It's been over a month since I sent out Alpha 2 and the main comment back from testers was: this game is really hard! I've decided I need to focus for Alpha 3 on adding in game difficulty. It's something I wasn't really planning on doing quite yet (it was going to be after this next release), but I think that in order to get the most feedback and to make the game approachable I need to get difficulty levels sorted out.
There are two main changes I need to make to get it working. The first is that I need to redesign the "create new game" functionality. It's kind of clunky right now design-wise, so I'm going to delve into that and get it cleaned up and segmented a little better than it is. The second is that I need to change the main game screen UI to support the easier levels.
The current UI looks like the image on the right. It's obviously very basic (and not terribly helpful), but the idea is that you find out how many letters from your word are in the computer's word. For TOMBS, none of those letters are in the computer's word. FIRED and GLYPH both share one letter, but that letter may or may not be in the right place. (In case you're wondering, the "Debug" button in the corner will show you the word in case you get stuck - but just in the Alpha games.)
I'm envisioning 4 different levels of game play. The first - Easy - will show you which letters are correct and in the right place and also which letters are correct but not in the correct position. Medium will display which letters are correct, just not whether they're in the right position. Hard will be the standard game - you only see how many letters in your word are correct, but not which ones. And Nightmare (because I do love me some Quake and Doom) will only let you know when you place the right letter in the right position (but won't show which letter). Yeah - nightmare indeed.
This is going to require quite a bit of redesign to the UITableViewCell to display this additional information. Plus, the whole background for the game board is very bland and uninteresting right now - just white with controls on it. I think it makes sense to beautify it a bit so it's not so jarringly different from the rest of the screens. So Alpha 3 will be a significant release. I just hope that I can get it working in relatively short order. I guess I better get cracking on it...