There are 4 key areas that need to change when porting Word Monaco Solitaire from Palm to Pocket PC / Windows Mobile devices. These areas are critical as the audience is used to navigating and interfacing differently than the Palm.

Menus – Window Mobile OS displays a universal menu at the top of the screen for global navigation and a menu at the bottom of the screen which is controlled by the launched application. Many games take over these areas to gain back precious screen real estate. Microsoft provides links to third party developers who have published code to take control of these areas. Plus a developer can create their own code. I saw two risks in taking over the menus. The first is as new devices are released there is no guarantee that the application will be compatible once you stray from Microsoft official code structure and second, many Pocket PC owners are professionals and we wanted to make sure the could quickly navigate away from our games and back to work without anyone noticing. 🙂 Thus, all of our games leave the global navigation at top alone and create an appropriate and helpful menu on the bottom of the screen.

Help – Windows Mobile OS supports a reduced version of HTML. Which I think is fantastic. This means the WM users can easily and quickly navigate my long and thorough help. Plus I can then post the same help file on my web site.

Different Orientation – With the exception of a few square Pocket PC’s most of the devices running Windows Mobile are rectangle while most Palms are square. This new ratio results in additional real estate for our players and I think Pocket PC players expect gamers to take advantage of the space. On Word Monaco Solitaire we will allow users to make longer words and my tips can be slightly longer, if necessary.

Fonts – Windows Mobile has a greater variety of fonts and sizes than the Palm. Pocket PC players are use to this variety and expect information to be presented clearly. In Word Monaco we were able to fit more information into a smaller area because of this. For example, the tips that pop up use a smaller font than on the Palm, this resulted in a smaller dialog box, which means more of the game can be viewed when the tip is being read.

These four areas were the ones the rose to the top for Word Monaco Solitaire. Other games will have different concerns. If you have a question or comment, please feel free to contact me.

Use difficult letters early. Letters like Q, Z, J, X and V are harder to use than other letters because there are fewer words that use them. For example, how many words can you think of with Q. Now compare that to words starting with B. Plus 99% of the time the letter Q is followed by a U. You have to work to get a U next to the Q to make a word like QUOTE or QUICK. However, if you get stuck WordPop accepts the word QAT (which is a type of shrub). If you see the letter Z, check to see if there is another one. If there are two Zs you can make high scoring words like BUZZING.

Having difficult letters near the end of the round is very difficult because there are few 2, 3, and 4 letters words with Q, Z, J, X, and V in them. Often you are forced to use a blank tile.

Use those difficult letters as soon as possible. WordPop! is available for Palm and Pocket PC. Look for tip #3 coming soon.

WordPop! is our most popular game and as a result I receive many positive comments about the game. One popular theme is how to be a better player. I will address this question over a five part series. Here is Part 1 of 5.

Assess the number of vowels. The number of vowels per round is random, although the code maintains a minimum and maximum count to guarantee the round is solvable. After the letter tiles have fallen into place look for the vowels to get a general sense of how many there are. If there are very few, then you know that you must make words that use several consonants but few vowels. Many words with blends fall into this category, such as black, flint, spring, strips, etc. In each of these words 4 – 5 consonants were used but only one vowel. When the grid is half empty you could easily find yourself with too many vowels. If you do have too many, develop a list of words that use several vowels, such as, iota or ion.

Good luck clearing the round and keep an eye on those vowels. WordPop! is available for Palm and Pocket PC.

Look for tip #2 coming soon.