Finished graphics experiments, now testing some alternative mechanics to replace life points.
Isometric ends up blocking too much important information, since tiles behind walls are often used for items or other objects. Going to stick with normal 2.5D pixel art, without worrying about overlap logic, because it’s clear that overlaps reduce usability for very little graphical improvement.
Life Points Replacement
The life points mechanic is artificially limited and doesn’t feel like a “native” game mechanic. I have an idea to improve this using a snake-like player (which also gives clearer direction to graphics). The segments would always get destroyed and disappear when entering lasers. They would be able to move objects before dying however. If multiple segments are split up, you can control clones which results in interesting scenarios. There are still many edge cases like merging, attempting to go backwards, and running into yourself.
Colors could be a part of the snake like the original Project Square prototypes, but will not introduce this until later. The default snake color could be black/dark gray to represent safety in no-light tiles, consistent with black walls and blocks.
Light Beams (Lasers)
Lasers are now becoming beams of light for improved aesthetics and clarity. The logic is slightly changing (simplifying), so that all crossings mix colors and outputs without needing blocks to do so.
A more radical change would be to have colored floor tiles instead of light, and different “tool” blocks to spread the color changes. Will continue to prototype for the sake of achieving a simpler, more challenging, more interesting puzzle game with more aesthetically pleasing art.