Introducing the Apple Watch extension for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice app

When I heard about the upcoming Apple Watch, I started thinking about whether it made sense to do something watch-based for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice app.

I wasn’t really sure how well — if it all — the app would scale down to the dimensions of the watch.   Some of the activities we do in the app — scrolling through long lists of cards, for example — might be tedious on the phone, and the amount of detail that is offered on the phone, if stripped down to the size of the watch display, might become so abbreviated as to be useless.

But I kept thinking about it, and while I thought a lot of the collecting and trading aspects of the app didn’t work on such a small scale, it did seem there was an opportunity in game play.

Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say during those times that you are in the park, in the middle of a game, but not doing dedicated, portal-to-portal-as-fast-as-I-can gameplay.   The leisurely play a portal, get a Dole Whip, play another portal, ride the Jungle Cruise, etc. style of play.

When playing the game isn’t the entire purpose of your day in the park, it’s easy to lose track of ‘where was I supposed to go next’.   So I thought a useful way to expand The Sorcerer’s Apprentice onto the Apple Watch was to provide a quick glance at where you left off in the game — the next portal to visit, what storyline you were in, what villain is next to be faced, and what spell cards you should have ready.   (Of course, some or all of this might not be known, but we’d like to see as much of that information as we can).

To make this kind of information easily available, I created an Apple Watch extension to the Sorcerer’s Apprentice iPhone application.   The Apple Watch extension provides something called a Glance — a single page of information that can be easily accessed at any time to serve as a quick reminder of the most important things you need to know while playing the game.   I feel the Glance is the most useful part of the Apple Watch extension, and the way I expect to use the Watch while I’m playing.   The screenshot below shows one of the messages you might get from the Glance.

Glance

The Glance for The Sorcerer’s App

The Apple Watch extension also includes an app that can be launched from the watch main app screen or by tapping on the Glance.   The app presents the same information as the Glance, just in a different format.   (It’s mainly because the app has to be launched, while the Glance is always available, that I feel the Glance is the best and easiest way to check on your game status).   The screenshot below shows how the app presents the same information shown in the Glance above (in the app, the information doesn’t fit fully onto the screen so it can be scrolled using the digital crown or a swipe gesture).

The Watchkit App

The Watchkit App

The Apple Watch extension is part of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice app for iPhone beginning with the 2.5 release; you don’t need to purchase it separately.   Version 2.5 of the app, containing the Watchkit Extension and a few other bug fixes, is available in the app store now.

I’ll be very interested to hear how you feel this improves your gameplay experience in the park.   As more of a casual player myself, I think it will help me better integrate playing the game into my park days — I hope it does the same for you.

Those of you who have been following along through this blog or the app’s Facebook page no doubt know that the release of this version was held up for a bit by challenges in the App Store review process … I expect I’ll have a post or two regarding that coming in the near future.

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Tick Tock, Apple ….

Today is launch day for the Apple Watch.   I just thought I should share that since chances are it isn’t being covered anywhere else and you might have missed it.

I’m one of the lucky/foolish ones who set a pre-3:00 a.m. alarm on April 10th so that I could get my order in … and as a result I managed to get a ‘Day 1’ delivery window.   From all reports, the stock of watches available for day 1 delivery was gone in mere minutes, so I feel pretty lucky that I made it into the first group to receive the watch.

As soon as the UPS truck dropped off my watch today, I went through the setup steps for the watch, and installed The Sorcerer’s Apprentice App software onto the watch.   I’ve been working on this software for a while and while it’s only a very small subset of the functionality available on the phone, I think it is a nice complement to the full-featured app and gives just enough information at a glance to remind players of the info they want to know between active encounters with the villains.

The Sorcerer's App glance running on Apple Watch

The Sorcerer’s App glance running on Apple Watch

I’m really looking forward to being on-site at Disney World next week to run the Expedition Everest Challenge 5K and to test the app in the field and make sure the integration of the watch with the iPhone app is seamless and operating as expected.

I had really hoped to get the finished software into the App Store for launch day, but even though I submitted early, it’s still in the queue for final approval, and until it gets that final stamp of approval it won’t appear in the App Store.

Given the constrained supply of Apple Watches for launch day delivery, I’m still hopeful that the software update will be available before most users actually have the device in their hands … if there are any updates on the process to share, I’ll certainly post updates here.

If you’re at the Magic Kingdom on May 2nd, maybe I’ll run into you at the portals.

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Android version released

Version 1.0.1 of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice app for Android is now released!

Yesterday, version 1.0 was released, the first version of The Sorcerer’s App for the Android platform.   I’m happy with the way this turned out — all the essential functionality that was part of the initial iPhone release has been moved over, and along the way I think some things even got a bit of an improvement.

See the ‘Using the Sorcerer’s App (Android)‘ tab above for lots of details on the features and how to use them — this complete document is also available on the device (open the Navigation Drawer and select ‘Help’ and you can get the help directly in the app).

A number of users immediately downloaded and starting using the app — which is great!    And at least a few of them ran into crashes, which is not so great, but very useful to me as a developer to get the crash logs and see where things weren’t quite right coming out of the gate.  I uploaded Version 1.0.1 just minutes ago which I believe clears up all the known issues, but I’ll continue to watch the developer console very closely to see if anything else crops up among the early users.

Additional features for the app are under development and I’ve had a couple of enhancement and feature requests as well, so I’ll keep this post short so I can get back to work on new capabilities.

Thanks to all of you who suggested (sometimes, ahem, rather strongly 🙂 )  that an Android version was needed — I really appreciate your patience and enthusiasm.   I hope it’s been worth the wait … and stay tuned for further versions which will be even more exciting!

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What about Android?

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice app is approaching its second birthday, and during that time I’ve enjoyed getting feedback from you about new features, how best to use the app, game play tips, and other ideas.

But by far the most frequent comment I’ve heard is “What about Android”, or some variation of that question.

I assure you it’s not because I’ve been uninterested in having an Android version — it’s always been a purely technical issue.

I’m excited to announce that I’ve recently begun work on the Android version of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice — it’s underway and while I’m not ready to announce any time frame for completion, I’m happy with the way the work is going so far.

iPhone applications and Android applications — while they may look quite similar to a user — are actually very different from the developer’s perspective.   Creating the Android version of the app is therefore going to require a good bit of work — but that work presents some great opportunities to re-visit the original design and see if there are areas that could be improved upon.

My initial plan for the app is somewhat conservative — Version 1.0 of the Android version will be roughly equivalent to Version 1.0 of the iPhone version that was released in 2013.   This means it will support the card checklist functionality, but won’t yet have the game play features, trading, or the portal finder.    But the roadmap for the app is to bring it fully up to the feature set of the iPhone version over a series of two to three major releases.

Over on The Sorcerer’s App Facebook page  I’d like to keep the discussion going as I revisit all parts of the application in the process of re-engineering it for the Android platform.   I’m also launching a “Nerd Central” tab on this site where I may from time to time dive into the technical details that I find interesting … those of you who are technically inclined are invited to click over.

I also invite you to respond to the poll below.  Feedback from users has guided the evolution of the app from the very beginning, and as we embark on this next chapter I’d really appreciate getting your ideas and perspectives on the best features to preserve and the ones to change.   The changes that are made during this process may very well find their way back to the iPhone version in a later release, so no matter which platform you prefer you might want to weigh in with your thoughts about design and features.

And now … I’m happy to share with you the first finished screen from the Android version of the Sorcerer’s App.  Just a small taste to whet your appetite for what is to come.

More to come, I promise!

Android main screen

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Version 2.4.5: Hard strategy changes

The changes for Hard strategy probably need a bit more explanation … since the original release of the App, Disney changed the gameplay at the hard difficulty level, and the app is now back in sync with the actual gameplay experience in the parks.

Previously, each villain had a fixed weakness … if you played cards of the correct spell type (the type that corresponded to the villain’s weakness), then you would defeat the villain more easily.

In the past year, the game was changed so that now each villain’s weakness varies from game to game.   You must first discover the villain’s weakness, and then play the appropriate spell type to defeat the villain.   To discover the weakness, you play cards of multiple spell types … and if one of the spells you cast corresponds to the villain’s weakness (for this particular game), then that spell will cast at Level 3 strength.   That is your clue that you should cast further spells of that type to defeat the villain.

Fortunately, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice App has information about the various spell level animations for nearly all of the cards (some of the recently-released party cards being an exception); so using this information, we can help you determine which spell type is the correct one to use.

In the new version (2.4.5) of the app, if you set difficulty to ‘Hard’, then when you play at a portal and enter the game step information, you will no longer be taken straight to the ‘Cast Spells’ screen — you will instead be taken to the ‘Determine Weakness’ screen.   Here the app will suggest 3 spells you should cast, each of a different type.   If you’d rather use a different spell card for one of the types, tap to select it, and then pick the card you’d prefer from the presented list (the list will be all cards of the spell type which you’ve added to the deck you’re playing with).

 

Determine Weakness screen

The new Determine Weakness screen

Once you’ve completed your card selection and cast the spells, you’ll be asked which animation was shown for each of the spells, just as in the normal gameplay flow.   If one of the cards casts as Level 3, then you’ll be taken to the Cast Spells screen so you can cast more spells of that type.

If no Level 3 spell was cast, then you’ll be prompted again to cast up to 3 spells — any spell types that cast as Level 1 or Level 2 will be eliminated, since we know those aren’t the correct weakness type.   Any that haven’t yet been tested, or were tested but without conclusive results, will continue to be tested until the correct weakness type has been determined.

This all sounds a bit confusing in descriptive form, but I think once you’ve played through it a time or two it should flow very smoothly.    Whatever cards you select for each spell type will be remembered from one game to the next — this way, you can set aside a set of cards (one for each spell type) as your ‘determine weakness’ set of cards and always have them readily available when first playing against a new villain.   It’s a good idea to pick cards that have easily distinguishable animations, so if you find that it’s hard to interpret the animation for a particular card, you can switch to a different card for future rounds (feel free to post your favorites in the comments below — I still haven’t finalized my own setup so I’m not prepared yet to make a recommendation).

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The Sorcerer’s Apprentice app now has a page on Facebook.   Please stop by, check it out, and engage in some conversation!

https://www.facebook.com/sorcerersapp

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Technical Difficulties … please stand by

Version 2.4 was recently released via the App Store, and has a fairly serious bug that will affect those of you who play at the Hard difficulty setting.

If you are playing SotMK at Hard difficulty, I’d ask that you set the difficulty within The Sorcerer’s App to Medium.   The game play suggestions offered by the app will not always be the correct ones, but setting difficulty within the app to Hard will cause the app to crash or hang.

I’m sure Hades and his minions had a hand in this, but we will prevail in the end.

I’m working on a fix for this and will submit it to the App Store as soon as I can … I appreciate your patience in the meantime.   Stay tuned … more to come soon!

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Images for Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Cards

This gallery contains 83 photos.

The direct “Download Image” button for downloading an image into the Sorcerer’s Apprentice App had to be disabled in versions beginning with 2.4 in order to comply with Apple’s App Store guidelines regarding redistribution of copyrighted material. It will take … Continue reading

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New Feature: Card Images

It was always my intention to include images of the cards in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice App.  But since the images are copyrighted by Disney, Apple’s app store review process initially rejected the app based on the inclusion of the images.  So the images were removed just prior to the initial 1.0 release of the app.

But I always thought the app was nicer with them, and after a user suggested that I allow users to add their own photos, I decided to put that capability in to the current release (2.3).

So, here are the changes in Version 2.3 to allow you to add card images:

  • The support of images is optional, and you can turn it off if it’s not a feature you want  (it’s initially ON).   A new ‘Settings’ tab has been added to the main tab bar, and if you select the settings page you’ll see the option “Show Card Photos”.   (Access to the About page is now via the Settings page rather than directly from the tab bar.

Settings Screen

  • When card photos is ON, you’ll see that the card detail page for each card has been slightly reformatted.   Next to the card number and name is a large gray button with the text “Add Card Image”.   If you’d like to add an image for the card, simply tap the button.

CardDetail with Add Button

  • You are then presented with a list of possible sources to add the image from:
    • “Download Image” is the easiest — it downloads the appropriate card image for the card you’re viewing directly from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice web site.
    • “Take Photo” allows you to take your own card photo of cards in your collection.   (Note:  This option only appears on devices with a camera — so not on an iPod Touch, and the screenshot below, since it was taken on a simulator and not an actual device, also doesn’t show the take photo option).
    • “Select from Library” – select from the photo library on your device
    • “Select from Album” – select from a photo album on your device
    • “Cancel” – don’t add a photo for this card.

ActionSheet

  • Once you’ve added a card photo from the selected source, you’ll see it on the Card Detail screen as shown below.

CardDetail with image

  • If you tap the card image, you’ll be taken to a (nearly) full-screen view of the card image.
    • At the bottom of the image, tap ‘dismiss’ to go back to the card detail screen
    • If you don’t like the image, you can tap ‘Delete Image’ to remove it.

CardImage view

  • Finally, if you turn the ‘Show Card Photos’ setting OFF, you’ll be prompted to remove the images — if you are trying to free up space on your device this can free up the space used by card images.   (Downloaded images are about 800K each)
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Version 2.3 Released

Version 2.3 of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is now available from the App Store

Features in this version:

  • Support for card images (take your own photos or download from our web site)
  • Added the 2014 Halloween Party Card (05/P – The Pirate Helmsman’s Bombardment)
  • Support for iOS 8.0

I don’t have the animation descriptions in place for the new holiday card but wanted to get this release out as soon as possible — if you have the card and can drop me descriptions of the new animations, I’ll get those into the app (hopefully around the same time we release the update for the 2014 Christmas Party card).

I’ll have a follow-up post soon about the newly-added support for card images in the game, which is the biggest change in 2.3.

Thank you for your continued support — now go Cast some Spells!

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