Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Scramble With Friends

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Oh how excited I get when a new “With Friends” game from Zynga appears on the App Store. The joy of another word game to lose my time to! :) Despite the disappointment Hanging With Friends turned out to be (it’s just a weird game concept… and seriously, how is dropping your opponent in molten lava ‘family friendly’?!) I was eager to try it out :)

It looks much as you would expect it to look. The same old styling, but now in green! Oh, except there’s that odd Tokens bar at the top… which I’ll rant about shortly ;) Yes, we still get stuck with the Updating Games spinner in the middle of the screen for random lengths of time, and to me, it feels like there’s an awful lot of buttons on that opening screen. But at least it didn’t try to make me create a character like HWF did ;)

I found it slightly amusing that the Help screen doesn’t actually contain any help relating to the game, and it feels glitchy and unpleasant and not like an iPhone table view should!

It’s good that it’s been through QA and that there’s space for long names on the screen… oh wait, there isn’t! My name isn’t even all that long!

From the chat screen there are two back arrows… styled slightly differently… which go to different places! :(

And our favourite “Copy/Paste” error – “Your move”? Really? Fairly sure this game is played in turns, not moves!

Oh, I almost forgot the tokens… “what are they for?” you might ask, as we did too! There’s no explanation whatsoever. There’s an animation suggesting you use one each time you make a move take a turn, and a count down to you getting a new one. There’s also the option to buy more tokens… though we don’t know why we want them! Basically, Zynga don’t seem to think showing us adverts is making them enough money, nor is us buying the full version as that still has tokens as IAPs! Apparently, they feel a need to try and charge us to play the game so that they can show us more adverts. I’m completely confused by this!

Ah yes, and the other reason for tokens? To give you cheats in the game! One of the things many people said to us at various conferences was that players who spend more money shouldn’t get to cheat! Give them pretty things, or different ways to play, but don’t let them cheat!

Basically, totally unimpressed with the lack of QA testing which has gone into this game as within minutes Chris and I were both complaining about weird stuff happening, and obvious bugs! Also unimpressed with Zynga feeling a need to shoehorn extra IAPs into a game which don’t need to be there. I’ve not yet run out of tokens (though I’m not playing all that many games simultaneously) and I refuse to ever buy in game currency!

That said, I love Scramble games! Always have and I suspect I always will :) Feel free to challenge me to a game, I’m StarlitSkies (on all the Zynga with Friends games) and I’ll play you just as soon as I have enough tokens… ;)

Hanging With Friends – A Rant

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Apparently my return to blogging is going to begin with a rant. A rant about Apple and about developers releasing unfinished products. Particularly “respected” developers, or at least, a company you would expect to have a QA process.

I was quite excited yesterday when on my Facebook stream a post appeared from Words With Friends announcing their new game. I’ll admit to having spent many hours playing WWF, and not just so I could chat to my now partner. It’s a well written version of Scrabble which has become an expected app on everyone’s iOS device.

Obviously this meant I was expecting a lot from their new game. Something fun, addictive, skill based, and easy to play. I won’t deny that it ticks some of those boxes, but I still have plenty to rant about.

First up, the app knew I had WWF installed… How? This seems like something they shouldn’t know… Or perhaps I’d just rather I was the only one who knew how many games I have installed? So it told me to log in to Facebook to use the same account, fair enough. It actually used the crazy FB app switching single sign on nonsense which I’ve been avoiding in my code because it looks so strange to users.

I get back into the app and I’m welcomed by the beginnings of a tutorial… It said something about avatars but I have no idea what as at that point the app crashed!
How exactly did this get past a review team? Any review team? Any testing?
Also, it wasn’t just me. Moments later Chris installed and it did exactly the same for him!

So off I go to settings to find an avatar since the tutorial didn’t reappear when I reopened the app. What do I see here but a button marked “Coming Soon”! Now, this is a big no no in the Apple world. We have had an app rejected for a button which said coming soon (and ours was there so that Game Center features were ready as soon as it came to iPad, not something we hadn’t written yet!) There’s a coin store feature coming soon, yet we seem to be collecting coins in game, and have no idea why or what for! It’s odd! It’s also an instant reject for most developers!

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Then there’s the fact that the tutorial wasn’t quite working. It popped up help about things on my third time doing that action, and there are some things I still don’t understand which I was expecting it to explain.

It seems to get confused when you’re playing multiple people sometimes and I’ve seen it have all the wrong names and words, and not had anything to show whilst replaying guesses. Also, if you tap back during the animation at the end of your turn, it keeps playing the sounds, and then sometimes shows the advert over whatever screen your on… And sometimes it doesn’t! The animations aren’t all that smooth and you have to wait for them to finish before you can play your turn.

Another gripe is the theming. I understand the reuse of the letter tiles even though they look a little odd. I like the use of balloons rather than hanging for this re-imagining of the traditional hangman game. What I just don’t get is why we’re dropping the loser into a pit of lava? If this is a cutesy alternative to hanging someone, why do they meet a gruesome end? And they look horrified about it too, the poor little avatars! Couldn’t we be floating over a paddling pool? A bucket of gunge? Something more child friendly! It’s just unpleasant for no good reason!

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I also have slight problems with the lack of skill… It’s mostly a game of luck, you guess right, all goes well, you don’t, you fail. There’s very little thought required, which is just so different to their other game, scrabble or chess.

Not only have Apple approved an app which crashes, has obvious bugs, and a big Coming Soon button, they’re promoting it! It’s the Game of the Week! Seriously? How does something this buggy get that honour? It is rather disheartening for us when our games have yet to get any good featuring and we know they’re great!

All that said, I do seem to still be playing the game. It’s quick to play a turn and when I’m not fighting against the interface it has some cuteness. Though I’ll be hoping for an update soon!

If you’d like to play Hanging With Friends or WWF with me, my username is ‘StarlitSkies’.

What game has failed to meet your expectations? How do you feel when an application crashes? Do you persevere if the user interface is clunky?