Knights and squares
I’ve been a fairly serious chess player throughout my life and I used to compete in international level when I was younger. I’ve had a few game ideas related to chess and Knight Squares is the first one that came to life.
The idea to Knight Squares came from the mathematical problem called Knight’s Tour. Knight Tour is a tour a knight takes to visit each square of a chess board once, and only once. There are several mathematical articles on the subject but I won’t go too into much detail on those.
I wanted to make a simple game based on the movement of knights. I implemented a 5×5 chess board which seemed to be the perfect size for the iPhone screen and also provides a total of 1728 different knight’s tour variations. My original idea for a game was to make the player move around the board, collecting objects and avoiding illegal squares that moved around randomly.
How the game worked was that the white circles were collectables and the red crosses were unavailable squares. The red bar at the top was health bar, that was diminished if you didn’t collect the white circles in time or if you accidentally collected a red one. You can see the faint progress bar inside the circles.
Now this game wasn’t too bad, but I quickly realised it was WAY too complicated for unexperienced chess players. I even had a 9-part tutorial explaining how the knight moves and all, but people failed to understand the game and it was not fun at all. Just when they were about to reach a white circle, the timer ran out and it disappeared.
Due to life(tm) and lack of resources at the time, I decided to leave this game to a prototype phase to wait for better times. Until very recently, about 4 months after finishing the initial prototype, I started talking with a 2D vector artist on #indieteamup (@octrion on Twitter, check him out!) who was looking for new projects for his portfolio. I was going through my prototypes and realised that Knight Squares could look really cool with minimalistic vector graphics. I told him about the idea and already the next day I had all new assets for the game. I also realised I’d have to make the game way simpler, so I made the game only have one target at a time that doesn’t disappear until you collect it, and to have unavailable squares that change their location randomly. In addition to this, there is no health bar anymore but a simple 30-second timer which marks the length of the game. Collecting targets gives players a second of extra time. I really like the outcome of the game and I think it offers a cool challenge for experienced chess players but also teaches beginning chess players to think a couple moves ahead. Knight Squares will be available on AppStore for free!