Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Match & Magic Q&A Part Two

See yeserday's post if you missed part one, or Monday's post (which was an introduction).

First off, a few creature cards:

I'm pretty sure I dated her. Next, a Dragonkin:

You can see the beautiful detail on these creature cards. Now, a Shambler:

Okay, let's go to the Q&A. Jeff, in clarifying one of his answers, prompted another question from me, so let's start with that.

Yesterday, you mentioned the forum post about the F-16, and you talked about how it influenced your development style. Please expand on that.
He talked about the issues they had with having a super long to-do list and how they ended up using small attainable lists to make incremental progress at a regular interval. I don’t know if that is actually true, but it works like a charm for me.

I always break things up into very small, attainable tasks of no more than 10 items (usually 5). It is usually very progressive.

For example:
1. Put an image on the screen
2. Make image move +1 pixel up and right at each frame
3. Make image only move during a time interval
4. Make image stop at destination
5. Make image disappear at destination

How many people are on the team? Is it just you and an artist, or are there more people involved?
My team has fluctuated over time, but ultimately it has been two programmers (myself included) and 1-2 artists depending on what version of the artwork I was on. The original artwork was 1 person and the new version is 2.

I know you've significantly upgraded the art from what I saw last year. How much has it delayed the final game?
The original took 6 months and the reskin is around that same amount of time (but basically just in art time). I lost a year in-between by trying to get a local art team together which just didn’t work out.

How has the final game diverged from the design document, and why?
Well I actually wrote the original idea down on a graphing pad and it wasn’t really organized like a typical design doc. What I thought was fun on paper was not exactly fun when we implemented it. The game really became more simple and abstract from the original idea. Every time we ran into a design issue we chose to simplify and it worked. We wanted to make the core part of the game to be fun so we had to make changes to get there, and simplification was the right path.

What is funny is that the original design is actually very close to my planned expansion, so I have made a loop in some sense.

You've mentioned expansion plans for a dungeon-type experience. Would you describe that in a bit more detail?
The best way to describe it is by combining Bejeweled and a game like Dungeons Of Dredmore/hack/rogue. My game allows the user to control the direction the gems fall, and that will become a much bigger part of gameplay in the expansion. In Puzzle Quest and similar clones you travel a map between battles, simply by clicking here and there. In my expansion you actually play in campaign mode and battles/missions can be handled by the mode of play we are about to release. I say “can” because there is combat in the campaign portion also. Obviously there will be some minor adjustments to the current mode of play to make it integrate better with the campaign mode. And when I say “play” I really mean play. You will not be clicking on a map to go from location to location. You will actually “play” to travel to new locations in the world. The player will always have to be making choices and decisions just to get to their next objective/location/battle. I have written and played a significant portion of this already. It’s fun so I really want to get it out there.

If you tried to explain the game in one paragraph, what would you say?
I always want to say the game is Bejeweled with objectives, but it is more than that. You fight monsters, cast spells, gain items, drink potions, and do “quests” like an RPG. You have to make decisions every turn in order to survive as long as possible. It is easy to play but much more difficult to master.

I'd like to thank Jeff for taking the time to answer questions about the game, and he wanted me to mention that if you're interested in participating in the beta (which should be coming very soon), or just get to want on a mailing list for the game in general, contact him at

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