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Feature: 'Postmortem: Digital Chocolate's Tower Bloxx'

Today's lavishly illustrated Gamasutra Postmortem comes to us all the way from Finland, as developer Digital Chocolate guides us through the iterative development of cell...
Today's lavishly illustrated Gamasutra Postmortem comes to us all the way from Finland, as developer Digital Chocolate guides us through the iterative development of cellphone game Tower Bloxx, the 2005 Mobie Award Winner for Best Puzzle Game. Tower Bloxx faced a number of steep challenges, including fleshing out an original concept, as well as combining puzzle, action, and even micromanagement genres seamlessly. In the following extract, authors Mikko Kodisoja and Jeferson Valadares discuss their process for developing several iterations of their core gameplay mechanics: "Even though we had a working prototype which was fun to play, we weren’t fully satisfied with the overall gameplay, because it wasn’t deep enough. After about ten minutes playing it, people started asking what else is there to do. At this point, one could think that the addtional city puzzle mode was the answer for this problem, but the fact is that if we’d have gone that way, it would only have dealt with the side effects of the underlying problem, which in this case was that the block dropping and tower hovering part should be more appealing. Our goal was to make the core game mechanics super-fun so that it alone could have kept players playing the game over and over again. To make this happen, we put a senior designer and a senior programmer to work together on the core game physics. They were sitting next to each other and having constant communication during the whole iteration time. The total iteration of the core mechanics took three weeks, with one iteration cycle taking something from half an hour to three hours. When a new version was built, the designer would play it and give instant feedback on the physics: what was not right and how the next iteration should feel. If the game mechanics needed any additional graphics or change to the existing ones to make it more fun, this was always put on the fast-track, getting in front of all the other tasks the art team would have had on its table." You can now read the full Postmortem, including the Gamasutra-standard listings of five key positive and negative factors that went into the development of the game (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites). [NOTE: Gamasutra is now accepting submissions for future website-exclusive postmortem publications. Do you have any valuable lessons to share with the game development community from your last game? Would you like to have your voice heard by the greatest game development community in the world? Whether your project was a mobile game such as Tower Bloxx, a mainstream console/PC title, an independent game, or even a student-developed project, we'd love to hear from you! Send us an email at [email protected] and tell us about your project.]

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