Just in time for the launch of WordPuzzle, the developers of the brain-game app offer insight into the Android version‘s process of development. Taku and Nao – two Austrian app-cracks with Japanese roots – in an interview:
Q: Taku, Nao: you call your puzzle „The suspenseful brain puzzler for in between“ – a hint that the app was created for intelligent time-passing in typical everyday waiting situations. Who is the typical WordPuzzle user and when does she play the app?
A: I don‘t think that there is a typical WordPuzzle user. WordPuzzle can be played by everyone, young and old. Whenever one has the choice between twiddling one‘s thumbs or playful brain-jogging, that‘s the best time for WordPuzzle.
Q: The name WordPuzzle is a combination of crossword and puzzle. How exactly does WordPuzzle work?
A: With WordPuzzle you‘ve got 6 x 6 squares, 36 in total. 35 of them are filled with letters, one square is left free, which enables the other letters to be moved around. Per level 4 words are given which have to be put together by moving the letters around. You can try to build as many of the required words so that they all appear on the screen at once. They can be structured like with a crossword puzzle – the words‘ structural form is not important. This means that words that are written from right to left or from down to up are valid, too. (Word Puzzle = elzzuP droW)
Q: What differentiates WordPuzzle from other brain-game apps available at the app stores?
A: The contents make the difference! At first, four random words were chosen from a database. In the testing phase we noticed that the game was missing a certain charm. After working on this problem we decided to design each level. This meant far more work for us but it has paid off.
Q: How much development time did it take from the idea to the launch of the first Android version in Google Play?
A: From idea to finish we needed about 7 weeks.
Q: Were you able to keep on the original time schedule? Did you need longer or perhaps even finish before the time estimate was reached
A: With software development it‘s very difficult to keep within the original planned time-allotment. A game designer first has the idea in his head which has to be brought to paper. During this phase the game is only mentally playable. It‘s difficult to say whether the game algorithm fits and whether it will be suspenseful or not. Only when the first version has been ported to a device is it possible to judge the game in detail. In this phase a lot has to be changed and this costs a lot of time. In our particular case we changed from a randomly generated level to each level being „hand crafted“.
Q: You work together. How can you characterize your method? With the development, how do you decide who does what?
A: Taku is in charge of brainstorming and specifications. He is also responsible for communication with AppInvest who, through financing and practical support in design with AppAdvisors, has made this development possible. Nao is in charge of software development and programming. This way we support each other in our specific areas. We also give each other „ruthless“ feedback which is a learning process in itself.
Q: What was the greatest challenge in the development of WordPuzzle?
A: The biggest challenge was working together with AppInvest and AppAdvisors. We had never worked in a team before. Fortunately, the teamwork functioned perfectly.
Q: You brought out the full version for WordPuzzle fans, with more explicitely demanding levels. As we played the Free version we found it not exactly easy. How do you estimate and forecast the abilities of brain puzzler app players? Do you think that many will reach the WordPuzzle „Pro“ status?
A: In the WordPuzzle full version there are many difficult challenges to solve. Without time pressure, the idea is to have a playful challenge for the „gray cells.“ As a rule, a single level has different solutions, and success depends either upon merely finding a solution or finding the shortest possible solution. With patience, WordPuzzle is for everyone and solveable in many different ways.
Q: A quick look into the future: you surely have some ideas for WordPuzzle updates. Can you let us in on what‘s coming up?
A: In the next version we have an online-connection planned. Meaning that the time and the number of moves will be storable and thus visible for other players if desired. This way it will be possible to measure your ability against that of other players.
In addition we are planning an iPhone version of WordPuzzle. But I‘m not going to reveal any other plans today.
Taku, Nao – thank you very much for your answers!