Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sifteo Cube competition - Game submission 

This is a game which is based on my iPhone game "Ultimate Four in a row" ( The "sifteonic" features of this game include 

  • multiple screens
  • neighboring
  • configuration
  • rotatable
  • touch

Four in a row is a classic game which many people continue to enjoy. In my iPhone version of this game I wanted to add another dimension to it by allowing players to rotate the board 1 time on their turn. This simple addition to the game adds exponential additional possibilities to win which forces the player to think differently about the game. In the traditional four in a row game you can see all the possibilities directly on the board. When board rotation is added the players are forced to think about 3 board possibilities at once. 

Sifteo cubes naturally give the capability to expand the four in a row game to new possibilities. In the prototype we developed, each cube is a 4x4 game board which can be neighbored together with other cubes. Rotating the cubes and neighboring them keeps the game physical and provides many possibilities to win. New game pieces can be moved from cube to cube by neighboring the cubes together. Game pieces are moved into the desired position by tilting the cube and then frozen in place with a simple touch. This version of the game requires 5 pieces in a row to win which forces players to always make use of multiple cubes. 

Prototype video

How to play
New game pieces have a star on them and float above the board. New game pieces are moved into position by tilting the cubes. The game piece is put into the nearest slot when the cube is touched. Players can move new game pieces between cubes by neighboring them together.  The game is won when the correct number of pieces are found in sequence. This can happen either with the placement of a new game piece or by neighboring cubes together regardless of whose turn it is. 

Game versions 

I have included here two versions of the game. In the first one the placed pieces are affected by gravity when the cube is tilted. In the second one, the pieces stay frozen in place. My concern with the gravity version is that it allows for too much chance which reduces the fun.

With gravity 
Pieces are not frozen in place and allowed to fall into new positions which the cube is tilted.

WIthout gravity 
Pieces stay in positions placed when cube is tilted

More traditional
I did not have time to prototype a more traditional version of a four in a row game. The way this would work is that you would stack two cubes on top of each other to form a 4x8 board. The third cube would be used as the controller to move the next piece to be dropped across the top of the top cube. When the controller cube is touched the piece would drop in the column it is over. I would still allow the cubes to be rotated between turns but they would have to be in place, one on top of the other in order to drop the next piece. This version of the game would work with 3 cubes but would work even better with 5 cubes which would provide an 8x8 board with one controller cube.

Thoughts about future direction 

  • While this game is currently multiplayer, a single player version could also be developed. 
  • Allowing placed pieces to obey gravity and fall into new positions may add to much variability to the game which makes winning depend too much on chance. 
  • If we keep the gravity drops we need to properly animate them so the players can see how they fall into new positions. The current version just has them fall immediately. 
  • The ability to pour pieces from one cube to another was considered but this also may add too much variability to the game. 
  • Degrees of difficulty can be achieved by changing the number of pieces in sequence required to win. 
  •  Requiring more than 4 pieces to win also forces the players to use more than one cube to win. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ultimate4 ready for sale!

A lot has happened since my last post. I get so busy coding that I don't keep this site up to date sometimes.

My first submission of the app was rejected because they did not like me selling the multiplayer features as an in-app purchase. So, I had two choices: 1) sell two versions of the app, one for free without multiplayer and one premium with multiplayer, 2) change what I sell for in app purchase. I chose the latter because I do not want two versions of the game. I also determined that opening up multiplayer for free would help it gain more players as friends invite friends to play.

I decided to make the advanced levels available as an in-app purchase. The only problem was that I did not think that the genius level was smart enough so I had to spend a bit of time writing a new genius level. I will elaborate on the genius level in a future post.

But, now it is set for sale tomorrow. I was really surprised because I just submitted it yesterday. Apple must fast track apps that are resubmitted after a reject. Way to go Apple, I really appreciate that.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

App status "In Review"

Ultimate4 went to "In review" status at about 10:30pm Eastern yesterday. I've read that the time from app submission to ready for sale is only about a week. So as long as it is not rejected for some reason it may be available next Wednesday.

Here are some of the screenshots that are included in the app submission.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Utlimate4 submitted to app store - again

I determined that releasing the game without multiplayer capability was not wise. So, I pulled it from the app store in early March to implement Game Center and bluetooth game play. As usual, it took longer than I thought. I had both Game Center and bluetooth basically working in a week but it took another 3 weeks to to get it working the way I wanted. Multiplayer adds much more complexity to everything.

I am so glad I decided to pull it back. Multiplayer is so fun.

So, I submitted the new version to the app store last night. Not sure how long it will take to get through the review process.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ultimate4 submitted to the app store

I started this project mid December 2010 and submitted it to the app store on March 6, 2010. I am very happy with the way it turned out. The ability to rotate the game board adds a new level of strategy that no other Four in a row game currently has.

Here is the app description for the app store:

Ultimate4 is a four in a row game but with an amazingly fun twist. Each player can rotate the game board by turning the iPhone/iTouch causing all the game pieces to fall into new positions accordingly.

The computer player can also rotate the game board on its turn. Rotation time is limited for each turn, so you must think fast. Be careful, turning the board at the wrong time can cause your opponent to win.

Rotations are limited to quarter turns to the right or left. Play against the computer or another player on the same device.

The object of the game is to get four game pieces in a row while blocking your opponent.

-Choose standard version or allow rotations
-4 levels of difficulty which affects computer ability and rotation time
-Turn sound on or off
-Play against the computer or another player on the same device