First of all, don’t let the phrase “paint by number” throw you — this is NOT your Momma’s paint by number game. 🙂
A few days ago I was reading “A Theory of Fun for Game Design” by Ralph Koster and came across a section where the author was talking about games evolving, such as Space Invaders turning into Galaxian, which turned into Tempest, which turned into Sinistar, etc. The point he was making was that most games evolve by taking the existing model and adding power-ups, or bonus levels, or new ways of firing the guns, etc.
Talking about the way Tetris spawned a whole slew of games that dealt with spatial analysis, he then asked this, “If we really wanted to innovate on puzzle games, how about exploring puzzle games based on time rather than space, for example?”
That got me thinking, and over the course of about 10 minutes I brainstormed ideas that kept connecting and getting better and better until I came up with an idea for an iPad game that I think could become very popular — and it has a built-in way to monetize the game (other than charging for it right off the bat).
Paint By Number Challenge (but come up with a better name)
Think of a blank (unpainted) paint-by-number picture on your iPad screen and around the perimeter are five colored blocks that repeat – black, white, red, blue, and green. Those are the colors you can use to paint the picture.
To paint a blank part of the picture, touch one of the colors and drag to the blank portion. A line in the selected color is drawn and that color starts “pumping” through the line, gradually turning that portion of the painting to the chosen color.
Tech note: Corona SDK’s new ability to tint display objects is the key to making this workable.
If you want a part of the picture yellow, you drag in a red and a green and they gradually combine to make the piece yellow. If you wanted more of an orange color you’d drag in another red (from a different red block around the perimeter), so you’d have two red lines and one green line pumping color into that part of the picture.
Once that part is the desired shade, you slice the “color feeds” to that part and the color stabilizes. If it’s not quite right you could pump in some white to lighten it up or some black to darken it, etc.
For every part of the painting you have to mix the colors on the fly to create the painting.
If you stop there it’s just a fun paint-mixing coloring book, so let’s add some challenge (here’s where the “time-based” puzzle comes in to play).
In each piece of the painting is a timer that goes from X down to zero. Once a part hits zero you can no longer color it — whatever color it is at that point, that’s what it is.
At the beginning levels you may only have one part of the puzzle at a time counting down. As soon as one piece is done, the next piece starts counting down. As the player completes levels, the painting has more and more timers all going at the same time.
That means a painting comes up and maybe six timers start counting down. Some might be 30 seconds, some might be 120 seconds, etc. The player has to drag the correct color combinations to the pieces that are timing down to get the colors pumping in, and then watch to see which pumps need to be turned off, which ones need a different combination, etc. And as each piece is finished, another piece comes online and that timer starts counting down.
Some Tech Details
It would be nice if Corona SDK had some flood fill capabilities, but I think the only way to make this work is to make each part of the picture a different display object. That way you can easily track where you drag a color, you can use the tint feature to change the color, etc. It does make it a little harder to create a base painting because you have to “cut” each picture into pieces. Making a tool that cuts a picture apart based on black lines might be a wise move at the beginning.
Of course, there may be a better way to handle this, but separate display objects layer out in puzzle fashion seems the easiest/fastest way to handle things (at this point).
Monetizing This Game Idea
Seems like most of the current data is showing that free games with in-app purchases are one of the keys to making bundles of money, so that’s how I would approach this. Include a base set of “paintings” from very basic to medium in complexity as part of the free app. And then offer packs of paintings for 99 cents each.
If you can manage it, having theme packs of painting would probably increase your sales. For example, have a 10-pack of horse pictures, dog pictures, race cars, landscapes, etc.
Or, make instead of doing the expected, over deliver by offering ALL of the packs for a single purchase. Make it so awesome there’s no way people will pass by.
The paint by number thing where you mix the colors on the fly could be cool all by itself — and maybe should be included as a “training” module — but adding the timed challenge boosts this game into new territory.
I think this idea is fairly unique and would be a fun game to play. I hope someone creates this so I can play it. 🙂