Mangahigh.com // March 2011 – October 2011
The Wrecks Factor had a long and tortuous journey from concept to release. I had to drop the original developer when it became clear they weren’t going to deliver in any sort of sensible timeframe, eventually passing the code on to Wildsnake. Then I had to put its development on hold for a couple of months to prioritise the completion of Sundae Times. Honestly, t’s a miracle it ever came out at all!
The Wrecks Factor (appalling pun title aside) is one of my favourite Mangahigh games. I’m proud of the way it takes a complex mathematical process (simplifying quadratics) and turns it into a genuinely entertaining and very cute game.
Its genesis was in a discussion with Dr Richard Lissaman about how you could represent a quadratic graphically as a rectangle, with the sides equating to the constants in each factor and the area equating to the product of those constants.
It was an interesting idea that swirled around in my head for a while, and it lead to several very rough ideas but none of them really went anywhere.
Then, while drawing cropping boxes around some assets in Photoshop, I had an idea: what if there were quadratics on-screen, and you ‘collected’ them by drawing boxes around them that matched their factors… could there be a game there?
My first pass at the idea was bonkers and featured men riding barrels down a waterfall, with each barrel bearing a quadratic. Your task was to draw boxes around the barrels, making sure the sides solved the quadratic. Get it right, and the barrel and its passenger were saved.
Problem was, you had to be blummin’ quick to save the barrels – either that or you made the falling speed of the barrels so slow that it looked wrong.
That’s when the idea of sinking ships cropped up. Once a ship starts sinking it’s fixed in position plus the sinking process takes a while, giving the player plenty of time to solve the quadratic before it finally slips beneath the waves.
It all worked beautifully, with the icing on the cake being some charming graphics by the ridiculously-talented Robin Rossigneux.
Don’t agree? Then I defy you to find a better simplifying quadratics game! 😉