Hey everyone, Sam here to talk to you about our core puzzle mechanics in the game. Of the many elements of the game, the puzzles have been one of the elements that has been constantly revised (whether it was drastic overhauls with different types of puzzles or with minor tweaks to playability). Initially, we had many different ideas on how we wanted to tackle the puzzles in our game (from having blocks that required multiple stars to moving doors). Eventually, we decided to focus on a few core elements that players found fun in play-tests, including: racing against a platform to catch up to it, trying to stay on a platform as it keeps moving, and climbing a huge tower. While these puzzles were received pretty well in playtests, problems became clear the more we playtested the game. The first problem that emerged was not in the puzzles themselves, but in how we laid out the level. We initially decided that it would be best to have players be able to play any puzzle in any order to foster a sense of exploration. However, this meant that puzzles were designed to all be relatively equal in terms of difficulty, which did not allow us to build upon previous levels or properly introduce mechanics to players.
The second problem that emerged was that the puzzles were not focused. While they did feature the player in a different scenario for each puzzle, the player was basically using the same set of strategies to overcome the puzzle, and the puzzles therefore felt somewhat similar. Additionally, the openness of each puzzle meant players would often lose track of their stars and that the difficulty of missing a jump often resulted in a great deal of lost progress. Thus, to counter these problems, we decided to pivot the core of the puzzle design into something simpler and easier to understand. Instead of focusing on different scenarios, we decided to focus on the 3 basic ways objects can be manipulated: transform, rotation, and scale. This allowed us to create more interesting puzzles that felt more focused that also built upon the knowledge that players had accumulated as they played. In addition, we changed the game from semi-linear to primarily linear to allow for our puzzles to build upon themselves. This has allowed players to actually be able to complete our puzzles and allowed for a lot more players to enjoy the game. KISS (Keep it simple, silly) continues to be a core way to streamline and improve our design.