Sponsored Feature: Laser Dog on stylish arcade-puzzler PUK
At first sight, it’s clear PUK knows what it is. It’s stylish, minimalistic, and cool.
And with barely an introduction, players seem to instinctively know what PUK is, too.
For those of you who haven't played it yet, though, PUK can be described as a “retro-inspired, super-minimal, pure action-puzzler".
That’s the voice of Simon Renshaw from Laser Dog, the creators of PUK. We spoke to him about the ideas behind the game, and what Laser Dog are aiming to do with their first mobile game.
"Most games that I see these days (across all platforms) tend to be entertainment focused, designed to draw you in with prettiness and comfort rather than bite," Renshaw states.
"The problem with these games is they leave you feeling a little bit empty when you complete them, because they hold your hand almost all of the way."
Renshaw claims PUK is different, though. Laser Dog have aimed for the purity of games gone by, you see, where trial and error combined with quick reflexes results in a real sense of achievement when you complete a puzzle.
But that doesn't mean PUK's gameplay is as archaic as the tone it attempts to emulate. In fact, Renshaw describes the core design as a "clean mechanic" that involves pinging pucks around the uncluttered screen in order to eliminate circular portals.
Medals on each level are designed to give the player something to aim for, too, while the taut gameplay is enough to keep players coming back for more. Plus, it's dead easy to compete with friends in classic high score duels in PUK. Trust me.
"We wanted player's heart rates to increase when they're chasing their own high score or someone else's high score. The first time I broke 100, I felt exhilarated.
"I think people look at PUK and reckon 'that looks easy.' Then, they play it and realise it's not. Within five minutes, people are either screaming at it or punching the air. I'll be looking for a similar emotional response in every game we make."
For Renshaw, however, the single most important element of the game is the player's direct interaction with it. In this case, via a touchscreen.
"Development on all of our games begins with the question of how do we use the device perfectly, mobile or otherwise. To me, PUK's control method is great and you feel like you have razor-sharp control over your PUKs.
"Actually, the shake-to-bump-your-PUKs method was designed as a last resort. Once you're used to it, though, it feels perfect.
"Weirdly, it's both instinctive (shake to undo) and alien (in that I don't think this method has been used in this way in a mobile game before). The inspiration for this control mechanism was the 'tilt' method on a pinball table."
Renshaw is rather proud of the fact, by the way, that his game doesn't contain any text whatsoever; just scores and Game Center names.
"And I love the feeling you get when a PUK hits home, especially the last one after three tries. Most of all, though, I love that we've made a game that people will play in years to come that feels tiny yet complete and simple yet tough," Renshaw states.
In fact, Laser Dog are so confident in the final version of their game that they are already switching their attention to their next project. There is one thing that he mentions the team may change about the PUK experience, mind...
"The more I think about it, the more I want to reward PUK's fans by letting them show off their skills and compete head-to-head. But that's a way off! PUK's follow-up is taking priority at the moment."
PUK is available now as an iOS Universal app for 69p / 99c from iTunes.
You can also grab PUK on Android for 69p / $1.05 from Google Play.