Prototyping

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So, one of the things I’ve written a bit about here is prototyping. Basically, there’s little in the way of a really set “plan” that we usually set out with – the goal’s always to get the answer to the most critical questions in the cheapest, fastest way possible, and that approach changes from project to project.

When we decided we were going to make a tablet interface for our card games, we knew we didn’t want to just make a blown-up version of the existing games. If you do a search for card games on the iPad, they all look like giant iPhone games. And while sure, it may be okay, it’s not what we wanted to do.

For me, the magical moment with the iPad was turning the page in iBooks. That moment where the page turn depended on where your finger was, how fast you moved, etc. – it wasn’t the most “efficient” way to do things, but it felt genuinely different. It brought a nice, physical, tactile touch to something that otherwise could have been very sterile.

So anything that we brought to the tablet… it’d have to have some of that magic. Not just bigger buttons, not just a magnified version of what we already had. The key there was to get that tactile experience, and so… how to do that? How to prototype it?

This is both the initial Card Ace on tablet spec and prototype. It ain’t much to look at:

Admittedly, that’s about the 50th piece of paper that’s doodled on like that, but in the end, the main “work” of prototyping was playing around with chips and cards. What do you *do* with these things, and how much space do you need to do it? In the end, the big sort of “eye-opener” was that we’re really inequitable with the amount of space we give to the other players – you get more than half the entire screen real estate just for messing around with your stuff.

You want to fold? But there’s no fold button! It does take a few minutes to unlearn what most online poker games have taught you. You want to fold? You just muck your cards. You want to go all-in? You push your chips into the pot. Some things, like the “chip shortcuts” that you’ll see are ways that things can be faster, and more convenient than they could be in real-life. You can split & merge piles of chips with pinch & expand gestures. And you’ve still got all the same features that you know & love from the other versions of our games – in-game chat, picture emotes, gifts, and cross-platform compatibility, among other things.

So the moment the game is live, you’ll have thousands of players to play against. If you want to link up your phone & your tablet, no problem – just e-mail us your Friend Codes and we’ll get it all set up (in the future, we’re going to have a way for users to do this themselves).

Hopefully it’ll be out in the next few days, and you’ll be able to see how the end result changed from this piece of paper.

Happy holidays!

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