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July 19, 2009 - DropSum v2.0 is released in beta
So for those looking for the original DropSum, I have updated it with v2.0 which I think is a more solid game. It is currently only available on this site, and some features (such as trophies and options) don't yet work. I'm hoping that the people who play the game on this website only will email me with feedback on what they like, what they don't and I can take it from there. So email me please!
For those of you who really want to play the original still, here's the link:
July 17th, 2009 - Apologies
Hello. So if you don't know, when you set up a website you have to register, which means anyone can find out who you are. Anyway, I got home from work the other day and there was a voicemail on my home phone from a gentleman who didn't take too kindly to the ending of DropSum. He didn't appreciate the tone of the analysis at the end of the game, referring to them as insults. So, to anyone who has ever been offended, and in particular the gentleman who telephoned me, I apologise. Certainly the ending of the game is intended to be a light-hearted joke. No-one in fact is as cunning as a banana or has the speed of a cobra, or whatever else stupid comments I wrote. So, I hope everyone can still enjoy my games with that understanding moving forward - although I should warn you, almost all of the games have some silly ending like that so those easily offended may perhaps find their time best served playing an FPS or something.
July 6th, 2008
Dropsum for the iPhone/ipod touch is released!
Did you know that DropSum has been played over 7 million times so far? Thanks everyone for your amazing support. Because of that, there is now an iphone version. It's the same fundamental gameplay with some funny endings, two graphic styles and the all-amazing power-tile. How does that work? Well, once you earn it (yes you have to earn it) then you can flick the iphone screen and the tile will shoot down into the grid smashing the top tile out of the way! Very useful for late game-saving strategies!
Get your version of DropSum iphone here:
And here are two images of the iphone version:
June 16th, 2008
Flipped Out is released to the public! A new and exciting puzzle game ready for you to play... Check it out at the link below:
March 1st, 2008
DropSum v1.3 is released! This is really a graphical overhaul. I put some imagery in the background and turned the tiles from vector shapes to bitmaps for the most part. I think it looks prettier and at the correct resolution (i.e. what you're seeing above) actually runs slightly faster. This is the end of the road for DropSum, I think. I am working on a new game about water, droughts and greed. It's going quite well so fingers crossed something will appear soon. Although my wife is due to give birth within the next two weeks, so I expect to be out-of-action for several months!
February 29th, 2008
DropSum v1.2 is released! It's now impossible to collect more than 20 stars, which I believe works better as the emphasis returns to the calculations rather than star-hoarding!
The making of DropSum
The game really came about after I was playing a game of Sudoku. I was interested in making a game where the challenge was to create a sum rather than match colours or anything like that.
The first prototype: Number Fall v.1
The first prototype was incredibly simple, with keyboard input to drop ugly looking tiles into a grid. When a match was made the tiles didn't disappear, so in fact the game was played until you filled the grid and that was it. My idea at the time was to make a game that lasted a specific duration, and as I said the inspiration came from Sudoku where you don't erase anything. Naturally this game sucked so I gave up. One thing that I did like about it was the scoring system for tile groups - if you made a match out of two tiles you scored 8 points (2*2*2); if you made a match out of three tiles you scored 27 points (3*3*3) and so on. This score system actually ended up in the final game, only even more exaggerated - so a match of two tiles scores 16 points (2*2*2*2) and a match of three tiles scores 81 points (3*3*3*3) and so on.
The other thing I liked about this prototype was the emphasis on groups, which also carried over to the final version, only slightly modified. In the original protoype you scored a bonus based on how quickly you could make a new group, and that bonus was multiplied by the number of groups you had already made. In the final game, in Timed Mode, you receive a timer bonus based on the position of the timer when you make a group.
The second prototype: Number Fall v.4
Time passed considerably before I worked on the second protoype. In fact, about four months of my real job occurred before I even started working on DropSum again. Back then the game wasn't called DropSum, it was brilliantly titled Number Fall. Yeah, okay, so DropSum isn't much better, but at least you can make some sort of pun about it. Anyway, back to the plot…
To be honest, this version set me on a good road. Well a road to the game we have today anyway. You all can be the judge of whether it's good or not! As you can see from the image there was the basic layout that we have now, a number to reach, the next tiles were shown and there was some info regarding groups that I'd carried over from Number Fall version 1.
The game had a huge bug in it - occasionally when tiles fell holes would be left floating in the grid. Now remember this was really my first attempt at a Flash game so I was learning on-the-job so-to- speak. And there aren't many sentences where you can put hyphenated phrases like that side by side. In fact, it took me until version 15 before I felt the game was bug-free. How wrong I was!
The graphical experiment: DropSum v. 14
So the great thing with Flash is that it's all too easy to play around with the graphics once you've got something playable. If ever you read anything about "casual" games, they'll tell you that people who play these games like bunnies and flowers and cute things like that. The great DropSum graphical experiment was to change the disc tiles into cute animated bubbles that popped. If only the image above animated it would reveal a wondrous place of pure joy and happiness. That also killed the processor of my test machine unfortunately. So after this brief flirting with pretty graphics I decided to stick with simple shapes.
The third prototype: DropSum v. 16
Hold on a minute? DropSum version 16. That's a big leap isn't it? Well yeah. To be honest the previous 15 iterations were me thinking I'd fixed all the bugs and then finding I hadn't. And the great graphical experiment. Oh and working out how to put sound effects in Flash, which isn't too interesting for a visual history of how I make this game. Interesting? Yes okay. Indulge me. So as the image on the left shows I'd reached a wonderful colour palette that I think remains in the game today. Plus the timer bar was in place. Originally it sat at the top of the screen and was rather dull (see the great graphical experiment above), but a friend at work told me he never looked at it as he was too busy concentrating on the numbers and suggested I put it in front of the action. I did and it worked out really well.
The other interesting thing about the game up to this point. Well actually two intersting things in my opinion (if you're still reading this then I guess you are at least remotely interested too, or my mother) were that the sequence of numbers were predictive (that is, every time you played the game you got the same sequence of numbers). And also, which is much more nerdy but cool, was the record and replay option. With this option a player could record their entire game and then replay it back, interrupting the replay at a critical point (where they made a big mistake, for instance) to continue to beat the score.
In actual fact no-one used the replay mode except for me when I was debugging, which is why it was removed from the final game.
The not-so-final version: DropSum v.24
So finally I arrived at the final version. Well, my wife believes (and hopes) it's the final version but the funny thing I discovered with Flash development is that there's never quite a final final version. Hmm. So two major developments occurred between this and the previous version I talked about. The first was that I got something working on the internet. And I realised that my original size (640x640) was too big and looked ugly and cumbersome with my delicate web design! So I reduced everything to fit into a much more bijou 480x480 resolution instead.
That's not particulart interesting really. What is far more interesting is the introduction of Arcade mode. In this mode the player's skill earns him or her special power-ups… power-ups that can be used to progress further in the game. The most important bit of information, therefore, is how to trigger power-ups. So here are the rules:
The star is earned by making a four-chain combination.
The shoot is earned by making a three-chain combination, or by having three stars (no more, no less) fly into the star bonus area.
The megashoot is earned by making a five-chain combination, or by having four stars fly into the star bonus area. Specific isn't it!
The column-up power-up is earned by making a six-chain combination or by earning five stars when they collect for the star bonus.
The row-up power-up, a powerful one, is earned by making a group of seven tiles (e.g. 2111112 = 9).
|To get the column-blast power-up, make a seven-chain combination or collect more than seven stars.|
|The row-blast, arguably the best power-up, requires an 8+ chain combination or by collecting seven stars. Zoiks!|
Finally, the hourglass requires a tile group of six tiles (e.g. 223121 = 11) or six stars to be collected.
Note, the above information is subject to change as I playtest the game more and fine tune power-up placement!
Missing elements and other stuff
Hopefully there isn't much missing. I finally added some music. So hopefully you will find it as catchy as I do!
Otherwise, I think everything is done. I hope this was an enjoyable read that gave a bit of an insight into how the game was made. I plan on doing more in-depth development write-ups of all future games, hopefully explaining what was going through my head (if anything) at the time.
The definite final version: DropSum v.33
Or DropSum v1.3x as seen above. So I succumbed and put some prettier graphics in. It looks nicer so I'm pleased I did! Oh, and the game is encrypted because on the original version someone scored 10 million points - which means he/she is either a mathematical genius or they cheated. I hope the former. The new version has some fixes to try and level the playing field for everyone too.