Dev Journal #0: An Introduction to IPL

A Brief History: In April 2010 I competed in Ludum Dare #17, and my entry was Hungry Hungry Castaways, a simple match-3 puzzle game about collecting food for your fellow crew members while stranded on an island. After I entered, and recieved some comments and criticism, I began fixing a few design flaws and thinking up new ways to expand the game. I then got to work on a bigger,  better game that stemmed from the same roots of HHC’s mechanics, but without the bugs, death, and beards (although the beards will be missed).

I’d like to take this first developer journal to introduce IPL, the first game by my team, twentyonepixel. Designed and programmed by me, Ken Goff, IPL is a match-3 puzzle game that is innovative in the way it allows the player to interact with the pieces. Unlike many popular and widely known match-3 games, IPL does not allow you any control over the pieces, and instead of sliding and moving pieces to make color groups, the color groups are already there, and you must carefully clear them for the most points and also without disrupting the other pieces and removing other color groupings.

IPL also uses a mechanic I refer to as “drag-to-select”. The drag-to-select mechanic is exactly as it sounds, you hold down the mouse button, drag over the pieces you want to select, and let go to clear. This allows more accuracy and also gives you a huge score bonus, but at a time cost, since it takes longer to do this than to just click on a piece in any group. This mechanic adds some strategical elements to the game, especially when trying to survive in Arcade Mode, and beat the clock in the Expert Campaign Mode. There are also boss levels where you play “against” a boss who does things to make the game harder for you (like hiding mines under pieces or changing the way the pieces fall). When you defeat a boss you are rewarded with a new power-up piece (related to the bosses’ special moves) to use in the rest of the game.

The game is currently in an early beta version, and I just finished crunching for entering it in the PAX10 and IndieCade (I would like to avoid falling back on crunching in the future, but because of the mass amounts of things I had to do for school and before graduating, I had to put this project on the backburner for a while). As of now it only runs on Windows, but I would like to port it to Mac and iPad at some point.

As for my team, twentyonepixel, technically it’s a one man studio. Right now I’m working with a friend who is doing the musical composition for IPL, but the core of twentyonepixel is just me (for now).


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