Game: Make a Change: Not Alone
Role: Puzzle Designer
Intended Experience: 30 minutes – 1 hour+ per sitting
Development Time: 7 months
Make A Change is a collection of puzzle and logic puzzles all themed towards oppressed or bullied teens and young adults. The game is split into a variety of games in a minigame-like fashion. I owned the puzzle design on the games Time Out and Change of Heart. Time Out’s puzzles are all based around a clock and the movement of the hands around it. Players must move the hands of the clock around the selections to form a coherent example of ways to escape bullying. The puzzle of this game involves moving both hands together based on patterns. Each move of the hand has to move the same amount of numbers around the clock and never hit the same spot twice. Change of Heart’s puzzles are all based on character placement in a classroom based on the likes and dislikes of other characters. Players must avoid conflict with all characters and seat the characters in locations that suit their interests and don’t upset anyone, making it a game where one choice can influence and ripple through others.
One of my first design goals with both of these projects was to understand my audience and create puzzles that wouldn’t be out of place for them. The scope of the game is intended for players who only want to play in short spurts and experience the game in bite sizes, so puzzles are very digestible and never too difficult. I wanted the difficulty curve to be very straightforward, with an even progression as the levels went on but never too tough that players would feel frustrated, only that they were being pushed. Central to this was also the idea that all puzzles have at least 2 and often 3 solutions to them, to encourage a variety of playstyles. This was much easier for Change of Heart than Time Out, which led to more rigorous testing of the latter but ultimately was incredibly rewarding.