Hey! I’m Corey Martin. My pal Teodoro Zamudio and I made a small open-world puzzle game called Pipe Push Paradise, which I’m very excited to say will be available to download for Xbox One from today! ‘Thinky’ puzzle games so seldom get console releases, and I’m proud to be a small part of changing that.
Pipe Push Paradise is something of a throwback to old DOS classics like Sokoban and Pipe Dream (aka Pipe Mania), extruded into 3D. It’s also heavily inspired by modern puzzle games such as The Witness, Stephen’s Sausage Roll, and A Good Snowman is Hard to Build. As Pipe Push Paradise’s designer, it was very important to me to explore the game’s system thoroughly and obsessively, to present the player with strictly unique puzzles, and to make a lean, difficult game that’s full of surprising ideas.
The basic premise is simple – you arrive on a small island (setting your puzzle game on an island makes it 10% better, I don’t make the rules), the plumbing is a mess and it’s your job to fix it. You do so by physically rolling pipes around, and rolling them can cause… well, surprising outcomes. For most puzzles, its immediately clear what shape you need to make, and getting there is the tricky part. In others, finding the shape you need to make can seem literally impossible (it’s not!).
Making this game was a pretty obsessive labour of love. When I first started making the puzzles, I’d just throw elements around randomly and see if it was challenging. The thing you eventually realize is that difficulty is not what makes a puzzle interesting, it’s completely peripheral. Any puzzle worth making illustrates a truth about the game’s system. That’s something you extremely rarely get from randomness. It comes from exploring and discovering the system yourself, finding something cool, then manufacturing a puzzle that forces the player to discover that truth as well.
I got some crucial advice along the way from game designer Alan Hazelden (co-creator of Cosmic Express, A Good Snowman is Hard to Build, and Sokobond) who said I should be able to clearly verbalize the idea or concept of any given puzzle. If I can’t explain what makes a puzzle unique, or my language starts to meander, it’s probably not a very special puzzle. It may seem like an obvious point, but it was a completely heartbreaking revelation for me. Setting that standard made me literally cut half of the game. As a result, there’s no filler in Pipe Push Paradise and you have Alan to thank for it.
As for whether you’ll like this game, it mostly depends on whether you’re ok with getting stuck. You’re supposed to get stuck! It’s hard. Some people feel judged by puzzle games, and I get that. I can tell you as its designer that I absolutely want you to finish this game. I have lots of stuff to show you, so don’t give up!