Count to Omnipotent

Count to Omnipotent
The Cube that Could
Game Development Methodology
Alexandre Pimentel
Competion and Domain Analysis
Puzzle Games
Puzzle games have existed since long before computers exist. The word puzzle itself was first
mentioned in the late 16th century, but back then it was simply used as a verb, as a synonym to
the verbs confound or perplex. In the 18th century, the first Jigsaw puzzle was created with the
objective of testing one’s memory of the world map1. The word puzzle started being used as a
way to mention “a toy with the objective of testing one’s ingenuity” only in the 19 th century2.
After that, puzzle games took many forms and in the late 20th century they arrived to the
electronic world.
In 19843, the first well-known puzzle game, Tetris, was created. To this day it’s the most sold
game of all time4, and part of the foundation of not only puzzle video games but every video
game created.
Fast-forward to today, the puzzle game genre is one of the most profitable in the mobile
industry. Candy Crush Saga is one of the most profitable mobile games ever made, making 500k
dollars per day5. This is an example of a pure puzzle game that became successful with its
monetization solution and connection with social networks.
However, puzzle games are not all that simple. Take games like the Portal franchise, Lemmings,
Fez, Braid, Limbo, Thomas Was Alone, Catherine, Scribblenauts, World of Goo, L.A. Noire,
Monkey Island, Monument Valley, Fahrenheit, Contrast, etc. which in essence, gameplay-wise,
are puzzle games but most are also an adventure. This is what Count to Omnipotent aims to be,
a thoughtful experience and not simply an arcade-like game.
Taking the competition into account, these are the most direct comparisons:
Thomas Was Alone:
Similar concept in story and puzzle solving
Puzzles are quite challenging at times
Simple graphics
Gameplay includes multiple characters that don’t change
Requires reaction
Can only control the characters
Really interesting story with a strong message
Is connected to the real world with its story
Puzzles are mostly fun
Good atmosphere provided by the music and voice acting
Can be frustrating with some nearly pixel perfect puzzles
Sometimes too simple while others too complicated
Changing characters can be annoying
Rubek and Cubrick:
Simple puzzles
Simple aesthetics
No story
Can only control the character
It’s always a cube
Simple controls
Gets increasingly difficult as you play
Concepts are properly introduced
Little depth, concepts are introduced in the first few levels
Monument Valley:
Can manipulate the level
Linear puzzles
Only one character
Complex structures in the levels
“Plays” with the camera position by creating illusions
Aesthetically pleasant
Great music and sound effects
Animations can take too long since it’s all about the visual experience
Can be really confusing
In the real world, the best possible comparison are shape-fitting or shape-sorting games, for
Players: The players are anyone who already plays a game. Anyone who solves either virtual or
physical puzzles can be considered a player. These are the people that will find this game by
themselves and eventually share them with friends or family.
Competition: The competition are the puzzle games that the players already play. These affect
the sales of the game and will be affected by the existence of the game.
Developers and Artists: Developers and artists are the people who make the game. In this case,
it’s the people responsible for the entire game, from concept to final result and anyone who
created the engine and tools to be used for the game.
Children and Parents: Children and Parents are directly connected to each other. They both can
find the game or be told about it and share it with the other. Parents can search for games to let
their young children play, while Children can show their parents the games they’re playing. As
the game is not aimed at any specific age group, both are stakeholders.
Friends: Friends, much like family, can share the game with anyone. Since the game is a puzzle
game, it’s rare to get media coverage, which means word of mouth is the most important way
of getting as many people as possible to know about it.
Teachers, colleagues and MOJO participants: These are the people who the developers will get
in direct contact with. While the teachers evaluate the game and the colleagues can give their
opinion throughout the development, the MOJO participants can be the biggest leap outside of
the educational zone.
Player Personas
Name: Matt Roberts
Gender: Male
Age: 31
Background: Born in England, works in the U.S.A., has 2 kids he sees only in the weekend
Profession: Flies all over the world, making a lot of money
Favourite games: Puzzle games he can play on his phone, all of them
Currently playing: 200 different puzzle games
Player type: Mastermind
Interests: Business, Travel, puzzle games
Context of play: Plays on every flight he takes and with his children on the weekends
Goals: Plays to keep his brain working
Activities: Sells stuff, travels and plays puzzle games
Knowledge: Give him a puzzle and he will solve it
Skills: Can play Tetris blindfolded
Limitations: Can’t play any other type of game
Name: Lara Léger
Gender: Female
Age: 8
Background: Lives in Marseille, goes to school, plays Minecraft
Profession: Student
Favourite games: Minecraft
Currently playing: Minecraft
Player type: Survivor-Socialiser
Interests: History and videogames
Context of play: Plays every evening when she gets back home from school
Goals: Have fun
Activities: Eat icecream and study
Knowledge: Saw her dad playing Minecraft before she could even talk, is now a master at it
Skills: Finds diamond blocks in a new world in under 5 minutes on Minecraft
Limitations: Her parents can’t get her to do anything else at home
Name: John Baker Lutece
Gender: Male
Age: 24
Background: Born and living in Portugal, studies Computer Science while working full time
Profession: Student and Consultant
Favourite games: Portal 2, Metal Gear Solid 5, Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us
Currently playing: The Witcher 3, Doom
Player type: Mastermind-Seeker
Interests: Videogames, music
Context of play: Plays at home in the evening and in the weekends
Goals: Plays to relax and live otherworldly experiences
Activities: Plays and makes videogames
Knowledge: Knows many games, expert in problem solving
Skills: Attention to detail and quick thinking, can fix pretty much everything
Limitations: Can’t beat a boss in Dark Souls without dying at least 20 times, has terrible
reflexes, doesn’t remember anything he’s told to do
Focus Group Description
General feedback from contacted potential players
Most people liked the idea but don’t see how the level manipulation will contribute to the
gameplay. The suggestion is to include a post-game level creation system instead, which I think
is not a bad idea but may defeat part of the game’s idea (especially the story).
One person suggested Monument Valley as one of the games in the competition since it fits in
the level manipulation and the general aspect of the game. Everyone else considered the
competition accurate and liked the idea. The main concern of anyone I contacted that has also
made videogames seems to be the complexity of the game itself.
The Focus Group
Guilherme Pereira – Type C (The Yes or No)
Motivation – Challenging the mind; the tutorial/introduction caught his attention
Capabilities – Has a low tolerance to puzzles different from the ones he already knows or timed
Knowledge – Plays any puzzle as long as he quickly understands the mechanics
Context of Play – Always alone at home, but likes to compete with the computer
BrainHex – Conqueror-Achiever
Rodrigo Portalet – Type A (The Skilled)
Motivation – Wants to feel like he can achieve the goal while training his problem solving skills
Capabilities – Can solve any puzzle with persistence, even if it takes hours
Knowledge – Plays any type of puzzle except puzzles related to horror games
Context of Play – Depending on the puzzle, wherever it can be played, but usually alone
BrainHex – Achiever-Mastermind
Sancho de Mascarenhas – Type A (The Skilled)
Motivation – Wants some relaxing time
Capabilities – Can solve any puzzle with persistence, even if it takes hours
Knowledge – Plays any type of puzzle except timed puzzles (which he doesn’t like)
Context of Play – Depending on the puzzle, wherever it can be played, but usually alone
BrainHex – Socialiser-Conqueror
Rui Silveira – Type D (The “If I Have to Play it…”)
Motivation – A calm and relaxing experience, with little emotion, that is challenging to the mind
Capabilities – Average player that doesn’t play puzzle games that much
Knowledge – Doesn’t really know much about puzzles since he doesn’t play them
Context of Play – Prefers to play in groups instead of alone
BrainHex – Conqueror-Socialiser
Bruno Rocha – Type B (The Brainstorm Casual)
Motivation – Challenging the mind (easy games are not fun)
Capabilities – Slightly above average, it doesn’t need to be too complicated to be challenging
Knowledge – Plays any type of puzzle except timed puzzles (which he doesn’t like)
Context of Play – Usually plays alone but likes doing puzzles with others
BrainHex – Survivor-Socialiser
Play Scenarios
John gets back home after a long day at work. He finds some time to play the game on his new
computer but as he launches it he realizes his graphics drivers are not up-to-date yet and the
game looks very glitched. He decides to give up and leave it for another time.
Lara arrives home after school. After playing games for hours, her computer stops working. She
asks her dad to play on his computer but it’s not very powerful so can only play simple games.
Her dad searches for something that he could install for her on his computer and finds this game.
She starts playing it and actually enjoys it.
Matt finds the game while on his daily search on game stores. Apparently he can’t play on his
phone so he decides to try it out during the weekend when he’s with his kids. He installs it on
their computer but after a few minutes into the game he figures it’s better if played by just one
person, so he asks them if they want to play something else together instead and they do it.
Matt forgets about the game but his oldest kid picks it up again during the week and, after
completing it, tells his friends about it.
Game Experience Goals
To make people aware of the game, it should be appealing visually with its simplicity. The
graphics should not be too complex, but should still look sharp and well-polished.
The first experience should be simple and leave the player wanting to continue. The objective is
to introduce the story and basic gameplay during the first few seconds.
While the game is based on levels, there should be a flow that doesn’t feel cut off when every
level ends. However, the player should feel more motivated at some points than others, and
should not feel overwhelmed by new concepts every minute. Even though progress is necessary,
the player should feel able to stop playing at any given moment without forgetting everything
he learned for the next gaming session.
Like with every other game, it should get increasingly difficult and the player should feel a sense
of accomplishment when finishing the game. The player should feel mostly enjoyment and
curiosity towards the next level and the story of the game. In no moment should the player feel
stressed or demotivated to continue.
The game should have an interesting story in the sense that it should not be too easy to
understand nor too simple, and should be a key aspect to understanding the gameplay of the
game. The ever-evolving cube, the main character, should have a connection to the player and
react to his actions, helping him or simply complaining when he’s doing things wrong and also
be amused when he does things right. The cube should have a complex personality of its own,
regardless of not being visually complex.
Gameplay Loops
General Gameplay Loop
1) Shape is in a position in the level
2a) Player chooses a new shape
2b) Player keeps the same shape
3a) Player moves the shape to a new position
3b) Player tries to move the shape to a new position but is unable to (wrong shape selected)
4) If the new position is the end of the level, go to Level Loop
Level Loop
1) Player finishes level
2) Transition from one level to the next
3a) If not end of the game, go to General Gameplay Loop
3b) If end of the game, load end credits
Story Loop
1) Player reaches a certain checkpoint
2) Show dialogue
Repeat for every checkpoint
Problems to solve with prototypes
Level transition (Level Loop)
Level layout (General Gameplay Loop)
Level components (General Gameplay Loop)
Story script (Story Loop)
Simplify level creation