Developer interview: Blocksplode

Blocksplode comes out on April 14th and instantly appealed to us as fans of Tumble VR. Rich in content with over 90 levels to complete with a variety of gameplay mechanics, the game has you placing sticks of dynamite on carefully built structures in order to bring it down. In most levels, you have to knock a certain percentage of the blocks down, but additional requirements are to knock down grumpy blue blocks (who taunt you with Lemmings-like “Oh no!” sounds) or to make sure green gems don’t hit the water below.

Part casual destruction simulator, part fiendish puzzle game, we got in touch with Nick Jefferson-Tame and Adam Mitchell at North Star Games, who are developing the game that’s arriving on Steam this week. Here’s what they had to say about Blocksplode.

Blocksplode isn’t your first project – what are some games you’ve previously worked on?

We’ve worked on quite a few over the years. Jungle Party for the PS2/Vita and other Buzz Junior games, Muppet Monster Adventure (PS1), Stuart Little: Big Photo Adventure (PS2), Disney Think Fast (Wii) and Invizimals The Lost Kingdom (PS3), just to name a few!

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Where did the idea for Blocksplode come from?

We were looking for an idea that would be a simple but fun puzzle game, having mostly worked on multi-million-dollar games with reasonably large teams, lots of art assets, animations, voice actors, motion capture, and so on. The idea of trying to make a game that has more in common with something like Tetris or Lemmings was also very appealing. Adam spent a couple of weeks looking at puzzle games when he stumbled across Art of Balance on the Wii-U. It was definitely the right kind of thing and we thought maybe rather than build structures it might be more fun to blow them up. From there pretty much the whole initial design of Blocksplode was one paragraph long.

What has the development process been like, especially in comparison to past projects?

There’s a lot more freedom in the game production process as we can pretty much create whatever we want within reason. There has to be a lot less blue sky thinking, less iteration over different ideas, a lot more practicality on thinking of things we can reasonably do between the two of us in a feasible amount of time. Even starting from something that’s as simple an idea as Blocksplode, there is still a lot involved.

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Blocksplode reminded us of a game mode in one of our guilty pleasures – Tumble VR. Did you play it and what makes knocking down towers so much fun?

Neither of us has played Tumble VR, but we have run some experiments with Blocksplode in VR. The game shows potential, and VR is a medium worth considering. There’s certainly something fun about destroying stuff, especially with explosives. I think it’s a kind of therapeutic way to let off steam. It’s just not usually practical!

In addition to having to knock down each structure, you also need to do it quickly. What was the reasoning for the time limit?

Initially we didn’t have the time limit but after some testing, there were a couple of potential issues. Firstly, structures can take quite a long time to fall and they can wobble about for ages. Secondly, a lot of towers would eventually fall if left for long enough. We then realized the game worked better when a timer was added.

How did you go about implementing a multiplayer mode? What can players expect?

The multiplayer game has both online and offline games to suit every gamer! The offline games are similar to the mini-games on the single-player tower. The online game is very close to the main game where players blow up the same tower design and play against each other for the best % score. To mix it up a bit we have included an optional pickup system which allows players to gain an advantage or disadvantage opposing players.

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