Saturday, October 2, 2010

Alpha 3 Release

The announcement on Facebook!
It's official - I just sent out Alpha 3 tonight. I wish it were a little more solid, but I've been testing it for a while and it seems stable. I've had a couple of bugs that I haven't been able to reproduce, so I'm going to spend a little time this next build working on using the Build and Analyze functionality. The next version is going to be HUGE, so it's important to get it all working solidly.
As I posted previously, the UI and game play changes for Alpha 3 are pretty good. I've added difficulty levels (making the game a lot easier to actually play), and the UI is cleaner. I've also captured some things and sent it over to a designer friend I'm hoping will be able to help with the graphics and the layout. I feel like there are places where it's pretty good but that there are far more places where it's just clunky and not working at all.
Of course the big thing is that this should let people play a little more frequently as the game won't be quite as impossible as the original. Jotto was a pretty niche product (and my mom and I were firmly centered in that niche), but I think it just couldn't really excel as a game because of it's difficulty. I expect that the game will be much more approachable now and to a wider variety of people.
There is still one thing I need to sort out with the word list, though, which is creating a simple word evaluation page so that people can rate words as Easy, Medium, or Hard. That should help segment some of the much harder words from casual players. I'm hoping that some of my Facebook friends will be able to help parse the list (it's pretty extensive) and provide a basic clumping of words by difficulty. It should be a quick change to the code to enable that in the code.
The next big step (and the next Alpha) will be to have two player games, which entails a TON. I need to get user accounts set up, figure out how to deal with people who change phones but want to keep their information, creating friend lists, getting multiple games working, and, of course, manage the basics of having a server-based game as opposed to a device-based one. Definitely a big challenge, especially the back-end piece. Still, I'm hoping that I'll be able to get it done in time for Christmas - that's my big goal. Hopefully before Thanksgiving - that would be awesome.
So, now that Alpha 3 is out the door, I guess I better get working on Alpha 4!