Connect: a puzzle game

game demonstration

Video of playing with ruleSet#3


RuleSets for Connect


Connect: a puzzle game


Video titled Relay Unrelated
Appearance: Marcis Ziemins and Paul Stuempel

Connect is a ‘casual cube puzzle game’ for a small group of people to cooperate and compete with each other.

Connect is a customizable Soma Cube, and comes with instructions for three types of games. The games are for a group of 2 to 6 people. The players can choose between cooperating, or competing with each other to solve the puzzles they make. Here is the story behind how this game came to be, which started off with a relay race.

How to start from a relay and finish with a puzzle game.

How do you take something quite straightforward, let’s say, a relay race, take it apart, abstract it, make it overly complicated in the process, and then reconstructed it into something that makes sense, which by the way still has something to do with where it started off in the first place, i.e., a relay race?

It all started when my department at DAE, Man and Leisure, decided on the relay race as the theme for a semester in early 2012. Amongst relays, marathons, and anything that comes in between, one of my classes was about working as a relay; you work on something for a week and toss it over to one classmate, while you receive something from another, and that would be the starting point for the coming week. We continued this process 6 times, and made an exhibition with all the objects we ended up making during that period. Along the way I also made a video just with the objects that I had made to see if there was some sort of connection between them. This video, which I later titled Relay Unrelated, puzzled not only my teachers, but honestly myself as well.

From this experience I was intrigued with the fact that when something starts to travel between people, not only that thing is being morphed, but that the people themselves are having a strong influence over each other, even if they might not be aware of this. For some this can feel like manipulation. Others might see it as cooperation. But whatever you may call it, it is part of the reality of being Homo socius.

When I wanted to embody this overly complicated notion about the relay into something, I found myself messing around with ideas for toolkits, traveling objects, responsive materials, traveling journals, events, costumes, festivals, interactive exhibitions, improvised dancing, improvised theater, games, making music…

Wait, what was that… games?

Let’s say you have an interesting puzzle that you not only solve, but also play a part in building it up, and you make some rules so that people can build/solve the puzzle together, that sounds like a game, and to top it off if it is actually fun to play, then finally you have a good game. And since all good games have good, solid rules, all I needed was an interesting puzzle and some good, solid rules.

In the end I designed a cube puzzle game, and for now I’m calling it Connect as a working title. Basically it’s a customizable Soma Cube with a ruleSet that comes in three variations. RuleSet#3, The Showdown is my definite favorite. As an assignment it was tricky to explain all this in the classroom, but Connect is at its’ best when in action amongst friends. Currently I only have two sets made out of wood for tryouts, but plan to take this game further.

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