This blog contains information about video games which I develop in my spare time.  So far the only game available is Picture Puzzle Revolution.  To keep up with the latest posts, you can subscribe to the site feed.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send me an email.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Picture Puzzle Revolution screenshots

Here are some screenshots of Picture Puzzle Revolution.  These are thumbnails; click on any of them to bring up the full-sized versions.

The main menu:

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Another shot of the main menu to illustrate how the level preview updates according to the chosen level parameters:

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Here's a shot of the gameplay.  This is what you might get after hitting PLAY on the above screen:

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Tiles brighten when they have been placed properly, as can be seen in the following shot; the 7 tiles that are in place are clearly brighter than the rest:

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Some levels, however, look more like this:

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To aid in solving levels like this, where there is a natural difference in brightness between tiles, numbers can be toggled on the tiles, which makes it much more apparent where each tile needs to go:

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Thanks once again to Nine Inch Nails for the beautiful and enigmatic artwork without which this game would not have been possible (at least not with this kind of look).  To see more artwork like this, just head to the official Nine Inch Nails website and look up any of the albums (which can be conveniently found under the ALBUMS tab).

Remember, Picture Puzzle Revolution is a 100% free download.  Enjoy, and please let me know what you think of it!

Picture Puzzle Revolution

Picture Puzzle Revolution is finally complete!  I think I've written enough about it in the past week, so all that remains is for it to be downloaded and played.  One thing I probably haven't emphasized enough, though, is the difficulty of the game.  I found it quite difficult to play while I was developing it, and yesterday my suspicions were confirmed when confab42 told me:

"I can't actually play the game because I SUCK AT IT! I can't even do level 1 on the easiest setting."

So if you enjoy a good (perhaps even insane) challenge, this would be a very good game for you to check out.  Personally, I find the Easy difficulty to be quite playable, but Medium and Hard are just beyond me.  It is my hope that some people who are extremely good at solving puzzles may come up with a way to complete even the toughest puzzles - after all, even a Rubik's Cube (a major part of my inspiration for this game) can be solved with a general algorithm (and incidentally, I still have trouble solving those things even with the algorithm).  If anyone does manage to figure out how to play this game well, please let me know; you can leave a comment anywhere on this blog or send me an email.

One last thing to mention is system requirements.  Picture Puzzle Revolution currently requires Windows Vista or Windows XP Service Pack 2, and Shader Model 2.0 support; these are the requirements for the FlatRedBall XNA engine that the game uses.

And now, here it is - Picture Puzzle Revolution.  I hope you enjoy playing it as much as I enjoyed making it!


Monday, September 7, 2009

A few words about the Picture Puzzle Revolution soundtrack

The Picture Puzzle Revolution soundtrack consists of specially mixed versions of five songs from Nine Inch Nails' The Slip.  Initially, I planned to have only 10 levels in the game - one for each song on the album, with each song providing the soundtrack to its corresponding level.  That plan changed when I decided to incorporate some of the artwork from Ghosts I-IV into the game, which saw the number of levels increase to 24.

More significantly, at the same time, I also began playing around with the idea of using the multi-tracks that are available from  The multi-track idea was initially just a proof of concept for a future game that would be more directly based on music; I figured that since I was learning how to use FMOD anyway, I may as well see if I could have multiple music tracks playing which could be muted and unmuted based upon in-game events.  So I took five of the instrumental tracks from "1,000,000", trimmed them so that they would loop cleanly, and set them up so that each track would only become audible once a certain percentage of tiles have been placed correctly.  I really liked the way that this worked in the game (in particular, the way a level often starts off with nothing but drums, eventually building up to a full rock ensemble with guitars, bass, and keyboards), so I decided that I should mix more songs in this way.

Once again, I thought about using all of the songs from The Slip and the handful of songs from Ghosts I-IV for which multi-tracks are available.  However, I soon began to realize that Nine Inch Nails songs typically have a LOT going on - one of the Ghosts songs, for example has 26 tracks, including multiple types of guitar, piano, percussion, and other instruments.  I decided to stick with the five songs that can currently be heard in the game for a simple reason: I have seen all of them performed by a five-piece band, so splitting them up into five tracks each was a relatively simple process.  The songs are "1,000,000", "Letting You", "Discipline", "Echoplex", and "Head Down" - the five songs that were featured on the DVD that came with the physical version of The Slip.  As Nine Inch Nails songs go, they are all pretty catchy and upbeat, and I have had a lot of fun listening to them while programming and testing the game.  I hope that anyone who plays the game will also enjoy listening to these songs and getting to play around with them a bit.

Stay tuned to this space, as later this week the full game should be ready to download!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Almost there...

After what seems like forever, my first game is almost ready to be played.  I'm hoping to have the last couple of little details ironed out sometime this weekend, and at that point I'll be posting a link to the game on this blog.  In the meantime, here are a few more details about the game:
  • The name of the game is Picture Puzzle Revolution.
  • It is a little bit like a cross between a Rubik's Cube and an n-puzzle - imagine trying to complete an n-puzzle by making its tiles revolve around one another, the way that the squares on one face of a Rubik's Cube revolve around the center square.
  • I find it quite difficult to play, and I am very curious to know how other  people will find the difficulty.
  • All of the pictures in the game are taken from the last two Nine Inch Nails albums (Ghosts I-IV and The Slip), which were both released under a Creative Commons license.
  • The music in the game also comes from The Slip, and I have used the multi-tracks for those songs (which can be freely downloaded from to make the music somewhat interactive; namely, the more pieces of the puzzle that are in place, the more instruments can be heard.  I was actually debating whether to keep this feature in, but in the end I decided that I enjoyed the way that the songs can be built in layers (often starting with just drums, and being joined by bass, guitar, and other instruments as the puzzle becomes more complete); it is my hope that others will enjoy playing with the audio too.
  • Two separate types of "high scores" are tracked: Time (i.e. how fast each level has been completed) and Efficiency (i.e. how many moves were taken compared to the optimal solution).

Most of all, I'm just really happy to have come to this point.  The game has been developed entirely in my spare time (of which there has often been precious little), so I feel like I've really accomplished something by seeing it through to (near) completion.  I hope that anyone who downloads it will enjoy playing it as much as I've enjoyed making it.

If any of this sounds interesting to you and you'd like to be among the first to know when the game is available, please subscribe to the site feed; if you're on Twitter, you can also follow me there, as I'll also be tweeting about the game as soon as it's available.  Thanks for reading!