Thursday, July 22, 2010

Paper Rock Scissors: Day 3

Now we're demonstrating how fun interfaces can be built without the use of Flash. This is a growing importance, as open web technologies like HTML5 and CSS3 become more supported and capable, and as devices like Android phones and Apple iPads are more widespread, where Flash is un- or under-supported and web technologies are increasingly useful for performance. The prototype of Paper Rock Scissors worked, but we need something that actually looks nice.



This is what I came up with a couple hours of messy around. It doesn't take much to clean up a web game, though it can take a lot more to make it really polish and appear shiny. That is true of any design.


The theme has a few threads that tie it together.

Your are represented by a blue glow, on your score and on your selections. The enemy is represented by a red glow, so the progress of the game is clear without overloading it with any textual messages or any heavy graphics. I've notched the selections, like cards pulled away to mark your choice. Thanks to new implementations of CSS3 transform rules, we have great possibilities we can employ. You really know when a selection lost.

Oh no! Their rock beat your scissors. Too bad.

The player doesn't even need any introduction or instructions. You won't know when the game first loads who is blue and who is red, but the first thing you'll see is you own click making a choice glow blue, and you'll know through experience. Learning by discovery trumps a rule book any day of the week. This is enforced when the scores start reflecting the game, and you can see who is who without any of the labels the game originally had.

I did need to put some more information into the game. Maybe you glanced away when the other player made their pick and missed the animation. You'll want some log of the moves that happened. Still, I didn't want this to clutter up the screen and the chatlog made the most obvious sense to put it, already being a sort of timeline. You probably want the last one or two game events that happened, not the older ones, so I think a nice looking solution was found: the game messages fade as they get older, and the chat content stays visible, uncluttered. The result looks really nice after a few rounds of chat and play.

I'd rather play a game with a stranger while I chat. Maybe I've stumbled upon something more fun than Omegle.
Yesterday I wrote about the little tech-demo Paper Rock Scissors game I prototyped in the morning. Today, I've replaced its crude AJAX polling with a comet solution, cleaned up the UI, and added a real-time chat for the players, in about two hours this afternoon.
You can try it out with the other readers of the blog right now. Give it a try, if anyone else is around.

Give it a try and play with the other readers.



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I write here about programming, how to program better, things I think are neat and are related to programming. I might write other things at my personal website.

I am happily employed by the excellent Caktus Group, located in beautiful and friendly Carrboro, NC, where I work with Python, Django, and Javascript.

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