“Grow longer on the flesh of those that would opress you”, reads the description for Jonathan Whiting’s new elongated flesh snake game BLOODWORM [official site]. Yeah, it’s probably a metaphor for wangs.
In the case of Mussel, mussel stands for Miniature Underwater Strange Squid Eradication Liner and not any kind of bivalve mollusk with a brown or purplish-black shell. It is the name of the underwater fighting vessel you’ll be piloting in the shiny new indie shmup by brothers Jonathan and David Whiting.
RPS Feature The aesthetics of puzzle game design
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.
Do you remember These Robotic Hearts Of Mine? It’s a puzzler with a narrative and even if it wasn’t entirely successful, the moments when the story and mechanics interlock were effective. The chap who created the puzzler has several other games available and even though it isn’t new, I discovered Traal last night, following its release on iOS. It’s a collaboration with Jonathan Whiting and while its chunky, murky pixels may be off-putting to some, it’s worth sticking around for the clever horror twist. In gaming, there are monsters that kill, monsters that make the vision go blurry, and, now, monsters that trigger an automatic flight response when the player sees them.