# Playmaker Forum

## Playmaker News => User Showcase => Topic started by: Pawel on July 16, 2013, 06:46:26 AM

Title: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: Pawel on July 16, 2013, 06:46:26 AM
I want to introduce a new way to play sudoku that very soon will be available on iTunes and GooglePlay for iPhone, iPads and Android smartphones and tablets.

We are racing with time to finish the app and get it out to the world. The release date will soon be announced, but hopefully it will be in the next few weeks.

This is unlike any other implementation of sudoku out there.

1) it uses colors instead of numbers
2) the classic size 9x9x9 grid is wrapped around a sphere. The wrapping is the same style as the maps of the earth on the globe.

Here are additional consequences related to this implementation:

a) you never see the whole game grid all at once
b) you rotate the Spheroku in every direction by touch with the tip of your finger.
c) the colors are selected and placed by touch.
d) top and bottom are interchangeable
e) horizontal grids don't have defined left and right sides but are complete loops.
f) the cells are not the same size but are defined by non-euclidean geometry.

Some people say it reminds them of Rubic's Cube, but unlike the cube, you can never "learn the solution" and every game is different.

The concept started with simple questions -- What if the numbers were colors instead -- would it be easier or more difficult to get the answers? Then other questions followed and we ended with this wonderful new experience of the old classic... Warning: This game is even more addictive then the original grid-number based that has turned millions into sudoku junkies.

www.spheroku.com
Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: Pawel on July 16, 2013, 06:55:20 AM
Forgot the rules of the game:

Each area surrounded with black boarder, each vertical slice and each horizontal slice have 9 cells. No color can be placed twice in any of the areas or slices. Use mouse to rotate the Spheroku, and to pick / place colors. Markers, to help remember positions can be placed anywhere on the surface of Spheroku with a click . No scoring or timing is implemented in this demo version.
Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: Red on July 16, 2013, 07:52:45 PM
Pretty nifty take on the sudoku puzzle!

If i may offer a suggestion or two?

the "you've solved a panel/row/column" sound effect is really harsh and kinda startled me when i got them. When i do sudoku puzzles, i tend to get into a sort of zen-like calm and the sounds there were really intense... maybe a gentle chime or something like that?

also, i'm not sure if this is a design choice but making a mistake seems to give you instant feedback. some of the love that sudoku holds is that you only know if you win when you've completed the puzzle... and with that "wrong choice" thing, i can see people using a process of trial and error and elimination to win without actually engaging their brain-meats to get it.

one more... i like the win state. is there more to it that i may have missed?
Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: Pawel on July 17, 2013, 05:06:17 AM
Thanks for suggestions Red. It is great to get them from someone who just stumbled on this without any additional info. This is one of the reasons for this demo/preview.

Some of the things you mention are the reasons I've put it in "work in progress".

Sound is still evolving. The sound responses are definitely not there yet. most of them are too laud. They are there more for mechanics then the real thing. The music score will be expanded, so the looping will be more seamless. There also will be the musical finale.

We will add scoring system and rewards. We are considering an end where the ball will open up on completion and coins and other winnings will fall out (free time tokens, free cheats, some joke items like rubber duck, or banana and so on)

The mistakes -- I am of two minds on this... On one hand the original sudoku allows you to screw up, on the other hand this is exactly where a lot of people get turned off from the game. So maybe this should be an option for an "Expert mode" -- no cheats, no stopping of mistakes.

I've been playing sudoku for several years and had some random conversations with other players, the comment you hear the most is: "I hate it when I screw up -- you can basically give it up at that point". Working on paper there is no way to prevent screw ups... With computer program there is a way. Besides, does Spheroku(TM) need to be slave to sudoku  ;D

Trial an error learning is not a bad thing. I imagine there are much more people out there who are weak at sudoku then those who are experts. The colors are less intimidating then numbers. Spinning the ball is more fun.

Since I am almost done with the mechanics, I will be able to concentrate now more on fun and aesthetic side...

The end rotations are there temporarily as a visual feedback... For me it was necessary for testing on devices to make sure that in the background everything adds up. I realize there is a great opportunity there to make people love the game more since solving the puzzle always gives you a little rush -- We will try to capitalize on this...

---

One question -- did you find it easy or difficult to use the interface? The 3 levels of difficulty -- what do you think? Will people see the easy level as easy?
Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: Pawel on July 18, 2013, 09:02:07 AM

http://www.spheroku.com/spheroku/tutorial/

(http://www.spheroku.com/spheroku/tutorial/spheroku-screen-shot.jpg)
Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: Red on July 21, 2013, 08:26:16 PM
I'll be sure to give it a go later tonight.

As for the difficulty levels, i only really tried the easy setting... As much as I am a fan of sudoku, i'm admittedly not the sharpest pencil in the box when it comes to that kinda stuff (i'm, admittedly, more of a twitch/puzzle game fan... though I do love a good logic puzzle once in a while.)

So, yeah... i'll give the new version a go and give you some feedback on that!

Though... one thing that i've been told by someone i know that does game development... you're using colours... but, something i'd strongly suggest would be to have a way where you can turn to numbers or another indicator mainly so that you're not alienating potential players that might be colour blind. one way to address that i've been told is that for something like this you could use monochrome patterns (or even numbers but if you're trying to make something that's distinct from the usual sudoku puzzle, that's cool) So, maybe you could have four shades of grey (white, black, 30% grey and 60% grey) a wide checker pattern, a narrow checker pattern, diagonal, horizontal and vertical stripes... b asically a way that a player, if they're colour blind, isn't going to feel like they're being omitted from being able to play the game. (sure, something like 10% of the population have a form of colour blindness so that's a small section but if you can go that extra mile, the word of mouth in that "you're one of the good developers that understand us" will help give you a bit more "oomph" and possibly lead to additional sales overall.)

but yeah, i'll give the new version a run-through and see how it makes me feel. :)
Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: Pawel on July 22, 2013, 12:58:38 PM
This is a great idea regarding marketing to people who are color blind. I've made the colors using sprite and "tile offset" action thinking just about this kind of adjustment... so making grayscale version will be a snap.

Also, I've just uploaded a video showing sudoku and Spheroku solved in real time on a split screen:

Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: Red on July 22, 2013, 04:37:52 PM
I will say it, this could be the fresh perspective that could reinvigorate the sudoku crowd.

However, if i may make one tiny little request... could you put a pip or some other indicator in there telling the user which end is up? if they scroll around and the sphere gets flipped, that inverts the horizontal scrolling... having a "this is the top" kind of indicator or something could help them go "aah, whoops! it's upside down!" This might not be crucial for people experienced with manipulating objects in 3d such as ourselves but to the layperson it might cause them to become a bit confused and possibly irate. (really, all it really needs for this is just something that differentiates the top from the bottom... a simple sphere or arrow or something like that would be enough i'd think.)

... hmm... when you release it be sure to announce it. if it's fairly priced i might know a couple people that'd be willing to give it a go.
Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: Pawel on July 22, 2013, 07:22:31 PM
Reinvigorating sudoku crowd sounds like a dream. :) (there are almost 58 million sudoku hits on google).

The "up" and "down" are really of no consequence once you start playing this game... I think the video shows this pretty well -- the key is to search for opportunities, wherever they might be. This is one of the differences between sudoku and spheroku. Just like there are no "left" and "right" sides in spheroku.

Also, if it is important to you, you can place a mark-dot to help you keep track of your orientation. I think I will expand the tutorial to show this kind of functionality.

Today I had an interesting conversation with one of the top sudoku bloggers on google. He said he likes to play hard games and likes to leave himself notes, and this incarnation is hard because it does not allow for it. Right now I have only one color dots that you can place anywhere -- The next revision will have dot-marks in all 9 colors, so this will be a big help for the difficult games where you need "notes" and you won't be lead to "easy victory".

On release date, I am trying to make sure the game has no issues in addition to a few more additions -- are you or your friends interested in beta testing? For iOS I would need device ids...

I did not decide on pricing yet, but most likely it will be \$2.99 with the initial one-degree-of-each-difficulty as FREE. Plus discounts and promos to \$1.99. Does this make sense? I would be curious what is your take on this strategy...
Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: zaskaggs on July 25, 2013, 09:41:50 AM
The mistakes -- I am of two minds on this... On one hand the original sudoku allows you to screw up, on the other hand this is exactly where a lot of people get turned off from the game. So maybe this should be an option for an "Expert mode" -- no cheats, no stopping of mistakes.

I used to play a sudoku game on my phone that had this functionality. I actually used to play it both ways. That really might be a good idea to implement.

I played the demo and enjoyed it.  :) At first glance I thought it was going to be really hard to play, given that you can only ever see a portion of the board at any one time, but it was actually really playable.
Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: Pawel on July 25, 2013, 02:40:27 PM
Thanks Zaskaggz, It is great to hear that you enjoyed it.

I just implemented an additional functionality -- the ability to switch back and forth from "spheroku" to "sudoku" views (with choice of colors or numbers as game elements) all while continuing the same game. This is not in the online demo yet, but to my surprise I had harder time with the 2d view then with the sphere...

It kind of makes me realize that by seeing only half of the grid you can focus on this half better then when you see all 81 elements -- Plus on the phone it is larger and quite comfortable for the eyes. The sudoku view makes everything tiny.

BTW. the online demo already has the 9-dot marks
Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: Pawel on July 30, 2013, 04:24:13 PM
I've just updated the online demo. Now it is possible to solve the same puzzle while switching between 4 different play options -- using colors or numbers on a sphere, as well as colors and numbers on a regular 2d sudoku grid.

It is also possible to mark cells in all 4 versions -- This is especially important when playing difficult puzzles, when the obvious colors are no longer to be found and marking naked pairs or triples is a big help...

www.spheroku.com

Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: Pawel on August 08, 2013, 06:29:40 AM
Just started the pre-release PR.
Here is the link to Press Release:

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/8/prweb11005176.htm
Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: Pawel on August 13, 2013, 10:59:11 AM
Two items regarding marketing: Our PR has been picked up by huge numbers of news outlets. Here is the list of the ones that just reprinted the article:
http://www.spheroku.com/spheroku/NEWS/

In addition there were media outlets that don't show on the list because they reformatted the release, like San Francisco Chronicle which today, 6 days later still can be found in Google News pg3 with a generic search term "mobile game" -- For the first three days after the release it was on pg1.
http://bit.ly/1beWmXL
http://bit.ly/14khHsS
http://bit.ly/13ZsdXj

As a result of this publicity we were approached by and signed a contract with TV program NewsWatch that will feature Spherokuâ„˘ in Mid-September nation-wide broadcast AppNews in the US on The History Channel and ION Network. This programs is watched by a total of about 1.1 million households.

I wonder if anybody has any experience with the media buzz and has any insights on how this kind of publicity affects the sales...
Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: Pawel on August 30, 2013, 01:45:59 PM
I submitted Spheroku to the Apple AppStore. The price was set for \$3.99.
Now I need to do the same with Google  and Samsung (through 100% Indie program)

The new web player has the latest revisions. Score, time, expert mode where the player can give wrong answers. Please check it out. I really appreciate the tips and suggestions I got on this Forum.

Spheroku@3dDepartment

www.spheroku.com
Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: Pawel on September 12, 2013, 11:30:30 AM
We've released Android version of Spherokuâ„˘ to Google Play. It is also going through the approval process in iTunes and with Samsung.

A question for those who have done this before:

How long does it take for the app to be visible in the Store? I can find it now by name, but it is not listed in new apps, and the Keyword searches don't find it either. Is this something to be expected on the first day, or worry about?

Here is the press release:

http://bit.ly/17XnGaM

And of course please download it and rate it if you are on Android. Who knows you may get hooked like some of the people I know.
Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: Pawel on October 23, 2013, 03:15:15 PM
I thought I give a little update on Spheroku. Of course, like for most indie developers it is hard to get the audience, but the reviews that are coming out are great, plus combined with the PR releases and other marketing efforts we are making some progress:

Two weeks ago the largest Italian newspaper "La Republlica" featured Spheroku in its weekend edition a one of the apps it recommended:

https://scontent-b-mia.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/1379517_1428276300728403_1269831063_n.jpg

This week it is featured in NewsWatch TV on iON and History channels:
http://vimeo.com/77225111

Spheroku also has nicer graphics and runs a little smoother. It already has a second language (Polish) and two more are at work (French & Russian).

http://bit.ly/194CLJQ
http://bit.ly/HhZjwu
Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: Pawel on February 11, 2014, 05:59:41 PM
Spheroku just made a debut in the official Sudoku Championships  (qualifying games to Poland's & World Sudoku Championships). I've made a special localized (Polish) version for this event. One little step at a time, but the game seems to be gaining some traction.  :)

Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: jeanfabre on February 11, 2014, 09:45:54 PM
Hi,

Well done!! Good luck with the growth!

bye,

Jean
Title: Re: Introducing Spheroku(TM)
Post by: Pawel on February 12, 2014, 07:43:20 AM
Thanks Jean.

The nice thing about this is the fact that the Poland has a great reputation in sudoku championships. Hopefully they can influence other countries to try it in their matches.

(Polish "sudoku master" Jan Mrozowski won 3 gold medals
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Sudoku_Championship)