History of Twisted Tower

The story of Twisted Tower

Twisted Tower is a four in a row game my kids and I have been working on since 2014. You play the game on four boards and try to get four in a row on one single board or vertically or diagonally through all four boards. But there is a twist: when it is your turn you can place one of your marbles on the board or twist one of the boards to thwart your opponent.

The project’s goal was to teach my kids about business, marketing, product development, design and the Maker Movement and “Making”.

As part of the project we designed prototypes using materials we found around the house (one was a broken pepper mill which we used as the first central pole to hold up the playing boards) the first playing boards were created from cardboard.

The cardboard playing boards allowed us to determine how large and far apart the game boards should be. At this time, we also explored how tall the overall tower should be.

Once we had worked out the general dimensions of the tower and game boards, we moved to creating the files needed to cut the first boards from both hardboard and acrylic using the laser cutter at the Nepean libraries’ maker space.

After some play testing and trial and error we finally determined the best size to make the holes in each game board which would allow players to easily place a marble on the board while at the same time ensuring the marbles would not roll off if the tower was bumped during a game. It was fun to see marbles fly all over the place but less fun to clean them up afterwards 😊

The central pole provided us with quite the design and engineering challenge. We wanted it strong, easy for kids to assemble, cheap to ship while still allowing the top three boards to spin freely.

We settled on using threaded rod and explored the use of wing nuts and using two nuts to allow the top three playing boards too spin while still staying level. In the end we had to settle on only having the two middle boards spin. It was a compromise, but that is how product development goes sometimes 😊

Ottawa Mini Maker 2016

We took our prototype and demoed it to attendees. It was quite well received and had many people ask if they could buy one. Which we took as a sign that we were on the right track.

But the threaded rod was sharp, and the nuts used to assemble the tower required two wrenches to tighten, therefore we determined to explore 3D printing.

3D printing a Twisted Tower

We started with paper and sketched out a few designs, then moved to 3D modeling software to create the finished design you see today.

After some more test prints and designs of playing pieces we arrived at the version we will be presenting at the 2018 Ottawa Maker Fair.