Frog and Vine


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JohnBFrog and VineFrog and Vine is a unique collection of puzzles entered in our second Flash game design competition by Matt Slaybaugh, creator of Escape to Obion. Frog and Vine is one of the more varied entries and features four types of puzzles that can be completed in any order. And if the name didn't give it away, each one involves frogs and/or vines!

The main menu of the game is a vine with four leaves, each one representing a puzzle. Starting at the bottom and working our way up, the first leaf is a simple hopping puzzle where your goal is to move a frog onto the lilypad at the top of the screen. Our amphibian friends can only move by hopping over adjacent frogs which causes it to disappear. Where to vanished frogs go, you ask? A happy frog ranch in Oklahoma. Trial-and-error is all that's necessary to uncover this puzzle's secrets.

Next on the list is a color-based puzzle where you must match the pattern shown on the blocks by moving the frogs at the center of the screen. Click a frog to see where it can leap, then move it by clicking the target leaf. Like the first puzzle, all you need to do is play around for a few minutes to get the hang of things.

The third puzzle is one of the most difficult. Pieces of vine are placed at the center of the screen with a frog on top and a frog to the left. Clicking the left frog moves all the pieces one space left, while clicking the top frog slides all the pieces up—except for the ones in the red bar. When a vine piece is in the right spot it turns green. A lot of experimenting will be needed to figure out just how this works, but there is a pattern to the madness, and once you discover it you'll feel rather proud of yourself.

The top puzzle best represents the competition's "grow" theme and has you constructing a vine from root to leaf one piece at a time. Frogs are obstacles, and you have a limited set of vine shapes to place on the screen. When pieces are connected they'll turn green and the goal is to connect all the leaves to the root. Be economical with your moves and you'll be the proud parent of a lovely frog vine in no time.

Analysis: Frog and Vine has a lot of gameplay variety, but some of the puzzles can be frustrating from time to time. Luck is as much a part of the experience as skill. Visually I feel like Frog and Vine never really gels with itself. Solid-colored game elements on top of realistic backdrops feel cold and distant from each other. Some slight integration would pull the whole thing together nicely. I loved the music, but after some time scratching your head over puzzles, it gets a little unnerving. Fortunately Matt provides a music-off button right on the side of the screen so we can kill the noise and focus on the task at hand.

Cheers to Matt Slaybaugh for crafting a challenging and varied game for our competition!

Play Frog and Vine

zxoThis one seemed to lack the polish of some other games, and I don't feel like the puzzles were very innovative, nor was the grow theme very evident. Overall, it felt like something that would be on a one-dollar "500 games for Windows 95" CD-ROM. I never did quite finish the top leaf, so I don't know if there was any reward for completing the game, but my guess is that it wouldn't be satisfying enough to justify the hours spent tweaking that darn vine.

Walkthrough Guide


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OK, here's the progressively spoilerish guide of "what you need to do" (although it's quite obvious and not that hard).

Puzzle 1:

You have to get ONE frog to the green place above.

It's not as easy as it looks. The frog reaching the top will most probably be the one from the bottom row.

Puzzle 2:

Frogs move as the chess knight piece. You have to switch positions of the yellow and green frogs.

Puzzle 3:

Create a correct vine-shape. Left frog moves all the shapes one space to the left, upper frog moves all the shapes EXCEPT THOSE IN THE RED COLUMN one space up.

Vine pieces turn green when in right place.

The correct shape is a wavy rectangle with a leaf-line in the middle.

Puzzle 4:

Connect the leaves to the root. Frogs are obstacles.

The vine must be wavy (it's a vine after all). The piece will turn green if it is connected to the root and was placed correctly.

Go right, then switch back left.

There. Now I love these puzzles, but am longing for a nice YOU WIN screen :(...

32 Comments

Pretty darn difficult... at least the third one was. I really had virtually no idea what I was doing until I was two moves away from winning.
Hints for leaves 3 and 4:

curvature and color matters!

I wish I'd realized that sooner.

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I've figured out what we need to do for the bottom right one its like that game.. I forget what its called. You have to

leap frog the frogs until there only one left in the top row

and I've kinda worked out the top one... kinda. I think. lol

you connect the pieces from the stump at the bottom and they turn green but I'm stuck for what order or direction.

and I can't for the life of me work out the other two.

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baba44713 March 1, 2007 5:33 AM

OK, here's the progressively spoilerish guide of "what you need to do" (although it's quite obvious and not that hard).

Puzzle 1:

You have to get ONE frog to the green place above.

It's not as easy as it looks. The frog reaching the top will most probably be the one from the bottom row.

Puzzle 2:

Frogs move as the chess knight piece. You have to switch positions of the yellow and green frogs.

Puzzle 3:

Create a correct vine-shape. Left frog moves all the shapes one space to the left, upper frog moves all the shapes EXCEPT THOSE IN THE RED COLUMN one space up.

Vine pieces turn green when in right place.

The correct shape is a wavy rectangle with a leaf-line in the middle.

Puzzle 4:

Connect the leaves to the root. Frogs are obstacles.

The vine must be wavy (it's a vine after all). The piece will turn green if it is connected to the root and was placed correctly.

Go right, then switch back left.

There. Now I love these puzzles, but am longing for a nice YOU WIN screen :(...

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I've finished three of the puzzles, but I'm stuck on the top one where

you connect the trunk to the leaves.

It's definitely the most challenging, I've been trying for a while now.
For the right leaf

does the frogs movement pattern remind you of a chess piece? Also, notice the arrangement of the colored squares on the outside of the box?

The upper left leaf

try to rearrange the pieces of the puzzle to make the picture. Try to figure out how the two frogs affect the arrangement of the pieces. And, notice how pieces certain pieces change colors in certain positions?

Lower left leaf

hop to the top!

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The bottom obne is quite easy and I've got the one on the left sussed.

click the frogs on the left and top to move the lines up or across. Those that are in the red zone stay stay where they are. You get a light green colour on eich piece when correctly set.

The one on the top I know what to do but I cant find the right solution yet...
The one on the right however is a mystery to me.

I can jump the frogs into many positions even get the 2 green or 2 yellow frogs on top of one another but not sure what else to do.

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Solved it!

lab_brat:
Puzzle 2:

In the puzzle with the yellow frogs, the frogs move like knights in Western chess.

You have to move the frogs one by one until the yellow frogs are in the same places as the green frogs and vice versa.

Puzzle 3:

The aim is to rearrange the grid until you get a rectangle with the two leaves inside it.

Click on the top frog to shift the red highlighted column relative to the rest of the grid. Use the left frog to shift all the columns (so you can work on a different column.

When you've got it then move the grid until the red column highlights the column between the two leaves.

I just ignore the colour change of the grid pieces as it can get confusing. The whole grid will turn green when you solve it.

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got them all!
The top one:

you have to split and get all the leaves connected with a green vine, the frogs are just obstacles

The others were rather simple, but very entertaining.

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Sweet, I won =]

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I adore the music in this one... Repetitive, yes, but that just means it's going to be stuck in my head all day. Not necessarily an objectionable soundtrack for life.

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I've found a glitch in the fourth game: occasionally, I'll take a piece away, but it'll stay green. Since it's still technically using up the space I want to put a new thing in, I can't put anything else there. If I want a new piece in that place, I'll have to reset.

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Hi Gar, I'm trying to replicate the bug you found but can't. Can you tell me any more about what was happening when the proble happened?

- Matt

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I had the same bug when I played through it. I had to restart. I had one of the vertical pieces in the spot two spaces above the trunk, and when I moved it away, it stayed green. After that I couldn't put anything else in that spot, including the same piece I took away.

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Actually strike that, it was three spaces above the trunk. Sorry.

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I still haven't figured out to play 3 of the 4 games. :o)

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grrrrr... I'm one piece away from solving the top leaf puzzle... grrrrrrrrrrrrrr

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Nice music. Nice puzzles. Doesn't fit with the theme as much as it could, but still a nice contribution.

1. Orbit
2. Gateway II

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It seems to me if you move a green piece to the right side of the "spare branch" area, it will often stay green. Pick it up again and move it more leftish i.e. above the leaves, and it will turn back to brown. I'm using FF. I haven't yet had a problem with branches getting stuck anywhere, but I believe I have lost a piece underneath a leaf or frog. Hope that helps with the debug.

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Sorry to critique without remembering to say something good last post. It is a nice little set of games, the others were pretty easy to accomplish once you know what you're supposed to do. The tree is hard, though, and I will happily take any clues.

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Hmm.. I think the trickiest part about the "tree" puzzle is choosing what the first piece should be. Any hints?

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here's hints for how i got the tree puzzle

There's one leaf for which the entrance branch is pretty clear -- you can only get to it from one direction -- that narrowed the rest of the peices down a bit

The bottom branch is straight, leaf on the right

The next branch up is split, leaf on the left

The top branch is split, leaf on the right

The branch that attaches to the right most leaf is straight, leaf on the left

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It's randomly resetting the mini games with me doing anything - I'll reset the vine puzzle, hit back and see my leaves have gone from solved (green) to unsolved (brown). I'm having the same troubles with the vines as Gar - very annoying!

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"I never did quite finish the top leaf, so I don't know if there was any reward for completing the game, but my guess is that it wouldn't be satisfying enough to justify the hours spent tweaking that darn vine."

Actually, the top leaf was the best puzzle of the set, I thought. The rest felt too much like things I'd seen a zillion times (pegboard game, chess knights, sliding blocks).

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This game that may be better suited to a competition with a theme of swamps or maybe the color green. With that said, the game still received a dollar vote from me. The ending was one of the best payoffs I've seen in a long time, and I tell you it sure would have been wrong of me to judge this game without seeing it first.

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zxo seems to be channeling the spirit of Simon Cowell in his section of the review.

Hey, good idea for the third game comp!

;)

I didn't enjoy this much, it just seemed to not flow correctly. But I think Matt should keep going with games, he's had much better then this.

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Anonymous April 13, 2007 4:36 AM

This site has always been such a positive place :)

But in almost every piece of zxo's writing, this positivity is being spoilt. I object to his often biased and frequently rude "critiques" and shall not be returning to this site until he is no longer posting reviews.

Nice game, didnt deserve zxo's pasting.

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Anonymous: your words are more harsh than zxo's honest opinion of the game. And isn't that what a review is for? To not only say what's good about it, but to also offer constructive criticism about how it might be improved?

I appreciate the perspectives zxo offers in his reviews, and he certainly didn't deserve your pasting.

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"Anonymous": How will we know you've stopped coming? By the lack of "Anonymous" postings? ;-)

As well, if you are anything like the rest of us, you won't stop coming, these games are far too addictive!

Anyway, back to the puzzle. The spoilers above DO NOT help me with the top puzzle. Can someone please post more clear spoilers? Photo? I've spent hrs and I'm stumped.

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I think it's fantastic that so many people have posted "how to"s for each level, since that's written in the review and left me already with little uncertainty as to the desired result for each puzzle. However, would one of you who insists how fun and easy this is PLEASE post how to BEAT the level? Number Three, with the 'left one, up one, red column' combo is infuriating. I'd love to have the satisfaction of completing it myself, but I'm giving that up for the satisfaction of just having completed the darn thing. Pretty please all you supposed masters of the craft...give me combo!

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and of course, just like every post I do,
I finished the top puzzle, went back to the third puzzle, where I was having problems, and miraculously solved it. haha every SINGLE time.

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Hi, I appreciate all the criticism (which is very constructive) as well as the encouragement.

Regarding harsh comments, Jay's site is as good as it is because he and the other editors do such a good job filtering out low-quality games, as well as providing honest insight into what makes the good ones good.

The reason I visit is because I know any game posted will have at least some merit in terms of style or gameplay.
There are too many other 'Flash game warehouse' sites that post every single crummy game ever made (anyone else tired of all those 'Escape the Room' clones?)

So, I appreciate people 'coming to my defense', but zxo and the others are perfectly right to identify flaws when they see them. The comment about the 'one-dollar "500 games for Windows 95" CD-ROM' was funny, and illustrates to me that I didn't do a good job in distinguishing Frog and Vine enough from other, older puzzle games.

I learned quite a bit about game design from this competition, and from all the feedback I've gotten, as well as from the feedback for the other games in the competition.

Here's my post-mortem:

- Style matters: Cleverness in the mechanics matter, but not more than having an immersive environment, through narrative and visual design. I think in order to truly engage people, even if for just 15 minutes, a game needs to take the players to another world, so to speak, and I failed in that regard. I enjoy game design, but enjoy visual design less so. I typically look at visual design as just 'frosting on the cake'. But I realize now that the look-and-feel of a game is just as important as the mechanics.
- Taste is relative, but there are accepted conventions for visual design: The 'look' I usually use with visual projects (8-color photographic backgrounds with vector elements in the foreground) is just too unconventional to be popular. Better to have consistency, with foreground and background matching (all vector, or all hand-drawn, for example) or at least have the elements be so attractive (eg. Samorost) that the lack of visual cohesion doesn't matter. It's interesting to me how there is a fine line (or maybe not so fine) between a game having a retro look with stylized clunky graphics vs. simply looking clunky and outdated. I guess I missed the mark there. There were similar criticisms for my 'Obion' games. I need to be less lazy about the graphics side of development.
- Many people prefer puzzles that are integrated into some kind of narrative over puzzles that are just abstract: With that in mind, Frog and Vine looks like a prototype to me now - all the mechanics are worked out, but it's still missing some kind of story. Perhaps there should have been a 'hero' frog on some kind of quest, who has to cross the puzzle hurdles to make it to the end.
- People seem to prefer single puzzle environments with multiple levels over multiple puzzles: I think people want to spend the first 30 seconds or so of a casual game figuring out what they have to do, and then the rest of the time actually doing it, with slight iterations of the goal each level. With multiple puzzles in a single game, players have to do that figuring-out part many times, which can be frustating, and ultimately makes them less 'casual'. It can be particularly frustrating when the puzzles are very different from each other.
- Linear seems to be more popular than non-linear: Despite all the talk about non-linearity and the theory of games, players seem to want a linear sequence of challenges with only one or a small number of ways of winning. The 'Grow' games are fascinating to me in this regard because they are, in a way, the most pure form of casual puzzle game: there is exactly one 'correct' sequence of clicking the mouse 10 times or so, and the fun is in figuring out what that sequence is.

And these were my intentions:

Other than the "Knights' Square" puzzle (which is an old classic that I didn't modify at all), each of the puzzles is a variation on an existing type of puzzle, with a new twist. The idea was that some familiarity will help players jump right in, but then discover the twist that makes it more fun.
: The peg-jumping puzzle is a variation of the "Sending scouts into the desert" puzzle.
: The sliding-block puzzle was intended to be a 2-dimensional Rubik's Cube, with one broken axis.
: The tree puzzle is essentially a jigsaw puzzle, but with no unique pieces, and obstacles.
I think all three are unique puzzles; at least, I've never seen them before.
Many casual puzzle games are too easy, and a few are too hard. I spent a long time tweaking the puzzles to try to have just the right amount of frustration (none makes you bored, a little keeps you interested, a lot makes you quit).
Looking back, though, I see some of the puzzles are actually tougher than I had thought. This is a typical problem with game design: after the game developer has playtested his game 100 times it begins to seem too easy, so he makes it more challenging. (this true of the sliding-block puzzle)

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Thanks for that, CowboyRobot (Matt) ;)

As I mentioned to you via email, I particularly liked the style you chose. It reminded me of a collection of old tavern games—both familiar and weathered—which may be what zxo was alluding to. It comes down to a matter of taste, and preference, which can vary widely from person to person.

I do sincerely appreciate your participation in the competition this go-round, and it's a pleasure having this unique collection of puzzle games included with the others. I hope you're there for our next one, too (coming up soon). Cheers!

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I meant to offend neither Matt nor zxo in my post, and I hope that I didn't come across rude.

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