Dokusen: The Art of Domination [Gameplay basics]

Recently I was skimming the forums where I advertised my new puzzle game, Dokusen, and realized someone had made a comment about how they had no idea how the rules worked. I was planning on writing a post about the game’s rules anyway, but this made me decide to do it sooner rather than later.

Each stage has a different board size and shape, along with a different set of players. The types of players are as follows:

1) User player: the person playing the game, present on all board levels.

2) Inactive player: a player who begins the stage owning one or more squares. This player type does not place any more tiles with intent, but the existing tiles will spread automatically.

3) Active player: Same as an inactive player except it gets to play a new tile once each turn like the user player.

Basic game flow

1) User player plays a tile of their color in any legal square. Legal squares are defined as any square except one already owned, in other words either a black square (not owned) or one of a different color which is owned by an enemy (active or inactive player).

2) If present, one or more active players each play their color tile on any legal square. The level of skill of the active players depends on the stage.

3) All tiles that are currently on the board are then expanded or “grown” to legal spaces, if any.

4) Special effects will then take place (such on meteors on stages where they appear)

5) Back to step 1, where the user player goes again. The game ends when all the squares are taken. If the user player owns over half (50%) of the available squares, that stage is won and player proceeds to the next stage. Otherwise, it is a loss and the stage must be replayed.

The only other thing that needs to be explained is the rules for “growing”. They are actually pretty simple – a square will change ownership to whatever color is surrounding it on more sides (up, down, left, right) than any other color, excluding black. To see this in action, let’s look at the first few moves for level 5, which contains a inactive player owning four squares at the start of the level.

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The user player decides to play on the topmost square, and you can see this represented by a white dot. After that, the tiles around squares of both the user player and the inactive grow and expand outwards.

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Let’s talk about two squares and why they changed colors during the growing process.

1) Top left blue square above: this one was bordered by black on left and bottom, nothing above, and blue on the right (the one the user player just put down). Since black doesn’t count, the square was ‘dominated’ by blue and so it became blue.

2) Square in the middle of the board: this one was bordered on all sides by orange, so it became orange.

For the next turn, the user player (blue) decides to play on the bottom center of the board. During the growing stage, this new blue square expands to the left and right, but does not grow up. This is because there is an orange square two above it, such that the square about the newly placed square is bordered by black on the left and right, orange on the top, and blue on the bottom. Since there is a tie, the color doesn’t change.

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I hope this explanation made the rules a little clearer, but if you have any questions feel free to comment on this post.

I recorded a short video of the above game which can see below. I ended up loosing, but the purpose of this post wasn’t to teach strategy. I may do another post on that later.

Dokusen: The Art of Domination Released [“go”-influenced puzzle game for iPhone]

Dokusen is a casual puzzle game which was just released on the Apple App Store for iPhone. It was heavily influenced by a favorite board game of mine called Go, and the game’s title “Dokusen” means “monopoly” or “domination” in Japanese (独占) in Japanese. It also shares some similarities with the classic game Othello.

Players take turns coloring one square at a time, and the game ends when all squares are colored, with the winner determined by the one with the most squares of their color. This may sound simple, but things get complicated fast since after both players take their turns, colored squares will “grow” outward to neighboring squares. The concept is a little bit like Conway’s Game of life.

As you progress through the levels, you are challenged with more and stronger opponents, and also have to rebuild when hit by falling meteors. The game is free on the app store, with no advertisements or in-app purchases.

You can see the game’s iTunes page here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dokusen/id1000275892?mt=8

Note: I was having problems the iTunes at one point. You can try searching for “Dokusen” in the app store if it doesn’t work.

This is the game’s app preview video:

I plan on writing followup posts with more details on the game, and maybe a brief tutorial. I’ll also be talking more about how I developed the game, so stay tuned!

Game Credits

App Preview Music: Throcke

Game Music: Eric Skiff

Game Sound Effects: http://www.freesfx.co.uk

Beta Testers: J.W. and K.G.F.

Dokusen: The Art of Domination – Coming soon to Apple App Store [6/22/2015]

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After the usual week and half wait, my latest game was approved by Apple for distribution in the App Store for iPhone. I’ve decided I’m going to release it on Jun 22, but before then I’ll give a little more information about the game.

Dokusen, which means “Dominate” in Japanese, is a casual puzzle game that was loosely based off the ancient board came of “Go”, and involves trying to capture more space than the opponent(s) through a series of turns where each player chooses to claim a square. For those who are not too familiar with Go, you can think of it as being similar to the more modern game of Othello (sometimes called Reversi). An interesting fact is that this latter game was invented by a Japanese person and was influenced heavily by Go itself.

Since this game is free, and I’m developing it as a hobby, you might wonder why I would go to the trouble of setting a release date and delaying like this, when I could deploy my app to the app store with a few clicks.

One of the reasons is because I’ve heard that games released on Sunday statistically have more downloads, though I don’t have a great amount of faith in that. All things being equal, just changing a game’s release date to a different day of the week shouldn’t change the number of downloads that much.

A bigger reason is that by giving myself a few extra days I can more carefully plan my marketing strategy, which at this point will mostly consist on advertising an several forums. I did a bit of this for my previous game, but did it with less organization and several weeks after the game had been released. I’m hoping my renewed advertising efforts, plus a greater focus on visuals and ease-of-use in the game itself, will give a little more favorable results this time.

But above all, doing this makes me feel more like I am doing Game Development with a capitol “G”, meaning it’s much more than just writing a bunch of code. By doing this I can get a little taste of what it means to truly design, implement, release, and market a game – the full end-to-end process which is similar to what real game companies do (albeit at a much smaller scale). I’m also hoping that whatever I learn with this experience will be useful down the road, regardless of what I end up doing 5 or 10 years from now.

Wanted: beta testers for new mobile game

My new mobile game project is making some progress, and I’m at the point where I want to have some other people starting taking a look at it soon. So if you are interested in being a beta tester for my new game, please let me know.

The game is a casual puzzle game, loosely based off a certain Asian board game.  There is a space theme for parts of the game.

For now it will be only iPhone, but I may make an iPad or Android version later.

Even if you don’t have an iPhone, I would still be interested in people who can look at the visuals and gameplay and give feedback. If you do have a iPhone, you’ll be able to play the game on your device.

In order to send you information about how to download the game, or give you permission to watch a video of the gameplay, I will need your email address. Since you probably don’t want to post it on WordPress, you can email me here.

playthefieldgame [at] gmail.com

If you help out, I’d be glad to advertise your game or website on this blog in return.

The below image is a very early prototype image. This is just a teaser, since the gameplay and visuals have improved much since this.

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Play The Field version 1.2 released on the apple store [iPad / iPhone game]

Version 1.2 of Play the Field, the minimalistic puzzle/RTS game, is now available on the Apple store, for all iPad and iPhone devices. You can get it here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/play-the-field/id985621862?mt=8

This release has a few balance adjustments and bug fixes, including a mistake that prohibited devices below iOS 8.2 from running it. Any devices with 8.0 or later are now supported.

However, the biggest thing added to this release is a new mode – survival mode. It’s goal is to see how long you can survive as you struggle through over 20 stages of attackers, gradually increasing up to a dizzying frenzy of enemies.

The music has also been improved, with an additional song from Eric Skiff’s Resistor Anthems album.