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Trichromix Beta 2

Monday, February 28, 2005

When I released the first beta of Trichromix, exactly a month ago, I thought that I was nearly done. Just sort out the bugs people report and then I can go live. Boy, was I wrong.

I got a lot of useful feedback and only one bug report. It took me a month of tweaking and polishing, but the resulting product is all the better for it. Having a public beta version worked out great. I want to thank everybody who took the time to play the first beta and send me suggestions.

To show how I incorporated all the feedback, and to ask for your help once again, here is Trichromix Beta 2 (.exe, 8.31MB ). I'll outline the most important changes below.

I'd appreciate some feedback on the difficulty of the levels. While playing a couple of levels I created for the prototype some months ago, I noticed that I solved them in a jiffy. Now I wonder whether the game is too easy or if I just got much better at it. I can make levels that are more difficult. I designed a couple that still give me a hard time when I try to solve them, although none of them are in this beta version. However, I don't want to make the levels so difficult that almost no-one is able to solve them.

Interface improvements

By far the most requested feature was drag-and-drop. I already figured that is the most intuitive way to move the shapes, but I expected it to be too much of a hassle to implement. Now that's a lousy excuses not to do it and since nearly everybody suggested it, I bit the bullet. Took me about thirty minutes to implement. Mmm.

Another popular demand was a waiting period between finishing the level and showing the 'Well done' message box. With drag-and-drop, this problem doesn't exist anymore and I implemented a one second delay in case you're moving the shapes in one of the other ways.

One of those alternate control methods employs the keyboard. I figured that using quasimodes for moving the shapes would lead to the smallest possibility of accidentally moving the wrong shape. Since the mapping between the keys Ctrl, Alt, Shift and the various shapes was completely random, this turned out to be quite the opposite. So I changed keyboard controls to a stateful mode and the keys are now easy to remember: C for circle, T for triangle and S for star. It's unfortunate that you can't use the same keys in the level editor. There you have to use 1, 2 and 3 to select the shapes.

Level locking

I'm still not sure about this one. Trichromix now keeps levels locked until you've solved previous ones. You are forced to go through all tutorial levels in sequence, but after that you have more leeway. I hope I found the right balance.

Level progress is saved in a file called This makes sure you don't have to replay levels if you reinstall the game. The file is slightly garbled so that players can't just unlock a level by making a small adjustment to the progress file. I don't mind people cheating, but that doesn't mean I have to make it easy.

The beta version does have two easy cheats to make testing easier. First, you can skip the level you're playing by pressing Alt+W. Second, you can start a locked level from the main menu by pressing 0. Just ignore the error message.


A post by Thomas Warfield on personality in games gave me the idea of letting the game talk to the player. You now get a message everytime a level starts and everytime you solve it. I still have to find the right tone for these messages, but I think it adds the personality Thomas talks about.


The event loop was hogging all available CPU time. I had noticed CPU usage was high, but I didn't realise it was that high. You see, I have a HyperThreading CPU, so the task monitor only showed 50% usage. It's kinda obvious now what that means. Fortunately, it was easy to fix.

I'm still not convinced performance is good enough. Drag-and-drop can be especially slow on low-end systems. Dragging and dropping is barely tolerable on my Pentium III 450 MHz (last time I erroneously claimed it's a Pentium II). There are other ways to control Trichromix, though, so this is not a top priority for now.


The main menu is now more colorful. I tiled and rotated one of the levels and put it on the background. There was also room left on the buttons panel, so I put a color wheel there. In addition, Trichromix now has a splash screen, showing the credits. So you won't be looking at a black screen anymore while the game is loading.

I redid all the button graphics and now they fit better into the overall feel of the game. The tiles displayed in the level preview now match those in the actual game. And finally, I added an icon to the window and the exe-file.

Music and sound

Trichromix now has music and sound. The sounds are mainly to provide feedback. At the moment, all sounds are placeholders.

The music is composed and recorded by Roy Bemelmans and it's brilliant. It inflates the download quite a bit, but I think you'll agree it's totally worth it.

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mahlzeit says:

Very nice :-) It feels much more polished than the first beta. This game takes more time to get into than a typical casual game (for me anyway) because of the whole color mixing thing. It seems complex at first. But once you get the hang of it (it's easier than it seems), this is a nice game. I just hope the learning curve isn't too steep. Some small things: - In the level select screen, I found it difficult to see which level pack and level are selected: the colors don't stand out enough for me. Maybe add a little arrow or invert the background of the selected item. - Are there any memory leaks? In Task Manager, I saw the memory usage go up over time. Not very much, but there still may be leaking something somewhere. - Maybe you should add a way to toggle the music on/off from the game screen. - The music doesn't loop, so if it takes a long time to solve a level you end up in silence. That's all. :-)

Monday, February 28, 2005 1:21 PM

Joost Ronkes Agerbeek says:

"This game takes more time to get into than a typical casual game (for me anyway) because of the whole color mixing thing." That could be a bit tricky to solve. Nevertheless, I have some ideas I can try to make things easier. You can see if it worked out when I release the game. :-) "In the level select screen, I found it difficult to see which level pack and level are selected" Mmm. If I can fix it quickly, I'll do it. Otherwise, I might just wait until after release and put it in the next version "Are there any memory leaks?" Appearently. I'll have it fixed before release. "Maybe you should add a way to toggle the music on/off from the game screen." Why would you want to turn off the music? :-p "The music doesn't loop, so if it takes a long time to solve a level you end up in silence." That's not entirely correct, but I'll fix it anyway. ;-) Thanks again for your feedback.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005 9:59 AM

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