That basically means: Move fast, break things, repair them and keep an eye on stuff that makes the user smile. I think we nailed it with our first version of Placescore. It works well, it feels kind of friendly and: It’s broken.
Harsh words but as some of you already have noticed, there is a huge problem with Placescore as it is: The highscores are getting too hard to beat.
"But that’s the point of highscores!" you might mumble and you’re right. The problem is that Placescore as a game isn’t the "Combine three dots of the same color"-part, no, it’s everything around that. Placescore might be the first "metagame" you’ve played. The match-3 mechanics is not more than that: A mechanics, a way to get a score to put on a location. And that’s the game, putting scores on locations.
Now we have the delicate situation that a lot of you are playing Placescore. Several thousand players in under a week. Absolutely incredible. Some of the more popular places have highscores far above the 600 points mark while most of the players are struggling to get over 300 points. That’s not a good position to be in.
- The one with the highscore doesn’t have to fight to keep the location and gets bored.
- Nobody wants to try to beat a score that’s so far away from what they usually achieve that they just don’t stand a chance..
- Lists look better with three points on them.
We tried and thought about several different solutions:
Your highscore loses value after a few days. Just a small amount of points per day. The problem with that: You never had a highscore. Everything feels in flux, we wouldn’t be able to display highscore lists, because “your” score isn’t really just one number, it’s a range of them. We tried this approach in the beta and it was a clusterfuck and didn’t feel right.
Every month or so we archive the points. Huge wipe, all points gone, every owner of a location gets one point per place. Overall highscore based on owned locations per season. Works well, with just one problem: At the start of every season the list of places would be absolutely empty. New players would think nothing is happening and old ones would be frustrated.
Here’s what we’ve settled on:
Rounds will change how Placescore feels quite a lot, but I’m sure it’ll be for the greater good. Every place gets a countdown of, let’s say, seven days. It starts with the first highscore and ends after exactly seven days. All highscores per round behave exactly like they do now: If you’re better than everybody else, the place is yours. The person who owns a place at the end of the round gets one point on their overall Placescore highscore.
This means we introduce two new elements: A countdown on every place that… well… counts down and a number that is displayed in the users upcoming profile that gets bigger with every round won.
That’s it. We don’t even need a tutorial, the countdown nicely shows that something is happening in X days and the overall score is the perfect place to have a little description of what the user has to do to gain points.
There’s one more thing, though. Highscores are what Placescore is about, so we don’t want your incredibly high score to be lost forever when the round resets. So we’ll redesign the screen you see after every game. It’ll feature two lists: The top 10 scores of the ongoing round and the top 10 overall scores. That’ll suffice to show everyone that you’re unbeaten, the best and in general a great person.
Problem solved. We’re building this functionality over the course of this week and the following weekend. I’m very excited to see it in the hands of a few thousand players.
The best thing about all this is that we’re laying the foundation of something we’re very much looking forward to: More than one game to score highscores. More on that topic soon. It’s going to be awesome.
Neben meinen hauptberuflichen Pflichten als Topmodell und Löwendompteur betreibe ich ja bekanntlich auch Deutschlands erfolgreichsten Podcast namens RRRadio. Die ersten vier Folgen sind – eurer Bequemlichkeit nachkommend – hier eingebunden. Alle weiteren gibt es über iTunes oder direkt bei Soundcloud.
We just released Placescore to the public. Not a big deal, just one and a half years of work suddenly in the hands of a few thousand people. Oh my god, hold me.
I had the idea for Placescore a long time ago. Remember Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 on the original Playstation? I loved that game, it made me buy a skateboard. Not that I ever tried to drive it, it just stood there for a couple of years. However, THPS 2 didn’t only have a great soundtrack (AND I’M TNT! DYNAMITE!), no, it had one of the best multiplayer modes I ever encountered: Graffiti. It was easy: Two players land tricks on ramps, every ramp gets a highscore. The player with the highest score owns the ramp and it gets the player’s color.
I needed forever to get this into something that was actually usable on mobile devices. I thought about maps and colored circles above them. Urban districts tinted in a color of your choice. Some kind of color gang wars where you reduce the highscore of the other team and many other stupid ideas that didn’t really work out.
Until I ditched everything and decided a list of places would suffice. A few rough sketches later it was relatively clear what Placescore needed to be: As pure as possible. A list of locations and some kind of finite mechanism that creates a score.
The first version of Placescore’s design was built in Photoshop and with iOS 6 in mind. iOS 7 was a long time away and nobody was really thinking about it. Here’s how it looked. Quite similar to the version you find in the App Store but at the same time a lot different:
However. We slacked for about half a year and Apple released iOS 7 without asking us if we’re fine with what they have planned. It became clear that our previous design wasn’t suitable anymore and I decided to built a new one. This time with the help of Sketch.
I never used Sketch seriously before. Photoshop is my tool of choice, there is a reason I write the HTNSAP series here on the blog but I wanted to take a closer look at the new kid on the block and decided Placescore would be the right project for it.
Let’s say it like it is: I get why everyone is so amazed by Sketch and sure, you can do whole projects in it already and yes, there definitely are features Photoshop lacks (Artboards are awesome. Aweboards?). But I somehow… didn’t like it as much? Everything feels slow, the app feels sluggish because all you need to do happens in that abominable sidebar on the right side of the app. It slides open and closes and everything you need is only one hundred clicks away. No idea how one could ever like to work with that thing. Choosing fonts, font colors and font sizes feels slow enough to justify a whole task on your to-do list that reads “Change font size to 22”. That would be one thousand story points. Yeah, I just made a joke based on Scrum. Good grief.
Another thing that bothered me was the highly advertised export feature. I know, Photoshop’s Generator is pretty new and the absolutely amazing Slicy is third party software and somehow all friends of Sketch don’t like third party software in combination with Photoshop, but:
Sketch’s export function is a huge mess. I draw rectangles around elements then choose from a huge dropdown which layers are supposed to be included and after that press a button to save everything on my hard drive. The whole process feels slow, imprecice and like something Sisyphus would LOVE to do in his spare time.
One more thing: Sketch Mirror? Great idea! At least if you have never used xScope’s Mirror feature before. The latter actually works most of the time and for a period of time that’s longer than five minutes.
I don’t know, guys. I guess I need to write a longer and more detailed post about my feelings towards Sketch. It’s a great software, sure, but it’s just not the redeemer some of you are trying to proclaim.
Now to something more interesting: I decided to share my Placescore_v1.sketch file with you. I didn’t optimise it in any way, it’s the real deal. The file is the one we used to build the version that’s on the App Store right now. I thought that could be interesting for some of you. Here you go:
Oh and while we’re at it: Go download Placescore from the App Store. I’m kind of proud of it and am very much looking forward to your thoughts about it.
After the huge success of HTNSAP #2, here comes the third part.
There are two kinds of people: Those who rename their layers and those who don’t. If you’re the latter: GET. YOUR. SHIT. TOGETHER.
Renaming layers and groups is a substantial part of our work. When you’re working in a team and you save a file without easy understandable layer names, you’re a selfish prick. There, I said it.
If you’re working on your own you owe it to yourself to rename layers accordingly. You never know if there comes a time when somebody needs to work with your file. Even you will have problems working with a file from six months ago that doesn’t offer renamed layers.
If you’re one of the good guys and you’re already renaming everything, here’s a shortcut that’ll help you do that more efficiently.
Open Photoshop and go to Edit —> Edit Keyboard Shortcuts. Now search for “Rename Group…” under “Layer”. The shortcut of my choice for this setting is:
⇧ + ⌘ + R = Rename currently selected layer
You’ll save yourself and the cursor the whole way over to the layers panel and the click to make the description field editable. Just select the layer you want to rename with ⌥ + ⌘ + Right Mouse Button, hit ⇧ + ⌘ + R, type the new name and you’re done.
And for god’s sake, do yourself a favor and rename everything as you go along. Don’t tell yourself that you’re going to rename everything once you’re done. You won’t.
Here’s a list of all HTNSAP posts.