So, you know that I’m a fan of puzzle games. I never made it to play “real” A-list games. Give me something simple that I can play on my phone any day. Classic linez is my latest obsession. However, the site where I was a frequent visitor removed the undo option, which made me rather furious. Frankly, life is too short not to have undo in your puzzle game, or at least, I’m not such a purist. That motivated me to look for ways to add such a game to my portfolio.
Linez is a game that is played on a 9×9 board. The goal is to line five or more balls/tiles, which makes them disappear. A ball/tile is moved when the player clicks it, and then clicks the target free position. The ball/tile can be moved only if there is a path of free fields to the target location. After each move, the game adds three new balls/tiles, except for the moves when the player forms a line that disappears. The game ends when all fields are filled with balls/tiles
My search led me to an old GitHub project. It contained a game that was half way there, which looked like that:
The basic functionality was working, but it included additional modes, which I found unnecessary. There was no Undo, the scoring relied on obsolete PHP MySQL functions, and the behavior on mobile devices was a bit erratic. My main issue at that point was with the balls, though. I’m partially colorblind and relying just on the colors was a pain for me. So, my first job was to change the balls to tiles, switch the colors to more simple ones, and add a letter to each tile. The final field looks as follows, which is much more user-friendly for visually challenged guys like me:
Changing the sprite for the balls was something that I could do, but everything else was beyond my reach. So, I needed a developer. The usual guys that I work with were busy, which is normal, because they are machines. After waiting for them for a while to find a slot for my project, which was not happening, I decided to risk with a new developer.
And here it is where things took a strange turn. As usual, I posted a job at Upwork, and a few guys responded. I waited a bit to gather more bids, and in the beginning of January 2022 I picked a guy, named Volodimir, to start working on my project. The punchline is that he was from Kyiv, the Ukraine… Of course, at that point I was oblivious about the plans of Putin to turn the world upside down.
Volodimir began working on the project and I started seeing some nice progress. He implemented the Undo functionality and most of the visual changes. The handling of the scoring remained. Then the war broke out and the guy disappeared, which was normal, to be honest. The family takes precedence over some little Internet projects.
I was concerned that the war may cause disturbance in the payment process in the Ukraine and just ended the project and paid the guy. A lot of work was done already, and I wanted him to get paid. In the greater picture, this project seemed insignificant. This war seems very personal to me. It is not just some remote conflict. My country is on the opposite side of the Black Sea from the Ukraine. Within weeks, our streets started filling with people speaking Russian and Ukrainian. It just did not feel right pushing the guy to work on this while there are rockets flying. So, basically, I left the project in limbo.
I didn’t quite know what to do about this game, but as usual, there were other things to attend to. While I was thinking how to proceed, a month passed, and Volodimir came back from the cold. He meticulously completed the tasks that were left and currently, the game is finished.
As of now, I’m the proud owner of a Classic Linez game, residing at the Linez.CC domain name. Most likely, I should have gone with a .com name. Hopefully, the .cc TLD won’t make the search engine ranking an impossible task. However, I do tend to like .cc names for some reason, and this one is so nice and short.
This project highlighted another risk when working with freelancers – the political one. I love working with developers from the former USSR. Usually, they are quite professional. However, suddenly, this region became quite unstable. If I come up with another project in the future, I’ll be quite reluctant to pick developers from there.
Politics aside, I would love that you check my new lines game and try to beat the top records.