Online Multi-Player Puzzle Game


On the development of an online multi-player puzzle game https://puzzle.iue.fh-kiel.de.

Playing a multi-player game on a big screen with all players having their smartphone in hands is rarely seen today. Thus, the idea came up to create a game where all participants can puzzle one game together. There is no application is needed. Just a simple browser on a smartphone and quick join a game over QR-codes or short links. The browser is capable reading out the data of the smartphone’s gyroscope to move a tile inside a puzzle to find its target position.

After the creation of a prototype the first milestone was set and the features and ideas began to grow. The application in the first version was only a simple implementation of a client-server communication, where a single game was started and users could join. The disadvantages of this version was, that only one game with one picture could be played. Furthermore, after a game was finished the server needed a restart. These disadvantages led to the conclusion that there is a need to play more than one game with a higher diversity in tile patterns and pictures. Therefore, the concluding goal is to extend the existing work to a multi-user and multi-game application where custom images can be uploaded and a puzzle pattern can be chosen. Computing and creating a diversity of tile pattern to have different play styles also says that there is no way around for math and computational geometry. Consequently, a basis for this part of work is the reference to Berg et. al. [1] and their standard literature for computational geometry.

The first question which needs to be asked was ‘How can it be realized to puzzle a game without cutting it into pieces?’. The reason was if a file is cut into plenty of pieces it results in a lot more pictures but smaller ones. This would end with a lot overhead and file transfers between server and client, which was not necessarily wanted.
The next thing was the realization of running multiple games simultaneously. There was a current communication architecture, but the solution how the change has to be done to get a sufficient result was the actual problem. The outcome is a refactored socket communication to assign joining players to the intended game. Storing and handling the game sessions within the socket communication was the key to success.

The project provides now a solution which does not cut pictures into pieces. The solution benefits from the SVG web technique which initilizes an image and reuses it as pattern for the computed and randomized puzzle tiles. Imagine a game which has  n horizontal and m vertical tiles. So there are n × m sliced tiles which have to be stored where x games are running. So there will be x × m × n sliced images stored instead of x images like in the SVG solution.
Next to the classic jigsaw puzzle style a Voronoi and a hexagon playstyle has been implemented. These styles are a little more challenging and should demontrate what is possible.

The application is not yet perfect but it provides now a basis for enhancements. The modular design of the whole architecture makes the system flexible for more puzzle types or future ideas and requirements.

[1]  Mark de Berg et al. Computational Geometry: Algorithms and Applications. 3rd ed. Santa Clara, CA, USA: Springer-Verlag TELOS, 2008

Created by Y. Ahlers, L. Karabin and C. Langmaack, 2015

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