Friday, August 11, 2017

Soko Banish 1.4 - Sokoban Rocks

Last time, I talked about the new graphics of Soko Banish 1.4, but naturally, this update isn't all about graphics. It's also about minor quality-of-life improvements. But on top of that, it's about Rocks and Grates, two not-so-sparkly new puzzle elements that will make Ardos's task even more difficult than his refusal to pull the stuff he's pushing (in his defence, he hasn't any arms). Rocks can be pushed like soulstones, but don't have to be on goal fields, making them obstacles that get in the way of the ever-so-important blue balls. Grates can be moved across, but not pushed across (and you can see the new level backgrounds through them!). Deceptively simple, eh? Or maybe just simple in general, whichever you feel it is. So where did these neat thingamabobs suddenly come from?

Make no-push tiles grates again.
Unlike Grates, which are a more spontaneous addition, Rocks were one of the new elements in the scrapped "Soko Banish Necronomicon" expansion all the way back in 2006 and would have found their way into modern Soko Banish sooner or later, as I do still plan to revisit the concept of an extended commercial version. Fortunately for those without the monetary means to purchase chunks of pixelated minerals, they have rumbled and tumbled their way into the free version instead. Why this decision? Why not retain the exclusivity of these precious geological features?

Because they fulfill a basic purpose and were just as basic to implement. Painfully basic, in fact. I'm still recovering from the injuries. So what made them so essential? Arcane Orbs. The idea of the Arcane Orbs was that you'd push something between them to break the invisible stream and be able to pass safely; the problem with that was the absence of any way to remove the object from in-between without substituting another. If that object was a soulstone, there had better be a rune circle somewhere between those orbs or any attempts to still solve the level would become more futile than resisting the Borg. In short, an object was needed that could disable the Orbs without needing to be retrieved afterwards, and that object was the Rock. Thank you, Dwayne.

So where will we be seeing these new elements? Not in too many places, unfortunately. The 44 "Standard" puzzles already exist and I'm not adding any more for the time being, so after the Tutorial, Rocks and Grates will only be sprinkled across the few levels that I'm improving or replacing (unsolvable "Rooms" level, I'm looking at you). The big benefit of them is that you (yes, you specifically) can use them in custom levels made in the editor, which we will hopefully be seeing more of. (Seriously, send me your levels! There's no time like the present, except for the near future when this release is actually out.)

Oh, and also, walls cast shadows now.

Up next: the non-science of level order and chaos!

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