Feature rich design

The best thing about the simplicity of Unreal Engine 4, as well as some intensive planning, means that Piczle Cross Adventures has a slew of options to cater the logic-puzzle game play to your exact liking.

Game options

Obviously the usual music and sound effect toggles are present. This is a given for any game made since the 80s. On top of this you can switch off (or on) the controllers’ rumble feature as well as any screen shaking, an effect so beloved by independent developers (myself not excluded).

The game has a lot of dialogue that animates letter by letter. This can be sped up by pressing A as the dialogues appear, but there is also an option to skip all that jazz and have all texts just pop up immediately.

Three levels of retro (full, no distortion and no scanlines respectively)

Lastly there are the scanlines. I toyed with calling this “retro level 0 ~ max” but there are only 3 settings, so I thought I’d best keep it descriptive. At level 0 there are no fake CRT scanlines. The pixelart will be crisp and clear. At level 1 there are scanlines to make the game look a bit like it’s running on an old TV. At level 2 not only are there scanlines, there is also some distortion around the edges, like you would get on really old televisions. The last setting is the default, but hey, not everybody enjoys their retro games too authentic.

Puzzle options

Puzzle options menu

Oh boy, I went a little mad here. I managed to cram in so many options to tweak the puzzling experience it’s a little crazy.

First off there are the usual suspects. Show or hide the timer or any time information. I truly believe not everybody is interested in how quickly they solved a puzzle, so if you want to play in a relaxed fashion you can turn that all off. Of course your times and dates are still recorded, so you could switch it back on later and see, but it won’t be pushed in your face.
Then there is the clue roulette feature. When you start a puzzle you can, if you want, automatically fill in a random row and column of the puzzle. You will be asked about this with every puzzle, but if you’ve decided you are never going to use the clue roulette, this option means you won’t be asked.

Auto-correct mistakes can be turned on, meaning that if you mistakenly place a block it will correct it for you, with a small time penalty. If you have this feature turned on, you could also make sure that correctly placed (including corrected blocks) cannot be deleted. This will make it a much easier experience for beginners. As a little extra you can also toggle the screen shake that appears when you make a mistake, because why not?

Auto-fill comes in two flavours. On starting the puzzle you can opt to automatically fill any row or column with 0 clues entirely with crosses. This is a handy time saving feature that is switched on by default. Secondly you can opt to automatically fill the remainder of any row or column with crosses once you’ve fulfilled all the clues. Note, though, that unless you have auto-correct on as well, this would happen even if you fulfilled the clues incorrectly!

Next there is looping. When you move your cursor to the edge of the puzzle grid it can loop back to the other side. This makes navigation nice and quick. The default looping method is that once you start drawing you won’t loop around. You will need to release the draw button before you can loop. This is so you don’t accidentally draw where you don’t want to when you’re doing a nice long strip of blocks. The second way to loop is to, well, always loop, regardless. Lastly there is an option to never ever loop around.

One little haptic element in Piczle Cross is the slight controller vibrations when you move the cursor. It feels nice and clicky, and makes the control feel a little more robust. However, you can switch this off.

Lastly there is cursor speed. The default speed is set, but you can make it so that it speeds up a little as you move. There is also an option to just have it go fast all the time.

Accessibility options

Accessibility is important to me. Luckily Piczle Cross’s nonograms are black and white, so colourblindness shouldn’t be an issue this time around. I did however find two ways to widen the appeal to players with specific needs, to ensure a comfortable and hopefully safer gaming experience.

Firstly there is an option to turn on “reduced flashing”. There isn’t an awful lot of flashing in the game, save for a few cut scenes, but with this option turned on slight variations that tone down such flashing will be utilised to hopefully reduce the chances of epileptic episodes.

Counting grid squares

Secondly, the game can be mostly played with one hand except for a couple of puzzle features. The “count blocks” feature requires the player to hold down a shoulder button and move the cursor, and drawing generally requires a lot of pressing of the A button or holding it down as you move. To improve playability with people who may have trouble using both hands or fully utilising all the fingers on one hand I’ve added a “toggle instead of hold” option. With this on, drawing blocks, crosses or counting is activated by pressing the relevant button once, and deactivated by pressing it again.

Themes

Puzzle theme selection menu.

On top of all this there are also puzzle themes! You can change the graphical appearance of your puzzles, and even, if you unlock the special object in the world, make your own! I will write more about this feature in a future blog post.

Conclusion

As you can see, a lot of effort has been made to not only create a smooth puzzling experience, but to give the player a tonne of options to tweak it to their exact liking. When I set out to create a nonogram Piczle it was always a priority to build such features in from the very start.

I hope players will enjoy puzzling in Piczle Cross Adventures and if specific options crop up that you would like to see, why not leave a comment below? Some features can be added fairly easily and I’m sure that, though designed punctiliously, I may have overlooked some.

One of the more colourful puzzle themes

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