We had a fun time playing Blokus this weekend. The object of the game is to place as many pieces on the board as possible, with all your pieces touching by at least one corner and no sides. Rarely are you able to finish with all of your pieces used up, so the winner is usually the the player with the least amount of pieces left. There were four of us playing, and it ended up being a fairly close game, but it got us all wondering, what if the game were played cooperatively? Could everybody use every single piece? Could everybody win?
The board is 20 × 20 (400 squares) and each player has what amounts to 89 squares. So 89 × 4 = 356 squares. That leaves a difference of 44 squares that will not be used up. So mathematically there is enough area.
The trouble is that the pieces are all unique and unwieldy shapes so you can’t just stack them all up like the diagram. Still, it turns out the answer is yes, everybody can win.
We didn’t use any mathematical formula to work it out, we simply worked off the idea that building a tessellation would be the easiest way to succeed. It was strategy mixed with intuition, trying to place pieces that allowed for as much useful area as possible in the negative spaces, and mirroring every play with each color. Here’s a photo of our finished cooperative game.
It actually doesn’t look like much of a pattern, but upon close scrutiny notice every shape that is played has it’s counterpart in every other color played in exactly the same way, but rotated ninety degrees. eg: The blue 1 × 5 piece placed in the bottom right corner has its mirrors in the other corners— green in the top right, red in the top left, and yellow on the bottom left. The symmetry is most visible in the very center of the board.
Technically this end game wouldn’t exactly be a a tessellation, but the underlying idea of symmetry is how we succeeded. Read more about tessellations on Wikipedia. Or, for fun check out the work of M.C. Escher, a master of the tessellation.
We’ve been thinking about Star Hound a lot lately. In case you’re unfamiliar, Star Hound is an endless runner game, that really never made it past alpha phase. We’ve always wanted to add more to the game, but we’ve had too many other projects going on. Here’s some recent fun concept art.
Don’t forget you can download the alpha version for free for iOS or for OS X. It’s a little rough around the edges, but it’s still really fun, and (did we mention?) it’s free. Go download Star Hound now, and let us know what you think.
The gloves are off with Blockwick 2’s new puzzle pack, Obscura. It’s $2 for eighty puzzles from medium to insane difficulty. A lot of these puzzles we couldn’t put in the original game because they were too hard. This is for our diehard fans, not for the faint of heart.
Our apologies it took so long to ship Obscura. In truth a big part of the hold up was that the really tough puzzles are very brain intensive, multiplying the amount of time it takes to test them.
Some of the illuminations may seem flat-out unsolvable. We are fully expecting to get lots of email and tweets, saying “Impossible!”. But rest assured they are all possible; our finest people have worked them all out. 🙂 As always, our advice is when you get stumped on a puzzle, take a break. Come back to it later. If all else fails, check out YouTube — several friendly folks have taken the liberty of doing quite a few walkthroughs.
And if you haven’t gotten Blockwick 2 yet, buy it now for $5 on iOS, Android, or Desktop
Note: Obscura is currently only available in the iOS version. We hope to get to the Android and desktop versions soon.
A very big update is here for Blockwick 2. We’ve added all 144 puzzles from Blockwick 2 Basics. These are easier puzzles that are great for a more casual experience (also more accessible for kids). It’s our way of saying thank you to everyone who has supported us in our quest to create a premium puzzle game experience.
On top of the gargantuan puzzle drop, we are including a French and Spanish translation of the game. A big thanks to Ross, Vicente, Ehrlichmann, and Jonathan for the magnanimous, linguistic assistance. If you’d like us to continue adding puzzles to Blockwick 2 please don’t hesitate to tell your friends. If we reach 100,000 downloads, we’ll definitely add even more (and maybe even a puzzle editor). Tell your friends!
What’s the difference? We’re glad you asked. I put together this nifty little graphic to show you.
Blockwick 2 is a truly premium puzzle experience. 160 puzzles from easy to difficult with lots of interesting specialty items to keep you on your toes. There are no ads, no annoying pop-ups. An original ambient soundtrack, sleek, clean graphics, and fluid controls.
Blockwick 2 Basics is a primer to the Blockwick universe. It is a free-to-play ad-supported game. There are 144 original puzzles, but they are much easier than Blockwick 2. We also introduce some of the specialty blocks you’ll meet in Blockwick 2. Even if you’ve already played Blockwick 2, go ahead, go get Blockwick 2 Basics, it’s free.
For the past five years we’ve experimented with a bunch of revenue models for apps, free-to-play, freemium, ad-supported, and of course, premium. So why have we returned to premium when most of the top grossing apps are using different models? The short answer: It is a better experience. We are far more interested in design, gameplay, and user experience than using psychological tricks to try to boost revenue. It’s the kind of experience that we prefer as users ourselves.
Why compromise a beautiful design with gaudy and distracting ads and/or constantly pulling a player out of the experience and bothering them with in-app purchase requests and other annoying pop-ups? Maybe free-to-play does work, but it’s not the kind of experience we enjoy, and it’s not the kind of experience we wanted to make for Blockwick 2. We made something we are proud of. Hopefully enough of you feel the same way.
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Of all the specialty blocks introduced in Blockwick 2, sticky blocks often present the biggest challenge. They cling to everything and won’t let go without careful maneuvering. Here’s a video that demonstrates some of the techniques for manipulating sticky blocks.