It’s Friday night, everyone is done with their work for the week, and so you all gather around a TV to watch your favourite game show together. ‘That’s so easy’, ‘Even I know that one’, ‘Oh come on, I would definitely win!’ Let’s be honest, we all tend to make such comments - especially when we’re so frustrated with that one guy on our screen who clearly has no idea what the right answer is. Luckily, modern technology can help any of us feel as though we’re the ones enjoying the spotlight and tackling even the trickiest of questions - the only thing we need for that is a mobile version of said game show installed on our phone! ;)
In fact, unless you aspire to rise to fame as a TV show celebrity (although, a rise can quickly turn into a downfall once you get too nervous, blank out and get a very simple question wrong), a mobile app is actually just as good - if not better - as a real game show. You can play it at any time, take lengthy breaks, make however many mistakes you want and not worry about losing any prize money - you can even cheat and/or replay the same stage multiple times :) All of these little perks are the main reason why many virtual counterparts of our beloved TV shows remain popular for such a long time. Case in point: the first version of the app we’re going to tell you about today came out over 10 years ago!
The game show in question appeared on French television back in 2009 and has since kept its position as one of the most popular entertainment programs on TV. The game is a cross between Scrabble and a quiz that requires the player to not only have extensive knowledge on a variety of topics but to think and react with lightning speed. A pinch of luck, randomness, as well as other different quirks, have all been included in the application to preserve the look and feel of the original.
In order to pass a level, the player should complete a crossword puzzle - by either answering questions one by one or going all-in and trying to guess all of the mystery words at once. The questions themselves are also different in nature: some of them only reveal a letter (and so it appears everywhere it’s been hidden on the grid), while others help to uncover the word in its entirety. Another charm of the game is that the questions are oftentimes implicit, so going with an indirect and witty answer would most probably be the right thing to do ;)
The application was first created in Flash - the technology had naturally become outdated over the years, and maintaining and evolving the game started to get increasingly difficult. Because of that, when it was time to update the game once again last year, the customer decided against routine bug fixing and addition of levels and instead began re-writing the whole thing on a different platform. Freshening up the design, updating the engine, improving usability and game controls, implementing new worlds and universes… There was a lot to do.
The customer had a pretty good idea of what they wanted to improve, however, what they did not have was the specifications - so, in order to start our work on the project, we used some good old reverse engineering techniques. The Noveo team studied the existing application and its source code, figured out the mechanics and the principles of level division, and finally got a feel of what was worth keeping and what needed to be redesigned. As a result, we:
- ported the game to the latest LTS version of Unity;
- rewrote the backend part using Symfony;
- developed the back office from scratch, thus enabling the admins to add new levels and change the already existing ones;
- added a number of CRUD interfaces to the BO that allowed to manage game themes, push notifications and reward systems;
- implemented some new levels - the players will definitely keep themselves entertained for a pretty long time while trying to beat all 800 stages!
To be honest, the process of migrating all of the data from the previous version of the app to the new one gave us quite a scare: as it’s been a decade since the game’s release, the players have long developed their own tight-knit community with real game veterans, established champions, heated discussions on Facebook and so much more - it would’ve been a shame to lose it all! The team worked hard to keep everything intact, so in the end, we - as well as all of the players - had nothing to worry about: no score, record or comment were harmed during the project ;)
In fact, our developers did a really good job in general, showcasing well-coordinated and organised work for the whole duration of the project. Like that, it’s only natural that this couple of months has passed with no serious issues or problems - after all, team harmony makes for excellent results!
As you can see, the project turned out to be the one that leaves you with only good memories. Though, we were lucky enough to also get a nice bonus on top of it - in the form of an ever-growing collection of interesting facts and rare French words we now know :) The Noveo team will for sure be glad to create another game that challenges not only our skills as IT specialists, but our knowledge as players as well!