How Transcolors Was Invented

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How Transcolors Was Invented

Ever since childhood I have always had this set of building blocks – wooden blocks coated with paint on the outside. Each block was painted in one of four colors: red, yellow, green, or blue. The blocks came in various shapes and sizes:

  • a cube
  • a short block – twice as tall as a cube
  • a long block – three times as tall as a cube
  • a short, flat block – like a “short block” halved the long way
  • a long, flat block – like a “long block” halved the long way
  • a triangular prism – has same volume as a cube
  • a cylinder – twice as tall as a cube

Usually I would assemble a fortress of crudely made fortresses. I would then make a catapult using a long, flat block as the arm and a cube and a triangle as the fulcrum. Then I’d load a red cylinder onto it, because it reminded me of dynamite, and then fire. It worked quite well – you could say I had quite a “blast.”

Today was a little different. I started to make a maze out of the long, flat blocks. Just laid them on their side to make walls, and strung them together. Once I was done, I went through the maze, using a little cube as the main character.

My little game grew from there. It became so that there were other little cubes in the maze, and when your cube passed them, it would switch to the color of that cube. And sometimes there were obstacles in your way, which you could remove by touching it with a matching color. Such removable barriers were represented by a long, flat block. And in other cases, some obstacles could levitate out of your way if you matched colors, but come back down once you switched again. I called these barriers “pillars”, and were represented by a short block on top of a cylinder. (The short block specified the color, because for whatever reason, the cylinders didn’t come in all colors.)

Once these rules were set in place, I started building up the maze until it turned into a puzzle. The objective was to get to the end block, while matching its color.

While we’re still on the topic: When you think about it, the concept is dead simple – matching colors. But is it always easy? Just play the second last level of Transcolors on Khan Academy, and you’ll see just how far this game went with a simple concept!

I played my block maze over and over a few times, and it was really satisfying to play. Some games are more satisfying to play in the form of physical objects, don’t you think? Like, in the same way a video game about racing isn’t as satisfying as racing real cars on a real track, with real people and everything?

Anyway, I didn’t want to lose all of my hard work. To make sure I remembered it, I wrote it down on paper using a special notation I made up, as shown at top.

I made a few levels this way. I even shared my ideas with my friends and let them try it out, and they got the hang of it quite fast. The game seemed to be a great idea, one that I could maybe – just maybe! – turn into a real game.

And so folks, that is how Transcolors was invented.

The Story Continues…

Transcolors entered the virtual world on three platforms: Scratch, Khan Academy Computer Science, and iOS.

By | 2016-10-03T12:24:45-07:00 July 5th, 2016|11 Comments

About the Author:

Darryl Yeo is a young programmer, web developer, computer graphics artist, musician, and composer who hopes to inspire others through his projects and inventions. Read more about Darryl.


  1. Mitchell Waits March 4, 2015 at 9:58 am - Reply

    It’s really cool to see how Transcolos was invented!

    • Darryl Yeo March 4, 2015 at 10:07 am - Reply

      Agreed, I’m glad you enjoyed reading about it!

  2. Daniel Ohanessian March 5, 2015 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    What a story! Thank you for writing this down in your blog!

  3. Isaac Essendrop March 17, 2015 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    wow that’s awesome.

  4. Dank Flygonest November 15, 2015 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    Hey Darryl! Its iAbsol from khan academy! I made a new level (its my first I hope its good

  5. Rohann February 8, 2016 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    cool story darry yeo you are great and aslo i want to be a Member of you

    • Darryl Yeo March 9, 2016 at 3:24 pm - Reply

      Hi Rohann, since you have participated in a comment thread, you are already a member of this community. Welcome.

  6. Blue Mountain Studios June 23, 2016 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    Do you still do khan?

    • Darryl Yeo June 23, 2016 at 4:00 pm - Reply

      I’ve been inactive for a while, but I may return soon!

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