Monday, September 03, 2012

Gridiron Solitaire #20: Peek

After last weeks update, I decided to implement the "peek" feature, or rather, decided to try to implement it. I wasn't sure how long it would take, wasn't optimistic, and wasn't confident (my coding attitude in a nutshell).

I did, however, have an extremely detailed list.

I've learned the hard way that having a detailed list of what must be done to accomplish a particular programming task is invaluable. Usually, when something takes me 2X as long as I thought it would, it's because my original understanding of the task sucked, and because of that, so did my list.

The list, though, was very good this time, and it basically took only one day to get peek up and running. Here's a screenshot, with a few caveats:
1. The peek card shouldn't be showing as much. It should just show enough to expose its number.
2. The cards hadn't been redone, so there was no number in the upper left-hand corner.
3. Also in relation to the card numbers, they hadn't been filled in with red/black yet.

Having said all that, you can still get an idea of what it would look like:

The first game I played with the peek feature enabled, it just didn't feel right. I was so used to the old gameplay that I had a tough time adjusting.

By the fifth game, two days later, I fully embraced the outcome, which was that the peek feature sucked.

Totally sucked.

Here's the thing: from day one, one of my primary design goals was gameplay speed. I wanted a game to take 15 minutes, and for that to happen, the card play had to be "one look."

Originally, there weren't many decisions to make in relation to the cards. The wild card added strategy, when it was on the board, but otherwise, the decisions involved football strategy and when to risk pressing the Big Play button.

With peek, that was all turned on its head. Gameplay went from one look to five look--not all the time, but often enough that game speed turned into glue. Decisions went from being clearly signposted to occurring constantly. It just killed the flow of the game.

Plus, the clean, crisp look of the layout became very cluttered with the addition of the peek cards.

I originally made this change because someone I respect highly said that the card play just wasn't interesting enough, but when he played the new build, he didn't like it, either.

Bye bye, peek feature.

Some good things did happen because of this, though. First, I understood why peek didn't work, and it reinforced why I originally designed the game the way I did. Second, fiddling with the layout resulted in me making a few changes to the non-peek layout that I think are both pleasing and more efficient. Third, Fredrik redid the cards so that the outside numbers, instead of just being an outline, are filled in with the card color, and they really pop now.

In the end, it wound up being an interesting rabbit hole, with a few small treasures discovered that made it worth the dig.

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