CubeZ - my take on a puzzle game

edited in Projects
Hi guys

I have managed to make time to do what I love over the weekend, and smack together a game. Currently, only Android devices are supported.

You can find it here on the Google Play app store:
I would really like some feedback. I've had my friends try it out, but they all pretty much just say it's really good (yeah right), and I think they are just being nice. So here I am, critique please! Don't hold back!

Introduction to the game:
It's a puzzle game where you have to match the colours of all the cubes on the screen. You do this by tapping them, which results in it changing (sometimes) its own colour, and the colours of other cubes (most often its neighbours). It can get quite tricky. This is my first attempt at making a puzzle game.

Thanks for your time, and any criticism and/or suggestions

TLDR; Download the game and tell me what you think :P

Web build CubeZ
Android (free): Play store
Thanked by 1konman


  • I'm interested, please upload a PC build. Thanks :) I love me a small puzzle game.
    Thanked by 1Denzil
  • Cool, thanks. I'm fixing a bug, then I'll make sure my PC keybindings all work before I upload. The display might look a bit weird, since it's "designed" for mobile screen. But I've got a few questions that maybe you can help me answer! I'll have it up soon (2~3 hours)
  • edited
    Ok, I've uploaded the PC version to my dropbox, so you can download it here:

    I've quickly checked that all the controls work fine for the pc version. I believe all is fine. The only oddity is at the level select, where normally you swipe your touch screen to change the levels-category, where now you have to click on the category. Don't worry too much, I think it'll be obvious enough.

    Hope you have fun. My questions are:
    - What do you think of the overall gameplay?
    - Does it start off easy enough, and get hard enough as it progresses?
    - I find that a lot of people struggle to understand what to do initially. Does it make sense to you (within, say, a minute)? Do you think I need a tutorial? (I despise tutorials, as I feel the level design should compensate for it).
    - What to you think of the overall appearance? I have 2 themes as you can see in the settings (light and dark). I don't like the light theme too much currently, and I think I will rework the current colour palette.

    Any other comments would be great! Thanks for giving it a shot!

    PS - can I move this to the Projects category where it belongs? Sorry for posting it to general!
  • Do you need a tutorial? Probably. I didn't get it within a minute, neither did a friend I showed it to. I took the time to figure it out because I really wanted to give decent feedback and I fear many people who download it will dismiss the game very quickly because of not understanding it. Although I can see why you wouldn't want one, maybe because you feel like you'd give it away.

    I still think you could use the level design they way you do to show the player different things, but the first one isn't good. Merely saying "match the colors" doesn't help I thought the colors were already matched 2 blue 2 red, maybe that's just my brain but saying "get all the cubes the same color" is clearer.

    The progression is fine. The more cubes, the harder it gets to remember all cubes' rules. That's where I think they may to be a problem with how you calculate score. I pretty much find out what all the cubes' rules are by re-tapping each one then plan the moves based on the shortest number of moves.

    So, they'd always be a set high score for each level, meaning no reason to replay a level. Which I think would be kind of a waste on replayability in which getting a higher score is an incentive but then again most people may just want to get through the level as fast as possible and then return to find the optimal order of moves. I think a combination of moves and time to calculate a score for each level would be better.

    I agree with you on the appearance. The light theme feels a bit rough on the eyes and a change in color palette would be nice. Dark theme works quite well.

    Gameplay, I like it. Once you get it, it's a pretty nice puzzler. I think you've got a good game here.

  • Hi Sugboerie!

    Thanks for the taking the time to try it out and give me this awesome feedback.

    I find that a lot of people struggle to understand, and I already quickly made a How To Play page. I don't know if it's any better but I actually struggle to explain it shortly. I think it should be better though than what is currently available.
    I pretty much find out what all the cubes' rules are by re-tapping each one then plan the moves based on the shortest number of moves.
    This is exactly the idea (I think :P). Once you work out how the level works, you can start planning the best possible way to solve the puzzle to get the best score. That said, there is a definite problem with the scoring system. Firstly, as you say, once you have the best score for a level, that's that. I do intend adding a randomize feature which will basically give you infinite unsolved levels to try and beat, but this does not quite address the scoring problem. I like what you suggest with the time, and if I don't add this to the main game, I'll definitely implement a "timed" game mode where you should solve the puzzle as fast as possible, perhaps still penalizing you per tap.

    The second problem with my scoring is that it is negative scoring. What I mean here is that the player starts with a certain score, and loses a score for each tap, essentially punishing the player. What I'd want is to reward the player for getting fewer taps. If anyone has a suggestion how to get around this (i.e. make it so that the score is still for fewest taps/clicks, but rewards the player instead).

    Thanks again, I will post updates. At the moment I am integrating facebook and twitter (I hate this so much, but I feel it is a good form of free marketing)
  • Hang on, I haven't played this, but am I correct in understanding that each cube reacts differently when you touch it and that the only way to "figure out" what each cube does is to play the level once and then restart it while remembering?

    Why are those cubes all identical then? Surely you can get the same puzzle solving mechanic if you gave each behavior a specific shape, so that people could look at a board layout at a glance and know what each was going to do, instead of wasting an attempt just to figure out each cube's rules?
  • @dislekcia Well, for the easy levels tapping a cube changes its colour, and the colour of its neighbours. Currently its all binary, but I may add future puzzles with more than 2 colours.

    As you say though, there are more difficult puzzles, where a couple of cubes do not follow the general rules, and the player then has to memorize which ones the odd ones are (and what they do). I have to admit that this "memory game", is a side-effect that is not part of the intended design. I just didn't implement anything yet, or give too much thought to working around it honestly. Well, actually I have (half-heartedly). You can immediately retap the same cube to get your score-point back. This creates a rather silly trial and error approach, which could potentially be nice for aiding you to see one step into the future (so to speak), but overall fails and becomes a tedious step that needs to be done in order to understand the puzzle (the alternative is resorting to random tapping and hoping you win).

    I like your suggestion though, with using different shapes or perhaps even textures to show each cube's rules. It could be tricky, as some of the cubes affect a cube, that in turn does not affect the first mentioned cube. I cannot just make them the same shape then (as the relationship is one way), but at least I can make the odd "cubes" that do not follow standard rules (which are in the minority), a different shape or texture. That way the player can at least immediately identify which ones to check, and which not.

    I will give this some more thought. Thanks for the suggestion!
  • edited
    @Denzil: No worries! Glad you've identified the "what does this do?" section of play as something worth fixing :)

    You might also want to make the tap more nuanced as an action. Touch a cube to show what it will do as a preview, release to perform that action, drag off the touched cube to abort.
    Thanked by 1Denzil
  • (Like in Threes when you drag tiles in a direction and have the option of not completing the action :)
  • @dislekcia Yeah that might be pretty smart. I can add some visuals to identify it as a preview too. I think that's the route I'll go :)
  • edited

    I have uploaded a web version of CubeZ. It took me so long due to a really stupid bug that I couldn't find, and I was working on Grave Days recently. Here it is:
    CubeZ Web (~2.5 mb)
    Sometimes it's unresponsive after loading, not sure what causes it. Does anyone know? Maybe a focus issue. It is fixed if I change tabs and back (Google Chrome).

    Anyway, I'd really like some feedback. Struggling my arse off to get the word out. Not sure how its done. I'm really inexperienced with this sort of this. I have about 250 downloads, and 125 current installs on Google Play. So far the reviews look good, but half of them are friends that found it on my facebook profile, so they are bound to be "nice" comments. I just want to make sure this is worth investing more time in before I work on it more. So I'd appreciate it if anyone would try it!

    PS- @dislekcia I've implemented the preview function as you suggested, and I must say, I really like it. Maybe you'll care to try it out?
  • Tried it just now. Works fine on my phone (Mote E, Android 4.4.2).

    I think you can still improve the problem of identifying what connects to what by simply showing what is linked, maybe on the actual cubes, or perhaps by drawing little cables between cubes (although it seems like if A flips B, then B doesn't necessarily flip A, so the last idea might not be easy).

    This is very similar "Flip" from Simon Tatham's Puzzle Collection ( Flip is restricted to the eight nearest neighbours of a cell, and the entire board is always a square, but he gets around the information problem by showing it on each cell. I like that yours had boards that were interesting shapes, I think that makes it more interesting and you should try build more on that. I'm not convinced that the "weird" connections helps, besides to add variety. I enjoyed playing the levels with more interesting layouts than the levels with weird connections.

    Here's an idea: why not make the board 3D, or maybe some sort of non-euclidean escher space? At the moment you are more playing with squares (versus cubes), so maybe try work with cubes? 3D could become very confusing very quickly though... Maybe don't just have squares/cubes, but other shapes like penrose tessellation?

    From a UI perspective: why not try to use up more of the screen space. On my phone I thought that the cubes could be bigger.
  • @francoisvn thanks for the feedback! Initially I thought about using 3D space, but it turned out confusing, and you have to pan around or rotate the view, which seems to annoy the average player. I like your idea with connects though, and am also really considering removing the random connects after your comment. I'll try to get more feedback on it though. If I do keep it, connecting lines indicating direction might make sense. Maybe a bunch of little arrows in the cable, that point one way, the other, or both. It'll probably take me a while to implement it though. Perhaps it would be best to all together get rid of the random connects for the moment, at least until I figure out a nice way of showing their effect.

    I've recently added multiple color functionality, so that adds another level of challenge. which I like more than the random connects. I've thought about adding the possibility that some cubes only cycle through 2 colors, while others cycle through 3 or 4 (in the same level). What do you think about this? Will it once again just be confusing? Maybe I should just try it out and see for myself.

    And as for the display. Endless headaches. I have no experience with this kind of thing. I'm not sure how to be certain that the level will fit on all display sizes, while maintaining a fixed aspect ratio. I have an S4 which is very long. I can definitely afford more vertical space though. I left an empty row for the possibility of adding levels with 4 cubes/squares in height. But maybe I should use all that real-estate for the levels that down, and maybe scale the sizes down somehow for larger levels only.

    As for width-space, I have so much open space, but didn't want to scale up for fear of it clipping on shorter screens.

    As for other shapes, that's something I'll look into down the line, as I don't want to spend too much time on this now.

    Thanks a lot for the feedback, it's a lot to think about, and definitely helps get my head clear.
  • This is very interesting and so similar to CubeZ actually. I wasn't even aware. Seems I should do more research. Thanks for the share!
  • Played it on my phone today.

    I like the puzzle mechanic although it is often possible to solve a puzzle by just pressing tills it comes right. I imagine that works less and less as the levels move on.

    Would be good to add a stars system based on how few moves you used. That would let me know how well I did.

    Locked tiles would really be an easy add on both tiles that dont change color and tiles you can't press. Easy to indicate visually using new shapes or a symbol.

    I think the tutorial is fine if you just add some juice showing how the one tile causes the others to flip. I would love to see the sides on one color so you actually flip the tiles not just change the colors.

    On a final note some visual improvements to the look would go a long way.

    I will keep an eye open for new builds
  • edited
    @tbulford It might be a while before I work on this again. But if I'll do I'll be sure to post here. Kind of busy at the moment!

    Thanks for the feedback!
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