Monday, March 11, 2013

Similar but Different

As you may have read, I am currently working on designing an app to be used for scoring games of cards/dice/dominoes. In an attempt to publish the best product possible, I found it valuable to look at some similar apps this week.

The first app I downloaded was simply called "Spades" by I was hoping to see their scoreboard to get a preview of one interpretation of such. Unfortunately, they kept their score listed with each player, so there was no overall scoreboard. They also did not work their app as a partner game, but each player scored individually. As if that wasn't enough, the app did not have the functionality to bid "nil." If you bid zero and make it, it does you absolutely no good. All-in-all, I did not gain much insight from this app. I did, however, peruse the app store some more and found several scoreboards I could use for inspiration, to include the following from "Spades Free" by Optime Software LLC (on top) and "Spades" by Cliff Maier (below). I think both are very easy on the eye, the first giving more information about the current hand, and the second giving more history with regards to bids and tricks for each specific hand. It looks much more like the way I have traditionally kept score.

I continued my search and found a mobile scoreboard for games, "iKeepScore" by Tom Grimshaw. With a much higher star-rating than the app by, my expectations were also higher. Not only does this app have its own scoring system, which can be modified for 2-6 players, it also has a timer, a dice roller (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20), and a coin flip. As you can see in the screenshot below, it even has a star system to show who is in 1st place, etc. While I like the idea of this app, it does not have all the functionality I want in mine. I want mine to be math-proof (if using this system for spades, one would have to translate the number of tricks, bags, etc. into points each round).

I believe these apps are a good starting point for building the visual component of my own. Some questions I will need to consider as I progress:

  • Will I make this a single-directional app, or will the user have the option to turn the phone any direction?
  • How much history is necessary to show?
  • Will there be functionality to keep old scores? Post to Facebook?
Looking at these apps has inspired me to keep thinking outside the box (currently the "notebook" layout) and migrate to something both visually pleasing and user-friendly.


  1. excellent - I think you've really given yourself a leg up looking at some of the competition. Remember, you don't have to do everything they do first time around. I believe the key is to develop your minimum viable product (MVP), what single or small set of functions can you deliver that would be of value?

  2. I've been thinking about that...I think that's in-part why I decided to develop a scoring app rather than a full-fledged game. That is also what pared down my choices to just work on scoring one game (Spades) and expand it to score more card games for v2, then add other types of games (dice, dominoes, darts, etc) for v3.