Friday, August 12, 2011

Sudoku Puzzles for Google+ Games. It does not make sense.

Google+ Games launched yesterday with 16 games.

I tried out Sudoku Puzzles today and it did not make sense.

It does not make sense in the way that only Google could provide.

Here are the main issues:

  • The Easy level is way too hard.  On a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of the normal difficulty levels you find on other Sudoku games, it's a 6.5 when 'Easy' should be a 2.
  • The game offers no way of putting in notations or pencil marks.  Now I can finish a typical Sudoku game with a difficult level of 1 to 3 (out of 10) without pencil marks but 4+ and you need to start using notations to cover the possibilities.  So a Sudoku puzzle with a difficulty of 6.5 is basically impossible to finish without notations.
An Easy game on Google+ Games looks like this:

A 5-star difficulty game on Yahoo! Games looks like this:

Hmm, so the most difficult 5-star game on Yahoo! Games is actually easier than Easy on Google+?

From a developer's perspective it makes you think:

  • Did the person who created this version for Google+ Games actually play Sudoku?
  • Was there actually any game usability testing?
  • Did the person who created this version of Sudoku just port the code over from an open source version of Sudoku and think that's all you needed to do because they don't actually play Sudoku?
  • Was the notation code feature just not added because it required extra programming (eg. Hold down Shift to make a notation!) that again the developer didn't worry about or feel was necessary because they don't actually play Sudoko?

To actually finish a game at the Easy level, I needed to bust out a pen and piece of paper to note down the notations I would have added in the first place had their been a notations feature in the game.  I wanted to finish one to see what would happen on the conclusion of a successfully solved game and it was a really strange feeling because there is no leader board.  So nothing was achieved. In a strange way, I thought, is this Google's version of a cruel joke.

The thing is, when you put out a games launch, it's meant to not have these kinds of issues.  Google paid for these other high profile titles for launch day such as Angry Birds and Zynga Poker and you tarnish the initial line up with a half baked version of Sudoku that does not make any sense to play.