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Tangled Orbs Postmortem: An overview of my latest solo game project

How the game came to be

During last year’s summer a good friend of mine was working night shifts in a restaurant. Right at the beginning of his shift he was tasked with setting up the tables for the diners to come. Once he was done, he had a downtime in which he was mostly playing some casual games on his phone. After we had a few conversations about casual games, I decided to create my own casual game for Android devices.

To start things off I researched a few different genres of casual games until I realized that I wanted to build a puzzle / logic game. After a couple of days, I recalled the WoW quest, Leylocked chest, where you had to untangle some orbs in order to get the quest reward. Since I really enjoyed solving that puzzle, I decided to create a similar game with lots of different scenarios.

Once I had the design of the game cut out, I started working on my game which would end up be Tangled Orbs which is currently available on Google Play!

Get it on Google Play

What went right

Since the scope of the game was small, the mechanics were straightforward to build. Each different level, internally called scenario, was made up from different orbs and their individual connections. The scenario was considered solved if all different connections had zero overlaps. Since generating lots of levels by hand takes time, I created some tools that really accelerated the process. Most notably I created the following systems:

  • A python script that was generating a certain number of orbs directly inside the Editor in random locations. The script was really flexible as it included rules such as minimum distance between spawned orbs (to avoid overlaps) or maximum extents of the spawn locations.
  • A python script that was generating connections between spawned orbs.
  • A plugin that allowed orb switching during Editor mode. This plugin really helped in identifying the solution for each scenario without having to fire up the game as you could solve the scenario in editor time.
  • A script which was responsible for exporting the editor scenario into a json file.

By using all of the plugins and tools I was able to generate all 50 different scenarios for the game in a couple of days without any hassle.

What went wrong

The main thing that went wrong with this project was deciding the art direction that I wanted to go with. Even if the game was consisted of primitive shapes (the orbs are actually spheres) it was really hard for me to have something “presentable”. After spending weeks trying to create something by myself, I reached out to Hotgates, a friend of mine who was really keen on helping me get out of this dire situation. After Evan jumped in the project the overall look of the project took off in a matter of days (in case you’re interested in hiring him check out his work on the UE4 marketplace and his website).

Comparison screenshot of the same scenario

Another thing that went wrong was the overall UX of the game. The initial implementation of the user interface was really unintuitive and somewhat clunky for a simple game like this. In the end, I completely redesigned the game’s UI which ultimately took a few days.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed creating this game as it provided the opportunity to work on something different. I learned some new tricks, most notably with content generation that can help with future projects. Additionally, I gained some experience with dealing with issues in Android devices.

Thanks for reading this short postmortem and have an excellent day!

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