Building a Challenge: Introducing Challenge Mode

The original Hands On! Tangrams featured a timer and a simple rating system to reward players for solving puzzles in the shortest amount of time. It added some much needed variety to the game, offered an incentive to revisit puzzles and even rewarded players who achieved the best time on all puzzles. Still, it wasn’t enough. Aside from being the only objective other than completing every puzzle, players could easily solve a puzzle, and then solve it again in record time while the solution was fresh in their minds. We needed more depth for Orion’s Odyssey, and the medal system wasn’t the way to go. So in the early stages of development, we sat down to figure out what other game elements and features we could add. Challenge mode was the first idea that came out of that meeting.

I’ve already talked about how the scoring system was crafted to take advantage of the variety of solutions the player could come up with to solve each puzzle; challenge mode takes those same critical thinking skills and pushes them to their limits. Each level of challenge mode is unlocked by completing that same level in the adventure mode, with every puzzle being revisited with added restriction. Some limit the number of a certain piece, or restrict certain pieces altogether. Some even decrease the standard limit of 30, while others have been reimagined as new, more challenging puzzles.

Challenge mode in action

Of course, completing challenge mode puzzles offers incentives that we’ll reveal on this blog at a later date, but the real reward are the puzzles themselves. Our team worked hard to make the challenge mode the go-to place for puzzle aficionados, and we had a lot of fun doing it. Everyone at the office got involved, solving tricky puzzles and even figuring out how to make some even harder. The end result is an exciting feature that both doubles the meat of the game and adds a whole new way to play.

Challenge mode wasn’t the only new feature we came up with at that meeting. We’ll be talking more about those and other new information soon, so keep checking this space and we’ll see you soon.