Posts Tagged ‘A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build’

A Good Puzzle Game Is Hard To Build

Making a puzzle game is certainly no piece of cake! Ha! Ha! Ha! *cuts wrists*

I love puzzle games. But it’s not beating them that’s the exciting part: it’s understanding them.

Whether mulling over a cryptic crossword or somersaulting through Portal’s portals, there’s a moment of epiphany which, for me, pretty much transcends all other moments in gaming. But how do you design a puzzle to best provoke that eureka moment? What gives a puzzle its aesthetic, its pace and texture? Why does one puzzle feel thrilling while another feels like a flat mental grind?

I’ve asked three of my favourite puzzle game designers to demystify their dark magicks: Jonathan Blow, best known for the puzzle-platformer Braid and currently hard at work on firstperson perplexathon, The Witness; Alan “Draknek” Hazelden, creator of Sokoban-inspired sequential-logic games, including Sokobond, Mirror Isles and the forthcoming A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build; and Jonathan Whiting, a programmer on Sportsfriends and collaborator with Hazelden on Traal, whose own games are a regular Ludum Dare highlight.

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Do You Want To Build A Snowman?

He seems less into this than I am.

There’s a press preview build of A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build by Alan Hazelden and Ben Davis which I’ve been playing this weekend. I was streaming it because it felt festive and I was trying to cheer myself up after I managed to smash nearly all of my glass baubles in a decorating incident. The puzzle game’s not actually due out until the “end of winter” but this should give you an idea of what to expect!

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A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build Gets Video, Hugs (!!!)

Yes, that bench will be called Tanya. I have no idea what to name the snowperson. I'm total rubbish at names.

I grew up in Texas. For reference, that means I didn’t actually believe in snow until age 14. I just thought it was freezer chilled flour adults mashed into the ground once every couple years to convince us Santa was real. Thus, I am either a) not A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build‘s target audience at all or b) the perfect person to melt in the face of its powdery wiles, given that my experience with truly good snowmen – god-fearing snowmen – is almost non-existent. Given how much I enjoyed its gently puzzly demo, I’m leaning toward the latter. There’s finally a trailer now, so you can better understand what I saw in it. And oh goodness, they’ve added the ability to hug snowpeople. That’s… diabolical.

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Hands-On Impressions: A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build

Being from Texas, I can count the number of snowmen I’ve built on one hand. Being from Texas, they were also about the size of said one hand. I did get the chance to slap together a bulbous yeti of truly epic proportions in college, though. I took so much pride in that dumb thing that I nearly tried to put a hit out on whomever kicked it down during that coldest of winter nights. I can identify with A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build‘s title, is what I’m saying. The game itself, however, is probably not what you’re expecting – a thing of snow-white relaxation and contemplation, not astute snowperson defense. It’s a simple yet wickedly challenging puzzler from Sokobond designer Alan Hazelden, with lovably, huggably soft personality to match.

Each snowperson has a name. A name! Awwwwwwwww.

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