Designing Wordplay +/-

A delightfully new way to wordplay.

This is a short history of how we went from sketches to app submission.

Sketching before Sketch.

The basic layout and interaction models.

v0.1 worked, but points were confusing.

v0.2 get it working, test the logic

v0.3 how to win, if there is no bucket

Variations on how “tug of war” could be rendered on the screen.

v0.4 points values were confusing

Trying to work out all the possible ways we could encourage more players to create new words rather than just make it all plural.

v0.5 themes and unlock-ables

18 themes in total. For a kindly hint. Think “material” for most.

Could a player just “play” the theme name to unlock it?

v0.6 screwing the other guy

You should have a bonus letter, that gets locked after you play it.

v0.7 how to monetize, nicely

  1. extra bonus letters — watch an ad for an extra bonus letters
  2. paid bonus letters — spend a little cash for some bonus love
  3. limited game slots — we copied letterpress on this one
  4. unlock everything — players can just pay to have everything unlocked

v0.8 bad word filter

v0.9 — v0.9.4.2~

v1.0 ready for app submission

My favorite unlock-able is inverted colors. Takes a bit more effort to unlock than a single word. But, I have dropped hints everywhere.

v1.1 Apple’s push back

Imagine playing a bot that constantly cursed, or only made things plural. Perhaps a bot that played the bonus letter, and got the maximum points each turn? We have many ideas for this feature set. How would a ninja bot play?

A promise to one other.

We are going to give everything. No problem unsolved, no issue unresolved, no regrets after release.

Some things we learned.

  1. You can’t force gameplay without a large compromise.
  2. Point systems can only be so complicated before users lose interest.
  3. Word games usually limit the words you can play for a reason. It’s a lot of work to include nearly every word in English. (we use 6 dictionaries, and check 100,000 words in under 1s)
  4. Players need a way to impede the competition for higher engagements.
  5. A unique lock system leads to an enormous amount of feature creep.


More info on Wordplay +/-

v1.1: Wordplay +/- ready for release.

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