As I sat down to write about all the improvements we have coming to the results pages, it hit me that it would be nice to demonstrate how things work. Here is a short video of the results screens for Wordament on Xbox LIVE which I captured in the development emulator.
There are two types of results, Individual Results and the Real-time Leaderboard. Individual Results is the first screen you see as soon as the game has ended. Its purpose is to show the player how well they played against the board only. The Real-time Leaderboard is the second screen and it shows how well the player did against everyone else that just played that round. As you can see from the video, we have done a little remodeling on these screens. In an earlier post, I talked about how careful Jason and I try to avoid introducing change for change sake. We took a really long look at how we had been laying out these screens and decided that a few simple improvements would make them easier to read and more useful.
The first thing we focused on was performance. By profiling our code and experimenting with different list rendering strategies we were able to load our word lists faster than ever before, which in turn means these pages load quicker. This makes for a more responsive experience.
Then we took a hard look at all the data we were trying to convey and thought about how to lay it out so it could be quickly parsed and so that it would localize well to other languages. That led us down the path of dividing the screen with the top being stats and the bottom using a pivot control for all the word lists. We play-tested several designs and this one came out the clear favorite.
Many players have asked for the ability to touch a tile during Individual Results and see what words contain that particular tile. We have always thought that was a fantastic idea and I’m proud to say we got it added to this release as you can see in the video.
We played with a couple concepts in the real-time leaderboards. Jason and I were convinced that one in particular would be really cool: we wanted to add the best word each player found to the Real-time Leaderboards just like we do in the Persistent Leaderboards. When we tried this, it was a lot of information and the only way to do it involved using 2 rows for each player result. We showed the design to a few friends of Wordament and we quickly realized that we had to proceed with caution as too much data harmed the experience and diminished what players care about the most: their position in the leaderboard. You don’t want to “gild the lily,” as player test_gal so eloquently put it during one of our conversations. So we decided to leave the content of the list largely alone and we focused on performance and some minor refinements to the stats part of this screen.
The new stats area shows your rank in two ways: your actual rank on the left and a percentile rank on the right. The top number on left is simply your achieved rank with ties taken into consideration. The bottom number is the total number of players that reported results in the round. Players have told us that they compete with themselves on their percentage ranking because it’s very comparable round over round. So we decided to make it a more prominent part of our user interface.
The final change that we introduced was “real-time ties” in a way that’s consistent with our Persistent Leaderboards. You can see the vertical bars that show tied ranks and that we no longer duplicate the number when you place in the same rank as someone else. We continue to decide ties strictly on Score, leaving Words out of the picture.
Overall, we think we’ve taken the results experience and made just the minimal changes it needed to be even better. We hope you find these changes to be improvements that make the game more fun and playable.
John and Jason