What began as a post-secondary project, Diga Design is ready for Blork to make a name for itself in the gaming community, and BeefJack spoke with the team behind the project to learn about the game’s inspirations, development timeline and goals.
Blork is one of those puzzle games that could become absolutely mental, yet what will surely set it apart is its sustainable, elegant design model.
Blork’s two creators Chris Drogaris and Dario Farina make up the small team at Diga Design and are also recent graduates of Concordia University’s Game Design program in Montreal, which Blork owes its life to.
At its core, it’s a game of pattern application. You take control of a cube, using marked pads to bring colour to blank squares where borders identify needed colour designations. Often forcing you to follow a path with a single colour then overwriting it with another, having gameplay transpire on linear grids with set paths makes planning its core emphasis.
Speaking to BeefJack over email, Farina told us that it wasn’t until after an extended brainstorming session lasting several months that they were able to take their idea out of the conceptual stage and begin building a working prototype. Subsequently, inspiration was sought in support of the colour-mixing concept, which led them to muses both predictable and unusual for the idea.
“We both agreed wanting to create a casual game that one could pick up and play while waiting for hours, and getting back to even after several weeks, and still not get bored,” Farina said. “We looked at board games, arcade games, flash games, and Angry Birds. Needless to say, we did a lot of playing and paper prototyping.”
Before Farina revealed to me the more influential efforts that helped found the game’s formula, I sensed some familiar vibes with its exterior – Rush by Two Tribes being one that surfaced the quickest. Still, Blork strikes me as a game with plenty of borrowed touches, yet is still its own in design.
“Games that stood out in the concept phase,” Farina continued, “were the Rubik’s Cube, the 80′s classic hit Q*bert, and Bloxorz, a 2007 flash game by Damien Clarke. Q*bert sparked us with the game’s goal of creating a color pattern to successfully complete a level. The Rubik’s and Bloxorz puzzle games helped shape the concept of reorienting the object the player would control (the cube) into correctly landing on a specific tile.”
The team hopes to attract puzzle fans of varying ages with clean layouts and an intuitive design premise. Though not geared exclusively to one demographic – simply those who enjoy brainteasers and casual games – Farina shared early findings that “kids as young as 10″ and “gamers in their twenties” enjoyed what they sampled of the game in preliminary playtests.
“Many might find it a little complex at first, but it takes less than 10 levels to quickly grasp the concept and get hooked. We got a lot of great feedback from early play testers who were frustrated as they unlocked more levels, but kept coming back for more. ”
Adding on what some of the “great feedback” received was, he said: “One of the best features we were told that Blork has is its retro/old-school style, paired with awesome chiptune tracks produced by our David Lugo, and the variety of levels.”
Temptation did exist in the early stages to apply more of an educational push, but the team felt this would have needlessly restricted the game’s reach. “That would limit our audience,” Farina reasoned, “and dramatically reduce how far we can push the challenge factor.”
Evidently, that resolution to extend their targets as broadly as possible also applies to the game’s platform destinations. Blork’s compact, easy-to-follow format is perfectly suited for mobile markets, but Diga Design also has in mind to bring it to PC/Mac and even Ouya, calling it “the ideal platform” (besides iOS and Android) due to the indie push.
Personally, I have a good feeling the game would find the 3DS eShop to be a pleasant fit, being among the likes of Glow Artisan, Nintendo’s own Art Style series, and more recent small puzzle packages. Whether or not the game is deemed suitable for this or other platforms has yet to be determined, but they are certainly looking at things from a long-term perspective.
“In terms of having it on mainstream consoles, it’s still up in the air as we haven’t really looked into it yet. Definitely something to talk about!” Farina added also that scrapped ideas that came through in the conceptual stages, such as moving obstacles, “are best left for future versions.”
Diga Design has until early October to raise $5000 – a reasonable sum – for their project via Kickstarter. Having toyed with the demo, there’s no question the game is subtly clever, and hopefully it’s that quality that results in a successful campaign and launch.