Wow, that was far too long to not be updating you. I do apologize for the long gap. However, I did complete the next two items I mentioned. WordPop is now keeping Best Words and High Scores. We’ve added a couple of updated touches, too.

WordPop High Scores

The High Scores dialog looks very similar to before. You’ll notice the new “Clear” button we’ve added. This will allow you to clear the high scores for the difficulty you’re viewing at the time. Great for removing those embarrassingly low scores before sharing your PDA with your friends. Or, as in my case (yeah, right), removing those outrageously high scores so your friends don’t hate you. The interesting part about this dialog was the three difficulty buttons in the lower right. As I was assembling the dialog, I realized that I had never added support for toggling buttons in the framework we’re using. By toggling, I mean buttons that stick down or up after you click them. I never had need for them in Farkle or Word Monaco, so it never occurred to me until now. These act like radio buttons in that when one gets pushed down the last one pushed down will pop up. The dialog got done and the framework is just a little richer as a result.

WordPop Best Words

This is the Best Words dialog today. Again, we’ve added a “Clear” button to clear out this list. If you need a clean slate for any reason, it’s ready to do your bidding. The other new feature is pretty subtle, but you can see it in the first word on this list. In the previous version of WordPop, using a blank tile in a high scoring word would show an underscore in this Best Words list. That was somewhat unsatisfying (especially if you weren’t exactly sure which word you spelled). Now, I will replace those blanks with lowercase letters according to the word matched. The lowercase N in “quivering” shows that I used a blank tile between the I and the G.

This does present an interesting possibility. It is possible that the word matched isn’t the one you were thinking of. That doesn’t change the scoring, however, so there’s no chance for underscoring your word. You just may be surprised when you see the list!

So, progress continues on. My list is getting shorter and testing will begin very soon.

I’ll be back with more!

WordPop with blank tiles

As I mentioned earlier, the bonus tiles were not yet useful and so it made sense to add that feature next. As you can see in the image, bonus tiles are now place-able and useable in word building as you would expect.

What I didn’t expect during this process was that some restructuring of code made adding one of our new features the next obvious choice. WordPop now has an undo feature! We will let you undo your last move when you’ve done something to change the board (removed a word, rotated, or placed a bonus tile). You cannot undo back more than one move, however. Let us know what you think about undo and how it should work.

WordPop with Undo

Next, the high score and best words dialogs!

Below is the press release for the award we are up for. It is always fun when our peers nominate us for an award and this is a big one. It will be a few months before we know if we won and the other nominations are pretty great too. I must admint it would be great to win.

BELLINGHAM, WA – August 27, 2007 – The “Smartphone & Pocket PC Magazine” staff and its board of experts have nominated the Windows Mobile versions of “Word Monaco Solitaire” and “WordPop!” for a 2007 Best Software Award in the category of “Word Puzzles”.

WordPop! challenges players to spell words in a checkerboard of letter tiles, with letters being eliminated as words are spelled with them, until the player eventually clears the board. WordPop! was a finalist in 2006 Best Software Award. Word Monaco Solitaire plays like a standard game of solitaire but with letters. Players may only lay a card on a stack if that stack will result with a word. Players win if they manage to overturn every card and each stack of cards spells out an entire word.

Smart Box President, Todd Sherman said of the announcement, “We are thrilled to have not one, but two games in the running. Our word puzzles are among our most popular games and this nomination means a lot to the teams.”

Smart Box Design is located in Bellingham, WA and creates many puzzle and strategy-based games for Treos, Palm devices, Windows Mobile Phones, Macs, and PCs.

WordPop with Bonus Tiles

Wow, it’s been over three weeks since I last posted. I apologize for the dead air. Real life does have a tendency to get in the way from time to time (if you really care, you can read about it on my personal blog).

Anyway, progress has been steady during that time. The gameboard is looking more realistic now as I am choosing letters according to our previously defined algorithm. This guarantees a reasonable balance of consonants and vowels (have you ever figured out which letter is guaranteed to appear on every board?). Furthermore, I’m validating correct words against our updated dictionaries. So, the short days of scoring “ZLDRRX” are over.

Tiles fall into place when the round starts and after tiles pop and are removed. They will also fall when the board is rotated.

Bonus tiles are now falling according to your difficulty level when a round starts and after scoring a word that passes the bonus tile threshold. The word score and total score is now being updated. The word and word score text will only turn black when the word is valid. The word score will go bold when you’ve raised the score enough to earn a bonus tile.

WordPop will play multiple rounds, now, too. As you expect, at the end of a round a new set of tiles is dropped in for the next round.

Last, but not least, WordPop is persistent. That’s not to say that it bugs you forever or tickles your brain without mercy (which we already know it does), but it will save your game state when you quit. So, returning to the game later will restore your game state so you can continue on.

Whew! That’s quite a bit, but there’s still some ways to go. Next on my list will be allowing the player to actually use the bonus tiles (details, details) and recording best words and high scores. And, if you have best words and high scores, you should have a place to view them. So it makes sense that those dialogs will follow soon thereafter.

The picture above is just to show a game in action with bonus tiles and the scoring going on. What you can’t see is that this is the image right after re-launching WordPop to show that I’m correctly persisting the game state. I hope to be back soon with more to share. Let me know what you think!

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