Posted by on September 21, 2009
Blockhouse is now available on the iTunes App Store!
Give it a download and let me know what you think. I’m working on putting up some solution pages here on the website, but in the meantime, if you get stuck on a puzzle, just post a comment here and I (or someone else) will lend a hand.
Also, I’d like to hear which puzzles were your favorites, and why, since I’m already starting to think about what mix of puzzle-types to put into Blockhouse 2. You can let me know which individual puzzles you liked the best, and you can also tell me which categories of puzzles you preferred. I would divide the puzzles into four main categories:
- Single-block mazes (like puzzles 26-28).
- Single-polyomino puzzles (like 29-32).
- Segmented puzzles (like 33-35).
- Double-polyomino puzzles (like 36-45).
Of course, there are also puzzles that are harder to categorize, like 14-15, 46, 49, etc.
All thoughts are welcome!
Posted by on September 15, 2009
By the time I decided that I was going to implement Blockhouse as a commercial iPhone app, the game design was already done. Tilt or swipe in one of the four cardinal directions to cause all blocks to slide as far as they can, and try to put them on their respective targets. What could be easier? Many aspects of the aesthetic design and the user-interface were still up in the air, but I had an inkling of where I was headed: chicklet-style blocks and walls, bright candy colors, minimalist interface. Implementing this stuff wasn’t going to be particularly difficult.
I knew that the hard part was going to be actually designing 100 unique puzzles. The only way I could think of to do this was to create some kind of puzzle-building tool that would allow me evolve, tinker, and tweak these puzzles into shape. As it turns out, I spent about six weeks on this task before I even wrote a line of iPhone code. The result was a rather clunky but serviceable OS X app called BlockhouseBuilder.
This was the first time I’d ever implemented a Mac app. Indeed, I’d only been using a Mac since about May of 2008, which is when I’d jumped into iPhone development with both feet. I knew there was going to be a bit of a learning curve. My goal was to make a fully-functioning document-based app, which would allow me to edit puzzles in groups of 100, save them, cut and paste them, undo and redo all editing actions, etc.
None of that was easy, but nevertheless I managed to cobble together an editor that allowed me to create and edit the layout of walls and blocks within a puzzle. It also allowed me to choose the grid-size of each puzzle, and I wrangled for a while about what range of sizes I should allow. Eventually I decided on an aspect ratio of 3:4 for all puzzles. This fit the screen of the iPhone well, leaving some room at the top for UI buttons. It also allowed for a nice range of puzzle sizes: 3×4, 6×8, 9×12, 12×16, and so on.