Pinecone
Overview
Pinecone is a word game app written for iOS. The gameplay is very similar to the classic game Password. The game was designed, developed, and tested during a road trip to and from Savannah, Georgia with the help of a few of my friends.
Experience
This game was a blast to develop because I got to make it in a car with a few of my best friends. In terms of hard skills, I sharpened my iOS development skills and got my first experience in truly rapid prototyping. In softer skills, I learned how to design side-by-side with users and how to develop with very limited internet.
Process
01 - A Big Problem
Just after Christmas last year, my friends and I had a game night where, among other things, we played the classic word game Password. (For those unaware: Password was a game show where teams of two competed to get their partners to guess a mystery word using only single-word hints). Everything was going great until the guy who was coming up with the words had to leave, leaving us wordless. As it turns out, and much to our surprise, there exists no app for Password or anything like it, so we discovered an opportunity: we would be first to market with a game based on the gameplay of Password, but that did not violate any copyright laws.
02 - Prototyping on the Parkway
The next week, we were taking a trip to Savannah, GA, so I decided this would be a great opportunity to test this new app with some of the most pertinent stakeholders. My plan was to create the app in the days leading up to our departure, but, due to various time constraints, I was only able to get a simple, bare-bones design completed. Instead of giving up, I charged up my computer, got in the car with everyone else, and spent the trip frantically coding. It took the entire five hours, but by the time we arrived, we had a working, viable game we were able to test.
03 - Testing on the Beach
The first round of “user testing” was simply playing a few rounds of the game on the beach near our hotel. Fortunately, there were only a few minor issues, with none detrimental to the basic function of the game. I received valuable feedback here both from playing the game myself and from others that could inform later versions.
04 - Revisions on the Road
Excited about the future prospect of fortune and fame this game could provide, we got right to work on the drive back to Atlanta. I was able to incorporate much of the feedback generated throughout the weekend, including streamlining the gameplay workflow, switching the design from landscape to portrait, adding a darker color scheme, and expanding the list of words. (This was done by asking everyone to yell out words until they couldn’t think of any more. It was surprisingly effective.) By the time we got back to Atlanta, we had a solidly updated game, ready for continued testing.
05 - Future Development
Since then, we have done more informal testing amongst ourselves, but have yet to develop another iteration of the game. Our current plan is to create a version for tvOS that allows players to view words on their phone, but display the countdown timer and points on the TV for everyone to see. Development will continue into 2017.