PENGUINS POOL PARTY - SmartGames 2016

 

THE STORY BEHIND THE CREATION OF PENGUINS POOL PARTY


Good things come in threes. Since I already invented two puzzle games with penguins, it was no surprise to me that Smart asked me to design a third one for SmartGames. But apart from the theme, these 3 games are very different from each other. Penguins on ice is a bigger game, Penguins Parade is a small, magnetic travel game and this new game is a compact game somewhere in between, similar in size to Temple Trap.


LESS IS MORE (MORE OR LESS)

Penguins Pool Party is a very good example of making something new, by changing a few key elements of existing products:

  1. -The two existing games had penguins on the ice, so this time I wanted the penguins to be in the water

  2. -Penguins on ice used 5 puzzle pieces made of 5 squares (pentominoes), so now I used 4 puzzle pieces made of 4 hexagons (tetrahexes). There are only 7 possible tetrahex shapes to choose from. The shapes I didn’t use are too symmetrical to make them interesting enough for a game with only four puzzle pieces.


Basically this is a “fill up the grid” puzzle, similar to the IQ-Puzzles, but with a penguin theme. Sometimes it takes years to finalize a game, sometimes it’s straight forward. But although Penguins Pool Party might not be the most original concept, it still makes a very good puzzle game that looks great. Especially for puzzle games, simpler is often better. A simple concept doesn’t mean that the design process is easier. Complexity is often used to camouflage problems with the concept or design. If something is very simple, every detail needs to be right.


A simple concept doesn’t mean either that the challenges are easy to solve. Although this game never gets really hard, the hexagonal shapes of the puzzle pieces make it less obvious than packing puzzles with a orthogonal grid.


top: example of a Starter challenge/solution with 4 penguins in the water



top: example of a Master challenge/solution with only 2 penguins in the water


What makes this game a little different to many other puzzles, is that places on the grid sometimes remain empty. Easy challenges show you the position of 4 penguins. The ice puzzle pieces should cover everything else. As soon as you create a separated area of less than 4 hexagons, you know that you have to start over. But harder challenges show you only 2 or 3 penguins. So at the end some hexagons will remain empty, but you don’t know where.


Of all versions we tried only a few sets of puzzle pieces offered enough variation and enough interesting challenges. The ice puzzle pieces were the parts that took us most time. They are made from 1 part (not two like in Penguins on Ice). They are transparent blue and painted on the bottom side with white paint, to make them look like ice. And the different heights of the ice puzzle pieces make it easy to lift them up.

 


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Raf Peeters, January 2016

English/

2017

TEMPLE CONNECTION

SNOW WHITE

JUMP IN’

IQ-FOCUS


2016

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD

PENGUINS POOL PARTY

PARKING PUZZLER

IQ-XOXO

DEDUCKTION

DINOSAURS MYSTIC ISLANDS

WALLS & WARRIORS

SMARTCAR 5x5

HIDE & SEEK PIRATES JR

HIDE & SEEK JUNGLE

NORTH POLE EXPEDITION

GHOST HUNTERS

ANTI-VIRUS MUTATION

2015

THREE LITTLE PIGGIES

BUTTERFLIES

IQ-BLOX

IQ-CANDY

PENGUINS PARADE


2014

QUADRILLION

BRAIN CHEESER

CITY MAZE

IQ-STEPS


2013

BUNNY BOO

VIKINGS BRAINSTORM

BACK 2 BACK

IQ-LINK

AB UNDER CONSTRUCTION

AB ON TOP


2012

TEMPLE TRAP

BILL & BETTY BRICKS

BEND-IT

IQ-FIT

NOAHS ARK

AQUABELLE


2011

PENGUINS ON ICE

TRUCKY 3

TROY

IQ-TWIST


2010

CHICKEN SHUFFLE

ANACONDA

CANNIBAL MONSTERS

SMARTCAR

SMARTPHONE


2009

TITANIC

DAY & NIGHT

2008

ROADBLOCK

METROVILLE

ALCATRAZ


2007

CAMELOT JR

CASTLE LOGIX

GOGETTER 4


2006

AIRPORT TRAFFIC CONTROL

HIDE & SEEK PIRATES

TOWER OF LOGIC INFERNO

DUOPUZZLE


2005

CAMOUFLAGE

HIDE & SEEK SAFARI


2001

GOGETTER 1, 2 AND 3