Notes on a Curvy Physics Puzzle Game
Perhaps a pun on the word “curvy” made to sound like an alien language or just a nonsense alien-sounding word.
The conceit of the game is that it is of extra-terrestrial origin, that it is an artifact of an alien culture. It is not of this earth, so not beholden to our laws of physics. The physical rules and the aesthetics are equally important in conveying otherworldliness.
In the 1990s I used to buy Japanese import videogames having no knowledge what they were and without knowing Japanese. I played Katamari Damacy this way, for example. I’d like to emulate that experience, immersion in a dynamic and rich but weird and impenetrable user interface.
The game’s art will feature procedurally generated geometric constructions. It will use a custom fictitious number system based on an aperiodic tiling of the plane, and a fictitious written language that will be influenced by the Codex Seraphinianus.
The basic idea of the game is to construct mechanical puzzles that the user must solve, where the elements of the puzzles obey “curvy physics” rather than Newtonian mechanics — where by “curvy physics” we mean fictional laws of nature in which forces act along the arcs of circles rather than along straight lines.
In addition to the circular physics exhibited here, I will add an additional mechanic in which if a puck orbits the same circle for some duration of time without being disturbed by a collision, the circle it is revolving around will begin to glow the same color as the puck. Further, if two glowing circles of revolution intersect, the intersection will glow with a mixture of the colors; e.g., if a red glow circle intersects with a blue glow circle, the intersection will glow purple. These glowing circles of revolution will be called “glow color”.
The game presents the user with a series of levels. The user interacts with a level by placing items from a palette of given per-level items on to the level board, and pressing a button to begin a simulation. Each level’s board will be constructed from walls which are mostly arcs of circles. The level board may span more than one screen i.e. the user may need to scroll to see the whole thing. The level board may contain immovable items and/or immovable puzzle elements (e.g., contact switches). The level board will contain one special contact switch, the activation of which is the goal of the level.
Items in the user’s palette may include the following:
- circular pucks of various colors
- curvy force vectors that appear as curved arrows and may be applied to pucks
- stationary immovable pucks
The above items may also appear on the board already. In addition, the following puzzle elements may also appear on level boards:
- blocking and unblocking contact switches: Switches have an activation state that causes various effects (e.g., a wall disappears, a new puzzle element appears, etc.). A blocking switch is an immovable circle of a certain color that becomes activated if a puck of the same color collides with it. An unblocking contact switch is the same thing but a puck passes through it.
- blocking and unblocking glow switches: Like the above, but they are activated by being in a field of correct glow color.
- colored walls: Puck boundaries that disappear/become permeable if they are immersed in the correct glow color.
- launchers: Elements that appear as arc arrows on the board, that if contacted by a moving puck change the puck’s curvy velocity vector to the one implied by the arrow.
Ideas for Specific Puzzles
A germ of an idea is for the user to have to use behavior like the following to serve as “a timer” to solve some puzzle:
If the user needs for something to happen but not immediately, behavior like the above could be used as a sort of timer that enables the red puck to activate a switch only after the white puck knocks it out.