Panel Panic – Solo project – One month

A while back I made this little puzzle game to kill some time because we were all locked up inside because of a plague. If you’re some historian in the future pouring over documentation from this time period. Let me tell you, it sucked. It sucked a lot.

This game was inspired heavily by the game Panel De Pon when it was released for Nintendo Switch Online. I played it and instantly thought “I could do something like this.” So I set about spending my quarantine time making my own version of that game. And I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

My process began with analyzing the match-3 genre and how this game compares.

In it’s simplest form the game is a match-three arcade game where the blocks come up from the bottom and the player moves a selector around and matches up groups of blocks by their color. Larger combos stop the game from moving for a longer period of time and allow the player to use that period to rack up a higher score. Much like Tetris, if the blocks reach the top, the player loses.

I had to do three things in order here:

First. I had to analyze how a match-three game works. Obviously, whenever a match is made the player’s score goes up. But I had to decide how many colors to use, how many rows and columns to have in the play area, the play-speed, and where I was going to get all of these assets for those pieces.

Now, there is a lot of material out there about why match 3 games work. There are even research articles that I don’t understand about Bejeweled being NP-Hard. However, I decided to use 6 colors in 6 columns selected in such a way that no matches will be generated in a new row. (Which was done for my convenience and to increase the performance of the game.)

Second, after I had procured the assets I needed. I was ready to begin programming the game. This was probably the longest section of the game’s development for me. There were many behaviors that I had to program to make sure that the game would run smoothly. The most obvious being checking for matches. But also, spawning the particle effects, increasing the score, pausing the player boards movement on every match and pausing it for longer if the match was bigger, and so on.

Finally, when I was finished, I had a game that worked and I began using my knowledge of Unity to polish the final product. I created a background that I drew using Unity’s sprite map feature, found and purchased a good soundtrack, made some nifty particle effects to when matches are made, and even rigged up a nice input system using Unity’s new input system library.

The game can be played by downloading it from below:

Alternate Link

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