Triangulating Trism: Behind Steve Demeter's iPhone hit

Influences, challenges, and new games straight from the creator's lips

Triangulating Trism: Behind Steve Demeter's iPhone hit
| Trism

When 5am rolls around and you've been sleeping soundly in bed, Steve Demeter is just finishing a long night triangulating a new breed of portable experience. Through the course of the last eight months, the creator of Trism has spent many sleepless nights on an endeavour that has become one of the highest-rated games for iPhone. His efforts, inspiration behind Trism, and plans for the the future highlighted our conversation with this inventive game designer.

"I wanted to craft an idea unique to iPhone," recounts Demeter about how he came to design Trism. It took him just as much time to conceive Trism as it did to actually create it. Four months of thought went into the developing the mechanics of gameplay, with another four for programming. "Whenever I came into a concept I thought felt generic, I just trashed it."

What he conceived was a remarkably inventive puzzle game that not only innovated within the genre, but also defined a new platform. Trism feels native to iPhone. No other platform could play host to its unique multi-touch and tilt gameplay. Demeter admits the temptation to utilize the accelerometer was great, but ultimate he steered away from gameplay that relied on it completely. "I didn't want to create something controlled solely via accelerometer," he explains. "Trism has just enough tilting to make it interesting without losing portability."

Trism possesses a unique combination of elements to be certain, yet the influence of other puzzle games on its design is debatable. Ironically enough, Demeter claims little inspiration from the formulas established by Bejeweled and Chuzzle. "To be honest, I never really played Bejeweled before creating Trism," he confesses. "I was aware of it, knew what it was about, but I didn't ever have it sitting in the back of my mind."

Instead, inspiration came from advisers that encouraged Demeter to keep his ideas minimal in style. "I made an active decision to create something clean, simple, and unobtrusive." Trism breaks free from puzzle games laden with kid-friendly icons and cute borders, taking aim at a more mature iPhone audience with brightly-colored triangles filling the screen. It's a style engineered to appeal to a general audience, not just a predefined casual gaming demographic.

The success of his design is undeniable. 10,000 registered users attest to the game's popularity, not to mention the many thousands more who have purchased the game but haven't registered their profiles. Those players have been vocal in their love of Trism, going so far as to request updates from Demeter on patches and forthcoming content. He outlined a series of fixes intended to expand the game's features including new colour blind textures, as well as addressing a handful of minor bugs.

When asked about future endeavors, Demeter coyly responds "I just want to keep making games that people enjoy." We have no doubt that Trism 2 will put smiles on faces. Revealing it exclusively to us, he admits the game is in its earliest stages. The emphasis will be on multiplayer, with new turn-based point battles. If the sequel isn't enough to satisfy your Trism lust, a spin-off game based on the Syllogism mode in the original is in the works. Entitled Trism: Puzzle Master, the game promises a slew of accelerometer-based puzzles to solve.

Both games are on the back-burner until Demeter finishes work on updating Trism. They're a way off, but there's no question that we're already anticipating the release of the first native iPhone franchise. Considering the immense creative Demeter invested in Trism, we feel we're more than justified in our expectations for another rousing set of games.

Tracy Erickson
Tracy Erickson
Manning our editorial outpost in America, Tracy comes with years of expertise at mashing a keyboard. When he's not out painting the town red, he jets across the home of the brave, covering press events under the Pocket Gamer banner.