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Hidden Cubes - A 3D puzzler

A topic by NixieCraft created Sep 27, 2017 Views: 318 Replies: 4
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I'm currently procrastinating on making the levels for this game, so that means finally starting a devlog post is a great thing to do, right? Right.

What's going on here?

This is Hidden Cubes, a puzzle game that I like to say is a 3D tangram, with cube based shapes reminiscent of Tetris pieces. The shape you have to complete is displayed as a silhouette outline as viewed from the camera's current perspective, forcing you to think in 3D and keep moving the camera around.

A large mechanical inspiration was Quill18's Spacecube tutorial, and in turn, KSP's ship building tool.

How far along is it?

After going through a few iterations around placement, and even having multi-cube shapes, it's feeling really, really close. I still need to finish the tutorial, add music, and a few animations. I've been saying it to myself for ages, but I'm really aiming to get a beta version up within the next week or two.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, I'm mostly procrastinating around creating the levels. It currently has about 35 levels, of highly dubious quality. What I really ought to do is offload level design to other people, which in turn means improving the the level editor...

Which platforms will it be available on?

The current focus is a desktop release for the first pass, across Windows, macOS, and Linux. Once it's shipped on desktops I can switch focus to mobile optimizations (as of my last attempt, some custom shaders aren't working properly on Android).

The game feels like it would work great with VR and AR, which I'd like to get to at some stage.

Who's making this?

Oh, hi, I'm Alex. I'm programming and designing this thing. I've been writing code for the past 20 years (mostly web apps, and for the past couple of years building software with WebGL), with a stint of also being a graphic designer for around 8 years.

Aside from some game jam entries and prototypes, Hidden Cubes is my first proper game that I've spent any serious amount of time on.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more updates, and that upcoming beta/early-access launch!

Pretty big week for the project, lots of polish, bug fixing, and play-testing with friends.

I've also spent a fair amount of time optimizing it for lower-end computers - which my 2012 MacBook Air definitely qualifies as. It turns out some of Unity's post-processing effects are quite expensive for older Intel integrated GPUs, so the game now does its best to auto-detect that sort of thing and disable the shadows and ambient occlusion effects to boost the framerate from ~21fps to ~60fps.

On a similar note, it turns out my outline shader had some amusing floating point precision issues between DirectX, OpenGL, and Metal shader languages, compiled from the base Unity shader. Where a multiplier of 0.242 was fine for DirectX, it would cause the outline to be obscenely massive in OpenGL and Metal which both preferred a number closer to 0.007. Math. It goes to show you really do need to test on as many platforms and graphics chips as possible.

The game got a few user experience tweaks too. Each chunk type now gets a different shade of orange so you can more easily pick the placed types out from the whole build,without having to hunt around and figure out what's where. I'm not totally happy with the colors, but it feels good and play-testers liked the change. I tweaked the toolbar to be nicer to use too, and not reset every time you place something.

I also got off my butt and set up a Steam store account, and spent a bunch of time setting up a store page for the game and doing initial Steamworks integration. Expect an announcement for that soon! I plan on releasing the game on both Itch and Steam, with possible distribution via GoG and/or Humble if I can get on them.

You can follow the game on Facebook, if that's your cup of tea, over at, or sign up for the mailing list at


This has potential! Looks very challenging in a good way :)

Phew! It's been a while since I last updated this thing. It now has a coming soon page on steam!

Over the past few weeks I've been sending test copies to friends, collecting feedback, and tweaking things. Including implementing a much more cohesive game progression system.

I've also spent time on the mobile side of things. Initially procrastinating from doing the level creation job, I decided to see how much work it would take to get the game up to snuff on mobile devices, and it turns out a couple of days got it very nicely operational on iPhones and iPads, with an extra day to get some Augmented Reality gizmos implemented.

This week, before heading off on holiday for a week, I'm planning on getting more levels done; a few more mobile tweaks; and seeing if I can't nail the tutorial system.

A little repost of the Facebook and mailing list:, or sign up for the mailing list at And that Steam page too,

Today I'm really excited to announce the public beta release of Hidden Cubes! I decided to ship a version especially for Itch, ahead of the full release on Steam and other app stores. There's still a few things left to do, such as some nice background music, bug fixing, and a whole load of new levels. But it's at a good stage right now for more people to look at it.

You can check it out here:

If the sticker shock is too great, I'm pretty easy going about download keys right now, just contact me and we'll sort something out.