As soon as we realized that we didn’t really know how to make this game to appeal to casual players, especially after the frustrating first launch. We quickly decided to tailor the game to meet more hardcore puzzle players’ needs. Actually it was quite simple to do: simply adapt to the feedback from these players and continue to polish the game to the level where it provides the best Picross puzzle-solving experience among its competitors on iPad.
A few big changes were quickly applied to the game. Firstly, we double checked every puzzle and fixed every one we found that has multiple solutions. Secondly, we optimized the UI responding speed to achieve a smoother and more comfortable touch control. Lastly, we implemented the “free mode” in expert (20×20) and maniac (25×25) levels to ensure that player won’t be punished and auto-corrected when a mistake was made. This feature was among the most requested ones from player. Continue reading →
On the art style side, we chose to use pixel style with dark color scheme. The style is not common for iOS apps and inconsistent with the general UI guideline of Apple’s products, but it seemed a natural choice when it comes to a “pixel cross” game. The central idea of this retro-looking style is to completely eliminate anti-aliased images, only use pixelated graphic elements.
We started the development in February, 2010. Our team has 4 part-time developers: Hansen, Frank, Ye and me. Especially, Ye was a big fan of Nintendo’s Picross DS, which became our primary reference and ultimate benchmark from quality respective.
We had a tough discussion about whether we should make it a universal application to run on both iPhone and iPad. And we realized that it would be impracticable to put a medium size board on iPhone screen without zoom-in. The operation would be unnatural. So we decided to give up the iPhone and concentrate on iPad only.
Although all of us are experienced console game developers, neither of us had experience with iOS before. And we could only work part-timely on this project, around 6 hours per week on average. The workload would be overwhelming for us if we built everything from scratch.