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The Firing Line: 5 questions for Radiangames on Crush!
By Harry Slater 13 June 2013
Game Name: Crush! | Developer: Radiangames | Format: Android, iPhone, iPad | Genre: Puzzle
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Crush! is a brilliantly fast-paced arcade puzzler from Radiangames (a.k.a. Luke Schneider), the prolific one-man developer behind Slydris, Bombcats, and Inferno+.

We like this game a lot, giving it a Silver Award earlier today and saying that it's "an awful lot harder, and more rewarding, than it looks".

After a rocky run with Bombcats, Schneider has been busy porting his games to Android and gearing up for the launch of Crush! on the App Store and Google Play Store.

He took some time out of his busy schedule of coding to chat to us about what players can expect from Crush!, and about some of the trials and tribulations he faced in getting the game made.

Pocket Gamer: First up, could you describe Crush! in more detail for us, please?

Luke Schneider: I've been calling it an intense arcade-puzzle game. You have seven rows of individual blocks moving along a path, and you have to prevent them from reaching the end.

Just touch the blocks to destroy everything that's connected. But each touch sends the stack surging forward a bit, so you need to be somewhat intelligent about what you decide to destroy. The three modes force you to vary your strategy.

Think mode: The stack moves slowly, but the surge is very large for each touch, so you need to make each touch count. You can also force the stack to speed up in Think mode. Your score is based on the block combos you get.

React mode: The stack moves quickly, but the surge is small, so you'll find yourself flailing a bit. Scoring is time based.

Crush! mode: A blend of the other two modes. So, the stack moves somewhat fast, and the surge is moderately sized. You need to think quickly. In Crush! mode, you are scored on both time and block combos.

The game has a very distinctive style - what are the origins of it?

I'd been using the Propellerhead Software app Figure to make some music for the game, and I've been a fan of its music software for almost 15 years.

My games have always had code-based colouring (aside from Bombcats) for most elements, so I tried Propellerhead-style colours and was very pleased with one colour scheme. But it's easy to add more, and everyone's eyes are different, so adding the white and black background versions wasn't too difficult.

Unfortunately, the Figure-based music didn't make it into the game. I really wish there was a desktop version of that app with some basic sequencing, because it's awesome and fun to use.

When I got the Figure snippets into Reason to sequence them, I could just never get them to sound as cool / clear as Propellerhead does in the app. The soundtrack still turned out fine, but it was a bit of a bummer for me personally.

What was the hardest challenge you faced while building the game?

Aside from the music, figuring out the surge mechanic. This was the turning point, in fact. It's such an obvious thing now. But before I put it in, I just had the stack scrolling down and you could flail like crazy to stay alive.

It was stupid. So, I hacked in the surge, only intending to use it for a moves-based mode (every move would add so many blocks). Then, I got it in and it was just like, 'DUH!' At that point, I knew I hadn't been wasting my time and that there was something truly interesting about the gameplay, particularly with the risk / reward factor.

Tuning the difficulty so that it wasn't insane was quite hard, too. The iOS version, particularly the Think mode, is a little too hard, and will be toned down slightly in an update.

And getting the UI to spin like it does required a bit of planning and testing, as well as writing my own custom plug-in for Unity. That's the first time I've actually dared to try that.

At the heart of Crush! is a really simple concept that gets super-tough as you play. What were your influences when making the game?

Super Hexagon and Notch's little word game Drop were definitely influences. They proved that short hard games do appeal to lots of people.

I've wanted to do Crush! since around January, but was obviously too busy with Bombcats until late April. It was some nice stress relief to get a game done so quickly after the long dev cycle of Bombcats.

What's the best piece of advice you can give to a player before his first game of Crush!?

Keep trying. Try different powers and different modes, and eventually your mind will start to meld with the stack. If two large groups of the same colour aren't quite connected, consider (quickly) whether it's worth taking a small hit to connect them.

Also, be sure to try different orientations to find which one works best for you.
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