Circuit Scramble

CSDisplayCircuit Scramble is a 2D mobile puzzler that throws you in to the world of circuit-based logic that drives real computers. Dive in to Classic Mode, which takes you through 100 custom-made levels full of ANDs, ORs, and XORs(that one will make sense later, I promise). After that, give Endless Mode a try, with a – you guessed it – endless amount of procedurally generated levels, so the wild, circuit-based fun never needs to stop.

 

Release Date: April 8th, 2016

Price: Free!

Available For: Android

Some Kind of Postmortem

So, Circuit Scramble is all packed up and ready to release. The natural state for developers when hitting the end of a project seems to be reflecting back on what went wrong and what went well – and I’m no exception to that rule.

This is going to be my very first game release, so that poses it’s own set of problems to the whole reflection process. So much of this is new to me that I barely have a point of comparison to determine if something went well or not. Did I struggle in some peculiar or particular way? Or were the difficult parts just par for the course in terms of releasing a product. My inclination is the latter is true, but I suppose only time will tell.

Before Circuit Scramble, my experience has been generally limited to a number of personal projects and game jam entries, all of which helped me build up my design skills. But it’s safe to say that getting something ready for release is a completely different ball game. Even setting aside all the secondary work that releasing a game needs – setting up store pages, getting screenshots, trailers, descriptions and posts – there is a certain pressure that comes with knowing that a game is going to be released to the public(even if the likely case is that few will ever play it).

The level of rigor and self-criticism I put myself through in this release far exceeded any of my previous projects, which have been all for my own benefit. In terms of a time split, I think I spent about half the time getting my game to what I would consider “feature-complete”, and the other half labouring over small details, bugs, and issues that annoyed me. Even still, I see tiny flaws and issues everywhere – you may even notice them as well – but the line has to be drawn somewhere.

Even with that pressure, this has easily been the most satisfying project I have ever taken on, and it is enough to keep me fired up for making more games. Seeing the level of satisfaction I get from even a small mobile game, I can’t wait to take on even more projects. There may be more small mobile games in my future, or larger projects with a more ambitious scope. I guess we’ll just have to see where things go from here!

The Premise

Probably the most common question I get when I show off Circuit Scramble to friends, family and people I’ve corralled into testing it is “How did you come up with this?” I’ve always found that question interesting. Not that Circuit Scramble is some perfect unique snowflake in the mobile or indie gaming scene, but because I can track down very clearly where the idea came from.

For a bit of a history, I come from a formal Computer Science background(for all that formality exists in this industry), going through my Undergrad at Queen’s University. It was in my second year that I took a Computer Architecture course, in which we covered the basics of logic gates, and the internals of computer processors and memory and concepts like that. It was a different side of programming that I hadn’t really experienced up until that point. Truth be told, that kind of low-level computing was never my cup of tea, I knew it was a section of the industry I would never get in to. But apparently that course had more to contribute than I knew.

We were doing a unit on logic gates, the basic XOR, AND, OR gates(amongst others) that make up the internals of computer processing and decision making. On one of our assignments, we were given an fields of logic gates, and asked to determine which inputs would yield specific results.

I remember this assignment clearly, as it struck me how much like puzzles these questions were. It required logical and methodical thinking. On top of that, it was open to multiple approaches to solving it. Did you start at the top and work your way down to the inputs? Or start with the inputs and find your way up to the result? Or maybe you moved left to right across the array of gates. Or maybe you just brute forced your way through inputs and tried to land ass-backwards into the solution. Whatever suited you.

Now, this was a couple years before I even realized I wanted to develop games, so the idea to make a mobile game from this premise didn’t even enter my mind. In fact, I don’t believe I even thought about that problem set for a couple years after I completed it.

But evidently, that thought stuck with me. When I first started inching my way towards the indie development scene, it was my very first concept for a mobile game. I thought there was an array of short, interesting puzzles to be had here. And hey, maybe people would learn a thing or two about how a computer actually ‘thinks’ along the way.

So with that, the idea for Circuit Scramble was born! And here we are now, ready for it to go live. I find it endlessly amusing that the course I wrote off as “not for me” ended up being the inspiration for my first game release.