To Shrink your App, Rearrange your Frogs

We know we’ve got to reduce the Swamp Talk app size to under the magic 20Meg mark, so that people will be able to download it over phone networks. One angle is to optimize the visual assets. We factored the lilypad out of all our frog frames, which reduced each individual frame by 35%. Imagine our surprise when we built the sprite sheet file (a single file that combines all the frames in a sequence) and got almost no reduction in file size. Uh-oh: we were really counting on saving some substantial file size here! Eventually we figured out that file size is surprisingly dependent on frog layout. We got our 35% by arranging the frogs wide instead of narrow, using Zwoptex’s “shelf” algorithm.

Naïvely, I would have expected .png compression to reduce essentially the same pixel data to the same size. But apparently it’s quite orientation-sensitive.

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Swamp Talk – 4 1/2 stars on AppAdvice.com!

The single-player version of Swamp Talk has been on the App Store for about six weeks, and it’s getting great reviews. We just got four and a half stars on App Advice! Read the entire review here. AppAdvice.com calls it a “must-have” word app for iPhone – and we agree!

A multiplayer version that connects to GameCenter is in the works now. Subscribe to this blog, friend Swamp Talk on Facebook or follow on Twitter to be the first to know when you can play Swamp Talk with your friends.

Wild Card letters, coming soon to Swamp Talk?

We’re just now in the process of implementing wild card letters, in preparation for the next release of our word game app. When the idea of wild card letters came up a couple months ago, we didn’t think it was too interesting. It didn’t particularly resonate with the simplicity and purity of the basic Swamp Talk game. But we’re changing our point of view. Two things seem really promising about wild cards.

First, they bring more words into the game. For example, in the current Swamp Talk B’s are fairly uncommon, so you’ll almost never play BUBBLE. But with a wild card, you could play BUB*LE, using a wild card for that third B. More words makes the game better.

Second, Swamp Talk is all about juggling different scenarios for where a cluster of words might go. If you’re looking at LIVE, you might be able to turn that into ALIVE, or LIVED, LIVER or OLIVE. Cool! But with a wild card in place of the L, there are even more possibilities that use the letters differently. Adding just one more letter, you could get anything from WAIVE or DRIVE to CIVET or SIEVE. The wild card amplifies that Swamp Talk experience of seeing a cluster of letters one way at one moment, and completely differently the next.

We’ll be test playing with wild cards next week. We’ll see if they live up to their promise! Wild cards also have a special role in our new multiplayer game…more on that later.

Would you like to see wild card letters in Swamp Talk? Share your thoughts with the development team in the comment box below.

Swamp Talk hits the App Store!

We did it! Swamp Talk is now in the App Store! After months of hard work by our team of software developers and artists, not to mention a great music composer, Tertl Studos is thrilled to release Swamp Talk, the word game that’s easy to play and endlessly challenging.

Tertl Studos’ founder Chris Hancock says, “We are thrilled to release Swamp Talk as our very first iPhone/iPad product. We are excited to connect with thousands of people who share our love of games, words, and mental challenge!”

Swamp Talk is FREE for a limited time.

Vermonters, join us in Montpelier on Friday evening, July 22, when Swamp Talk sponsors Name That Movie trivia night, Downstairs at the Savoy Theater (5-7 p.m.). After the trivia game, we’ll be previewing a multiplayer version of Swamp Talk. Swamp Talk makes word gaming into a social experience, so come challenge your friends’ word knowledge and show off your own!