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!

To the left is a screen shot of WordPop, our best selling word game. Two ways to win. (1) Try to find the longest word you can, and then submit it to our forum. Just like the rules when you play WordPop on your device, each letter in the word must be adjacent to the next, for example, RIPE. (2) Find at least 10 words and be one of the randomly selected winners.

  • The player who submits the longest word wins a copy of a Smart Box Design Game
  • (if a tie then the first one to submit wins)
  • Two random winners will be picked from additional submitted words
  • Contest ends August 31, 2007
  • Winners will be announced in the next newsletter and / or e-mail
  • (make sure to register at the forum so we have your e-mail on record)

We’re looking forward to seeing your words

Click Here to Submit Your Words at the Forum

Here are some more features coming to WordPop this fall. All of these features have been suggested by players, either at our bulletin board or direct e-mails to me.

Add Treo Support– I am a big fan of the Windows Mobile Treo line, but it has a unique square screen, while most Windows Mobile devices have a rectangle screen. To support the Treo with the highest quality possible, the art has to be redrawn. Jim Patterson, Smart Box Design’s lead artist, has finished redoing the art and it looks FANTASTIC!

 

Allow a single Undo– When WordPop was originally created, I wanted to make sure the game was challenging, and it is, any by the many wonderful e-mails I have received. However, there have been many requests for an Undo, not to make the game easier, but because sometimes a player would make a mistake. For example, dropping the bonus tile in the wrong spot or rotating the screen by accident. A single Undo will be added to the menu for those rare occasions when a mistake needs to be corrected.

 

Allow the letter “I” as an acceptable word – In creating the word list there are many rules, such as no abbreviations, hyphenated words, and no words that can be capitalized, such as a name or place. For that reason the letter “I” is not accepted as a word while “a” is. I could remove the “a” but this might cause confusion, so I am breaking the rules for the letter “I” and it will now be accepted.

 

Display the Letter When Blank Bonus Tiles are being used – When a word is created it shows up in the word creation area at the top of the screen. When a blank tile is being used, we simply put in an underscore to show that a blank tile is being used there. Several readers have asked for the letter to appear. Thus a lower case letter will appear there and in the “Best Words” screen. You might be saying, “Huh!” the problem is in some cased the player was not exactly sure what word was made with the blank tile, this will make the process complete. This feature is one that is better understood playing the game then describing it.

 

I am looking forward to the new version of WordPop coming out this fall.

 

Keep those comments coming!