Trial V #1: Core Game Mechanics and Player Input

Hey guys! I wanted to share the progress of Trial V, the new app I’ve been working on. This post is about how I workshopped the game mechanics and user input to achieve a good balance of game play. I’ve always wanted to make a puzzle game that's challenging and minimal with a competitive twist, and I appreciate puzzle games that allow you to play at your own pace. Trial V is a code-breaker, where the player needs to break a sequence of 5 colours to unlock levels. Here is the process I went through to get the challenge without compramising a zen-like minimalism.

Concept 1: Timing and Frustrations
The first obstacle I had to overcome was to let go of old habits, to think outside the box and evaluate what kind of player input would suit a zen-like code-breaker. Much of my failings with the first concept was that I was preserving the physical ‘challenge’ of my previous apps like Mallow Dash and Time Void, both of which had a fast rhythm. The initial player input mode involved incorporating a dot colour marker that moved from left to right of the screen with a single tap input to place the dot into the right position or to bin the colour to swap out for a new one. When my wife beta tested the first concept, and her feedback was that the game was ‘confusing’ and ‘frustrating’, and she wasn’t sure if it was a test of physical ability or strategy and wit. This player input mode was too fast paced, and just led to frustration so I went back to the drawing board.

Trial V Concept 1

Concept 2: All Buttons... Wrong
For concept 2 I wanted to remove the timing factor so I had to come up with a new way to portray the display of colours. Next I tried having a poker machine-type colour spinner. When a new colour appeared the player tapped on a series of 6 buttons to lock in the colour position or bin it.
I started programming at this point to test the game play, but I found the player input became boring very quickly, and I didn’t feel that buttons work well as a main player’s input strategy on a mobile device for a code-breaker game. I decided to go back to the drawing board for third concept.

Trial V Concept 2

Concept 3: Drag and Drop
Next I tried using a dragging motion for player input, where players would drag and drop blocks around the screen or place them into the bin. I scrapped all of my current code and started again. See below for a video demonstrating the current drag and drop player input and how well it works for a code-breaking game like Trial V.

Trial V Concept 3

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