And, we’re back! Last month I dropped in to give you all a taste of the artwork behind the Ancient Tales mode of Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom for PS3 (available now on the PS Store for $9.99). This time around, I thought you’d be interested to learn a little more about how we at TikGames and Creat Studios designed the various tile layouts you’ll see, both in the story book adventure and in the Infinity Mode.
A lot of people assume that Mahjong layouts are generated randomly, sometimes creating layouts that are impossible to solve. Not so! In Mahjong Tales, each level started from a set of algorithms we wrote and was then completed with manual touches. Basically, we allow the game to randomly populate the individual tiles for match-up (i.e., whether a particular tile is a red dragon or green dragon), but the pairings themselves (i.e., this tile and that tile are a matched pair) are done by hand. Combining an automated algorithm and our own know-how in designing levels means that we can guarantee that every layout will have a solution and that there’s an appropriate level of challenge for players. This keeps gameplay fun and enticing for everyone.
In fact, the vast majority of the time spent developing Mahjong Tales went into editing tile layout. Our game designers and balancing engineers worked tirelessly on those algorithms and ramping rules (how tile layers are created), while experimenting with various arrangements and hand touch-ups. The entire time that the art, audio and various features were being integrated, that core team of designers and engineers was continually refining the gameplay — tweaking and playing, tweaking and playing…
Plus, we built the tiles in 3D and enforced physics rules, so that players would feel like they were handling a real Mahjong set. It was important to us to ensure that not only could our Mahjong tile layouts be solved, but that they could exist just as if they were made with actual, physical tiles. If you wanted to, you could recreate in real life every layout we made (and any of those created in the level editor to be released later).
I hope this gives you a little insight into what goes into making Mahjong tile layouts. We’re so proud of the results we got from our efforts in making them, we decided to recognize players for their dedication in completing all of our Infinity Mode tile layouts. If you complete all 100 of our tile layouts, you’ll receive 30 points and a silver trophy entitled “Infinity and Beyond.” Good luck!