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Designing Directions

As I’ve mentioned before, in A Clockwork Brain we are using hundreds of items taken from The Clockwork Man games. Among these items were some swords, daggers and various tools like a screwdriver and a pair of scissors. In Clockwork Man they were mainly used in hidden object scenes, where players had to find them among other items in cluttered rooms, such as a blacksmith’s workshop, an engineer’s lab and a basement.

Directions mini-game from Prototype to Final version
Directions mini-game from Prototype to Final version

All the items I mentioned above share a common attribute; they are long and pointy. If you look at each one of them, it is obvious that they points to a certain direction. This attribute was the base of one of my favorite mini-games in A Clockwork Brain: Directions.


The game actually relies on two different attributes. One is the direction of items, and the other is their size. The player is presented with a number of items in various formations, where the items are either parallel or perpendicular. In every level there is only one type of item, e.g. a certain sword, but appears in varying sizes.

The player has to spot the smallest of all, and notice the direction it is pointing to. As soon as she has done that, she has to press on one of the 4 buttons on the screen, the one that corresponds to the direction of the item (up, down, left or right).

Difficulty & Progression

There are several parameters that define the game difficulty, some more obvious than others. The first one is the number of items on the screen. The game starts with 2 items only, and goes up to 8. The size difference between the two smallest items is also accounted for; the smallest the difference, the harder is for the brain to distinguish between the two items.

Difficulty Progression in Directions
Difficulty Progression in Directions

In a similar fashion, the average size of the items also determines the difficulty. The rest of the attributes have to do with the placement of the items; If for example the two smallest items are near each other or pointing to the same direction.


Directions is a game that deals with perception and spatial cognition. The dual nature of the gameplay means that the brain has to detect both the smallest item and its direction, which are different operations. This makes it quite unique and challenging.

Insane Round

In order to reach the Insane Round in Directions, players have to go through a lot of levels. This is actually the mini-game with the most levels (around 50) that need to be completed before entering the Insane Round. Keep in mind that other mini-games require a small fraction of that, sometimes even less than 10.

Insane levels have more items, 10-11 of them, smaller in size, and placed next to each other in ways that make them more difficult to distinguish.

Directions is one of my favorites because I think it’s fun, very challenging and I can reach the Insane Round very often! 🙂

Dimitrios Bendilas
Lead Game Designer

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