Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom Available Now

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And, we’re back! Last month I dropped in to give you all a taste of the artwork behind the Ancient Tales mode of Mahjong Tales: Ancient Wisdom for PS3 (available now on the PS Store for $9.99). This time around, I thought you’d be interested to learn a little more about how we at TikGames and Creat Studios designed the various tile layouts you’ll see, both in the story book adventure and in the Infinity Mode.


A lot of people assume that Mahjong layouts are generated randomly, sometimes creating layouts that are impossible to solve. Not so! In Mahjong Tales, each level started from a set of algorithms we wrote and was then completed with manual touches. Basically, we allow the game to randomly populate the individual tiles for match-up (i.e., whether a particular tile is a red dragon or green dragon), but the pairings themselves (i.e., this tile and that tile are a matched pair) are done by hand. Combining an automated algorithm and our own know-how in designing levels means that we can guarantee that every layout will have a solution and that there’s an appropriate level of challenge for players. This keeps gameplay fun and enticing for everyone.

In fact, the vast majority of the time spent developing Mahjong Tales went into editing tile layout. Our game designers and balancing engineers worked tirelessly on those algorithms and ramping rules (how tile layers are created), while experimenting with various arrangements and hand touch-ups. The entire time that the art, audio and various features were being integrated, that core team of designers and engineers was continually refining the gameplay — tweaking and playing, tweaking and playing…

Plus, we built the tiles in 3D and enforced physics rules, so that players would feel like they were handling a real Mahjong set. It was important to us to ensure that not only could our Mahjong tile layouts be solved, but that they could exist just as if they were made with actual, physical tiles. If you wanted to, you could recreate in real life every layout we made (and any of those created in the level editor to be released later).


I hope this gives you a little insight into what goes into making Mahjong tile layouts. We’re so proud of the results we got from our efforts in making them, we decided to recognize players for their dedication in completing all of our Infinity Mode tile layouts. If you complete all 100 of our tile layouts, you’ll receive 30 points and a silver trophy entitled “Infinity and Beyond.” Good luck!

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6 Author Replies

  • Nice post. I’m always interested in what goes into the development of games.

  • I don’t know how to play this so I went with cuboid. Fun little game.

    • Cuboid is awesome too, but not knowing how to play this game should not be an impediment. The game is easy to learn, though beastly hard to master. The game we started with is known as \”Mahjong Solitaire\” and the basic idea is to match tiles. It\’s a little more complex than that but not a whole lot. The game variations are straight-forward and the HELP is very simple and clear. Go for it!!!

  • I would get this game to support the small companies. But I hate playing Mahjong on my PC. If you guys should have release another type of game, I would gladly buy it.

    • We kinda DID release a different kind of game. :) Motion mode is pretty different and the Infinity editor is really a blast to play around with.

  • Thanks for the post.. I’ll be picking this up today, I’ve always loved games like this.

    Thanks for the background too, it’s nice to know that the machine isn’t beating me (by cheating or being impossible), I’m beating myself by not making the right moves… You’ve given me hope!

  • Too expensive ….

  • Looks great! But I have absolutely no idea how to play Mahjong. Is there a tutorial in the game?

  • Getting this tomorrow when I’m able to go get a prepaid master card. I freaking LOVE Mahjong. I’m so HAPPY that you’ve decided to branch out into more puzzler type games. THis is a must have to me.

  • Sweet I can’t wait to play this tomorrow.

  • I’m playing it now, it’s really fun.
    Things I would like you to implement though:
    Custom Sound tracks, the music is beautiful, but I want to listen to my stuff too.

    Custom backgrounds using pictures on your PS3.

    I’m having so much fun with it, I hope you add (free) expansions too!!

  • In the trailer it said there WERE custom soundtracks…did you try it though the XMB or options in the game?

  • Definitely a mistake to price this at 10 dollars. Sales are most likely going to be terrible at that price.

    The game looks really good and polished, but people will probably wait for it to get later when the price drops to 5 dollars or so.

    • Take a look at how comprehensive the product is and you may change your opinion. You get Tales Mode, (modified gameplay with awesome stories), Motion Mode (action mahjong single player and head-to-head), Infinity (editor) and Classic Mode with tons of pre-made layouts, tile sets and background choices. It\’s a LOT of Mahjong plus original gameplay.

  • @Howard Lehr
    One mode isn’t going to make me go and spend $10 plus tax. But if you guys are going to be releasing any more games on the PSN, I would gladly buy it

    • :) There are a few modes… Motion is for 1-player. You need to keep the dragon from eating your tiles and the power-ups are a pretty cool addition to the traditional matching gameplay. Motion also has a head-to-head opthon which is my favorite. There\’s no dragon, but you get to race against your friends or family. The level editor has a lot to offer also and Tales Mode has specific \”gold matching\” bonus gameplay that\’s beyond the norm.

  • Thanks for the info

  • I bought it just a bit ago and I’m loving it. I really like the motion and ancient tales modes’. You guys did a great job!

  • A demo please…probably fun modes. But keep in mind that there is lot of majhong game on the web for free, so maybe with a demo including sample of your different mode should be interesting, but as Cuboid, I prefer to play to the flash games until there is a demo of these games!

    Thanks for your work and keeping the PSN alive!

  • I want to get both this game and Cuboid but I don’t have enough money!!!! (Me and my brother split the money in our account, and if I get both I’ll be using his half as well…)

    I’ll definately pick this one up eventually, I just need to wait until I get more money into our account!

    Anyways, this game looks very cool! I’m actually not really into Mahjong, but you guys spent a lot of time with this one, and you really made it interesting to a more broader audience. It caught my attention so I’m going to purchase it! Nice work guys, this will soon be a welcome addition to my collection of PSN titles! :)

  • @Howard Lehr
    I think you are missing the point Mr. Lehr. I am not a fan of Mahjong. But I would gladly support any other games you guys make for the PSN in the future. :)
    I hope you guys next game is original. It don’t have to be innovative, just fun.

  • Very fun looking game. Unfortunately, I already went passed my limit my parents give me for the month, as I don’t quite have my own credit card yet >__>

    I’ll be picking it up next month. Thanks for the post.

  • I’m trying to decide between this and Cuboid, i’m leaning toward Cuboid though.

  • I personally feel that 10 dollars is more than enough for a game this fun for the right audience. (I also bought it to help keep the pain from my wisdom teeth extraction at bay.)

    Being a Mahjong player, I can confidently say that this will satisfy many Mahjong players past and future. With many modes of gameplay, this is a great game for newcomers alike.

    It isnt for everyone though. You really have to have an open mind. Also, I would like to say nice touches on the trophies. That “Who needs sleep” trophy is hard.

    Only beef I have with this is that no one is online. Hense, the trophies will be hard to achieve.

    Other than that. Excellent purchase! Thank you!

  • Does this game support in-game music? I usually like to play mahjong while listening to my own music to get me through harder levels.

  • Regarding layout generation, wouldn’t it make more sense to just generate the layout randomly by placing matched pairs in reverse solution order? That way you could guarantee it’s solvable.

    • That\’s an elegant idea. We never tried it per se, but it is intriguing. In game design as all things though, when you find something that works reliably, you stop experimenting. :)

  • I got it from the Euro store last week and it’s incredibly fun and challenging. I never played Mahjong before but I really enjoyed this one. The production values, presentation, polish and different modes justify the price.

    This brings me to my question: when is Cuboid coming to the Euro store? I’d love to buy another Tik game and I am looking forward to Magic Ball as well. I hope you got even more games planned for us this year.

    Thanks for a game that got me away from all the stress associated with most games these days. I needed it.

  • Bought this for my sister, who enjoys puzzle games. It’s a solid game.

    I enjoyed watching. Music was soothing.

  • You’ve definitely tempted me with your tile based game…

  • awesome job with cuboid. I love it! I will pick this up too. Do either games support remote play though?

  • my g/f wants this soo im gonna go reload the wallet. from the posts on here it sounds like most people are enjoying it!


  • How come you guys didn’t release a demo for either game that came out today?

    Lack of development time or was it purely a choice made by the team for some reason?

  • I love this game! and it DOES have Custom Soundtracks!!!

  • I think the game is great!
    I love Mahjong and there is so much additional content with this one it makes it WAY better than the Vista version, plus online and local play with a REAL second player.
    I got Cuboid too that game is crazy nuts fun!

    I checked out the TikGames website you guys need to update that to include PS3 games now, it only says PC, Mobile and Xbox right now.

    Also it would be SWEET to bring Monopoly and some form of Billards game to the PSN since I see you already have them there. Monopoly and Billiards online would ROCK!

    Nice work TikGames and CREAT Studios!

  • I picked this up today because my gf loves Mahjong. I’ve been pretty bad at Mahjong in the past, but this game does a great job of leading you into the experience in the story mode, I can actually see myself improving as I advance through the levels.

  • Great game, been playing it a lot all christmas – EU Store got it a while ago. I can dearly recommend it :)

  • I bought Mahjong Tales and my wife and I love it!! The only thing we would like to see is a patch for mouse support. The controller works great but the other (non-gamer) members of my family who love Mahjong are afraid to use the controller, plus Mahjong and a mouse are like peanut butter and jelly. You shouldn’t have one without the other.

    Bought Cuboid as well. It is fantastic. My wife and I are playing as I type this. Download now!!

  • I brought this and Cuboid. Sweet games I love these casual pick up and play games on my hdd

  • Is there old school mahjong? The four player game that you would see in a Hong Kong action movie as opposed to the soltaire variant.

  • I just bought it today and already have most of the Trophies. I’m working on getting the “lose no lives in motion” and the online ones.

    Any chance we’ll get an update or maybe an expansion of sorts.

    Oh, I also notice that the music seems to skip a little. Might want to look into that.

  • Thanks Howard.

    Purchased Cuboid yesterday and I’ll definately have to look at this one as well.

  • My mom loves mahjong. Me, not so much but she’d get a kick out of this.

  • What qualifies as a QUICK MATCH? Is there a time or how does that work?

  • The game does look quite unique, but as it stands I’m not really convinced. A demo is the only thing that’s going to do it past this point, though from a financial perspective it’s most definitely more intelligent to wait a week or two before releasing a demo, so I understand the why. Maybe somewhere down the line…

  • I like the game but I do have one thing I really would like to see improved (patched):

    The sound of the recorded voice that is narrating the tales is recorded so loud that it starts to distort.

    My only other annoyance is that the layouts have too many layers. I am used to every layout having something like four copies of each tile but this game has so many it is hard to judge which ones to pair together for the best result.

    It is still a great game and it will only get better as more people start to play it online.

  • Any plans for a PSP version.


  • Wow.

    I love how some people are speaking negatively about the price, yet you can go to Target or something of that like and spend double or more on a game with less content than these guys put into their game.

    Really, I bought this on a whim and I’m really surprised at how much I’m really getting for my money. It’s an extremely pleasant surprise.

  • Hoping you will fix the music/sound skipping (same as it was in WipeoutHD), can’t believe your testing missed this. Other than that it’s a cool game.

  • seriously though…whos gonna want to pay 10 dollars to play mahjong. no offense but what are your numbers right now

  • Overall the game has been a ton of fun, however I did notice one glitch where on occasion some of the tiles will have a black line down the center of them, on some of the tiles it makes it really difficult to tell what tile you are looking at. I find the issue occurs most in Motion mode, but I have seen it in both Tales and Classic as well.

  • This is a great game, I got this and cuboid. Very fun. Multiplayer was a blast the one time someone was actually playing. Come on people buy this game and play online already!

    As for Custom Soundtracks. i don’t know why nobody answered the 4-5 people that asked about them, but the game does support custom soundtracks. It uses in-game xmb for soundtracks. You hit the ps button in game and go to your music list list in xmb, just select a track or playlist and it plays. Then to stop it, just go back in xmb and stop the song, and it will go back to default game music automatically. I wish more games used this feature…very cool!

  • @restlessavenger

    That’s a feature, not a bug :) If you look closely, it is a piece of bamboo that covers the centre of the tile. You must match this tile to remove the bamboo & then re-match once the bamboo has been done away with.

    I really like Mahjong Tales, been playing it loads. But there are issues with the online game. I’ve chatted to a lot of other players & they report the same – the 2nd player, the guest, often suffers from serious lag leading to them being unable to select tiles quickly. There’s also something similar where both players will have the game stall for a second or two before returning to normal, often leading to the game freezing totally & the PS3 hanging. See my post here:

    Still, apart from this there’s a hell of a lot of game for the money £8/$10. Looking forward to the infinity mode level editor!

  • I would like to get a real Mah Jong game, not a game that just use Maj Jong tiles and a name called Mahjong, but a game played by 4 people with real Mah jong rules.

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