Bigosaur blog

Block Buster Billy - what makes a good puzzle game

I have been toying with an idea for a puzzle game for a while. I have released a bunch of puzzle games so far, with varied success. Rogue Bit has been the most polished product so far, but it's a game for a very niche audience of programmers and computer hardware enthusiasts. Seeders has been a hit and miss. It has awesome puzzles, but Box2D physics is somewhat inconsistent, so you often figure out a way to solve it and then spent of lot of time trying to execute. It removed and changed a lot of those in the Seeders Puzzle Reboot version, but it still isn't perfect. The Game is ON was a very fun game to make, but it doesn't seem so fun to play. The actual fun was coming up with a scene that fits the idiom, but trying to discover it while playing just doesn't feel that good.'

I took all these lessons from the past experience when making Billy. I wanted a game that has tight controls, so I picked the turn-based approach. The puzzles range from very easy, to very hard. Similar to Baba Is You, you can play with the blocks until something 'clicks' and you figure it out.

The game is powered by the same engine I used for Rogue Bit, so it scales the graphics nicely to 4K monitors and beyond. The fact that the mechanics are based on numbers and basic math, makes it translatable to every language. The only thing that really needs translation are the level names, but they aren't really that important to the gameplay as they rarely give a hint. Most of the time, the player has all the tools and is left to discover the solution on their own. I made a first level set which teaches you the ropes, so you aren't lost in a tough puzzle immediately.

Making this game was also fun for me. I had a very interesting approach for this one: I would get some basic idea, try to build a level from that and then try to solve it. When it was too easy, I would add stuff that make it harder - to the point where I felt like it was unsolvable. Then I would try to solve the level for 30-60 minutes, to see if I can come up with some original way. If I manage to do it, that's a perfect level. Of course, sometimes it really is impossible and I have to loosen some of the restrictions.

While developing the levels, I would often notice alternate solutions that require completely different approach. In such cases, I would split the level into two levels - and then edit each one to make sure either of the two approaches only work in one of the levels. I love that feelling when a player comes into the level thinking 'Oh, I know this' and then get stumped when they see that a single block is missing or something has moved by one tile and it requires a completely different way of solving.

I'm done with puzzles involving equations, inequations, adding and subtractions. I plan to add multiplication, and possibly variables and have about 120-150 levels for the final game. I plan to release on Steam and Nintendo Switch. Maybe mobile platforms as well? Not sure about that yet.

Feedback & Share Bigosaur, 2022-06-20

CM:TS - Scenario objectives

As all the base game mechanics are implemented, I'm starting to add different stories for each scenario. In one of those, you need to research quantum computing and build a superior AI.

In another one, you have to build a solar plant and become carbon neutral while also helping your local community.

You can also launch your own crypto currency.

Or run your own crypto currency exchange market.

Feedback & Share Bigosaur, 2022-03-29

CM:TS - Set mining for the whole rack

I have started the beta testing with some players recently and the most common feature request was being able to set mining for the whole rack. I tried a couple of different iterations for this feature and settled on right-clicking any piece of hardware inside the rack, for example, a GPU - and then setting the mining target for all hardware of that type. For example, you can set all GPUs to mine Ehtereum, all CPUs to mine Monero, all FPGAs to mine Litecoin.

The same option works for overclocking as well.

Feedback & Share Bigosaur, 2022-02-24

CM:TS - Heat, Noise and Dust simulation

This is the hardest part of the game to make. Getting it right while also making it efficient is tricky and it took me a couple of tries to get it right.

The noise is pretty much straightforward once you learn how decibels work. Heat is another issue. It starts with electricity use and natural dissipation and then you have to simulate spreading and respect the fan directions. Additionally, I'm taking outside temperature into account because you can play the game in different regions. For example, the base temperature is higher in Africa. In the end, you also have cooling with air conditioners to spice it up a notch.

My initial plan was to also simulate day and night cycle, but as I played the game I noticed that I run it a full speed a lot. That's one day of game time in 3 seconds of real time. It makes the lights flicker so bad that I have turned it off and scrapped the idea.

Feedback & Share Bigosaur, 2022-02-11

CM:TS - Graphics perfected

I have completed a lot of graphics, including various pieces of hardware and the icons of item categories.

Feedback & Share Bigosaur, 2022-01-11

CM:TS - Phone

Phone will be used for various in game events. You will get messages from NPCs, pay monthly bills, read the news related to market and new hardware, get alerts from your employees, get a bank loan. The make it realistic, you can also play a game on your phone.

Each scenario will have a story that plays out as you interact with various NPC characters via phone messages. Their quests will include mining, trading, research and more.

Feedback & Share Bigosaur, 2022-01-10

CM:TS - Tiles

There will be about 10 different floor tiles with different prices and dust factor. Dust plays a huge role in the game, as having high dust makes your equipment wear out faster, mostly due to fans breaking resulting in silicon overheating. Keeping dust low will be expensive. You will have to buy and install more expensive floors and/or use enclosed racks and PC cases with filters.

Each facility you rent or buy will have different starting floors which affect the price. So, you will be able to buy a room with concrete and replace all the tiles.

Feedback & Share Bigosaur, 2022-01-06

CM:TS - Trade

You can trade crypto currency and watch the market trends. This feature was something I was fearful of, but it turned out pretty straightforward to make. As I learned more about he actual graphs used on the stock market, I figured that it could be simplified a lot as players don't really need all that information and would probably be confusing to many. So, you only have the current price and daily movement.

The game uses real market data, which includes prices, hash rates and mining block rewards. I was fearful of this, but it turns out that it posses a pretty good challenge as the real market had its ups and downs over the years.

For trading, I have decided to scrap the spread and simply allow to always transact for 100k coins. If you buy or sell a lot, the price will move. To prevent infinite money with instant pump and dump, I have added a 6% transaction fee. You will be able to lower this by running your own exchange in one of the scenarios.

Feedback & Share Bigosaur, 2021-12-02

CM:TS - Research

You might wonder, what would all those people do. Well, once they finish setting up the hardware, it's mostly a waiting game. So, I added research. People can perfect their skills, which broadens the types of tasks you can give them.

They can also research company technologies. These go into your company IP, and you can even have teams of multiple employees researching the same thing together to get it done faster. This way you can beat the market, for example by researching advanced mining hardware, or getting better solar panels before eveyone else.

Also, most game scenarios are tied to some type of research.

Feedback & Share Bigosaur, 2021-11-12

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