The Joys of Rack’Em.

My Rack’Em game is one of my favorite puzzle creations. First, I believe it’s 100% original. I don’t even remember how I got the gem of the idea, but I know it didn’t come from an existing puzzle. As a contrast, here is a quick list of where most of my other game ideas came from.

  • Recon Battle Ships: Based on pencil and paper version of the game in Games Magazine. It’s been around for years.
  • GapWar: Based on 9 little square tiles that I got when I was in 3’rd grade. It was marketing for a company that still exists called Pel-Freez which makes Rabbit Meat. Also, versions of this puzzle have existed that use pictures instead of colors (usually in thin wood-blocks).
  • FitTris: Inspired by Tetris, Pentominoes, Soma Cube and a host of others.
  • Noah’s Arc: Based on a Random-Walk problem in a Recreational Mathematics book of puzzles.
  • Math-Wheels: Based on a hand-held puzzle.
  • Lab-16: Based on Number-15 Puzzle (that Sam Loyd falsely claimed credit for).
  • Clock Puzzle: Base on concepts from Lab-16 (but this is fairly original).
  • Gem Shot: Arcade style 3-ball shooter (not much original there).

So, one of the joys in Rack’Em is that it’s original. Another joy is that it’s quite flexible as a puzzle medium. The original game was purely a logic puzzle that had the feel of a challenging Free Cell game.  I created a variation later that was much more of an activity than a puzzle and that was sort of fun. I’ve played with that variation a bit, but I’m returning to the original puzzle for inclusion in Clutter-II. The original puzzle had Straight Pool, Rotation and Double Trouble as it’s variations. I’ll most likely add one or two more for Clutter-II.

I didn’t do a great job with the original puzzle at explaining what the goal was. The tutorial was weak but I already know how that will be improved in Clutter-II. There will be some simpler puzzles to start off with (in the old days…even my easy puzzles weren’t so easy).

Lastly, I didn’t really have to tweak the level creation with Rack’Em. It’s a very pure game and just the basic rules coupled with a true random creation are enough to guarantee an interesting puzzle.

My goal is to finish off Rack’Em functionally by Memorial day and then I just have two more mini-game engines to write before the mini-games are done.

Rack’Em also has a touch of the Sudoku feel to it, but…it’s not a guaranteed single solution so it’s slightly different than the mathematical maze that is Sudoku.



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