For the past year we’ve been working on a secret game project called Gridwordz. I am pleased to announce that we have just released the game on iOS and Android.
Like a fine wine, some of the best tech products are years in the making. Gridwordz is both frustrating and addictive – but don’t take our word for it, check out the consistent 5 star reviews on the App Store. But part of its real charm – for us at Matmi, at least – is the backstory and how it ended up with us developing it.
The game was originally created by a computer programmer, Herbert Jandyce, back in the 1970’s. He and a close circle of friends played it regularly for a few decades. But it was only a couple of years ago, at an age when most would be contemplating retirement, that he decided that it might be fun to see if a ‘modern’ creative programmer could re-imagine his game as an App. That’s when Herbert approached Matmi, and the rest, as they say, is history. You can read Herbert’s own backstory on the Gridwordz website, here.
For us, though, the real fun has been in seeing how Herbert’s programmer mind would adapt to working alongside our developers. He was putting a great deal of trust in us by inviting us to develop something so personal to him. Here’s an insights into his experience,
Your clearly something of a Wordsmith – what is your favourite word or turn of phrase?
My favourite 5by5 GridWordz word is ? ARES … you’ll see why if you manage to construct it in a grid
My favourite phrase is from Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata:
… whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
How many times do you think you’ve played this game over the years?
I have played Player v Player many thousands of times, I have had a long running battle with a very competitive friend; we haven’t kept score, I think I am winning he thinks he is!
The single player grids I have played many thousands of times also, trying to create scores that are the highest possible grid scores for the different sized grids.
I have never got near to the theoretical maximum, I don’t think it’s practically possible to get 300 on a 5 by 5 grid but I have a number of constructs that get you well in to the 200’s.
Where did the original idea come from?
The original idea came from a parlour game that I used to play with a school friend.
How is this game different from the original?
The core game play is pretty much the same, the differences are what you can do with the technology framework to create and manage starting words, create timed turns, validate scoring, give definitions, stop cheating and make the whole experience more streamlined.
The biggest differences will be when we release the full multiplayer game when you can have any number of people playing against each other from one set of automatically delivered letters and the jackpot games.
The single player game is obviously different but still a variation of the core game theme.
Are you pleased with the initial reviews?
Yes, I’m very pleased, but there aren’t that many reviews at the moment, and they are coming from a selective audience of ‘wordies’ as we haven’t pushed the game out to the wider world yet.
I see games on the stores with tens of thousands of great reviews; I hope we will get the same reception when we go to a wider audience. I think the game has a market, but I am aware it will not have the universal appeal of a less cerebral game.
What’s you top score?
Obviously, it depends on Grid Size. For the 5 by 5 Grid I can create grids that are well in to the 200’s. The most I have ever scored in a PvP game is 232.
Do you have anymore great ideas for games?
I have thirty or so games in my filing cabinet most of them could be delivered in App format. Whether they are great ideas or bonkers is probably not for me to judge.
How did you find working with a modern development team?
Quite frustrating at times as the modern project management methods and delivery principles were quite different to the ones that I have been used to in my career but ultimately rewarding as the final product emerged and I got more used to the development approach.
Was the end product what you expected?
Yes, and it is great, but not what I expected at the very beginning. At the outset of this project, pre Matmi involvement, the plan was to develop only one version of the game. This would automatically deals letters to two or more players; this would have been the same as my first coded version of the game that I wrote in the 1980’s. The automated deal version gameplay differs quite a bit from the game that I played as a kid and the current PvP version. It is less strategic but easier to play, I felt that the automated deal game was more suited to an App than the one we have gone with and would possibly appeal to a wider audience. We hope it will be in our next release if the initial game versions are successful.
What was the hardest part about the journey?
I think the hardest part was having to leave some really good ideas out.
What is your favourite part of the game?
I love the styling and the artwork that reflects the games origins but I think my favourite part is the single player game that allows me to replay grids and tiers to my hearts content to try to achieve better, even perfect, scores.
What do you think will finally break the internet?
I think it will metamorphosize rather than break. I’m not alone in thinking that the next major evolutionary phase of man is technological not biological, the next 10,000 years will be very interesting.
Download the game for free today, but be warned it is frustratingly addictive.