Who would have thought that an idea for a unique puzzle game will come from a hidden object game?
Once I made my decision about making use of all the resources I had and making Tap It Games a great indie team again the first thing I needed to decide on was the project.
I was always opened on working with juniors. I believe that there is a limitless amount of skill and passion within people and it’s best accessed in people who begin their professional journey. This was the way I had approached working on 9 Clues and again on 9 Clues: The Ward. I find great reward and joy in watching people conquering their limitations and getting better and better in what they love doing.
I was lucky enough to meet Daniel, our programmer, at a karaoke party. He was interested in AI, machine learning and other crazy-scientist-stuff which I had no idea about. He was also into games and game development. After a few meetings we decided to work together on our first project.
As we approached many ideas we had our aim was to pick a project that we would be able to deliver with limited time and resources. I had great experience in designing and producing hidden object puzzle adventures but it was too big of an idea. But there was always this one type of puzzle that I always enjoyed playing.
In this game, your goal is to arrange one set of elements according to their place of destination while having a very limited number of additional places you can move those elements to.
It was the perfect mechanic to start fidgeting with and to base our project on as me and Daniel had a huge number of ideas on how to make the puzzle more difficult and entertaining.
As we came up with ideas on how to create mutations of the core gameplay and what possibilities they would give us, the last thing for us to consider was the setting. This was more difficult than we originally had anticipated. We need a setting that would justify many configurations of the same puzzle and using the mechanics we came up with. At the same time, I wanted the levels to look familiar to Players and at the same time give a sense of a challenge. There were a few concepts which included a magical owl repairing the Clock of Time, arranging gears in abstract mechanisms and a flower themed levels.
Finally, we had it: stars in the sky. This approach gave us a unique setting, a whole number of existing configurations that could be turned into levels and a good explanation for our crazy mechanics ideas. It was perfect.
Later on we would find out that designing the puzzles was tricky. We needed somebody to create the puzzles and focus on making them solvable.
You wil learn more about Star Swapper development in another post.