We pride ourselves on listening to the community and addressing the concerns of our players. Over the past 6 weeks we have launched a number of new puzzle languages, while simultaneously building a new Windows 8 Xbox LIVE-enabled version as well as working on updates for Phone. Many of you have shared feature ideas and issues you have encountered with the Phone app and we are taking an opportunity to address them. Today we are excited to announce that a new build of Wordament for Windows Phone 7 will be appearing in the marketplace shortly. Wordament 2.1 addresses many of the top comments we have received since launching and we can’t wait to hear what you think. So here is what you are going to get:
The systray is back
The systray is that little bar at the top of the screen that tells you what time it is, your signal strength and how much battery you have. We took it out in Xbox LIVE version of Wordament because we honestly didn’t know you could have a “full bleed app” and still show this. Once we removed to it, we thought it was a cleaner look and we wanted the pixel space on certain screens. What we didn’t take into account was how many of you really like to know what time it is when you’re playing Wordament. We’ve even heard stories from people about missing classes and even their train because they got so immersed! So we’ve brought the systray back during the game board, main menu and individual results. It’s still hidden on the real time leaderboards and screens where we need the headroom. Now you never need to wonder if you are going to be late if you play one more game. Simply swipe from the top of the phone, onto the screen and the tray will appear.
We have heard from a group of individuals who don’t like the color orange yet love the accent color blue. In fact some players downright detest orange with a passion. We actually got some boarder line scary mails and manifestos from some players who apparently don’t get along with red and yellow mixed together. Like it or not the orange color is part of the Wordament brand these days and we aren’t going to pull a “New Coke” at this time swap it. But, we decided there is a worthwhile feature we could do and that is to allow the game board to be played on a muted, neutral background. In Wordament 1.1 we’ve added a new setting to help and options, “Game background”. This settings lets you choose if you want to play on a colorful, saturated background or on a neutral, monochrome background. The choice is yours. Playing with a monochrome background will not change the background in the main menus, that remains tied to your accent color but it will change the in-game background to a much more subtle background. For those of you that really disliked the look, please come back and give us another try. I think you will find it much easier on your eyes.
Right after launching Wordament we started getting a new class of email showing up in our inbox: the user that can’t connect. We quickly figured out all the tricks to making a phone connect to Xbox LIVE and to Wordament and we documented them all in a FAQ to help folks out. That’s nice, if you can find the FAQ. In this new build we are much smarter about explaining why the game can’t connect, whose fault it is and in many cases we can provide advice on how to fix it. This should significantly help new users facing connection problems.
Along with better error logic, we also reduced the number of calls we make on startup as well as the amount of data we transmit between our service and phone client. This results in better connectivity, particularly on slower 2G networks that still exist in many parts of the world. We would love to hear from you if this new build works for you where the old one didn’t.
There is nothing worse than playing the game of your life and then being forced out to the main menu to see you lost connection. Rest assured we are doing everything we can to try to prevent that and in Wordament 2.1 you should see the “Can’t connect to Wordament.net” error less during game play. We improved our network retry logic such that it is more resilient to temporal network glitches.
Better touch experience on Bigger screens (i.e. Nokia Lumia 900s)
For about a year, the device that the Wordament dev staff carried around as our daily phone was a Samsung Focus. As a result, we played lots of Wordament on the Focus and basically spent hundreds of hours tuning the code on that device. For the first gen of phones that approach proved fine and we saw pretty consistent touch performance across a wide range of hardware. Then we got some Lumia 900s right around the time we shipped v1 and we started to notice that several of us didn’t score as high on the Lumia 900 as we did on the Focus. At first we wrote this off to user error: “it’s a bigger screen”, “the glass feels different”, or “we’ve played thousands of games on the focus” etc. After all, the differences in scores we were talking about were pretty minor. But that was starting to feel like a poor excuse as we started to hear other player agree with us. So I sat down one evening and debugged it. Some of our code that tuned Wordament to work so well on the Focus actually made the Lumia a bit less responsive to word swipes on the game board. I’m happy to announce that we have solved this in the update you are about to get. Touch performance on the Lumia 900 is as good as any other device now.
Updates roll out around the world and to different phones in a staged manor so it could take a day or two before you see it on your phone. At some point in the near future we will ask all players to upgrade to Wordament 2.1 in large part due to the connectivity improvements.
John / Manthor10