Bisection Dominion


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PsychotronicBisection DominionFor our 4th Casual Gameplay Design Competition, Brazilian game author Guilherme Töws tapped the philosophy of yin and yang to bring us Bisection Dominion.

Your charge is to defend a pristine river against a falling tide of poisonous bubbles, using a sword controlled by your gestural input. Move the mouse quickly, and the sword point will slice across the screen, dividing unfortunate bubbles in two. Move it slowly, and you can nudge a bubble in whichever direction you please, though this is a much more difficult maneuver. Once you have charged your power strike, execute it by holding the mouse button and slashing.

Each level presents you with a single giant bubble, but your attacks will subdivide it like a wobbly translucent asteroid until you are faced with a screen-full of little bubble fragments. Once they are small enough, a final strike will shatter them into harmless snowflakes. Clear the screen to advance.

After a few levels, you gain access to a new weapon, a sort of heavy yo-yo on an elastic band that will leap about the bottom of the screen like a deadly puppy. To use it, catch its ring-shaped handle with the mouse button and heave it towards the encroaching bubbles. On release, spinning blades will sprout from the yo-yo's core and massacre any bubble under a certain size that dares to stand in its way.

Analysis: Bisection Dominion is a quietly beautiful game, with artwork inspired by old Chinese lithographs and a peaceful score by Matthew Steele. As you advance levels, the barren landscape gradually populates with details, which is a nice incentive to play well. The closer you are to losing the game, the darker and redder the river becomes, which is a nice incentive to tense up and make mistakes.

Your first couple of Bisection Dominion games may end more swiftly than you expected. The bubbles react to your jabs and prods like whimsical puffs of nothing, continuing to divide after you think you've sliced them into individual molecules, and diving terrifyingly downwards when you pierce them from the wrong direction.

It turns out that you are massively overpowered, with your awesome sword and your ultra-cool spinning bladed hammer bolo of doom. Out-of-control hacking will only create a huge bubble army, and a misjudged toss of the hammer can bump a bubble into the river from above after its blades retract. You must learn to be precise, to gently lift some bubbles out of danger while you attack smaller ones, to clean shop with the hammer when you have the watery fiends lined up properly. You must balance the soft touch with the quick strike with the flamboyant coup de grâce. You must be mindful.

The connection between player and cursor feels solid and tactile. Successfully nudging a bubble without cutting it is a joyful experience, like keeping a balloon in the air with your fingertips, worth repeating even if it weren't necessary to stay alive. There may be a handful of technical issues with Bisection Dominion (moving the cursor outside of the play screen breaks your control, and the music cuts out after a single cycle), but the center of the game is nearly perfect.

We often talk about the zen of gaming, but rarely does a game embrace the idea so whole-heartedly.

Play Bisection Dominion

34 Comments

Very nice. The music was great and the idea was interesting. I just think there could be more to the game...more weapons and different bubbles maybe. And the pop down menu from the competition was quite annoying.

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tropicaza Author Profile Page October 10, 2007 7:50 PM

I have to say this game is amazing. It's one of my favorites so far, and everything to me fits perfectly. I love how there's actually a reason to keep playing, rather than just mindless racking of points. I love the soundtrack, artwork, physics. Everything works for me!

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Graphically well done, I like the concept. It is enjoyable to play however, I found that I always unintentionally used my power slash right after releasing the hammer, usually sending a bubble off at hyperpeed, occasionaaly downwards resulting in the pink waters of death.

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I can't figure out what makes the power slash useful. I figured out that you can charge it up by getting combos on snowflakes, which is cool. But other than for knocking bubbles way up into the air, I don't see what its good for.

If I knew, maybe I'd be good enough at this time to get the scenery upgraded all the way.

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EXTRAORDINARILY addictive, very nice

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Jay,
First link auto inserts previously posted game in loader, not this game. You might want to fix that.

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Oops. thanks scramble. :)

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Just call me quality control (or don't).

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Very nice. I would like a way to mute the music, though.

Speaking of which, can we please have a way to mute the music on the game selection screen until we say otherwise without turning off the game audio?


[Edit: Done. :) -Jay]

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Nice game. Interesting gameplay and atmosphere. I'm not very good at it, but it's quite fun.

I also liked the choice of Chinese characters for the title. The word translated as "dominion" actually has the character for "divide" as its second character, so the "divide" character appears twice in the title, which I think is quite appropriate. To dig even deeper into the meaning, the radical for the "divide" character is the character for "sword," which is also quite appropriate. Very clever, from a linguistic point of view.

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"A Jedi would have had the blob in seven pieces!"

Sorry, couldn't resist. ;-)

This is a lot of fun, but as with some of the other fast mouse games my standard of mouse control is just not high enough to get me far. (Not that this will stop me playing it again!)

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The Chinese characters are SO. UGLY. though. What font did you use??? They make me cringe to look at them, the handwriting is so bad! The balance is all wrong, the "weight" of the strokes, angles are crooked--it REALLY looks bad. It's the Chinese equivelent of "Engrish" to mangle the characters so much.

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The Chinese characters are SO. UGLY. though. What font did you use??? They make me cringe to look at them, the handwriting is so bad! The balance is all wrong, the "weight" of the strokes, angles are crooked--it REALLY looks bad. It's the Chinese equivelent of "Engrish" to mangle the characters so much.

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The characters are certainly not pretty, but I think comparing them to "Engrish" might be a bit excessive. Engrish is a complete mangling of the grammar and idioms of the English language. Those characters are fine, they're just a bit crude.

But this is all kind of beside the point, don't you think? What did you think of the game itself?

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I love this one. "The power slash" is useful in that it can go through multiple blobs with ease and hit blobs that are off screen (using the shadows as reference points).

The only thing I keep doing is hitting the large blobs with the hammer as it comes back down, knocking them quickly towards the river.

Excellent sounds and great art. Brilliant.

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@joye It's just a style of writing the characters, some like writing like that, and view it as a sort of calligraphic art style.

And the equivalent of that in english would be those weird stylized fonts people always use.

The equivalent of Engrish is the bizzare chinese character tattoos people get, or when people use the characters because they look cool, without checking the meaning of them.

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Whee! Fun game. The art and setting and style and mouse-slashing all reminded me of the excellent FoolYoo series; this one is even more fun in my opinion.

I've managed to get to level 12; the combination of slashing and hammering is really nice, and you have to use both properly to succeed - preferably hammering the bubbles as soon as they're small enough, so you don't have to deal with alot of tiny bubbles. The occasional power-strike is also very useful if timed (and aimed!) properly.

Another useful trick is to concentrate on one bubble at a time - after the initial bisection, I usually push one of the halves way up so I can deal with the other before it's back. The hard part (for me) is making sure the push doesn't turn into a slash - I have a pretty fast mouse so it inadvertently splits the bubble sometimes, causing trouble.

Finally, the non-explicit 'health rating' represented as the slowly-reddening river is absolutely marvellous. I've grown to dread missing bubbles and hearing the subsequent splash, and it's wonderful hammering a couple of largish bubbles into snowflake smithereens and seeing the river turn back to pristine blue.

One of my favorites, for sure.

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I'm unsure whether you actually "heal" when you turn the river back to blue. It seems to me I've had the river really dark, then cleaned it again, then died when one tiny blob gets through.

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Yes, that's strange. The first time I played, I was pretty sure that the snowflakes could "heal" the river, but now I played again and even though I had coloured my river back to blue, I lost.

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Jay: Thank you very much. ☺


[Edit: You're welcome. The background music mute was a feature I had wanted to include from the beginning, but it was omitted from the final artwork. So, I let it slide. Your comment pushed me to implement it. So, thank you. ;) -Jay]

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Sorry, I cannot find any issues with healing and and being damaged again. Are you sure you only let 'one tiny blob' get through?

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I'm quite sure the healing works; I took the river to the brink and brought it back several times just to check. It's possible the bubbles themselves get more dangerous as time goes on; it's also decidedly true that large bubbles are *significantly* more damaging than smaller ones, so it's possible the bubbles you let through may not have been so tiny. It doesn't take much to kill the river...

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OK, so I went back and did some testing. Let's call the smallest-size bubbles 'atoms'. The first bubble has 4 atoms, the second and third have 8, and the fourth and fifth have 16 each.

Testing shows each bubble is exactly as damaging as the number of atoms it contains; putting in the entire bubble is the same as splitting it into atoms and putting in all the atoms.

You can put in the first bubble and 3 atoms from the second, the fourth will kill you. Death count = 8 atoms.

If you destroy the first bubble, you can put the entire second one (8 atoms) in without dying, but one more atom from the third bubble will kill you. Death count = 9 atoms.

If you destroy the first two bubbles, 7 atoms from the 3rd will kill you.
If you destroy the first three bubbles, 10 atoms from the 4th will kill you.
If you destroy the first four bubbles, 8 atoms from the 5th will kill you.

So it seems the third bubble is more dangerous than the second, even though they have the same number of atoms. Similarly the 5th and 4th. Also, the hammer can kill the entire 4th bubble, but NOT the 5th, even though they have the same 'atom count'. My theory is that you get two bubbles at each atom-count (excluding level 1) - of which the first is a 'weak' bubble and the second a 'strong' bubble. The strong bubble has more damaging atoms, and is more hammer-resistant.

Also, it's perfectly clear that the healing works - I've brought the river to the brink (where just one more atom would kill it) several times, then healed it fully and was again able to put in several more atoms without dying.

The trouble is that the bubbles' atom count seems to double every two levels; the level 8 bubble, for example, will have 64 atoms. So even after three splits, the remnant will have 8 atoms which is usually enough to kill you (even though it's a pretty small bubble compared to the original).

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Thanks for doing the research. I probably missed seeing some bubbles drop while playing. I normally tend to get quite mad before I die with lots of mouse swinging.

My record is level 13. Then it just gets too full of loads of hammer invulnerable blobs.

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New version is up, now with keys for pause and turning music on/off.

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Easily my favorite game. It's only for the better that it's entry 42- my favorite number, too! =D

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Yay, new record! Level 21 :)

Here's the scenery you get, in order:

Level 3: Arch (right side)

Level 6: Tidal Wave (left side)

Level 9: Bushes (background)

Level 12: Cherry tree (right front)

Level 15: Green tree (left front)

Level 18: Birds (right sky)

Level 21: Houses (left side)

... Now I have to get to level 24 ...

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Level 24 achieved. Next target: 27! :D
Here's a picture: Level 24

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The music cutoff appeared after I added the music on/off key, sorry. I'll fix it with haste.

Losing control outside the screen was intended to prevent certain exploits that might make the game less polished.

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Rhymenocerous January 10, 2008 4:03 AM

This game would be a lot more interesting if the physics were realistic.

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WOW this is a really interesting site for flash games, i didnt know i could find a blog for Flash games, this is super cool. I think flash games own graphic-card-needed-Pc-gaming as they are fun and so much each to play, you have your own community and leader boards, flash games are the best!

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I've seen this game before somewhere...

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I would love to be able to jump to a level in this game. I rarely get past level 9, and it's very trying to have to play 1-8 all the way through in order to see if I've improved my strategy for the higher levels.

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Made it to 22!!! Man, this game is so fun. One way I found to get more popped was to sling my round blade into the air towards a bubble, but also, at the same time, push other bubbles into it. I also tended to use it just to push bubbled up, too.

I must say, I come back to this game time and again. :)

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