This month’s experimental gameplay project is to make a game for Sifteo Cubes, a really cool and unique gaming platform. I was inspired to try playing around with some ideas and spent most of the day implementing a simple puzzle game concept tentatively called Twisteo.
I found that the SDK was very quick to get up and running. All of the examples built and ran well in the “Siftulator” (I kid you not, that’s what the emulator is called). I need to run in an emulator because I don’t have any actual Sifteo cubes. My main difficulty so far has been the lack of debugging support. Also, I dearly miss working in visual studio with edit and continue. Programming for these things is kind of fun because the interaction with the cubes really complicates how things can happen. For example in this project the real trick is the function that flips tiles from one cube to the next. It’s a beast because the cubes can be connected in a line of variable length, rotated, and need to wrap around.
The game I made is sort of the Sifteo analogy to a Rubik’s cube. It’s also kind of like Slidoku, another game I made a while back. When you tilt a cube it slides in that direction wrapping around. Connecting 2 or more cubes together lets you slide part of one cube onto another along the chain. It’s probably easier to just watch the video below and see how it works. I played around with it a bit but I’m not sure how tough it is to win once really well scrambled. I was able to solve a scrambled 2 cube puzzle with relative ease but more colors seems way harder. It might be fun to build on this concept, adding more cubes, animation, better graphics and controls, maybe even change the mechanics entirely but it’s just a proof of concept at this point.
I have a few more ideas I’d like to try but I don’t want to get into anything too complicated without a debugger. What I think needs to happen is a true cross platform SDK. Basically a set of wrappers for everything in the SDK to make it build and run in a simulated environment using DirectX or OpenGL. This would make development way faster because we could debug and use all of visual studio’s features. The Siftulator would still be useful for more accurate emulation, but most of the game development could be done building for PC. Development issues aside I had fun making a little game for this platform. The hardware limitations brought back memories of making TI-82 games in highschool when I first learned how to program.
Update – I’ve made some changes to how it works. When you neighbor cubes the top 2 rows move right and the bottom 2 rows move left. This seems to create an extremely complex puzzle.