For the past few months I’ve been hard at work building a flash game. As my first game (but hopefully not last) it was a bit of an adventure, but worthwhile in the end. There are certainly still details to be worked out and some extra features to finish off, but overall it’s come out pretty well.

First go play it! Then come back here if you’d like to know a little more about how the game was created.

I’m not one to preface my work, but I would like to mention that I am not a gamer in any respect. This being said, I may not be aware of all the game conventions I should be following, despite a good amount of ‘research’. If you have any tips for this or future games, feedback is always appreciated. You can leave public comments here or send me feedback through the Pulsus contact form.

Recently, thanks to a class with Jason Corace, I’ve become interested in games as interactive systems. In the same class I developed a card game and created Pulsus for my final project.

The Game


The game, Pulsus, is a puzzle game about particle systems. Players have to place objects to direct particles from emitters into goals. While it is a puzzle game, it is also about exploring a dynamic system.

In the game, players solve puzzles by placing objects onto the stage which effect the way the particles move. In each level the particles must be moved from particle emitters into goal points. Different colored goals accept only particles of that color. Particles must hit the goal quickly enough to fill it up, but once it is complete is will remain filled. The colored force objects will attract their own color while repelling others. Grey objects interact with all particles in the same way.


Designing the game, I went through many aesthetic possibilities and through many nuances of the gameplay and the interaction of the game’s components. The general trend, while developing the game, was to simplify the system as much as possible. Initially I planned on a number of different objects that could be used to manipulate the system, but it was evident in early user tests that there was enough that could be done with only the most basic objects.

Pulsus Game - object designs

In this collection of objects I explored many styles to try and construct a cohesive look for the game and interface elements, including some objects which were ultimately taken out of the game.

Pulsus Game-storyboards

The various menus and screens were story-boarded and designed. Somewhat atypically, the game was designed and built simultaneously. The function of most elements evolved with testing through various iterations of the game and the visuals had to reflect the function.

The Sound


All of the sounds within the game were created in Pure Data with a few simple synthesizers I created. For most of the sound effects I used a patch with which I could control the envelope different harmonics and overtones of a basic pitch. For the background tones I used a polytonal synthesizer (pictured above). On the left side, keyboard inputs are mapped to a set of midi notes. Each note is passed into a sub-patch which generates the tone. In the middle are controls for the octave, pitch shift, and amplification. On the right (click on the image to enlarge) are graphs of the output, envelope, and waveform.

Some Early Prototypes


My first prototype was a simple set of paper icons. I played the computer. This was a simple test to see if the functions of the game were understandable and if basic puzzles could be solved.


This early prototype included the basic particle system upon which the game is based as well as the basic game elements, goals, emitters, and forces.


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  • JL Grillo

    Well I’m just enthralled.

    It’s such a cute and entertaining game; with good color and object design to boot. And you said that you’re not a gamer in any respect! I think that you should hurry up and submit this to the US Copyright Office so that you can find a production company that will pay you for distribution.

    I also like your story about its creation and seedling stages.

  • olivia

    cutest game ever.

  • Kelvin Luck

    Nice game, simple and fun. Reminded me of Auditorium [ ] in terms of the basic mechanic – not sure if you’ve ever seen that?

  • tony

    Someone showed me that game just a few days ago. Its interesting to see how they started with a very similar mechanic but made some quite different decisions along the way.

    It’s an interesting game, but frankly I feel the music narrative is very weak, especially because the music in the game is really no good. The design is also not my taste, but I also have to justify that I didn’t just waste the last few months of my life.

    thanks Kelvin

  • tony

    Thanks a lot JL,

    I’m glad people are enjoying the game. It certainly crossed my mind to get this produced by a larger entity, but I think at this point I’d rather not. The game is as much a piece of art to me as it is just another flash game. I don’t think it’s worth the money to me right now to lose control over the game. Although that definitely could depend on the amount of money.

    For now I think I’ll self publish my next few games and, at least in the near future, keep them ad free.

  • Michael

    I’ve beat this game three times. More levels please! I could easily see the game mixing in more color dots, obstacles, etc. Maybe even differently shaped “dots” doe more challenging gameplay. Quite fun and addictive as it is.

    This would make an awesome iPhone game. You should develop it!

  • brent

    You prob already know this, but your game got on download squad, and got a great review.

  • Colin

    Love it. I agree with Michael that the iPhone would make a great platform for this game (not to mention a profitable one). The sounds are a great touch, it really adds a nice atmosphere to the game. Somehow I felt incredibly relaxed, despite the chaotic nature of the game. Well done.

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  • Stef

    i really love this game!

  • Marcel

    fantastic and beautiful