A Game of Numbers Q&A – An Educational Puzzle Game

A Game of Numbers, developed by Joseph Michels, is a rewarding puzzle game where you navigate levels using mathematical equations. Stepping away from the sometimes overwhelming nature of educational games, Number (for a shorter name) manages to remain entertaining, challenging, and at the same time engages your brain.

A Game of Numbers started as a Ludum Dare entry, which is a popular Indie Game Development Competition. Michels’ game managed to place 14th overall out of around 1,600 entries. This feat has inspired Joseph into creating a full-version of the game. The currently playable web-based version consists of a few levels that introduce the mechanics to the player. The full-version promises to have around 75 levels, along with a level designer for players.

I was fortunate enough to have Joseph answer a few of my questions about the game, and his future in game development. You can find his answers below.


Q) What was the inspiration behind Numbers?

My inspiration for Ludum Dare games usually starts with the theme, which was minimalism for this one. The way I try to design games is to take a game idea, and keep cutting out elements until you get down to the core element of fun, then try to base a game around that. My thought was to take a roguelike and cut out everything except your health, essentially you would just be a number. The enemies would also be nothing more than a number and an operation. Each enemy would only be able to attack the player once and it would apply their operation on the player’s number. The goal was going to be to see how long you could keep your number above 0.

As I began working on it, the idea didn’t really work out very well, so it kinda evolved into more of a puzzle game. My wife, who happens to be a high school math teacher, played a couple of levels that I had thrown together, and she really liked it and thought it was something that her students might enjoy. I decided to focus in on that and try to make clever puzzles that rely on the application of math. My goal and phrase I’ve been throwing around is “Fun if you like math, still fun if you don’t” which is something I hope people agree with. That’s my big motivation for this project, make something fun and engaging, but that also has some educational value.

Q) If you can reveal anything, what can we look forward to in the enhanced version?

The first big thing is more levels. The old version had about 13 levels, most of which were just teaching you the mechanics. The enhanced version will have around 75 levels. It also features some improved visuals, music, and sound effects. I have also added a couple of new mechanics that allow for some more interesting puzzles.

Another key feature that I’m really excited about is the included editor. Players will be able to create their own levels, upload them and make them available for other players to download. I look forward to seeing what people will create because I’m sure they will come up with lots of ideas that I would have never thought of.

Q) You say you’re planning to develop a mobile version as well. How, if at all, will this take advantage of the unique gaming capabilities (touch, motion control etc.)?

As far as touch and motion controls, I doublt I will do anything overly special with those. You will control movement with touch, but it will either be a tap or swipe in the direction you want to go, which is pretty common. What I really like about the mobile platform is that it works really well for games that can be broken down into small chunks of time, which is perfect for this game. If you have a couple of minutes, you can jump in and play a couple of levels, and then be done.

Q) I’d love to see what you come up with next. Do you have any plans for future games?

I have a couple of different ideas, but nothing really definitive. I do know that I like working on smaller scale projects, so it will probably be something that I can realistically finish in around 6 months. Whenever I get to the point of having something to show/announce, I’ll send it your way to see what you think.

A Game of numbers is planned for release on August 13th, and will cost $5. It will be available on PC, Mac and Linux. A Mobile version is planned for a future release. If you want to purchase it, be sure to check in on the game’s website around that date. I personally really look forward to giving the full-version a playthrough, and you can almost definitely expect a full review. If you’d like to learn more, check out Joseph’s work using the links below.

Game Website: http://agameofnumbers.com/
Joseph’s Blog: http://joedev.net/wordpress/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Joseph_Michels
Ludum Dare Entry: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-26/?action=preview&uid=4628