Dead prototypes: Brutris

What is it?

A 3D variant of Tetris where, once placed, the blocks together created a procedurally generated Brutalist building.

How far did it get?

Not very. I created the main play field and was about to start looking into dynamically creating Brutalist textures on the Tetris blocks when…

Why kill it?

…the design.

For a start…3D Tetris. How the Hell is that supposed to work? I remember playing a game back in the previous century called Block Out, a 3D Tetris facing downward, and even that was almost impossible to wrap your spatial brain around. Imagine that in an isometric three-quarter view. Press up or down brings the piece forward and backward? How do you rotate and in which direction? How can you properly see the play field? You need to rotate around that as well? These issues aren’t insurmountable by any means, but they were a challenge that gave me a headache to even think about and it kind of killed the fun of the prototype for me.

Block Out by California Dreams

On top of that, how would the procedural Brutalist building generation work? Every time you drop a piece it recalculates? That would mean every move would generate a new building. Or only recalculate after you clear out a section? But also…the fun would be to create intricate Brutalist architecture, which kind of is diametrically opposed to the idea behind Tetris, which is to avoid building up.

In the end I realised I cannot force my love for buildings like the Nakagin Capsule Tower or Habitat 67 or any of the other awesome architecture of the style into a workable game design.

What did I learn?

  • Dynamic grid material creation
    For the “well” into which the blocks would fall I created a simple, elegant dynamic solution that would create a block of variable X, Y and Z sizes and fill the sides with a grid texture of the same block sizes.
  • Good game design forms from the idea upward, not from an end-result downward. Most of the time, at least.

Dead for good?

Probably. I would still love to do something with procedurally generated Brutalist architecture, and even though I loved the name “Brutris” I don’t think a proper 3D Tetris can ever be any fun.

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