Go here to download Magnesium Gardens for your website.
Magnesium Gardens is the first Flash game I released, with it coming out sometime in early 2009. Like nearly everything I've made, it had a pretty long and
intermittent development cycle. It was actually pretty nearly the first serious thing I attempted in Flash, with early prototypes of the basic game play coming
together in the fall of 2007. Intense development mostly took place between August and early November of 2008.
The original design was a bit different - the game play was mostly of the kind seen in the final game, but originally I had players
uploading demo replays of their best games to a server and saving the replays off in a MySQL database. My idea was that every day (or couple of days), a new map
would available in the game, and then everyone would have 24 hours or so to try to maximize the speed that they played the game. Then, once a set timer had gone off,
the game would calculate who had the best couple of replays, and players could download those replays to see what really good play looked like.
I actually had all the plumbing for this rigged up, and it was totally cool to log in, play, and see the server update and stream the replays down,
but I ultimately decided that babysitting an affair like that would be substantially more commitment than I was looking for. I'm still really fond of that general
social game idea, though.
Magnesium Gardens didn't make a giant splash in the world of flash games, but it was a huge learning experience for me. There was a lot of bigger picture
game design issues that I had largely been insulated from in the commercial game industry (because we worked in such radically calcified game genres) that I had to
confront when playtesting it. In particular, Magnesium Gardens has a really strange (and interesting) tangle of rules that, if I've done my job well, make for interesting
choices while playing. I really went all out with that. It was only once I was rolling the game out that it became clear that it was kind of hard to understand
why Magnesium Gardens was an interesting game, because the interplay between the rules was a bit too obscure. Essentially, by relying on certain kinds of emergence,
I had hid away the interesting.
In particular, I think I might have gotten my metaphors wrong. If you play Magnesium Gardens and get decent at it, it should become clear that it almost has more in common
with the tactical part of real-time strategy games than with the ball/physics game its art implies. Playing the game well mostly involves juggling the different balls,
directing one towards and target and then shifting your attention to another ball while the first ball is paused, burning a plant. I don't think my art choices did a
good job of making that comprehensible.
The floor art was made using my C# game engine to emit nice looking material surfaces, coupled with symmetrical doodles generated by a really cool flash applet I found online
(that I can't quite recall the name of).
I have a nice, high quality collection of the music for Magnesium Gardens. I'll probably make it available at some point.