We've been working hard to get the word out about Sun Stones the past few weeks - those of you in our social media spheres are doubtlessly inundated with tweets, blogs, posts, videos, and so forth. You could be forgiven for thinking that we're giving everything away.
But, in fact, our entire game has been conceived and developed with a sequence of secrets in its DNA. We have some awesome, awesome secrets which we hope will really ignite loyalty and interest from our players. Of course, since only a few people will actually have these secrets revealed through gameplay, we don't want to make the mistake of putting TOO much effort or energy into them. What use, after all, are secrets that nobody sees?
So this is our balancing act - to build a game which thrives on secret information, and to still put most of our time and energy into the forward-facing features which we need to sell the game concept with. I'm going to spoil one minor secret, as an example. You are forewarned!
The basic mechanic of our game is trivial - touch a stone to "pick it up" and release the touch to "put it down" where your finger is. We never explain this to anyone - it takes at most two-three seconds for people to figure it out. Beautiful and Elegant.
But our second mechanic is a bit harder, if only a little bit harder. It's this: horizontal or vertical lines of three or more "sunstones" will transmute into common black stones. Over the series of just a few puzzles we teach people to look for interesting opportunities to use this mechanic. Exactly where you create these transmutation lines becomes important. Do you transmute 3,4, or more stones at once? How about five stones in a right angle? Players discover the "three in a row" rule quickly, but they might not realize that both horizontal and vertical lines work, or that you can change the order in which you place sunstones to transmute larger groups all at once.
We push all of these concepts in individual puzzles which require you to make these leaps in order to achieve perfect scores. But if you don't go for the perfect score - you might be missing some of the subtleties of the mechanic for quite a while. We've experimented with different approaches, and our best guess at this time is that it is better to allow players to grow at their own pace rather than hold up some artificial stick for them to measure themselves by. We believe that our players are intelligent - it's in our charter manifesto - and so we don't want to deprive them of that magical learning moment.
Learning, after all, is where much of the fun originates in single-player games. Our job as game creators is to create interesting spaces for learning.