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.

I had a great conversation with Surur Davids from Window Mobile 24/7 in his email he says, “Your note about the profusion of resolutions in the windows mobile world is an interesting insight in itself. Who knew the market has already become so fragmented, and now with the new prominence of the smartphone platform things will become even more confusing for consumers and software developers.” I agree with this. My team will have to work very hard to make the process of installing easy and error free. Fortunately, Microsoft has provided a nice suite of products to help developers.

I also received a request asking who the team members are. The team is made up of:

  • Jim Patterson – Artist, animator, and designer. Jim will create every piece of art. He is 100% dedicated to his work and the results are fantastic.
  • Wyatt Webb – Engineer, technology expert, graduate of MIT. Wyatt is the type of engineer who instantly grabs concepts and runs with them. Wyatt also programmed WordPop and Farkle for Pocket PC.
  • John Winston – Sound engineer. John is the owner of Sound Audio Solutions, and has created all the sound and music for all our Palm and Pocket PC games. If you ever need sound or music for your games, applications, video, electronic toy, etc. his company is excellent.
  • Todd Sherman – Producer, designer, and QA tester. Author of this blog.

I was hoping to cover features that need to be changed so the game feels like a Windows Mobile game, but will cover that in the next blog.

Over the next several months I will provide updates and some of the thought processes involved in porting our new game Word Monaco Solitaire to the Windows Mobile platform.

One of the first choices I had to make was what versions of the operating system to support. Our framework was designed to work with Windows Mobile (WM) 2003 and 2003SE. Should the framework be updated to take full advantage of Windows Mobile 5 but possibly be WM 2003 incompatible? The team consensus was clearly no and I agreed. Since my game is a 2D puzzle, it would not need the full power of WM 5.0

The next question to answer was which screen resolutions to support? I can’t support them all, as a privately owned company, I need to watch to bottom line carefully. After reviewing device sales data and pulling out the old crystal balls, several predictions were made on what might be released. Thus Word Monaco Pocket PC will support 240 x 320, 480 x 640, and 240 x 240. If the Motorola Q is a huge hit, 320 x 240 might be added to the mix. The art needs to be tweaked for each one of these resolutions, which increases costs. And the game code has to be modified too as the relative input changes (more on that later). Installation becomes more complex as the installer will need to detect the device type and install the correct files and technical support issues become more varied.

My next blog on Word Monaco will list out features that need to be changed so the game feels like a Windows Mobile game.

If you are interested in signing up to be informed when Word Monaco Solitaire for Windows Mobile is click here.

I love making games. My team and I released our 5th game last month, Word Monaco Solitaire. It is our 3rd word game. After creating WordPop! I realized that I really miss creating word games. I use to create language arts software for children and it was so rewarding watching a child make the reading connection.

A few days ago an upgrade for Word Monaco Solitaire was released. This release was the result of urging from the Scrabble community. Scrabble players are VERY competitive. To be great players they’ve learned to make very abstract words. Many players rely on those words to get out of a jam or to get some really high scoring words. The word list used in our games has 83,000 plus entries but the majority of the words are classified as common. Words you would see in the newspaper, best selling fiction novels, and in movies. Scrabble players pointed out to me that sometimes the key for getting out of a jam in my games is often making a 2 or 3 letter word and they felt more were needed. So this last month, I gathered all the suggested words and expanded upon them.

Here is the work involved. If a word is suggested I check it first against several dictionaries to make sure the word does not conflict with several rules I have for adding a word.

1. The word can’t be a name or any word that would require it to be capitalized.
2. It can’t be an abbreviation or hyphenated, for that matter the word cannot have any punctuation associated with it, such as can’t.
3. It is a real word or spelled correctly

Once it passes my test, I then need to locate all the forms of the word, such as its plural, inflection, tense. For example, if the word ‘help’ was suggested, I don’t just add the word ‘help’ but I also add ‘helps’, helped’, ‘helping’, ‘helper’ etc. Thus it is a lot of work to add each word.

Adding over 300 new words to Word Monaco Solitaire was a tremendous effort but a lot of fun. Many of the words being suggested are so unusual that I get a big kick finding out the definition of the word. Plus I really like being able to change my games based on user feedback. This is the best way to improve the game.

All in all, I hope all you Word Monaco Solitaire players really enjoy the new version. Try making some 2 and 3 letter combination and see if the letters stick. I think you will be surprised on some of the words you can make.

Keep those suggestions coming.

I love gadgets, especially mobile devices. It fits my active lifestyle and makes me feel connected to my family especially when I travel. I am always on the lookout for new information sites that provide well written and cool information. I am a huge fan of Palm Addicts and PDA 24/7 and now I have a new site to look forward to, Matt Miller’s, The Mobile Gadgeteer on ZDNET. Matt had already made a name for himself at Geek.com so I was not surprised to hear that ZDNET wanted to hire him.

This weeks articles cover secure data, which is important if you ever lose your phone or PDA, a review of the Motorola Q which is challenging Blackberry, and ThunderHawks web browser. But don’t take my word for it. Go to The Mobile Gadgeteer today.