TetrEscape combines room escape, block-pushing puzzles, and Tetris to create a fun, casual puzzle game. Push tetrominos around and fill rows and columns to unblock a route to the exit.
The project sat on the shelf for a while with me only coming back with an occasional new level, library update, or bug fix. In 2019, I finally pulled it off the shelf as one of two possible projects to submit to an indie funding program the following spring, making a variety of changes, additions, and improvements, and showing it off for feedback at ROC Game Dev meet-ups. I ended up submitting Two Can Play At That Game instead, but then, of course, the pandemic derailed everything, and TetrEscape went back on the shelf.
I spent most of late 2020 and early 2021 prioritizing other projects, including Dr. Magnethands, PortalZ, and Workshop Scramble updates. Then, in late 2021, as it seemed as though in-person indie game events might be able to safely come back, I resumed work on TetrEscape.
On the gameplay side, aside from just creating or completing various additional level ideas, I focused on identifying and filling gaps in what the tutorial-type levels taught players, as well as ways in which the game's mechanics were underutilized, and of course previously missed ways certain levels could be cheated. Beyond that, I also decided on a comprehensive graphical redesign of the game. The idea had stuck in the back of my head for a while of having the player escape Tetris-themed dungeons or ruins, and I already had experience painting custom rock textures from working on Hack, Slash & Backstab, so I started creating new custom graphics for the game's various menus and in-game assets. I liked the theming of everything being square-based except for the circular player reaching a circular goal.
For the goal, I initially tried a spinning spiral staircase out, but it never looked quite right because it necessarily had to have stairs half the size of the player sprite. After a few attempts, I scrapped it in favor of a magical exit portal, and after some brainstorming, I landed on the final “rippling” design. The base idea of the player as a spherical robot was easy to come up with, though some ideas (such as having the spherical body roll when it moved or having the robots hands have fingers) got cut to save animation frames and time, or because they were too small to make out on the tiny body. Even so, I am happy with how xe looks in the game—especially xer eyes.
Removing the color from the title screen made it seem a bit too empty, so I decided to add some glowing purple fire to establish the sort of magical dungeon vibe from the start. I am also proud of the implementation—the purple glow itself is just a couple overlapping animated CSS shadows, and I caught small details like having the buttons that sit in the wall behind the embers move forward in front of them when focused.
I also polished up the UI hints for all the supported input methods. Button hints and even the How To Play screen update instantly when you interact by a different input method, and I wrote the system in a way that can easily be used in future projects.