Puzzle Quest: Galactrix – hands-on

Above: Mermaids and unicorns are too silly, but this guy made the cut? Don't get us wrong, this owl-man looks totally sweet, but we're just sayin...

GR:Are there any plans for a direct sequel to Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords?

MS:It’s certainly an idea worth exploring! Nothing is announced yet, but don’t count it out.

GR: We’ve heard that there were some ideas that were tried out and then later scrapped, such as the distinction between zero-G and low orbit battles, as well as getting rid of character leveling and then adding it back in. Were there any other experiments with the gameplay that you tried but didn’t work out, or that you wanted to include but didn’t get to?

MS:I think one of the best things about Infinite Interactive is their iterative process of game design. They rarely become too attached to a game design concept until they have proven first that it is fun. So there were many things that were suggested, designed, and in some cases implemented throughout the development process that didn’t prove to be fun and were scrapped. Some of the minigames such as hacking and crafting in Galactrix went through this process and are much better because of it. Our collective goal for Galactrix was for it to be as fun as humanly possible.

In terms of things we wanted to do but didn’t get around to, the list is too long to name specifics.

GR:Part of Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords’ brilliance was that it could easily be described as Bejeweled the RPG, but Puzzle Quest: Galactrix has evolved the formula quite a bit, and can’t really be summed up so easily. Are you worried that it won’t have as much mainstream appeal?

MS:Puzzle Quest: Galactrix is very much in the same spirit as Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords and is very similar in its core gameplay.
We have taken many steps to make Galactrix as easy to pick up and play as possible. For example, we have beautiful, visual tutorials in the game that are very direct and easy to read. Additionally, we have color coded key quests so that players will know which are the most important.

GR: The PQ franchise seems to have succeeded at addressing the needs of both casual and hardcore gamers simultaneously – is there anything other casual game designers can learn from PQ?

MS:I think the best lesson to be learned from Puzzle Quest is casual games don’t need to be shallow experiences. There are many people who had never experienced an RPG before Puzzle Quest and are now RPG addicts! Game designers should approach casual gamers as people who are starved for new and better games that really engage them.

GR:By adding RPG elements to the puzzle genre, it seems like you’ve opened up the genre to a new realm of possibilities. How far do you think you can run with this? Puzzle Quest the MMO? What do you think are the limits of the puzzle genre?

MS:That’s a tough question to answer. What is clear is that the longevity of puzzle games is unmatched. I know people who have played Tetris every day of their lives since they first got it on the original Game Boy. I don’t think we’ve come anywhere near the glass ceiling.

GR:Is there anything about the game that doesn’t necessarily come through in the screens and videos that you’re particularly proud of?

MS:I’m most proud of our Nintendo DS version of Puzzle Quest: Galactrix. This was the first DS game that Infinite has ever made in-house and it was a huge undertaking for them. Trying to capture the depth and experience of the higher-res versions of Galactrix on the DS was an extreme challenge. We went through many iterations of GUI, functionality on the game board and the look of the system maps. It turned out to be an awesome DS game and we’re really pleased with it.

Jan 23, 2009

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