The most common request I get is to let people play with other people. Instead of playing against the computer, people want to play against other real people.
The iPhone and iPad provide several ways to accomplish this via Game Center, but each method has its drawbacks. I’ve spent the last year trying to find a good combination of technologies to make many of the Blindfold Games multi-player.
Apple’s Game Center makes it easy to find someone to play with, assuming enough people have the games. If you can’t find someone to play with, you can invite them to play with you.
First, I tried the method used by many games where a real-time connection is made between two iPhones, and the game goes back and forth between the two players. If one of the players leaves the game, or the network loses connectivity, the game is over. I used this method with Crazy Eights and Wildcard (a variant of Uno), but it was very difficult to build, and people didn’t like that when they left the game to answer a phone call, the game ended.
Next, I tried using the Turn-Taking technology built into Apple’s Game Center. That was easier to build, but at that time, but it was difficult to test. Each time one of the testers wanted to test out “Crazy Eight with Friends”, not only did I have to create a special Game Center account for them and for their friend to play with, but they had to log out of their existing Game Center account just to test that game. As you can imagine, almost no one tested it, and it was fraught with problems. It sometimes took 10 minutes between moves.
Like most software, it takes 3 or 4 attempts before something actually works reliably. With iOS 9, the Game Center account restriction was removed, I redesigned the multi-player feature of Blindfold Crazy Eight with Friends using a combination of Game Center’s matching making service and a hosting website. That was much better, and received more testing, but still not perfect. The major complaint was that multi-player games could not be resumed easily.
In the fourth version, I added a feature so let you resume a multiplayer game even if you powered down your phone – the game now stays around for days. In addition, thanks to a suggestion from one of the testers, I added the ability to play with other people in the same room. Using either Bluetooth or Wireless Network, the game looks for a nearby iPhone running the game, and lets you invite that person to a game.
This version of Crazy Eight with Friends is almost out of final testing, and once that’s complete I can start making many of the games multiplayer.