Renamed Project Square to Toroban. Here is the new Toroban website.
The goal is to combine many of the original Project Square ideas into one, cohesive game that makes sense. There were major problems with the way some of the old mechanics worked. At the time, I did not know of a way to fix them, and is the reason I kept pivoting to new ideas. It comes down to enforcing consistency, having enough constraints, and defining logical rules for every possible edge case.
The following is all conceptual, and is the current plan of execution.
Tweaks To Existing Mechanics
The new player is a “small” object, while mostly everything else is “large”. This concept is important for wall holes and vehicles to make sense.
There are more kinds of walls: Block everything, only allow the player through, or only allow lasers through. These are all a consistent color/style, but different shapes.
These were not consistent before with laser beams. Now, they hurt the player just like beams. It eliminates the possibility of normal Sokoban rules, which is a good thing. To get around problems with this, the toroidal world can open up more space, and the new wall holes can help the player move into more locations to get around floor lasers.
Before, these would block laser beams, meaning that lasers to blocks would always be 1:1 - or even require multiple lasers for a single block.
Now, these have “holes” in all the sides, so beams can pass through. There are many interesting possibilities that come up with this:
- There can be various combinations of “holes”, ranging from all open to all closed
- Exiting beams can be the same as the current goal block color
- Now color mixing can be more interesting than just single blocks, and can extend to the whole level
- Concepts of rotation could be interesting here - more on that later
This is something that hasn’t changed, other than realizing the 3 types should all look visually consistent. There are ones that reflect on both sides, one side, and floor laser to beam reflectors.
Staying exactly the same with RGB light based colors. There are more interesting things you can do now with the other mechanics that use color concepts.
New & Revisited Mechanics
Now the player starts out with 1 life point, to allow for upgrades inside of levels later on. The player doesn’t die until they lose all life points, and most dangerous things damage 1 point.
You read that right, gas powered polluting vehicles are back! They don’t work like any of the previous transportation games though, as they cannot hold packages. The v1 vehicles resulted in too easy of a game, it was just pushing boxes into the right path, then driving that path to solve the level. The v2 vehicles were too confusing and inconsistent, with too many terrain types and different rules based on jamming things together - they also still had the concept of packages on the vehicles, as well as packages going inside of goals, which were both detrimental to the puzzle quality.
Some things about the new vehicles:
- They can be entered/exited from the back. Once inside:
- They have a big fork at the front, which can be used to rotate objects, but not push them
- They create (permanent) pollution clouds
- They provide immunity to lasers and pollution
- They rotate if changing direction instead of moving, and only move forward
- They can be pushed by the player from the front only (this one might be OP)
These rules are subject to change once I try them out, but I am hoping they allow for good levels.
By this point you must think I am crazy. This is the most ambitious mechanic, as many logic rules and edge cases need to be defined for all the other mechanics, since anything can be immune to time. Not only that, the major problem with the previous time travel was the fact that you could not undo your mistakes of traveling too far back in time.
Well, the solution is simple. Give the player the ability to undo and rewind time. By the time they will be introduced to time travel mechanics, they should already be familiar with undo. The rewind button will only be available in levels with time elements, and they will be required to use the new rewind ability to solve the level anyway. I think it will make sense that “undo = reverse my last action” and that “rewind = action to go backwards in game time”.
The implementation will probably be something like: Undo pops the stack. Rewind adds flipped actions to the stack, with the position going closer to the bottom of the stack - until another action occurs, and the position goes back to the top of the stack. That way, with all sorts of random time traveling, undoing all the way always produces a consistent start state, the same as a clean reset.
The December 2019 release date is definitely possible with hard work, but the challenge will be finding someone - or building up my own skills - to create polished graphics. I would love to come up with an aesthetically pleasing art style that is minimal, and represents the game elements properly, that I can do myself.