Elemental Focus

December 7, 2011

Diamond Digger Tips #2: Method to Madness
Filed under: Diamond Digger — Chris @ 1:19 am

On the vast majority of Diamond Digger puzzles, what looks like a vast clump of blocks holds a very simple solution. At the very least, there’s one thing that’s you’re trying to do that goes beyond getting the diamonds to the bottom of the screen (but ultimately results in that).

For example:

This is rather a simple one and the solution is fairly obvious, but the principle is applicable to a lot of other puzzles. Your aim here is to get the metal block to crush a stone block, only then can you slot the diamonds through the bottom row. A fair few puzzles have a similar idea, where, although it might not be getting a piece of metal to the bottom of the screen to feed the diamonds through, there is one block that you need to get to a certain position to proceed with the level.

December 6, 2011

Diamond Digger Tips #1: Eyes on the Prize
Filed under: Diamond Digger — Chris @ 12:48 am

This week I’m going to go through some tips to help solve Diamond Digger puzzles, along with some screenshots/puzzle designs. Nothing ‘spoiler-ish’ if you can use the term for a puzzle game, but something that might be useful in poking you in the right direction.

Tip #1: Eyes on the Prize

The goal of Diamond Digger is to get any diamonds to the bottom of the screen. You can only claim victory when all of the diamonds reach the bottom. However, during testing, I’ve seen a few people seem to forget this goal.

Take this puzzle for example:

(Larger numbers crush smaller numbers)

There are a lot of blocks and a lot of possible things to crush, but the only things you really need to pay attention to are the diamonds in the middle. Your focus should be making moves which either bring them down the screen or line things up in order to bring them down the screen on a later move. Other things crushing each other is irrelevant.

December 2, 2011

Diamond Digger Testing Update
Filed under: Diamond Digger — Chris @ 8:02 pm

So, Diamond Digger is now all but finished. I would expect the Xbox version to launch a week or so before christmas and the IndieCity version to launch when IndieCity is opened to the masses (I’ll probably talk more about this tomorrow). All I’ve got left to do is a few tweaks and re-organise the levels so that they’re in rough difficulty order. This is where the testing comes in.

I’ve been getting lots of lovely other people to play through all of the puzzles in my game, pretty much in the order in which I created them. I then time how long it takes for each person to play through each puzzle. This then means that I take the average time taken to complete each puzzle and get an overall completion time. The results have been quite interesting and general feedback about the game is also very good.

This helps because, having designed the puzzles myself, I have no gauge of how difficult they all are. I played through all 40 earlier today and it took me one hour, with most of the time spent trying to remember how I’d designed the puzzle. The rough time for other people looks as though it’s going to settle around the five hour mark. In addition to the general time discrepancy, some puzzles that are really obvious to me how to solve have consistently tripped people up and vice versa. Therefore, I’m going to use the average completion time as a measure of difficulty and order the puzzles accordingly, which should provide a much nicer difficulty curve.

Next week, I will be posting a series of tips for helping to solve diamond digger puzzles (nothing specific, but there are a few things that if kept in mind, help working out the solution a lot easier).

November 11, 2011

The Cannon has gone gold!
Filed under: Diamond Digger,thecannon — Chris @ 9:59 pm

Sorry for the rubbish updates this week, no excuse really, aside from not having a humoungous amount to talk about.

The PC version of The Cannon is now FINISHED. All things going well, my work on it is done. It has now been submitted to IndieCity’s CAP process. Assuming that the Community Approvers find no reason to fail it, then it should be released at the same time as IndieCity launches.

This, of course, means that work on Diamond Digger is starting up again. All things going well I expect it to be released by the beginning of December, which actually isn’t that far away. So, here are some release details (and dates are subject to chance, mostly due to various approval processes and things going horribly wrong):

Projected XBLIG launch date: 1st December
Projected IndieCity launch date: 7th December

As the game has progressed, the puzzle mode has quickly become the core of the game and at the moment, the game will be launching with 50 puzzles (+ 8 in the tutorial), in addition to the quickplay modes. However, that will not be the end of it.

My intent is for every 1000 sales the game makes (across both platforms), up to 5000, I will create a patch which will add a further 10 puzzles for free! Yes, you may say, if this goes the way of The Cannon, then no new puzzles will be added, but I think its reasonable to ask given the amount of work that goes in to the puzzles. (plus I’ll reach it if you get your friends to buy it!).

Obviously no poll this week (I’ve left it a bit late really)

November 7, 2011

The Tune of the Digger
Filed under: Diamond Digger — Chris @ 7:13 pm

So, the winner of last week’s poll, most of you reading this have probably heard the main piece of music from Diamond Digger as it was featured in the showcase I created for RocketHub.

Maestro McAllister returns to bring us the full tune.

Diamond Digger Main Theme

October 31, 2011

Game Season is a bust

Due to the funding received through the rocketHub project being miles away from the funds that I need to complete the games in Game Season, it will no longer be taking place.

So where does this leave me?

Well, with the funders’ permission, the money will go towards general development of future Elemental Focus games, primarily Diamond Digger and Skies of Fire. These two games will almost certainly see the light of day at some point. However, to continue working on development, I’ll either be getting a part-time job (cutting into development time) or my games need to start selling a bit better. If this doesn’t happen, then I’ll need to cease development before the end of the year.

Only if I am able to continue developing, will I be able to produce Legend of Tora and other games, because otherwise I’m not going to have anything to live on. Failing anything else, I’ll have to get a proper job working for a software company of some sort (maybe game development, maybe not) and IP clauses in contracts would no doubt stop me from developing on the side.

But anyway, moving forward while I can, here’s this week’s poll.

October 30, 2011

The Key of Diamond Digger
Filed under: Diamond Digger — Chris @ 9:08 pm

Today’s post marks the appearance of the fourth of the five original poll’s entries, so next week the options will be almost entirely different from when I started doing this, but anyhow…

Diamond Digger is a puzzle game that revolves around one very simple mechanic. The game consists of an 11 x 10 grid of blocks. Each block is made out of a different kind of material, each with increasing softness. So we start with the diamonds, then metal, stone, wood, ice and so on.

Each block will crush only the types of block that are one softer than itself. If you’re going to complain that that isn’t realistic and the harder objects should crush everything softer then I might have to break out my “realism vs fun article”. Your only control is to be able to bump each row left or right by one, but if this doesn’t result in a successful move, then the row will reset. With this simple mechanic in mind, the aim of the game is to get any and all diamonds to the bottom of the screen to collect them. To spice things up, there are a collection of power-ups which have various effects on the field of play.

As I’ve developed and tested the game more and more, I’ve realised that the real meat of the game is in the puzzle mode, so the main remaining development time is actually in puzzle design, although there’s a lot of polishy type things to do as well. The game also includes quickplay modes for timed and endurance.

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