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Shuzzle Brings Shadowy Twist To Puzzle Games

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the gumby-headache-in-progress dept.

Puzzle Games (Games) 13

Lewey Geselowitz writes "A lot of games nowadays have stencil shadows, but they are very rarely there for any reason other than just to look cool. So I wrote Shuzzle, a 3D block puzzle game for Windows where you can't see the objects, only their shadows. This forces the player to conceptually imagine the board and pieces, because they are not given the normal 'crutch' of being able to see them, only their projection from the light. It adds a whole new dimension to the standard 'soma' game and promotes a new form of thought which you cannot find in the physical world. I believe this uses more of the potential of shadows, and I'm looking forward to how they are used in the future, bringing new forms of gameplay, not just pretty pictures. [These are from the same developer who created Quake 2 AbSIRD (a Quake 2 Magic-Eye mod) and Freed Go (Go on a Mobius strip), both previously featured on Slashdot Games.]"

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Interesting (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9683845)

It's an interesting idea, and I did find myself tearing out my hair while playing it. However, the difficulty had nothing to do with it, instead I found myself wanting to scream at the damn thing for just being so hard to control.

I'm not even talking about shadow mode, I'm talking about visible mode. Yes, you get used to them after a while, but I'd still find that I was dragging pieces even though I was no longer holding down the mouse button.

Why? (4, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 10 years ago | (#9683858)

How are these games "freed from constraints" when only new constraints are introduced? Now if you had tetris with true physics in 3D and sub-"square" movement, that might be "freeing from constraints" :)
I wonder how much fun these games actually are (can't test here) but I doubt they're anything better than a 2-minute novelty.

No 3d yet, but... (3, Informative)

I(rispee_I(reme (310391) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684271)

Triptych is a lot like tetris attack with physics, and ridiculously fun.

Great idea, frustrating controls (4, Informative)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 10 years ago | (#9683860)

I downloaded the game, and it's a clever, clever idea, and I'd enjoy playing it more -- if I could do that with less frustration. I think the author is right that Shuzzle challenges players to think about shapes and thus exercise their brains in a way that most of us who aren't mechanical engineers or graphic don't do often -- but besides being good mental exercise, the game is fun.

But some of the joy us dampened by the controls: while moving the blocks is pretty intuitive, rotating the blocks is difficult. Some rotations are apparently unavailable, because the block is resting on the "ground"; at other times rotation can happen along two degrees of freedom, e.g., pitch and yaw is possible, but not roll, for no apparent reason.

Most frustrating is that there is no indication, either visual or auditory -- a flash, and "stop" hand, or a buzz --, if the particular rotation is not allowed, so the user is left to guess if the rotation simply can't be done, or if he's is "gripping" the block in the wrong place or subsequently moving the mouse in the wrong direction to make the rotation. And moving a block along the "y" axis requires using the "space" bar: in these days of three or more button mice, I'd have assigned this to the third mouse button, or allowed the mouse mode to be changed using an on-screen palette.

(Some of this may be my fault: normally I map the third, wheel button on my mouse to produce a right-click, and the right button to a middle click, in order to use the right button as a "back" command in Firefox and as a "paste" button in any other application. I did switch this back to the default in order to play with the Shuzzle game, but I didn't switch off X-mouse emulation and auto-raising. But even if it is my fault, that would be more obvious if the application included a visual indicator of what mouse mode is currently operational.)

Added to this, the same mouse drags that produce moves or rotations when the mouse is in contact with a block produce panning or rotation of the "camera" view of the blocks. Perhaps this is intentional, in order to make the game harder, but whether intended or not, it's incredibly frustrating to suddenly have the camera move in such a way that the blocks are no longer visible.

But to top it off, when the blocks are invisible and only the shadows are seen -- the whole point of the game --, a big part of the play is guessing, from the shadow, where the block is. Using trial and error to find it, one will inevitably click where a block isn't and swing the camera, or attempt a rotation only to utterly baffled why it doesn't work.

Finally, the game, even if idle, pushes my CPU utilization to 100%, and the game "froze", ignoring any input several times, necessitating closing and re-running the app several times in fifteen minutes.

Again, the game is a clever idea, and I'd love to be able to play it more. I'll hope the developer sees these essentially minor complaints of mine, and addresses them in a future release.

Re:Great idea, frustrating controls (2, Interesting)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684197)

I'd like to second the comments made here - while it's an interesting concept, the entire game is severely crippled by the poor controls. I would much rather see a system where you select a shape and then can use keyboard controls or rotation selections from a palette to manipulate that one shape. Make the shadow of the selected shape a different color (if possible) to indicate which shape is selected.

Also, make camera panning a special mode that you have to activate separately, so that you don't sit there whirling about while you're trying to click on a shape.

Re:Great idea, frustrating controls (2, Informative)

moonbender (547943) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684470)

Much of the difficulty is in determining the actual position of a shape from its shadow. Coloring the shape and keeping control once you find it would make the game easier than it is supposed to be. That said, I agree the controls are a bit difficult to use.
Some things I noted: Keep the mouse "locked" inside the window when I press a button. Fairly often I would move a block or the view itself and find the mouse outside the window afterwards - letting go of the button then and the game doesn't seem to get the button release event. Maximising the window helps somewhat, but it still happens when the cursor touches the task bar (of course I could also minimze the task bar to alleviate that).
As the grandparent says, make some sort of feedback when I can't move a block like I want. On the other hand, that might also make the game easier. Nevertheless, I'd prefer that the mouse cursor stay in place when the block does - that'd keep it from getting "out of sync", ie. I move a block somewhere but when I let go of the mouse and click again, the block isn't under the cursor anymore and I have to find the block all over again.
Seperate the view controls from the block controls in some way. Several times, I'd want to change my view and I'd accidently move a block instead - since you don't know where exactly all blocks are at all times, it's difficult to find a "free" area to click in to change your view. Also, let me zoom out with the mouse wheel. Increasing current block height with the mouse wheel would also be an idea (that tower building game of some weeks ago did that) but you'd run into the same "sync" issues I mentioned above.

Otherwise, I got used to the controls fairly fast and can't totally agree with the problems mentioned - you sometimes can't rotate block because there's solid ground or solid blocks in the way, which seems quite reasonable to me, and the usage of space to toggle between rotation and movement axis seemed fairly intuitive to me.

Fun game, overall.

Re:Great idea, frustrating controls (1)

Curien (267780) | more than 10 years ago | (#9685233)

Solution -- simply make the shadow a slightly different (lighter/darker) color.

Frankly -- I think that the mouse is a lost cause. Let me move/rotate with the keyboard!

Re:Great idea, frustrating controls (1)

Lewey (796562) | more than 10 years ago | (#9687288)

Hey this is Lewey, the guy who wrote the program.

First of all, the trick to the rotations is to imagine you are resting your hand on top of the blocks and then as you move your hand the block sort of rolls with your hand. I put a better explanation on the site:

http://www.leweyg.com/lc/shuzzle.html#controls [leweyg.com]

(interesting personal note, I map the middle mouse button to the back button, I find that I use right click very often but middle almost never).

The point of the mouse movements affecting camera when you click on empty space is to let you know that you didn't click on anything. Otherwise I'd have to sort of draw an outline of the shape or change mouse cursor or something, and then you might as well make it visable. So I figured people would learn to make short little movements at first to test to see if they had hit something or not, and this would keep the difficultly and make sure the shadows where your primary way to establish shape.

As regards the 100% CPU thing, yeah sorry about that, once I do some other things I'll make an update to this app.

All my best
-Lewey

Shuzzle ? Let's AskSnoop.com (4, Funny)

psergiu (67614) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684001)

Shuzzle - The Shadow Puzzle
A 3D block building puzzle where yo' ass cannot see da blocks but only they shadows." This means yo' ass'll has keep a strong mental understanding of da blocks 'n how they fit together n' shit. A bomb diggity brain buster n' shit. Also that shiznit's one of da few games that has stencil shadows fo' a reason than just looking bomb diggity."

http://asksnoop.com/shizzolator.php?url=http://w ww .leweyg.com/lc/shuzzle.html

Puzzle games (2)

duncangough (530657) | more than 10 years ago | (#9684309)

Puzzle games are just the best, so it doesn't suprise me seeing this much effort put into developing the basic ideas of puzzle games. At Chickstop [chickstop.com] and Playaholics [playaholics.com] we find that almost all of these puzzle games are guarenteed a decent play.

Word... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9689457)

Da Shuzzle Puzzle is da Shizzle. Farizzle ma Nizzle.

It runs in wine, just fine (1)

displague (4438) | more than 10 years ago | (#9691381)

Although I have had it crash twice on level 1 when I moved the right block to the left. Simple solution, don't do that right away.

promotes a new form of thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9705321)

Sure it does.
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