TriLinks


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TriLinksA brand new game from Tonypa just launched along with a new version of his games page.

TriLinks is a strategy puzzler in which the player must connect each set of three (3) same-colored links ("endblobs") by moving the mouse over adjacent points on the game grid. The game play is similar to the Hyper Frame Shockwave 3D game of a few months ago.

Each connecting point represents one step with 100 total steps allowed per level. Moving over blobs of the same color, or over endblobs, do not count against the number of steps remaining.

The catch is that every move of the mouse will change the underlying point to a blob of the currently selected color, even links belonging to previously completed chains thereby 'breaking' them. It is all too easy to place blobs where you do not want them, therefore caution and restraint must be exercised throughout the game.

The game cycles through each color in order, repeating if necessary in the event that a chain was broken along the way. Once all endblobs for each color are connected together in an unbroken chain, your score is increased relative to the number of unused steps remaining. Later levels award more points per unused step.

Analysis: As usual, Tonypa's game aesthetics are exemplary. The lovely piano music, sound effects and the simple, minimalist graphics are all nicely polished and very pleasing, soothing even.

The choice of using a simple mouse-over to draw the blobs, however, is puzzling to me and prone to user error. This is especially true at the very beginning of the game upon clicking the "Play" button. The mouse cursor begins in the middle of the board and the player begins drawing blobs immediately from there.

Why not use a click-and-drag mechanic? I believe that would work (and feel) much better for the player, though it may make the resulting game a bit too easy. In its present form, I find it rather annoying that it places blobs where I do not want them, which takes up valuable steps. Using a mouse-over may make the game more challenging, and yet the discomfort it causes is a detriment to the enjoyment of the game.

Overall, the game has the potential to be another classic casual game from Tonypa. We'll have to wait and see what he says about it in the comments. =)

34 Comments

If it's from Tony, you know it's gotta be good, but, this one is dissappointing, soley for the reason you mentioned.
Mouse-over mechanics create the worst kind of difficulty - difficulty due to imperfect game mechanics.
I don't see how a click-and-drag mechanic would make it easier except in that it would do what you'd want it to..

I dunno, as you said, has potential, but in it's current incarnation it's unplayable, at least to me.

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I agree with the above comments. Click and drag would help tremendously.

The new menu confuses me x_x

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got to lvl 13 and messed up, 1500 something points. I didnt think i was much so I pressed send with the YOURNAME still in the box, but i was 6th place on the score board. (at that time)

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i think the mouse over works perfect. it's nto faulty game mechanics but poor planning that will make it difficult. you just have to be precise and decisive.

the game does seem to have one flaw, hopefully somthing that can be fixed...

once you progress into the higher levels, the game spends a lot of time setting the board. you can watch as it randomizes and tries to fit into the defined rules, but it can take up to 30-45 sec for the board to set.

really bothersome

otherwise, a great game which i already love

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Having the control work via rollover is a bit fiddly, I grant you, but I think that the necessity of moving around the board without jumping is half of what actually makes the game. I might suggest using some sort of cursor, which could start at any dot at the edge of the board, and then be moved in straight horizontal or vertical lines by clicking on the board. However, such a (relatively) complicated control system seems to against the grain of so much of Tony's other work, so his use of rollover is understandable.

Also, I got number 9 on the high score chart with 1,303 points. Yay me! :b

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lol

It's not unplayable at all. You just have to think ahead, and build in bigger (thicker) routes if you can see that a later colour might overlap.

At least this differentiates the game in a meaningful way from hyperframe; otherwise it would just be identical, barring the different format.

Having said that (to balance the previous comment) it is slightly annoying; I wonder if Tonypa wants to add in that extra level of difficulty or if he's happy taking it out.

Rob

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I didn't mean unplayable in a literal sense, I meant that with the current setup I'd be unwilling to play it.

But, *shrug*, I'm still a huge fan of Tony. :)

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hiram archibald Author Profile Page February 22, 2006 4:27 AM

I think that mouse-over works with a slight mod: once a new level is display, the player should place the cursor and click to start drawing the blobs. That would decrease the influence of chance and make budgeting and strategy even more central than it is, and also retain the arcade challenge of a steady hand.

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Personally for me - the mouse over mechanic adds to the dreamy atmosphere of the game. On the other hand I think that the game would be better served by allowing the player to click where he want's to start off from instead of forcing him to spend steps in the beginning of each level to position himself.

Other than that - the mouse over mechanic makes planning and foresight all the more important - always a good feature in a game.

Hats of to TonyPa - without him the Internet would surely be a poorer place.

I like peanuts.

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It's a nice game, but not very challenging, I gave up because it wasn't getting much harder after 10 minutes, and generating a level was taking longer :/

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As a big fan of tony's games, I just discovered another great game. But there's one point I don't like about the game.

Like Hiram already mentioned, it's a bit annoying that you need to start at the place where the cursor was, when you finished the level before. That should get changed somehow, but it's a great game...

mfg Dave

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Wow, the first time I've ever been in the top 10 for a game! Probably not for long though ;^)

I enjoyed this game, although once you hit 5 different colours it does take a while to load the level. I agree about clicking to start, although I don't mind the mouse-over operation in general.

One thing I found a bit annoying was, when you have no choice but to break one of the trails and you cycle back through the colours, you have to go through all of them, even ones you've completed. It would be better if it just returned to the colour that had been broken. I don't know if that makes any sense, hopefully someone will understand!

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Excellent feedback folks, and I absolutely agree with hiarm's mod suggestion about the 'click-to-place' first blob, and possibly even the first blob of each color.

That would take the annoyance factor away and accentuate the strategic element of the game while retaining the arcade feel as well.

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I agree with all of the above. I see both sides and I think that most everyone that is willing to play it would be better served if you could place your cursor each time it changes color, then have the rollover take over. I found it very frustrating to have to "dig" into things that I have already made to get to the later colors just because they were located in the inner part of the board. Other than that I liked it well enough.

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Hi, thanks for great review, Jay and thanks for comments everyone. I will try to add "click on the place you wish to start drawing" option so you can choose starting point for each level. I noticed sometimes you click to start level and 2 spots already get colored, that is not good thing.

I know it can take quite some time to generate the stage. I tested it with many layouts, many different colors combinations, number of endpoints and other options. One version even had enemies chasing you around and turning colored points back to grey, that one was fun for about 5 seconds. Current version is best I was able to make work.

I probably should create different way for placing endblobs, it just throws them around randomly and then tries to find path to each of same color, if no path can be found it starts over placing all endpoints randomly again. It can take 30 seconds easily with 5 colors which of course is why there are not 8 colors like I originally planned (because it would take about week to generate stage with 8 colors).

The reason why I did go with mouse movement and not drag is quite simple, it would be too easy. As every stage is randomly generated there is no challenge of solving the puzzle as would be with pre-designed stages (HyperFrame puzzle mode has predesigned levels which means once you solved one level there is no point doing it again).

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I don't know if it's cheating but:

If you press the right mouse button, you can move the mouse without building circles

That should help with the move-over problems

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I actually like this a lot, TonyPa. It is definitely my favorite game on your site.

However, I was annoyed that when you press the start button, your mouse cursor is somewhere in the center of the board on the first level, while every other level, you're on the outside and get to choose how you break in to start the matching. That would be fixed if you add the "click on the place you wish to start drawing" option or move the start button below the board level.

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kt belle, thank you for telling, I never thought about that cheat :( not sure if its possible to fix it. Need to think.

Willoughby, I am glad to hear you liked it :)

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I love this game, Tonypa - I think it's one of your best!

ps: not crazy about your new menu - looks cool - hard to navigate.

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twistofreality Author Profile Page February 22, 2006 4:44 PM

At the risk of reiterating what others have already said, I enjoy the mouseover aspect of the game, as it's a level of strategy I've not encountered in any other puzzle game to date. Thanks for all the great games, tonypa. The simplicity of your art and the complexity of mastering your games is indeed a unique combination.

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Tonypa
Its possible I saw somewhere else do it.
I like this game the mouseover aspect makes it what it is.

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The main problem I have with the mechanics as they are is that it becomes hard to do anything else while playing this game.

I was chatting in IRC while playing and managed to accidentally draw a bunch of lines in the game. I was reasonably far along and it's frustrating to have the game ruined because you needed to switch windows and do something else for a minute.

A click to start the line feature would be great. It would solve what I see as the main problem while keeping most of the difficulty.

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Love the game. I sense an addiction coming on. I don't mind the mouse over mechanics, and agree with a previous poster that it just adds to the challenge of the game (more preplanning is required, which means you have to think more)

I wish there the game had variable difficulty, though. I don't find it very challenging until you get to four colors, so it would be nice to be able to start out like that.

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Besides the cheat that kt belle found, here is another one:

You click Alt+Tab to change to another open window that covers the TriLinks board. Move the mouse in that application, then Alt+tab back to TriLinks. If you decide where you want to move your cursor first, you can go anywhere

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With my trusted friend excel, I got to around 5300 points and number 1!

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Tonypa, to generate the puzzle more efficiently you could try this: randomly grow a number of trails of different colors (without overlap), then keep 3 points on each. Just restart if you get blocked before you can generate N trails that are long enough.

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Yes, click and drag would be easier than the rollover currently in place, but that would destroy what is ultimately so great about this game to me.

The fact that everything you touch lights up forces you to think about where youre putting your mouse.

Tonypa, I think is one of the better games on your site.

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And that'd be my husband with the 13k score. It ate, like, his whole Saturday. At least the Olympics were on!

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I have made some fixes in the game.
1. Pick spot and click to start stage. Until you click, there is no steps counted.
2. Added check to make sure you cant leave the game while stage is playing. If you use right click or alt+tab or any other method to leave the game and return later then game is reset. I understand this is bad if you want to switch between several windows and between several programs, but I feel it is important to avoid cheating.
3. Rewrote map creation code. It should take now less time and in lvl 20+ you get 6 colors.

I am sorry, Eyebrows, but because of the cheats I have reset highscores. Good thing is, because of the click-to-start option it should be somewhat easier now, plus with 6 colors at higher levels you can get more points then before.

Please let me know if you find bugs. Like if the game hangs at higher levels. I am hoping it wont and that I added enough checks :)

Thank you all for the feedback, your comments help very much in improving the game and give reason to make more games. I wish to make completely different game next, something like Shooot, but more interesting.

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Oh great, now I won't see my husband for ANOTHER whole Saturday!

Sounds like it's time for Eyebrows to hit the spa!

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I really enjoy this game. Tony, I am generally very happy that you have made changes that make it harder to cheat (I actually got myself on the leaderboard for a bit ;)

But I have been having issues with the game resetting on me for no obvious reason. With my cursor still sitting in the middle of the playing field, and without clicking or typing anything. It's been very frustrating as I have lost some pretty good games.

Also (and I admit that this is my error) I have reset the game accidentally when my mouse has gotten bumped and the cursor momentarily left the playfield (even though it was still on the game screen).

Again, I really do appreciate the changes made. I was just wondering if you might have any idea as to why I keep getting reset at random.

Thanks

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I have again updated the map generation code to avoid game getting stuck on new stage. I hope nobody will lose their good scores because of this bug anymore.

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I have to say, this is my favorite Tonypa game thus far. I can't say how often I come back to it. Great work!

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I think it would be more playable if it used cursor keys rather than the mouse. The game play logic would be the same, but it would be harder to mess up with a twitch.

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