Rethinking Grey Out – The Matching Mechanic

I’m of two minds about where to take Grey Out – there are two directions I can go, both fairly different. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, my last post was about a game I made some time ago, and giving a bit more time than the original 10 day design-develop-and-release crunch. I’ve been trying to nut down what people enjoyed most in the original Grey Out, and how I can build on that to make a more well rounded product – and I’m kind of at a fork in the road.

This is more me thinking out loud than anything insightful, but if you’re interested, read on!

The first option is to focus on Grey Out 2 as a puzzle game, particularly with user made content. Each puzzle would be made of multiple shapes, and finding matches would unlock the colours underneath it, a little bit like Picross DS, where solving the puzzle slowly reveals what the image is. Letting  people build content potentially gives the game a pretty long tail, something akin to Pushmo where users can build and share content via QR codes. There are a few red flags that this throws up, firstly I would need a solid level builder, and that’s actually pretty tricky to nut out. Not impossible, but definitely not cheap. Secondly, it means I need to build content, also, not cheap. The idea behind working on Grey Out 2 over deSYNC is mostly due to time constraints. I need something I can work on in my spare time. Lastly, building puzzles with multiple shapes might just not really work, but that’s mostly discovered through prototyping.

Custom Content in Pushmo

My second option is to go to a more time-based randomly generated mechanic. There is no content creation, but the player must find shapes on a randomly generated board. I have a few ideas on how best to do this, but at the moment I’m thinking I’ll give the player one shape at any given time to find. Finding a match will give the player another shape to find. The player matches shapes until there are no more possible matches, then received points based on how many shapes they found. The concern I have with this is the game loses one of the mechanics I think is pretty fun from Grey Out 1, which is finding the optimal placement of multiple shapes.The player can can undo moves in the previous iteration, so often much of the puzzle solving would involving undoing matches to move around the selected tiles.

Maybe I can get around this by showing the next shape the play will have to find, that way the player can take the next shape into consideration when playing the active shape.

To be honest, the best solution to all this is to just prototype both… hell, maybe even just  do both. I love the idea of building a community around the game and having people share their puzzles, but then I also like the idea of randomly generated levels, mostly because it’s less effort…

For those interested who missed the last post, you can play the original Grey Out here, or download it on iPad for free here.

What do people think? For anyone that played the original game, what about it did you think worked, and what do you think could be improved?