I settled on a game mode I'm going to use for the final game. It's less ambitious than the mode I originally wanted to expand out, however it's also much easier to understand. After showing the previous game to some friends, the generally feedback was the rules were too complicated to easily pick up in under a minute. We all felt the game play was interesting once the rules were understood, but the time it would take to explain that would cause most people to abandon the game early. I want to revisit this game in the future, but doing so will require gradually building the player's knowledge of the mechanics up over the course of time....ie a longer project.
The new game mode I'm doing is still match-3 based, however I'm doing some twists to try to make it a little more interesting. The game will be similar to what I showed previously where the player will be able to move tiles around the board, then create connection lines between similar tiles to create detonations.
The twist will be in how the player's actions are scored. Rather than score only based on the tiles being destroyed, I want to score based on the link the player creates between the tiles. I'm going to start easy at first, so I'll probably make diagonal links between tiles be worth more than up-down, left-right links. It's not a groundbreaking idea, but it's a start to something different. One thing I've noticed is people think in the up-down, left-right quite a bit; so incentivizing thinking outside those directions will be a good initial challenge for players.