Tidalis:Getting Started

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First Run

The first time you launch Tidalis (pronounced Tie-Dallas), it will ask you a few questions to go ahead and get the basics set up the way you want:

Step 1: Screen Resolution

The very first time you run Tidalis, it will ask you if the screen looks okay, or if you want to change the screen resolution to a windowed mode or a different size.

Choosing A Screen Resolution

If the graphics look stretched or pinched, most likely the game is running at a resolution that is too wide or narrow for your monitor. Simply try selecting other screen resolutions until you see one that looks large enough to suit your tastes, while not looking stretched or pinched. It's very fast to try new ones.

Fullscreen or Windowed?

Most people prefer to play games in fullscreen mode, because then they can see only the game, and the game fills the entire screen. However, if you also like to use chat programs while playing games, or want to be able to check your email or web pages or similar while playing, you might prefer windowed mode.

You can set your preferred window mode on this initial screen, or later by clicking into the Settings screen, or at any time later by using the Fullscreen Toggle button that shows up at the very top right corner of the screen most of the time during gameplay and on the main menu, etc.

Special Note For Mac OSX

Tidalis runs on the Unity 3D game engine, which is a wonderful engine and in fact started out on the Mac before becoming wildly more cross-platform. Unfortunately, the latest official version of Unity 3D (2.6.1) at the time that Tidalis was initially released has a bug that prevents us from being able to set your resolution or your fullscreen/windowed status from in-game.

When future versions of Unity come out, we'll update Tidalis to use the new version so that this problem goes away for Mac players, but in the meantime there is fortunately a pretty simple workaround, and the Screen Resolution popup in the game will tell you about this: simply hold the Option key while clicking to open the game, and you can use the default Unity 3D screen-resolution-configuration interface to set your resolution and your fullscreen status.

Step 2: License Key

If You're Playing The Trial

If you're just playing the trial version of the game, then you don't have a license key -- that's fine. Just hit "Cancel - Continue Trial" and you'll be able to continue into the trial mode of the game. Functionality is limited while in trial mode, but it should be more than enough to let you try things out and see if this is a game that you'd want to purchase for yourself or a friend or family member. Thanks for trying out our game!

If You Already Bought A License Key

If you already bought a license key, then first of all: thanks for supporting our work! We're a tiny company, and your support really means a lot. When you start the game, you'll start out in trial mode -- don't worry, this is normal. When the license key screen comes up, simply type in your license key and hit "OK - Unlock From License Key." Assuming the key was entered correctly, the trial restrictions will go away and you'll be playing the full version of Tidalis!

Step 3: Tutorials

The next question the game will ask is if you want to play the basic tutorials, or not. There are only 9 basic tutorials, and they are both quick and fun. You can probably complete them in ten to fifteen minutes, or faster if you're really quick.

If this is your first time with Tidalis, we strongly recommend that you play the tutorials so that you'll have an idea of what is going on, but if you're already familiar with the game there is a Skip Tutorials button that makes it so you don't have to sit through an introduction.

If you ever want to play through the Tutorials later on, you can click the Tutorials button on the main menu. There are actually three categories of tutorials there: The Basics, Advanced Topics, and Special Blocks. Only The Basics are covered in this first run-through, so you may want to check out the tutorials section later for advanced tips and tricks, anyway.

Step 4: Guided Tour

The guided tour is a collection of introductory buttons that make it quick for you to get started with the game. In order, your options in the guided tour are:

Start Adventure

The adventure is great for anyone who likes the more action-oriented puzzle levels, and wants a lighthearted story as well. It starts out very easy, but gets quite challenging by the end of the 115 levels that are available (15 are available in the trial). If you find any level too challenging, you can easily just skip it and come back later (or not, as the case may be).

Play Brainteasers

These mind-bending puzzles don't have any sort of time limit, and nothing moves around until you say to. Generally the objective is to clear all the blocks in a set number of moves, but the objectives and the conditions vary by puzzle. These provide a very different experience from the more action-oriented modes, and there are dozens of such levels included with the game.

Play Sampler

Want to sample the ludicrous variety available in Tidalis? There are only a handful of sampler levels included with the game, but they are varied enough to give you a really broad idea of the sort of variety you'll be seeing through the Adventure, Brainteasers, and Quick/Custom play modes.

Main Menu

Want to just get out of the Guided Tour and go to the normal main menu? This is the button for you. If you use this button, the Guided Tour will still come back again the next time you play the game, and there will be a "Back To Tour" button in the upper left of the screen while you're in the normal menus.

Go Away

The Guided Tour will actually pop up every time you launch the game, unless you tell it to "Go Away." If you click the Go Away button and later want this Guided Tour back, you can go into the Settings screen and hit the Restart Guided Tour button.

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Quick And Easy Customizations For Your Comfort

So now you've gotten into the game, you might find that you want to tweak a few things to make the game work just the way you want. Here are a few suggestions of common tweaks that some folks like:

Setting Your Screen Resolution

If the graphics look stretched or pinched, or too large or small, you probably want to change your screen resolution. You should be able to read all the text clearly and without eyestrain. You can also choose to run the game in a window that lets you get quick access to other running programs (like chat, email, etc), or fullscreen so that the game fills your entire monitor. For more information on this subject, please view the setting your screen resolution topic.

Hint: if you've already launched the game, just open the Settings window and the screen resolution settings are right there.

Choosing A Block Style (Including Colorblind Considerations)

Tidalis comes with six different block styles. You may find various ones of them easier or harder to use, and/or more fun to use. To choose your block style, simply open the Settings menu and there is a big "What style of blocks do you prefer?" dropdown.

This is especially important if you are colorblind, as the default block style will probably be very hard to use. Tidalis is very colorblind-friendly, and depending on your type of colorblindness there should be one or more block styles that are legible to you.

Reducing Visual Distractions (If You're Prone To Headaches When Overstimulated, etc)

Tidalis has a lot going on on the screen, to be sure. For most folks, this is exciting and no problem. But, we know that amount of visual flair can be both overwhelming and painful for some people. If you fall into either of those camps, no worries -- we've got you covered.

Once again, go into the Settings screen, and this time there are two options that may be of interest to you:

Reduce Visual Stimulation Checkbox

If you check this checkbox, then a lot of the special effects and animations on the game board will be removed. Fewer flares and victory explosions and background shakes and that sort of thing.

Use Static Backgrounds Checkbox

Normally the visual backgrounds while you are playing are full of life and motion. If you check this checkbox, then instead a non-moving image will be used. This is great for if you were finding the motion overwhelming, and it's also great for if you're playing on an older computer.

The non-moving backgrounds load faster, and put far less of a load on your computer's processor and memory. So if you're finding the game loads levels very slowly or stutters a lot while playing, you may want to use this option simply for that reason.

Making The Keyboard Controls Comfortable To Use

If you look under Settings, then click the Key Bindings button, you can remap the keyboard controls so that they feel natural and comfortable to you.

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Exploring The Mountain Of Functionality Available

New to Tidalis? Please don't let the mountain of functionality overwhelm you! We strongly believe in giving you an amazing amount of content for your money, but the side effect of that is that some folks may be intimidated and not know where to start. Look at it this way: you can play any of the parts of the game that interest you, in any order you wish; there's no pressure to do everything.

So, with that in mind, what kind of player are you?


Do you like action-oriented puzzle games?

If you're particularly a fan of other action-oriented game that combine strategy with quick-thinking, you'll probably particularly enjoy:

  • Adventure mode
    • It starts easy and gets harder.
    • You can adjust the difficulty by giving yourself a handicap if it's too easy or hard -- don't despair!
  • Quick Games or Custom Games
    • You set up the scenario you want, and just play.


Do you like more thoughtful, brainteaser-like puzzles?

If you're a fan of these sorts of slower, more thoughtful games, then you'll probably particularly enjoy:

  • Brainteasers
    • These can be found under Play, Levels.
  • Zen, Light-Up, and Solitaire game styles.
    • You can select these under Play, and the Quick Game or Custom Game.
    • These take the stress out of the more action-oriented modes, taking away the requirement that you act quickly.
    • In Custom Games, you can combine these modes with other modes (Zen + Water, for instance, or Light-Up + Graviton) in order to get relaxed access to any of the various game modes that are around.

Do you have a friend or family member you'd like to play through the game with?

If you like playing cooperatively with other players (we sure do), you'll probably particularly enjoy:

  • Any of the Single-Player Content
    • The Adventure, Brainteasers, Quick Games and Custom Games... all of it can be played in co-op.
  • Co-Op-Specific modes
    • These can be found under Play, and then either Quick Game or Custom Game. Then just adjust the Player Rules.
    • Please note that these co-op specific modes are only visible when the game is already in 2 player mode.


Do you like direct competition with other players or an AI opponent?

If you like the combative modes of various other puzzle games, you'll probably particularly enjoy:

  • VS modes
    • These can be found under Play, and then either Quick Game or Custom Game. Then just adjust the Player Rules.
    • The AI is limited to only being able to play with certain game styles, special blocks, etc. But when two people play against one another, anything can be used.
    • You can play versus against another person either on one computer (one person on the keyboard, the other on the mouse), or with each player using a separate computer.


Do you like crafting your own very specialized experience?

If you just have the trial version of the game, these features aren't available, but the features you're looking for are:

  • Custom Games
    • The amount of customization you have here is pretty intense compared to quick games. You choose the items, the special blocks, and the game styles -- you can even combine multiple game styles, such as making Water + Zen + Frenzy, for example. Advanced players will usually much prefer custom games over quick ones.
  • Level Editor
    • If you thought the amount of customization possible in the custom games was impressive, the amount possible in the level editor is an order of magnitude higher. This is the level editor that was used to create all the official levels shipped with the game. You can create your own levels, your own level packs, your own entire adventures, or just create one-off experiments for yourself.

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Tips For Success In Tidalis

  • There are more tutorials than just the basics. The tutorial menu also has categories for advanced topics and on special blocks.
  • The help button at the top right of the screen contains details and tips about the various blocks and items used in each level. If you ever find yourself at a loss for what to do, try seeing what the help screen has to say.
  • The Fast Forward and Ultra Fast Forward buttons, at the top right of the board, can be used to temporarily drop blocks more quickly. This can be useful if you're on a time limit, or if you just generally want more blocks to work with.
  • In action-oriented modes, you can hold the right mouse button (or Shift + the mouse buttton) on a block to see other blocks of that color and help you find chain reactions to make.
  • When you're playing in brainteaser mode, it helps to have all stages of a combo already set up before you start the first chain reaction. In the more action-oriented modes, you may have to buy yourself time to do this by clearing smaller unrelated chains of blocks to keep your stacks from getting too high.
  • In action-oriented modes, try not to focus too much on the falling blocks. Instead, look at the blocks that have already fallen and see what chain-reactions and combos you can create to clear blocks and give yourself more room.
  • If you're about to lose, try making small chains or combos to pause the falling blocks while the streams are moving.
  • While chain reactions are going, no more blocks will fall from the top of the screen. This can provide you with much-needed time to think about your next move.
  • If you're finding the game to be too easy or too difficult on an ongoing basis, you can adjust your handicap on the Player Preferences screen. Each player in multiplayer can have their own handicap. To adjust handicaps, you can use the button at the bottom of the screen on the main menu that is labeled 1 Player, 2P Local, or 2P Network depending on how many players are currently playing.

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