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Less than a month remained before the App Store opening. And what did I have A beautiful-looking game rendered nearly unplayable because of the limitations of the device. The first order of business was to figure out how to make the game playable for people with longer fingernails. I mulled the options over in my head. I couldn t make the pieces bigger, as the puzzles wouldn t fit on the screen. What I needed was a way to grow the control scheme outside the visible piece area. What if I expanded movement to include an invisible area around the piece Then Lindi would be able to move a piece without actually having her fingertip directly on the piece. Sounds a bit like the rotation scheme, doesn t it In rotation mode, any movement on the screen would rotate the piece. Could the same solution work for movement Seemed reasonable, but how would I distinguish between a move and rotation and still allow new pieces to be manipulated A rotation mode and a movement mode were needed. Yikes, this could get confusing to players. I needed to simplify the situation.
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CHAPTER 5: TanZen and Zentomino
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The rotation mode idea needed to morph into something new. Maybe tapping once would now put the piece into selection mode. A selected piece could then have various kinds of manipulations applied to it, without worrying about disturbing other pieces. But how would I allow users to move, rotate, or flip a selected piece Flipping was obvious just double-tap the active piece. And there s no need to see the piece while you re doing that. However, moving and rotating need visibility to work correctly. Maybe it needed screen elements that could be activated, so a player could decide between a move and a rotate. Perhaps the rotation ring could be used for movement, allowing the player to grab the ring instead of the piece. Then additional knobs could be tapped to initiate rotation (see Figure 5-21).
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Figure 5-21. Selection ring with rotation knobs
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That solution certainly worked but wasn t very elegant, and I didn t want TanZen to have a complicated heads up display. There had to be some way to solve the problem using the unique capabilities of the iPhone. That s when I brought multitouch into the equation. What if I repurposed the rotation ring into a selection ring Then movement and rotation modes would be determined by the number of fingers being used: select the piece you want to adjust, and use one finger for movement or two fingers for rotation. That sounded like an ideal iPhone solution to the problem! After coding up this new idea, I had Lindi give it a try. She really liked that she could see the pieces now, yet still rotate them. Using two fingers to rotate was a bit harder than before, but if she used two hands, it was fairly easy to use a steering-wheel-style motion with her thumbs to turn a piece. Even my five-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son had no trouble doing it. This seemed like a workable solution! There was still something wrong, though. Both my wife and my coworker found that they were trying to move nonselected pieces after they were finished with a selected piece. They d start dragging a piece without tapping it first to select it, which moved the previously selected piece instead, since any movement was still mapped to it. Perhaps using the whole screen for manipulating a
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CHAPTER 5: TanZen and Zentomino
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single piece wasn t the best solution. It would probably be better to limit the control scheme to just the immediate area of the selected piece. But how could the player be told where it s OK to move or rotate I went back to the trusty selection ring, and simply made it bigger (see Figure 5-22). I made it just large enough to allow Lindi to grab the ring, without covering up the piece. I then limited the movement and rotation finger motions to the ring area, instead of the entire screen. This allows selection and dragging of nonselected pieces outside the ring, yet still maintains the same movement and rotation logic for the selected piece. After much testing, Lindi and our kids gave TanZen their seal of approval. Whew!
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