time and you can rotate and place them where you want. Three in a row makes a match. As it is, its got nice control but its not very exciting. It is very easy, you can fill almost to the top and then clear everything out within a minute or two. This is where Game Design comes in. What is your favorite part of a puzzle game? There are a number of elements to consider.. specifically speed versus complexity. Some games choose to keep things simple in order to make the game playable at insane speeds, while others tend to slow things down a bit because there is more planning ahead required to chain combos and do well. I'm a bit torn on which direction to take it in so I figured I'd see if anybody has an opinion on the subject. Either way its going to need both to be fun, but I think it should have a focus. Its hard to give an opinion on a game you've never seen, but theres so little to it that we're still really at a theory stage.

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I'd say that most color-matching games are a combination of reactions, quick thinking, and planning ahead. As the game gets faster, you can't plan ahead so easily and must rely on quick thinking and reactions even more. It's a very in-the-moment kind of game, and some kinds of people like to lose themselves in those moments.

For your game, consider some of the following:

* Increase the "group size" to three instead of two, thereby increasing the number of problematic blocks that the player has to deal with. (Edit: also consider having groups of three that aren't linear, e.g. in an L or V shape).

* Allow for chain reactions, if you aren't already. Chain reactions are a huge part of the planning-ahead aspect.

* Add special blocks of various kinds, e.g. a skull block that can only be cleared by having a clear occur next to it (or possibly several clears). For added difficulty, skull blocks don't fall when the area beneath them is cleared.

* Add additional colors to be matched against.

One of my favorite games of this type is Jewelbox, which was an old Mac game - we're talking MacOS 7.0 or so here. The game dropped groups of three jewels in a column; you could rotate their position in the column but not the column itself (so it was always a 1x3 grouping). At 50k and 100k points you got an extra life and a new color to match against; also, occasionally you'd be given an onyx jewel. Being rarer than the other colors, onyx jewels were harder to clear; however, they were worth significantly more points. Clearing an onyx jewel in a chain reaction got you a massive point boost. Additionally, the game had very serene music and the clear-jewel sound effects were various chimes, which I found worked much better than the typical bleeps, boops, and techno music.

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One of my favorite variations on this is the Color/Number matching game found on many touch screen units found in various bars through out the world... So you'd have 4 colors along with 4 numbers(symbols) and each of those could be matched up. More colors/Numbers would make it difficult all the same, and I second the combo system being in place to add that planning ahead element.

My addiction comes from the fact that I like placing high on the score board and put a NOT in front of the person that is now in second place. I'm a turd like that.

So it would look something like this
1. NOT Bonnie 102034
2. Bonnie 97832
2. Bonnie 94441
2. Bonnie 92098


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