When reading the advice from Apple in the iPad Human Interface Guidelines it is clear the language and tone assumes the developer is coming from the iPhone and is in the process of converting their iPhone app to an iPad app. Thus someone came up with the idea of describing the iPad UI as flattening the iPhone version. This is really just a very odd way of saying, “You have more real estate to use, put everything on the screen that you can that is important, and no need to hide it on other screens like you did for the iPhone version.”

When Jim, Wyatt and I were redesigning WordPop! for the iPad we asked ourselves what additional elements would engage and entertain our players in addition to the game itself. One answer was game statistics. The Best Words and High Score Global List stats are very popular among WordPop! players. They compare the player’s current game and words to other players, which then acts as an incentive to do even better as you want to beat the current high score or best word on the global list. However, the stats were hidden in the menu (two taps away). By moving the stats out of the menu system and onto the game board would result in “Flattening the Design“.

However, we all felt it was not enough to just move the existing stats. Thus we decided to add more fun stats, many of which were recommended to us by players of WordPop! for the iPhone. When the iPad version of WordPop! is released, players will be able to compare their game to several new, important, and exciting stats that will act as another incentive per round and word to do better.

Look for more peeks into our development of WordPop! for iPad in coming blogs. Please share this blog and follow Smart Box Design on Twitter.

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The iPad is designed without a specific orientation. Applications will mostly be viewed in portrait or landscape mode, however for games it can be put on a table and viewed from above (such as playing checkers).

One of the first steps in redesigning WordPop! for the iPad was to create some simple layouts for each orientation. At first we were not sure if we had to support both landscape and portrait, as this was not required for the iPhone. There was much debate in chat rooms but it was soon put to rest with this simple quote from The iPad Human Interface Guidelines “Although you might not have supported all orientations in your iPhone application, you must do so in your iPad application.” With that now settled we created a wire frame layout for each orientation. This gave us an idea on how much room to reserve for the WordPop! machine and how much space remained for new features.

One of the new features is displaying the high scores and other data in a fun and refreshing way. Here is a quick mock-up from Jim Patterson.
High Scores Orientation A

This layout works well in but is too wide for the other orientation. The solution is to change what is displayed. Thus when in the iPad is rotated 90 degrees the date column is removed as shown in this very rough mock up.

High Scores Orientation B

Although we do temporarily hide the date it can be brought back instantly by rotating the iPad 90 degrees in either directions. (We did discuss using a smaller font, but it felt too jarring. This solution kept the UI consistent and offered a better experience.)

I think players of iPad games will see some display information come and go when different orientations are used (FYI – Watch the demo of email on the iPad at www.apple.com.  The mail list is hidden in portrait mode which is similar to what we are doing.).

Although supporting both orientations will be a challenge  and add to the overall scope of the project it will add to the uniqueness of the iPad.

Look for more peeks into our development of WordPop! for iPad in coming blogs.

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top_scoring_ipad.jpg

We have been having a great time working on WordPop! for the iPad. During March the team will be blogging about their thoughts and tasks as we race to finish WordPop! in time for the iPad release (which is still TBD but we are all watching Apple closely).

After the iPad was announced we had a exciting meeting and answered several key questions.

Q: What did we think of the iPad?
A: We loved it and thought it was going to fill an important niche market.

Q: Could we offer our players a great gaming experience?
A: Yes, the extra real estate will be used to add even more engagement to the game.

Q: Should we create a new game from scratch or redesign one of our current games?
A: We decided to redesign one of our current games and felt either Farkle Dice or WordPop! would be the best candidates. We sent a poll to our registered users and WordPop! was the clear leader receiving over 40% of the votes.

Q: What next steps should be taken?
A. All team members to read the new Human Interface Guidelines for the iPad and to install the SDK to gain access to the simulator.

Check back as I will be writing regularly about our development efforts and I will be posting more images as we get closer to the final look. Above is a screen shot taken from the simulator.

Please comment and let me know what you are interested to hear about in regards to iPad, gaming, WordPop!, etc.

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wordpop_globalhighscores75.jpgFor the last month, the team has been working on Global High scores for WordPop for the iPhone and iPod Touch.  A real challenge was how to lay out the screen. Wyatt was driving the effort and through several iterations with Jim and I, a series of screens were created and tested. The driving goal of the High Score screen was to allow players to easily and quickly compare their scores to other players. It was complicated because we have three different scores, Easy, Medium, and Hard. It was a lot of information to squeeze into one page. It was tempting to split this to separate screens. The feedback from our testers to Wyatt was very helpful and I am very pleased with the final vesion. 

 A feature we added that is not new, but not seen too often, is Today scores. Typically, All Time high scores are posted and compared. However, I wanted new and occasional player to see how they are doing in comparison to others. The Today High Score posts scores from the last 24 hours, Pacific Time. It has been great fun watching the Easy, Medium, and Hard lists fill up through out the day.

 An interesting side note in releasing a Global High score feature.  Our first version was rejected by Apple as violating their privacy policy. We assumed the term Global High scores was enough to alert players that their scores are being posted to the net. Scores are considered private data by Apple, so we needed to add some language alerting the player is a more transparent way. Although Apple was more strict than I liked it did push us to be more creative in our presentation.

I highly recommend all owners of WordPop for iPhone to upgrade to the latest version. It is free and the new feature is a real incentive to get those high scores. I know during testing that I really wanted to beat some of the other scores I saw.

Click here to download the latest version from the Apple Store.

I have a couple new screenshots to show you tonight. If anyone bothered to do the math with some of the pictures below, you would have discovered that there wasn’t enough room to hold ten high scores in the square resolution high score screen. So, rather than cheating those users, our talented artist, Jim, adjusted the Best Words and High Scores dialogs for the square resolutions so as to make them fit. The dialog buttons got a little smaller, but all the information is there!

Word Pop Best Words Square 2

Word Pop High Scores Square 2

Nicely done, Jim. And on with the bugs we go…