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Stories Behind the Apps

Stories Behind the Apps: Wild Party Bingo

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Tell us about your game! Sure!  Wild Party Bingo is a fresh take on a classic game.  We have just launched on Facebook, iTunes and Google Play.  We are very excited because WPB is the first game built on our ArcLight technology that demonstrates our vision for where the social casino category is headed. 

How is the app different from similar apps? Wild Party Bingo has two main kinds of innovations:  Team Play and Powerups. With teams, you jump into a room with 4 Teams comprising 5 people each.  You pick your team and go.  Each player has their own cards, but every time you daub, it helps your teammates.   At the end of a round, you are ranked as a team and as an individual.   This means there is essentially co-operative and competitive gameplay.

With the Powerups, we have ‘specials’ that trigger automatically we call Booster Party, and true powerups the player can use at opportune times for strategic purposes. We’ve spent a lot of time tuning the game so both the core mechanic and the inter-personal social features feel great.  We’ve also included a Lottery side-bet and Bingo Blackout (cover full card) mode.

iconTell us about the design and UI.  Because we are mobile first, we knew the primary challenge would be lots of numbers on a smaller form-factor.  Keeping the cards large was our primary focus, and everything else fit into that consideration.  We have a lot going on, so we wanted to have a UI that felt approachable, functional and not overwhelming.

For the icon, we wanted something that ‘held up’ at very small sizes.  We were constantly taking our drawings and shrinking them to 32×32.  We knew we wanted to hit the “Wild Party” theme, and avoid text.  We’ve got a great Art Director and he finally hit on the ‘party hat’ concept.

What tools or resources assisted you in building the app? We are largely distributed, so we do a lot with www.assembla.com  for Agile project tracking.  We user Perforce www.perforce.com for our primary build/collaboration/revision control system.  We use Balsamiq www.balsamiq.com for wireframing.  Skype for communications, Amazon S3 for server hosting.   The people is the team (see below).

What lessons did you learn and went right/wrong with the release? Always plenty to learn in this industry J  We have mostly learned to communicate really well.  Keeping everyone on the same page has been critical.  We move very quickly so there is little room for error.  We’ve also learned the importance of playtesting;  the game improved dramatically from Alpha to Beta largely based on early user feedback.  Finally, I think we have all learned about development in general; building on our library of ‘best practices’ to really focus on what matters in a design.  Because we are such a small team, every feature needs to be scrutinized for value.

410b64_7fa1ab7958fe4913be1f39ae16b22993.png_srz_p_433_358_75_22_0.50_1.20_0Development on WPB was pretty smooth.  We had a solid wireframe/UI design that was fairly consistent until Alpha.  Once we hit Alpha and shared the game with real people, we realized we had more work to do.  Specifically, we needed a Tutorial, we needed more levels for players to progress to, and we needed better interactions between players.  These three things really kicked up the product’s quality but added substantial time to our release schedule.

What else we did right with Wild Party Bingo was the process of building our release candidate.  When I say process, I mean the difficult task of determining what is a minimum viable product.  What features must we have day1, and what features could we wait and update later?   This is always a difficult task, but I think the team did a great job of letting go of those things that were not necessary and fighting for those things that we felt were necessary to hit the quality that is so important to us.

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Where we struggled a little, was around shipping the first product on our new platform.  ArcLight is a robust and complex server-side multiplayer system with lots of moving parts.  It wasn’t until we got close to release that a nasty stability bug surfaced, causing us to loose almost a week.  These kinds of things are almost unavoidable with a system this full-featured.  It’s only by having the game in testing, with lots of users simultaneously that some of these problems even surface.

Who is on the team and what are your roles? We’re small enough that everyone does a lot of stuff. Having said that, there is some division of labor. 

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Larry Holland is our CCO, he’s a double-threat both programmer and designer.  He specializes in client-side coding and handled a lot of the actual runtime client code. Chris Turner is our AD; he’s the art dude.  Anything and everything art, including user interface, visual effects, etc.  Albert Mack CTO; super genius engineer.  He handles most of the server-side ArcLight code.  Albert also does everything related to our distribution networks (FB/Google/Apple etc.). Stacy Friedman ; Stacy is a math guru; he helped design our economy and math models. Jason Kaehler (me):  I do a few things;  designer, product owner, playtester, art/UI support, bizdev, audio, marketing/UA

What were you doing prior to building the app?  We are a studio of old farts; between the 5 of us, we easily have 100 years game development experience.  We come from both the videogame and gambling industries ; having shipped games for console, PC, mobile, casino floor and iGaming (online gambling).

What other apps do you use or which inspire you? Personally, I’m very inspired by music, so Spotify and Pandora are must-haves.  I like to listen to ebooks too.  TuneIn Radio is great.  Love me some Yelp mobile when trying new resturaunts.  Plenty of Fish and Tinder are fun distractions too.

Head over to the Google Play to download Wild Party Bingo.

Hey you app devs!  Wanna be featured like Wild Party Bingo? Be sure to check out http://www.powerslyde.com/get-discovered

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