Sticky Chunks dev log

Each build linked on this page is an archived build from that exact date! Consider this page your opportunity to spelunk through Chunks History (spelchunk?). Observe the slow march of game development through many small iterative changes. I may also write random articles and thoughts as they occur to me.

If you would like to be notified of updates and articles such as those you see below, consider joining Chunks Club.

Older versions

I've written up bits and pieces of this history and maybe at some point I will document them publicly here. There were various reboots and false starts that resulted in nearly three years between the first complete Pico-8 prototype and the first playable modernized version. Fortunately a lot of that work ended up being useful.

The finished Pico-8 build is still playable here.

Sticky Chunks 2024-01-21 — Play it

This is not the first fully playable version I uploaded for playtesting. It is the first build I personally played for an extended period, due to lack of motivation to work on it, but a strong desire to play it. It is also the first build from the time when I started archiving old builds. It has four control schemes, fancy shaders and various unnecessary UI niceties.

Compared to the pico-8 version, GBA version, other prototypes and false starts, and other early unreleased alphas, this version uses a smaller grid — 8x8 instead of 9x9. This appears to improve the pacing a fair amount. It also makes the game easier to use on a touch screen due to the buttons being a bit larger.

Since it's the first build I'm listing here I haven't bothered listing its change notes. Doing so would amount to summarizing every single commit in the development of both the GBA version and this version — several months of occasional nights and weekends.

Sticky Chunks 2024-05-21 — Play it

My high score on this build: 447. I don't know how I did it, must have had some blessed luck.

The main issue I noticed watching playtesters play earlier builds was that players would drag chunks into position and then would not tap the chunk to lock in their placement. I had designed it to require this lock-in tap in order to prevent accidental placement.

After a long time thinking on the problem I realized instead of a tap outside the chunk resulting in a cancel and attempted grab, I could make such taps attempt a placement (which if failed will naturally cancel) and then a potential grab at the tapped location. This would perfectly reflect the touch inputs players were already performing. It took a good amount of adjustment for me to play this way and I found myself wishing for a cancel button — which I will eventually add — but I think the game needed it.

Known issues

Sticky Chunks 2024-05-27 — Play it

My high score on this build: 364. There shouldn't have been any changes that would affect scoring compared to the prior build.

This build fixes a rather annoying bug, but otherwise is focused mainly on presentation improvements.

Thoughts On the Inevitability of Tetris

There's this common thought experiment where people will sometimes claim that Tetris is such a likely game design discovery that an alien civilization would also invent Tetris, given enough time.

This idea vastly discounts the vastness of the design space of games involving moving and rotating chunks.

One should not underestimate the creative leap between playing with pentomino puzzles to designing one of the greatest arcade games of all time. The game may look like an inevitable discovery in retrospect due to its simplicity. The concepts of applying gravity and of clearing full lines are each deeply non-obvious.

In my notes app as of this writing I have about a thousand words of scattered thoughts and ideas about Sticky Chunks features, game variants and plans. In the "game variants" umbrella I have over 40 varied small and large changes to the format of Sticky Chunks. Some of these are minor rule changes, some describe completely different games. In fact, one of those completely different game concepts is the idea that inspired Sticky Chunks! I didn't even make the first idea I had.

A few randomly picked examples of complicated variants I have not explored:

The many small and large mechanical changes one could be mixed and matched to transform Sticky Chunks into many different games. And these are all examples that don't drastically change Sticky Chunks's low-pressure pacing and mechanics.

There are surely hundreds of other games Alexey Pajitnov could have invented by taking inspiration from pentomino puzzles. This inevitability concept caught hold because the game seems obvious in retrospect. Tetris required someone with a deep interest in polyomino shapes to design it. Various constraints led Pajitnov to a simple and elegant design.

On the topic of constraints: I made Sticky Chunks because it was easier to make than the game I had in my head when I started.

Sticky Chunks 2024-06-04 — Play it

This build has lower scoring potential than recent builds because of a significant change to the chunk distribution. I believe my best score was 314. There are fewer chunks overall. You'll see fewer pentominos and more small shapes.

This build is focused on visual improvements. I've added three new lighting layers which should improve depth, dimension and physicality.