Thursday, December 31, 2009

Checkers Tutor 1.03

I just published version 1.03 of Checkers Tutor on the Android Market. It has improved move input, displays the current level in the title bar, displays the last move with a blue arrow instead of not-so-nice highlighted squares, and fixes a bug in the arrow rendering for capture moves when the board is flipped. Behind the scenes, I cleaned up a bit again, but my board class is still a God Object which isn't nice. The screenshot below shows how it looks (still quite similar to version 1.0!).

Checkers Tutor has some features that are better than what I have in CheckerBoard
  • The move input is smarter: clicking on a piece that only has one legal move immediately executes that move (like in CheckerBoard), but also clicking on a square that can only be reached by one piece executes that move (unlike in CheckerBoard). This is nice because on those tiny mobile phone screens it's probably not easy to input moves, and every click you can save helps.
  • All legal moves can be displayed with yellow arrows to teach the rules.
  • The last move played can be shown with a blue arrow.
  • The beginner level attempts to reach a bad (but not immediately losing) position at all times. This should avoid frustration for beginners, who are usually not happy with my PC programs because they lose too often.
Some other things are not so nice yet:
  • The checkers engine is not as strong as I would like it to be. A large part of this is the low speed of the hardware, but I must admit that I haven't worked too hard on improving my Java checkers engine. It will most probably be more than good enough for 99% of the users. Nevertheless, a small opening book and perhaps endgame databases up to 4 pieces would greatly enhance its play, as would some more work on the evaluation function.
  • The game is not saved when you quit and return (or when you switch the display from portrait to landscape mode or vice versa), only the current position. You cannot undo any moves made in the last session.
  • There is not much advice to help a novice what to do with the game after installation. I would like to add something like Tips on Startup to improve this.
  • Move input is limited to touch, but perhaps on phones with small screens this is not practical, and adding keyboard support would be nice.
  • And probably many other things that I forget...
However, my christmas holidays are coming to an end, so the next update will have to wait a bit.

1 comment:

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