Discussing an iPhone App: Settlers of Catan

Over the last weeks, I’ve been thinking about starting some development for the iPhone. There are some ideas in my head of what I could do, but nothing specific yet. Only thing that I’m sure is that I don’t want to do another “me too” program, but something that really uses the iPhone’s strengths.

For example, a lot of mobile apps I see just let you enter data on the iPhone using the traditional “keyboard” and “picker” methods. I’m pretty sure that some gestures may be helpful and allow for quicker entry. Also, oftentimes “guessing” from a GPS-location or time-of-day may offer some good default values. I hope that this will be a road that I’ll be able to explore a bit more.

Because of all of this, I’ve been paying closer to attention to things I like and dislike about some of the apps and games I’m using.

I like playing the occasional game on the iPhone, and in the last few weeks I was playing a lot of Siedler of Catan (Settlers of Catan in English). Just to be sure: The adaption of the board game is done quite well, the computer players have different strengths, so the game provides fun and entertainment for a long time. Well spent 4€ (or 5$)!

However, there are a few issues that I have. The start of the game features an elaborate animation .. but there is no way I have found to get straight into the game. So every time you start the app, after waiting a few seconds for the animation to load, you get the start of the animation

IMG_0001 After tapping on the screen, you get another splash screen:

IMG_0007where the game even tells you to tap the screen (“Bitte Bild berühren”). Then you get the main game menu

IMG_0005 where you can hit “Spiel  fortsetzen” to continue the ongoing game.

That’s three useless taps (and probably 10 seconds of time) that I would consider bad style for an iPhone app. (It’s okay for a PC game, but not for an iPhone app that gets frequently stopped and restarted.)

There are a few other examples where a bit more thinking would have helped create a better experience. For example in this screen you have only three options, but the graphics don’t fit the screen so there may be some scrolling involved:

IMG_0003 With just some more work, the graphics would fit the screen. Also, swiping doesn’t really work here, instead you have to use the provided arrows.

I’m sure that these issues arise from trying to be consistent with other versions of the same game, but I would think that some more care should have been taken while adapting the game to the iPhone.

So five stars for the basic game, but only one star for the iPhone adaption.


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