Announcing Ketchup the iOS app

I have been pretty quiet on here about what I’ve been up to lately. I’m not sure why, but I’ve been reluctant to announce my next project. I think part of it is that it’s a very simple game, and it’s that age-old fear that someone else is going to make it before you do. Sure, there may be some valid precedent for that, but it’s a silly thing to get hung up about.

So anyway, my next project is an iOS version of Ketchup, a very simple (deceptively simple) abstract board game created by Nick Bentley. Ketchup is already playable in a few different places on the web (more about that later), but I think at least a couple of the planned features will give folks who already play it somewhere else a reason to pick it up for their phones or iPads. Those reasons are a very strong AI (in development by Tysen Streib, who worked on For The Win with me), and asynchronous multiplayer via GameCenter. The AI is already TOO good, (a problem we also had on For The Win) and one of the challenges we have yet to tackle is how best to make it interesting to play against at all levels of difficulty. Ideally, I want to have some kind of automatic scaling of difficulty so that it attempts to play at or just above your level, always giving you a challenge, but not making it impossible for you to win. I’m not yet sure the best way to do this, so there is probably a lot of work left in that department.

Another area that is still pretty undeveloped is the user interface. The game is totally playable right now (and as of last week, asynchronously as well), but the interface needs a lot of love. These two items combined mean there is probably another few weeks worth of work left on the game’s development. (As with my previous personal projects, I’m balancing this with freelance work too.)

Recently, someone posted on reddit about another web-based version of Ketchup they’d created. (The other playable versions are on Mindsports and igGameCenter.) Part of my motivation for writing this post is because there was a mention of interest on Reddit in a mobile version, and I wanted to reply to that. (So if you’re coming from Reddit, hello!)