Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bejewelled beta - Investing?

I always used to like playing betas. I like seeing through the trappings of the game for the potential and perhaps even make suggestions of where to go next. Bejewelled Blitz has been one one of my go-to games over the past year for unwinding after a busy day, and had enjoyed watching the game evolve through the beta stages. Now it's at it again with another change for the minute mayhem.

In the next evolution they are bringing in coins. They make for a longer term buildup to power a choice of 5 boosts. The boosts give things like an immediats doubler, or a gem that shuffles the board.

From whaat I can gather, coins pop out after a set number of matches (or at least semi-regularly), so you get more coins the faster you match. You also get coins for each multiplier you have acumulated at the end of the game. It seems a little odd that it makes no difference whether you match them or not, so their appearance as part of a yellow gem doesn't really change the gameplay much at all. That's a little dissappointing as it initially seemed like having the coins appear only on yellow meant that the yellow gems were more valuable in matching to coins rather than immediately matching to other yellows. I liked this idea of attributing different values for gems as it made for a more interesting playfield mechanic akin to building toward a T or L shaped star gem.

Thinking about the idea of changing the percieved value of one colour over another, I came up with another idea: What if you get DOUBLE the value of any coins you leave to the end? With this in place you would have an interesting dichotomy of frenzied matching, but avoiding some other matches. Yellow gems would change too into more desirable matches without coins to reduce the possibility of random matches. You could even 'bury' your coins by manipulating gems around them to get them deep into the board, reducing even further their exposure to a random match.

Along the same lines, but a little more dynamic, what if instead of getting 100 gold per coin, you got 50*N where N is the number of coins on the board. You would then still get the most advantage by leaving all coins on the board until the end, but still be rewarded if they all explode to a yellow-matched sphere or a random drop.

As it stands the coin appearance reinforces the same playstyle of Blitz; match fast and multiply faster. I would expect the 'Investment' change would bring it more toward a normal untimed Bejewelled or Bookworm type board manipulation, giving almost an alternate goal to play toward for those intent on only playing for real when they have maximum boosts.

Boosts, that's another topic. Jury is still out on them at the moment. It would seem that there is no point going for a top score while not at maximum boost, so it turns each minute-long frenzy into a 15 minute prelude for 2-3 intense games. It's great if you have the time, but I kinda liked the "just one more go" impact that the minute timer used to instill in me. The next minute could be your lucky one! I used to hate that it was so random what scores you got (and still do), but can appreciate the addictive behaviour that the randomness brings.