This article is all about the Release of Drop Dots Version 3.2 and it’s corresponding new design and some future features that haven’t made it in the current release. Many things have changed in Drop Dots so prepare yourself for a small wall of text.
As mentioned in a post earlier many things have changed with the latest update. Some things might be a little edgy right now but those will be smoothed within the next releases. I mentioned earlier this year I was looking for a new engine to power Drop Dots as AndEngine seemed to be discontinued and my choice was Libgdx. It is a nice cross platform engine with a lot low level stuff and a huge community and constant updates. As I moved from Ant to the new Gradle Buildsystem I was pleased to see, that it already supports Gradle.
I had droped Libgdx earlier this year as it was far too much work and I couldn’t fully understand some of the issues I had. Now it seems everything a little smoother and only one main issue remains. The texture references/textures still get lost quite often if you pause the app or switch fragments. But this is an issue which I think I will be able to fix as soon as I got everything up and running.
But enough about the future. Now something about the past update!
Finally: The Notes
First of all what made me feel like there was a reason for a visual rework of Drop Dots?
Well there were several reasons. First of all the design itself was almost 2 years old when the whole Holo-Design approach was pretty hip. Nowadays it felt quite heavy and many ask me for a more light approach. Now with the upcoming release of Android L and its very flat approach and many Apps adopting this design early I thought it was time to jump on the bandwagon. I tried a lot of stuff and think I finally got pretty close to what I expected it to be.
I updated all assets to cover all densities from ldpi up to xxhdpi and it made several things look far better and sharper for example on the Nexus 5 which has a pretty high pixel density. The graphics shouldn’t be washed out on new devices anymore. I also flatened out almost all buttons and controls and tried to simplify all design aspects as far as possible. For example the buttons in the Mainmenu are now just two colors consisting out of just 2 layers.
Also in order to make everything look more consistent the Android Actionbar is visible through the whole app.
I tried a lot of stuff and finally choosed this pastell-orange. I wanted to take something light and easy and finally came across this color. Other options were blue, green, purple and other “holo”/”flat”-colors but all of them lacked more or less the connection to what I tried to accomplish. The blues and greens are just to dominant already in other apps I thought. The purple was to dark to be a prominent color in this app. The orange wasn’t that broadly adapted by other apps so it was the color to go. It is light, bright and friendly to the eye. First feedback was positive and so the decision was made.
Clean and informativ
One of the points of the new emerging Android L design is simplicity and straight forward informative design.
So I tried to present for example inside the Play Games Login screen as much information as possible about the benefits for the user about the connection of their profile with Drop Dots. There are other places were I made changes in order to communicate better with the user but this is probably the most prominent one.
Finally I wanted to share a word about the other colors in the game itself. It isn’t as easy to find 6 easy to distinguishable colors, that do have enough contrast between each other, are not the main themes orange and do seperate enough from the background as it was with a black theme. I tried my best and am almost happy with the result. The major problem is how different display-techniques are presenting those colors. Currently there is a small issue with the red and orange can be far to similar. I try to address this issue with the next few updates but it will take some time as I need to test the app on many devices I do not personally own.
In other news there is a colorblind mode and a combined mode on it’s way which will add shapes as a further differentation option.
One of the integral parts of this game is the highscore and its way how the user compete with each other. I tried a lot of services from OpenFeint(now Gree) over Scoreloop to some custom approach for Facebook-Highscores now just featuring Google Play Game Services Leaderboards only. The reason why I moved was either a lack of features, too many unnecessary permissions or a to small userbase.
Google Play Games was pretty quick adapted and features constant updates and additions.
In this latest release I included some basic Quest-System which will be fully featured with rewards as soon as the new gamemode is up and running.
I meantioned in an earlier post I wanted to provide some kind of Multiplayer and I am sorry to announce that this will be delayed for the next few months. First I wanted to build the new engine and test her in the public. Then the new game mode and after all of this the multiplayer. I am sorry to those who wanted to see it now but currently the codebase isn’t made for this addition and it will take some time to make it compatible.