Thursday, December 25, 2008

Chess for Android Update

Version 1.2 of Chess for Android at the Android Market has several improvements. The first is the much requested "undo" feature, where up to eight plies (half-moves) can be taken back to correct mistakes in the input (or mere blunders, as for black in the screenshot below!).

The second is a "free play" option, where the phone can be used as a "magnetic chessboard" to study games, or play a game up to a position for further play with the chess engine (this option, like the different levels of play, can be found under the "Menu" button). Furthermore, move highlighting has been modified with a black border, which looks slightly better along files and ranks. Finally, a few rules were added to evaluation function of the chess engine.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Reversi for Android Update

Version 1.2 of Reversi for Android at the Android Market now highlights the new and flipped white stones after each computer move with a red border, as shown below. Hopefully this will make it more clear what was played last.

Monday, December 15, 2008

User Feedback at the Android Market

Perhaps a surprise to some, but I don't actually have the G1 Android phone myself yet. Instead, I developed the three game applications on the Android emulator. This unfortunately also implies that I cannot read the comments that were posted at the Android Market, I only can see the average rating. As such, I just get a sense of user feedback from emails I receive.

These emails can be divided into roughly three categories. The first, and luckily largest category consists of nice emails in which people say they enjoy the game(s) and give constructive feedback and suggestions for improvements. I hope to implement some of the requested features, but please keep in mind that this is "spare time" development. The second, smaller category consists of emails where people claim the program is "cheating". So far those claims invariably resulted from a lack of understanding the proper rules (castling or en-passant in chess, forward jumps only for uncrowned pieces in checkers, etc). If you do find a bug, please be so kind to send me complete information, such as position and last move, so I will be able to debug the program. The last and smallest category consists of short emails in which people say they find the game "horrible" (or worse words). Although luckily the minority, each of these obviously hurts. I realize the applications are basic and many features found in commercial programs are missing, but hey, I am giving them away for free. So, cut me some slack. You can always uninstall! :-)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Optional Captures

To my great surprise, quite a few users complained that captures should not be mandatory in the just released Checkers for Android, even though the official straight checkers rules clearly state that jumps are forced (something that in my opinion adds to the beauty of the game). Nevertheless, since this seems a popular feature request, I just posted an update at the Android Market in which the user can chose between mandatory or optional captures prior to the game. The latter option does not follow the so-called "huffing" rule, where the piece that should have performed the capture is forfeited. Instead, the game simply continues, which may lead to some interesting draw situations.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Checkers for Android

The number of downloads of Chess and Reversi for Android exceeded all my expectations, and I received a lot of nice feedback. The most popular request was for a checkers application. So I gave it a try and implemented Checkers for Android which, like Reversi and Chess for Android, is available for free at the Android Market.

Some screen shots are shown below. Since captures in checkers can consist of several jumps, I tried a new input mechanism where touching a square shows all valid moves that involve that square. By clicking on those squares (making orange colors red) eventually a move is uniquely defined. Also, the last played move is highlighted on the board (a feature requested for Chess and Reversi as well). The checkers engine plays at various levels (including random).