37. Changing the Dice Face Mechanic

Bit of a short update this week, but I’ve been busy with life things (moving, putting in a mailbox for four hours), and I didn’t have much free time left to work done on the game.

A few posts back, I wrote about some ideas for revamping the “dice face” mechanic to remove the requirement that the player remember that “white = black” for every panel in order to solve it. So this weekend I worked on taking some steps there. That work was streamed live, so if you want all the details, you can check out the archive here. (although there are a few spots where YouTube didn’t like the music and I had to mute the audio)

I will still have to redesign the start of the area in order to have more interesting puzzles, but I am fairly happy with how the change went. In fact, there are now some interesting ambiguities to play with there that I can probably exploit for more depth.

This sequence already sees a significant improvement from the change to the mechanic.

Unwieldy Puzzle Panel System

I probably need to make some changes to the puzzle panel system in the game, both in order to accommodate a few of the existing puzzles which have become broken after changing the dice face mechanic, as well as for some new ideas that I haven’t implemented yet. I am pretty concerned about how to go about making these changes, particularly without fundamentally changing the way that the puzzle panels themselves are implemented.

Some of the unwieldy aspects are just the interface I use for editing puzzles, but I think the main issue is caused by a design choice that I made early on to shrink the memory footprint of the panels themselves. Essentially, each puzzle panel is just a series of 2D arrays (technically stored as 1D with width and height variables) for each thing that we might want to know about the tiles on the panel.

This was not really a big deal when there were only a few things that we might want to know about the tiles, but at this point, there are 5 different arrays for each panel. That’s not an obscene number, but I am fairly certain that to accommodate all the features I want, I will need to add 2 or 3 more arrays. That’s 8 different arrays that all have to be shuffled around separately.

At that point, it becomes pretty obvious that the data related to each tile should be bundled up. That way we can work with just one array of structs or objects that stores all the relevant data, and easily expand the structure and support each new additional feature without many unexpected code changes.

I have a few concerns with how this will affect the saving/loading code system, but it hopefully shouldn’t be too bad. Overall, it’s just a big revamping project on a core system and I never look forward to those because you end up touching a lot more code than you expected to and possibly breaking some things in the process.

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