Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sifteo Cube competition - Game submission 

This is a game which is based on my iPhone game "Ultimate Four in a row" ( The "sifteonic" features of this game include 

  • multiple screens
  • neighboring
  • configuration
  • rotatable
  • touch

Four in a row is a classic game which many people continue to enjoy. In my iPhone version of this game I wanted to add another dimension to it by allowing players to rotate the board 1 time on their turn. This simple addition to the game adds exponential additional possibilities to win which forces the player to think differently about the game. In the traditional four in a row game you can see all the possibilities directly on the board. When board rotation is added the players are forced to think about 3 board possibilities at once. 

Sifteo cubes naturally give the capability to expand the four in a row game to new possibilities. In the prototype we developed, each cube is a 4x4 game board which can be neighbored together with other cubes. Rotating the cubes and neighboring them keeps the game physical and provides many possibilities to win. New game pieces can be moved from cube to cube by neighboring the cubes together. Game pieces are moved into the desired position by tilting the cube and then frozen in place with a simple touch. This version of the game requires 5 pieces in a row to win which forces players to always make use of multiple cubes. 

Prototype video

How to play
New game pieces have a star on them and float above the board. New game pieces are moved into position by tilting the cubes. The game piece is put into the nearest slot when the cube is touched. Players can move new game pieces between cubes by neighboring them together.  The game is won when the correct number of pieces are found in sequence. This can happen either with the placement of a new game piece or by neighboring cubes together regardless of whose turn it is. 

Game versions 

I have included here two versions of the game. In the first one the placed pieces are affected by gravity when the cube is tilted. In the second one, the pieces stay frozen in place. My concern with the gravity version is that it allows for too much chance which reduces the fun.

With gravity 
Pieces are not frozen in place and allowed to fall into new positions which the cube is tilted.

WIthout gravity 
Pieces stay in positions placed when cube is tilted

More traditional
I did not have time to prototype a more traditional version of a four in a row game. The way this would work is that you would stack two cubes on top of each other to form a 4x8 board. The third cube would be used as the controller to move the next piece to be dropped across the top of the top cube. When the controller cube is touched the piece would drop in the column it is over. I would still allow the cubes to be rotated between turns but they would have to be in place, one on top of the other in order to drop the next piece. This version of the game would work with 3 cubes but would work even better with 5 cubes which would provide an 8x8 board with one controller cube.

Thoughts about future direction 

  • While this game is currently multiplayer, a single player version could also be developed. 
  • Allowing placed pieces to obey gravity and fall into new positions may add to much variability to the game which makes winning depend too much on chance. 
  • If we keep the gravity drops we need to properly animate them so the players can see how they fall into new positions. The current version just has them fall immediately. 
  • The ability to pour pieces from one cube to another was considered but this also may add too much variability to the game. 
  • Degrees of difficulty can be achieved by changing the number of pieces in sequence required to win. 
  •  Requiring more than 4 pieces to win also forces the players to use more than one cube to win. 

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