Making Space Forest Dilemma Fun To Play Was More Important Than Giving It Great Graphics

Making Space Forest Dilemma Fun To Play Was More Important Than Giving It Great Graphics

Jul 18, 2014

Space Forest Dilemma is a very simple game to understand, but don’t let it fool you. The game is tough as nails, but never unfair. That is, among other things, the result of focused gameplay, rather than polished graphics.

Newborn developer Papaquark just released their first, fast paced puzzle game on Android devices, called Space Forest Dilemma. In Space Forest Dilemma the objective is, according to the developers of course, very simple. Just do not collide. On screen there is a grid and on that grid, there are different obstacles and objects – all with their own different movement patterns. To succeed in the game, players need to memorize all those patterns and have to plan ahead of those patterns so they can move all the moveable blocks right after one another.

spaceforest1

Space Forest Dilemma is being praised all over the place. But how did the team of only two guys, Michael and Andreas, come up with the idea? Michael, one of the co-founders, explains. “The idea was originally hatched a couple of years ago during a period of long train rides. Inspired by Rube Goldberg Machines, the basic concept was invented and eventually discarded, since it didn’t play well with a mouse on pc.” This was before everyone had a smartphone with touchscreen. “Last summer we made a prototype on a smartphone and with new touch controls the old idea actually turned into something that was challenging and fun to play.”

If players do not pay attention, the game can be very challenging – perhaps to challenging. But that was a deliberate decision. Both co-founders love old school games and games where one need to think ahead and plan their next move. “This basically includes everything from old school puzzlers like Tetris, to strategy games like the original UFO: Enemy Unknown, to classic adventure games like Grim Fandango. The kind of games that make you feel smart when you get it right, you know.” So based on that – and our own play sessions – the game is hard, but never unfair.

To me, the game has a rough-kinda look and feel – there isn’t much variation on screen and the colors don’t seem to complement each other. Like it is still a beta or early in development or something like that. “It’s a bit of a mix really”, Andreas explains to me. “None of us is a wizard when it comes to graphics, and also we kinda like (or at least we don´t mind) the slightly rough do it yourself style.” They spent a lot more time on testing different game mechanics, making levels and stuff to make sure the game was fun to play, than they did on the graphics.

spaceforest2

“We had an idea to get help with polishing things up, but in the end we decided to do everything ourselves as a learning experiment. We finally ended up with a style that we felt was fairly unique, a good fit with the gameplay and that we could handle with our limited graphic skills. Hopefully we’ll get better and better at graphics too, not necessarily to make it more polished, but to be able to create the right style and feel that we want for our next game.” In that light, it was a good decision to gave the graphics less attention – it helped the developers to get the best out of the gameplay.

Since this is Papaquarks first release, I expected that the team of two guys had to overcome big obstacles to get where they are now. “The hardest part was probably coming up with a name for our studio”, Andreas says with a big smile on his face. “No, but seriously, this is the first game we have ever completed so just finishing and being able to publish it felt like a huge accomplishment for us. Completing a game was simply a lot more work than we had anticipated and we ran into a lot of obstacles. Being our first game though, we kinda expected to make mistakes along the way.”

The technical problems they experienced were like learning experiences for them, which helped with the motivation. “Thankfully we’ve known each other for a long time so we’re not afraid to speak out when we think something’s not that great. We’re also pretty good at knowing when to push each other or when to give each other a break.” Another thing that can only help the final product, which players can download now from the Google Play Store. “Our goal has been to create a game that’s both unique and fun and we believe we have done just that.” Download it here.

Wesley Akkerman
Wesley is a freelance journalist from the Netherlands. He writes passionately about games, movies, series, tech and music for a couple of websites and a magazine. You can always find him on Twitter.
Connect with Wesley Akkerman // email // www