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The Shadow Puzzle

Shuzzle is a 3d shape building game which focuses on building a mental image of the blocks. It does this by only showing the shadow of the blocks from a movable light source, you have to then work out what they look like and mentally project how to put them together. If you like block building or 'soma' puzzles I assure you this will be something new and interesting which adds a whole extra world of challenge to the games while keeping their fundamental playability and coolness. It is also a part of my Freed Series of games freed from their traditional confinements. Featured on the front page of GameDev.net and Slashdot Games.

More Screen Shots...


The Story: We have just invented a new nano-molecular substance which allows visable light to pass through it without being interupted (rendering it invisable). However something has gone wrong and all our nano shapes have been broken up to little pieces. We need you to help us rebuild these shapes but all we can offer you is this powerful electron light source which will cause the objects to cast a shadow on our specially designed electron receptive plates. Now it is up to you to recontruct the nano-machines without being able to see them.

Gameplay: The Shuzzle gameplay is all about you having to picture the shapes in your mind. It's one thing to build a shape with what's in front of you but it's quite another to build it from your imagination. Each level consists of a set of blocks, and a goal shape (the goal shape is outlined in white). You have to move the blocks around to form that shape. The controls are exactly the same in shadow and visable mode. The light source is fixed on a plane above the playing board but can be moved around on that plane, you will need to move it around to help you understand the shapes of the blocks. To advance to the next level you must solve the puzzle in shadow mode. However while in shadow mode you can switch to visable and try to solve the puzzle, if you solve it in visable mode it will restart on the same level in shadow mode. This way if you really get stuck in shadow mode you can always try to get it in visable mode first so that you know basically what you are doing.

Tech: Technology wise, Shuzzle is based on my Lewcid Interaction System and is a part of my Freed Series of games freed from their traditional confinements (in this case a block game freed of visability). OpenGL is used for all the graphics, and the shadows are done using the stencil shadow technique (as described in this excellent article at GameDev.net). Actually this whole project started when out of interest I tried implimenting the stencil shadow algorithumn to see what it really requires, this got me to thinking why really have shadows in a game except that they look cool. Then it hits me, make a game which focuses and relies on shadows, something that can only be done with shadows, and thus Shuzzle was born.

Soma Puzzles: A few of the levels in Shuzzle are standard Soma block puzzle problems (except 'standard' Soma blocks are visable ;-) ). Soma was a game made by Parker Brothers, Co. around 1970 and I've always thought of it as one of the coolest physical puzzle games. If you are interested in Soma puzzles there are a lot of resources online, but one of my favorites is this one which has a very nice little Java applet to let you work with the pieces.


Shuzzle comes as a single binary, no extra files, just download the .exe and run it. Please note that I highly recomend you have a fairly decent graphics card as some of the techniques used to render the image are quite taxing on older cards. However, if you have a moderatly recent desktop I'm sure you'll have no troubles at all.

NOTE: To learn the controls in Shuzzle, look in the 'Help' - 'Controls' menu.

If you appreciate this application, a small donation to support me writing more interesting apps like it (and not get a job writing accounting software) would be greatly appreciated.


Platform: Windows 9x and above
Note: This game is fairly difficult,
expect to pull some hair during gameplay


Shuzzles control system has been esspecially designed so that you don't have to see the blocks (unlike most puzzle games which rely on you being able to correctly click on a specific side of a block). Below is a short explanation of how to understand the controls:

Move a block: This is very straight forward, just LEFT click on and drag on the block to move it around the board. The direction you should move the mouse in depends on your view of the board, so just move the mouse at the same angle you want the block to move. Also hold down SPACE and dragging up or down with the left mouse button will raise or lower the block.

Rotating the block: This is where Shuzzle is a little different. To do this RIGHT click on the block and move in the direction you want to rotate it. To know how the block is going to rotate, imagine you are pressing your hand down on top of the block and as you move your hand the top of the block sort of rolls in that direction. Also keep in mind that all directions are relative to your view of the board, so just move the mouse as you would imagine your hand moving to rotate the block. You'll see it is actually very simple as long as you keep that analogy in mind. Also if you hold down SPACE and drag left or right with the RIGHT mouse button you can spin the block around.

Moving the light: Simply left click and drag on the light to move it around. It can only travel in a plane above the board.

Controlling the camera: To adjust the angle you are looking in, RIGHT click and drag anywhere where there isn't a block or the light. Also to change your point of focus LEFT click and drag on the same nothing in perticular.

Screen Shots

Here are some more screenshots of Shuzzle. Most of them are in the starting posistion of the level but some are during gameplay. Enjoy.