PuzzleScapes is our upcoming jigsaw app that puts a unique twist on a familiar toy. We were given the requirements of making a jigsaw-based game in four months, which would capture fans of existing jigsaw apps and also incorporate the Nix Hydra brand of colorful and magical experiences.
Our first step was to research existing jigsaw apps and their players. There are a ton of apps out there, but the vast majority rely on stock photos for their puzzles, and many of them have very confusing interfaces. These seemed like the two best areas to introduce some Nix Hydra flair while still preserving the familiar jigsaw puzzle experience that those players are looking for.
While deciding on how to produce our own puzzle content, we realized that if we relied on hand-drawn images we wouldn't be able to create enough puzzles with our limited art resources. But stock photos didn't have enough personality to bring the life we wanted to the puzzles. Then one of our artists, Lasha, had the idea of combining photos with drawings for the best of both worlds!
We immediately knew that these were scenes we wanted to explore and tell stories about. But we also didn't want to change the core experience of completing a jigsaw puzzle, which is why players are drawn to these apps in the first place. Could we maintain that experience while delivering a payoff even greater than the satisfaction of completing a large puzzle? We think so, by allowing the player to interact with the completed scene, triggering character dialogue, animations, and other surprises.
We created several more tests to explore methods of telling stories, presenting mysteries to solve, or just giving the player a relaxing experience of discovery. We had a sense of the types of images and stories that speak to both ourselves and our target audience, but we couldn't lose sight of the jigsaw half of the experience. A variety of images and content would be important to keep that interest level up as players complete puzzle after puzzle, so we made sure to give them plenty of choices.
Once we had settled on the type of experience and content we wanted to provide, the next step was to design out an interface that would be more visually appealing and intuitive than the bulk of existing jigsaw apps.
Our UI/UX designer, Katie, was immediately drawn to a paper theme, which recalls the paper and cardboard texture of real jigsaw puzzles. It also fit our content really well, evoking a library full of stories to discover, just as our jigsaw puzzles are windows into fantastic worlds.
We also did a lot of work to make sure that sorting pieces and placing them felt good and behaved intuitively, trying to make it as tactile as possible for a digital interface. On top of that, we made sure that every step of the jigsaw process felt satisfying and rewarding.
PuzzleScapes: Interactive Jigsaw will be available on iOS and Android this summer! We can't wait to see how players enjoy this take on the classic jigsaw puzzle experience.