Primrose, a game that’s cooler than its core mechanic
Just took a break from writing to check out Rohrer’s Primrose. Didn’t play it until now, because I thought I’d have to set up my iPhone app store account to do so. But then I found out it’s on SourceForge like all his other games!
Anyhow, gobs and gobs have been written about it all over the place. I’m not a puzzler buff, so I’m not really interested in how “deep” it is or how it compares to Othello and Go. What does interest me is that it has an end – once you get access to all the colored tiles, a countdown starts on each one and eventually you’re left with one color (and a game over). This strikes me as rather revolutionary for a puzzler, seeing as I’ve never seen a determined ending to one before.
The other important move on his part was the instant replay feature. You can watch a replay of every game on the leaderboards, allowing you to see how they accomplished their scores. This is a unique chance to see how the puzzle gaming community develops dominant strategies to break games and derive the highest scores possible (check out the documents on how to create grids in Hexic for an example of this). So far the top scorer (I think he’s placed 1-3) only gets one massive chain at the beginning of his games – netting over 5 million points. He builds a big green block mass at the top and then has a method for chaining purple and orange blocks around the bottom and right side of the screen to set off the cascade. Then he just kind of flounders for the rest of the game until the gray blocks end it for him. Pretty neat stuff.
From a transparency standpoint this is pretty cool, but I wonder if bigtime puzzle score-junkies will avoid the game if they know that their methods can instantly be seen and understood by everyone. Certainly it detracts from the mystique of something like the highly personal grid styles exhibited by the top Hexic players. I suppose you could just go offline and prevent your scores from uploading, but this presents such a player with the a unique version of the “pics or it didn’t happen” dilemma – considering technically all the legit scores should be viewable. In sum, I think this game is more interesting for everything that went into it other than designing the actual puzzle.
Don’t be like me; support the man and his naked hippie children running through the grass – buy it at the iPhone apps store before running off to the beach next week!
PS: In case Rohrer RSS-feeds anything with his name and reads this – please make an iPhone version of Between so I can actually find people to play it with? It’s hard to figure out the mechanics or the meaning when I have to coerce my friends to try playing it with me, only to have them give up after a few minutes.