94/100 Review From CCGR Updated!
Good news! Previously, CCGR kindly reviewed Puzzledorf and gave it a solid review score of 88/100, something I was very proud of! Recently, I told them how the game has been updated with the 24 new beginner puzzles, updated graphics and the new, original soundtrack. Well, they loved it all so much that they updated the score to 94/100! I am super pleased with that!
Not only that, the reviewer loved the soundtrack so much he says he loves relaxing with the music in the background and recommends people check out the soundtrack store page!
You can read the full, updated review from CCGR here.
You can also check out Puzzledorf on Steam here.
Thanks again to everyone who has been supporting Puzzledorf! It is greatly appreciated!
As mentioned above, the game now features 24 new beginner puzzles designed to help ease new players into the game. They also include new achievements and, of course, Mirror Mode counterparts. The graphics have been updated, with all the classic and Christmas levels having a fresh new look with lots more environmental decorations and variations. And, of course, there’s the new original soundtrack. Hope you enjoy playing!
Latest game trailers from the update:
Puzzledorf can be found on Steam here.
Lots of changes in this update. Here’s the list:
Here’s the new trailer:
New beginner puzzles have been added to the game. These are super simple compared to what’s in the game already, but they are intended more as a teaching tool to get players new to puzzle games more comfortable with this different way of thinking.
I have noticed that some new players had been getting stuck early on, so I felt this was a necessary addition to the game. Now it’s in, I’m free to start working on ports and getting back to the new ‘Ruins’ puzzles.
The soundtrack is now for sale here on Steam. There’s a launch discount of 34% off if you’re early. Also, for anyone who hasn’t bought the game, you will be able to buy the game and soundtrack together at a discount. You can preview short versions of the songs on Youtube here.
Here’s the soundtrack trailer:
Also here’s previews of the new beginner music:
The final graphics changes are now in game, and the worlds are all named now. In Classic Mode, Palm Beach (world 1), Elder Forest (world 2), and Belmoor Caverns (world 5) have all had graphical upgrades. You might want to head back for a fresh experience.
You can check Puzzledorf out here on Steam.
Out Today – New Classic Music
A new update is out for Puzzledorf on Steam today. Summary of changes in this update:
Music and Graphics
The new music for Classic Mode has now been added to the game, as well as the new graphics for Worlds 3 and 4 of Classic Mode. There are also new, animated title and menu screens. You can hear previews of the music added so far here. There is also new music coming for Christmas mode, but that will be released in another update.
There have been minor volume adjustments to the base levels of the sound effects and music so existing players may want to adjust their volumes again.
Pricing hasn’t changed yet. I will release the new Christmas music very soon, then when I update the graphics in the following update (probably in August), I will increase the price of the game to $10 USD, as well as release the new official Soundtrack to buy on Steam at $10 USD.
When the Ruins update gets released later in the year, which is a significant content update with new puzzles, the price will be raised one last time to $10 USD. I have plans to release more content for Puzzledorf after that, but no plans for further price increases. Except some more updates with free new puzzles in the future. I also have plans to port Puzzledorf to console, probably looking into this after the Ruins update.
Beyond that, my attention has been turning towards other projects. I have started toying around with a fun little RPG prototype (shown below) that may evolve into a full game. More on that in the future.
I’ve been very busy working on updates for Puzzledorf, and there’s quite a lot to discuss. Covered in this newsletter:
I will cover the above points in more details below.
Puzzledorf will soon have a brand new sound track to replace the old one. One reason is the current soundtrack is licensed and will keep costing me more money, but I also want something that’s more individually tailored to suit Puzzledorf’s unique vibe, giving each world it’s own personal mood and flavour. This will be achieved through original music for the different worlds, taking players on a deeper journey than ever before into the unique, atmospheric world of Puzzledorf.
Some of the classic worlds will be receiving minor graphical enhancements. A concept of World 3 and 4 below shows some of the changes I’m doing. Some plants have received new colours, while I’ve also added new decorations altogether.
Preview versions of each music track will be available to listen to for free on Youtube, with the full track available to buy on Steam once the update hits. Here are some of the preview tracks below (subject to change). These are the new theme music tracks for worlds 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the Classic mode.
Ruins Update On Hold
Since my priority is to replace the soundtrack (while also adding graphical updates), the Ruins update is temporarily on hold and will be coming out later.
This is also because the Ruins update is taking longer than expected, since I’m putting a high amount of effort into creating as much content as possible, and ensuring high quality. At the moment there’s 32 levels in early testing, new worlds to explore, and brand new music. Below is a quick preview of some of the concept art that is subject to change.
New music added to the game in free updates will automatically be added to the Soundtrack as well, so once the Ruins update hits, anyone who already owns the soundtrack will automatically get the new music tracks.
When the new sound track is released, I plan to increase the game’s price to $10 USD. After that, I have no plans to raise the price again, but I do plan to create more free content. So if you haven’t bought the game yet, now is the time while it’s cheap. It won’t be this price again.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the new music and graphics and look forward to the coming updates. I’m already excited thinking about what comes next after the Ruins.
How Puzzledorf Was Born
I had a dream to make video games. People around me seemed to think I should “get a real job”. I ignored them and went my own way, because this is how I wanted to live my life. Now I’ve made Puzzledorf. This is how I did it.
About The Developer
I’m a solo developer who does everything myself. I taught myself pixel art and game design, and studied music and business. Puzzledorf was developed with Unity and C#. Living in South Australia, this is my first commercial PC game. I have released a number of small hobby projects previously on mobile and web browse that were useful learning tools, and I got a lot of positive feedback, but this is my first attempt at a larger, commercial game.
Puzzledorf was 2.5 years in the making. My early experience was making games using visual programming software like The Games Factory. It was a fun start, but as projects got bigger, I realised there was a lot of inflexibility in this software, and the only way to really get my dream going was to learn programming.
To be honest, I had avoided the dreaded word “programming” for as long as I could remember. I had a friend who taught himself to code from books on a Commodore 64, back before it was ‘cool’ and mainstream like today. He often tried to encourage me to learn programming, but I preferred to do the artwork and come up with the ideas.
Well, the reality is, visual programming tools just aren’t good enough yet, and they will always have limitations. If you can do programming, you can do anything. And if you know how to do programming, when you have a really cool idea, you won’t have to rely on someone else to make it. You just prototype it yourself. And finding a good programmer to make games with you, someone who is both good and reliable, is really, really hard.
So I bit the bullet and I studied programming at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment to study programming. In the midst of this, I discovered Puzzle Script through a friend purely by accident. He was running a workshop on how to use Puzzle Script. I went along out of curiousity, and I got hooked. Prior to this, aside from Zelda and Tetris, I didn’t even like puzzle games.
But I discovered I liked making them, and what’s more, people enjoyed playing them. My friends, who also don’t like puzzle games, told me my games were addictive, and when I put them up on Newgrounds, I got a lot of very positive feedback, with some people saying they were among their favourite Sokoban games. I found this very encouraging. All of these experiences inspired Puzzledorf. I figured it was worth trying to make a commercial project out of it.
Before I made Puzzledorf I actually made a smaller, similar game for fun called ‘The Nodus’ for mobile. It is notoriously difficult to stand out on mobile and I was still learning about business and game development, but the feedback I got about the game was positive. It’s now buried in the past, but this was the foundation upon which Puzzledorf was laid.
At AIE, I led 2 teams of 10 students on game projects including an RPG prototype (an RPG is something I plan to revisit soon, I hope), which sharpened my design and management skills. I was also learning Unity at the same time as developing the early Puzzledorf prototype.
AIE offer a business incubator program. The incubator is for successful graduates, who prove they have a viable product, to get free office space to work on their game. This lasts for a year. Puzzledorf was my original prototype that I successfully applied to the AIE Incubator for. Development of the game took longer than expected, as games games often seem to do, especially with surprise events like COVID. About a year after the incubator program, the game was finished and released.
Since release, the game has received a limited but very positive response from press, curators and steam players, receiving a 94/100 review from CCGR. Selling copies is harder than expected, but my audience continues to grow and give me positive feedback. I continue to release free updates for the game, including quality of life updates and free new puzzles, with more updates planned. Seeing the slowly growing audience, and people’s warm reception to the updates, inspires me to continue updating the project.
Something I am learning is that you’re game is only dead when you quit on it. I continue to look at ways to improve the game, but also revise my store page, my marketing strategy and overall online presence. Some of it is also looking at where I already have an audience and figuring out how to make better use of it. I have been rewarded by sales continuing to grow, and also learning a lot and growing my skills. I would encourage any game developer starting out to continue to revise their strategy and keep learning.
I have been fortunate to be featured in several Humble Store sales and have plans to port Puzzledorf to console at some point in the future. Being the writer of an educational blog, I have also enjoyed writing several reflective Game Design articles about Puzzledorf, wanting to share some of what I’ve learned; articles that were also featured on the front page of GameDeveloper.com.
So how does the game work?
The goal of Puzzledorf is to push the correct coloured block onto the correct coloured target (there are colour blind options). Typical Sokoban (block-pushing puzzle) games have one type of block and target. Puzzledorf also has boulders that have no destination; they are purely obstacles. This combination of boulders and different block colours, as far as I’m aware, is unique to my games. It was an idea I originally experimented with on my free Newgrounds games back in 2014.
Having the boulders and multiple block colours may seem like a subtle change, but it makes it easier to create situations that look simple, but are more complex than they appear. This leads to far more interesting puzzle designs and gameplay experiences than having just one block type.
Puzzledorf was based around the question, “What makes a good puzzle?” I spent a long time making puzzles and watching people play them, trying to answer this question – in a way, that started back in 2014. But with the AIE Incubator, I pursued an answer to this question with a passion. Through repeated testing, I refined it down to a few guidelines:
These are the guidelines I tried to apply to Puzzledorf. In regards to accessibility, I also added colour blind modes.
Testing suggested that as puzzles got larger and more complex, people were more likely to be scared off and not even attempt them. I believe this is partly because our brains have trouble taking in the visual information of large puzzles after a certain point. Therefore the puzzles problem, and potential solutions, are not immediately obvious.
Thus, people don’t want to try solving the larger puzzles at this point, because they don’t feel they can see a solution. Whereas when a puzzle looks simple, you start to see potential solutions, and feel like having a go. Even if you get stuck, you think you can see another solution to try, so you keep playing, and when you finally get that ‘a-ha!’ moment and solve it, it’s incredibly satisfying. That’s my theory.
Furthermore, by increasing difficulty gradually, and teaching new players the appropriate skills as they go, it makes it easier for newcomers to experience the game, but also challenges veterans with the harder, later puzzles.
You can look at further reading on my Puzzledorf design principles here.
It’s been a difficult journey getting to this point, and while at times being a game developer, especially a solo one, can be incredibly stressful, it is also an incredibly rewarding path. People now often tell me that my “job” sounds cool, and I’m glad I stuck at it and didn’t let anyone sway me otherwise. A friend still occasionally suggests I should “get a real job” that pays better, but I’m happy with where I’m at. I just don’t want to do anything else and I have enough.
I think ahead to all the things I plan to do, the games I want to make, and it excites me. And I still get excited about the things I have planned for Puzzledorf. There are days when it’s tedious, but the reward of finishing the work, and seeing people play it, is worth it.
New Menu Music Preview
Introducing the new Menu Music for Puzzledorf that will be arriving in the next major update. It also contains a new, animated background. You can preview it in the video above.
With this piece, after a relaxing intro with the title screen, I am trying to then build a sense of anticipation for the player before the level starts. The constant drum kicks, with a driving bass line, overlayed with an other worldly melody, I hope gives a sense of both anticipation and a strange new world. I think it suits the game really well. There will be more original music coming soon.
In case you missed it, I also wrote a new, original Music Theme for the game, as well as designing an entirely new, animated title screen. You can see them below. With the new Theme Music, I was trying to create a sense of wonderment, inviting the player to explore a strange new world full of mysteries, as well as create a sense of relaxing calm, which I think is appropriate for a Puzzle game.
You can hear the new playlist here. Expect to hear these new music tracks and others in the next major update. Next I will be developing music for the new puzzles: the Ruins.
Something I’ve always wanted to do, ever since I was a kid, is recreate some of the feeling the original Sega Genesis games gave me, in particular, the effect of those large, animated title screens you got in the Sonic games. Sonic CD, while not on the Genesis, followed the same suit and was particularly striking.
Well, I’ve been working on a new title screen for Puzzledorf, with new Theme Music, and you can now finally preview it. It will be coming out in the next major update. It’s my go at recapturing some of that Genesis feel. I hope you enjoy it!
That was about a solid week of work. I have plans for some other new music coming out in the next update which I will be sharing previews of here and on my Youtube Channel so stay tuned! Next up is new menu music.
If you would like to see how I made the Title Screen, I have a series of “Making Pixel Art” videos with the full playlist here. The first video is below for you. I plan to do more “Making Pixel Art” videos in the future as well, they were a lot of fun to make.
This news post will cover the following:
Steam Developer Homepage
I’ve just launched a Steam Developer homepage. Please give it a follow. Following helps boost my discoverability in Steams algorithm, but also, it means you will get notifications about any new games I release, discounts, and any developer specific news.
Speaking of new games, it’s early days yet, but I’m already starting to prototype my next project. There’s nothing concrete yet, but I’m leaning towards an RPG / Dungeon Crawler of some sort and I’ve started using experimental graphics in Unity to try and work out what’s fun. It’s another reason to follow my developer page and also Twitter if you want to keep up to date. A few quick previews below – simple art, bold colours for the prototype.
As I mentioned, new puzzles are coming soon to Puzzledorf. The theme is: Ruins. A lot of the art is already done and many puzzles are worked out. I’m currently in the process of deciding how many puzzles to put in.
The Ruins update will not only have new graphics, there will be entirely new mechanics. I won’t say what they are just now, but expect something different to your typical Sokoban game. With a lot of the future updates I hope to put little twists on the formula to add a bit of extra fun and variety with any new puzzles I add.
Also I have been developing a brand new Title Screen for the game. I’m then using those same graphics currently across all of the promo art on Steam. Here’s a preview.
If you’d like to see how I made it, you can watch me draw it on
Youtube. There’s 3 parts (part 3 is about to release).
Steam achievements have been added to Puzzledorf! There 2 round of achievements added. Round 1 achievements are as follows:
Round 1 achievements will be naturally unlocked as you complete the game. If the requirements for an achievement have already been completed, then they should be granted automatically.
Round 2 achievements are different. They are harder to get and score based, giving determined players something more to aim for. Here is a list of the new achievements:
Each of these new achievements will be granted for completing a certain level within a specific number of moves. Anyone who has already fulfilled the requirements for these achievements will retro-actively be granted the achievement. Can you see a better solution to the level below?
To celebrate the approach of Christmas, a free new update for Puzzledorf releases today on Steam and Humble Bundle! The update adds 2 more worlds with a new mechanic – sliding on ice. Once you push a block, it will continue sliding until it hits another object – and oh, they’re actually not blocks this time, you’re pushing presents! You can see a glimpse in the trailer below.
There’s lots of candy canes, christmas presents, snow and snowmen! Furthermore, the Christmas puzzles will be unlocked from the start, so all new and existing players can enjoy them immediately. And as an extra little touch, the snow levels from the original game now have animated snow falling down, too.
The first few levels start off easy but the last couple should present a good challenge to anyone who has completed the original puzzles. Newcomers will enjoy it, but if you’re looking for some more challenges to sink your frozen teeth into, you won’t be disappointed! The update is out now, so what are you waiting for? Go play it now. I’ve added a couple of images from the update below.
Oh, and Steam cloud saves are now enabled.
Puzzledorf related news.