This project is so cool! Honestly one of the best ideas for a puzzle book. I mean ok, I actually don't know any puzzle books besides this one, but it surely blew me away with its puzzles.
Slowly nearing the finish line
Just a small update for anyone who's following the development of LOK - I hope there are some of you out there.
Since I've posted a devlog about finishing the first draft, proud that I'm almost at the finish line, I've been very busy perfecting the puzzle book. There is still a lot of work to do. With the help of valuable playtesters' feedback, I've identified the critical points which need to be worked on. These are:
- Pacing - Chapters simply need more puzzles, to underline some insights, to lengthen the experience. The first draft rushed too much, with only about 6-7 puzzles per chapter/mechanic - the book is currently in a much healthier state, with about 8-10 puzzles per chapter (which totals at 75 puzzles). But adding new puzzles is not as simple as it sounds, which brings us to the next point.
- Interesting puzzles - Each puzzle must be interesting and explore a new notion of the system. In the first draft, there were quite a few puzzles which relied on being complex for the complexity sake; the player needed to carefully tread a path through a big chunk of multiple keywords, with many dead ends and no real deeper insights about the game. Now I know that this is quite plainly bad design. I hope I identified all such puzzles and eliminated them. A puzzle can of course be complex, but only because its idea can't be expressed simply - and simple, but interesting puzzles are a priority.
- Difficulty - Interesting puzzles are by design more difficult than bland puzzles. It's especially hard to construct a puzzle which is simple, interesting, not trivial and still on the easier side. I've been trying to make as many such puzzles as possible to introduce new mechanics and not overwhelm the player, but the book as it currently exists would still be rated around 7/10 on the difficulty scale. This is not a big issue per se, but I still want the book to awe the solver with impressive ideas much more than frustrate them.
- Final chapter - I bounced some ideas back and forth about what should be the final chapter and got to the current version, which basically asks the player to construct the puzzles like jigsaws before solving them. This version is pretty fine and if I won't get any better ideas, I'll keep it as it is, but I secretly hope to find a really nice and strong and natural conclusion to the whole arc of what the puzzles tried to teach and convey.
- Artwork/Graphic design - I'm having trouble with my arms (inflamed tendons), which is a recurring thing in my life. When this medical problem appears, it incapacitates me for about half a year, so I'm very slow with making new artwork and finishing the graphic design of the book. It's much easier for me to make new puzzles than to draw. I have, however, made something I think is very close to the final version of the cover:
So, at this point LOK is slowly but surely nearing its end. I still very much hope to print the book, probably in a print run of 50 copies, maybe 100. How to then distribute the book is another problem I'm not sure I'm currently brave enough to even think about. I'm even toying with the idea of a Kickstarter project, but again, this is a scary thought and I probably don't have enough of a marketing power to successfully pull it through. But in any case, I'm pretty sure I want LOK to be my first game to be physically published, after 3 years of making strictly print-and-play content.
LOK has started out as a small project, as a game I would make in between larger projects - as a book of puzzles I'd quickly design to scratch the itch I've been feeling since I've stopped working on my previous puzzle book Lineon ( https://letibus.itch.io/lineon ) - but now, as 4 months have passed since I've started, I strongly feel this is probably my best work yet. It's very simple and very pure at its core. I really enjoy designing it. I hope this passion will somehow translate into the world.
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I am one of those following updates! I've played LOK a couple times but have stopped since you started updating it—I'll wait for the complete version and am definitely interested in a print version, provided it doesn't cost too much to ship to France ;)
Keep up the good work!
Very kind of you to say hello :) Thank you for the interest! (The shipping costs probably won't be too much since we are both located in EU). Hope to hear from you in the future - have fun!