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Announcing Catchup the iOS app

February 10, 2013

ketchup-everywhere-2

On the heels of yesterday’s announcement of a dedicated play site for Ketchup, today we have a second announcement from a completely separate developer: an iOS version of the game is coming.

Whereas I had no involvement in the playsite, I’ve been involved on the app since they started working on it some time ago. I’d like to comment on an excerpt from the announcement:

The AI is already TOO good, (a problem we also had on For the Win) and one of the challenges we have yet to tackle is how best to make it interesting to play against at all levels of difficulty. Ideally, I want to have some kind of automatic scaling of difficulty so that it attempts to play at or just above your level, always giving you a challenge, but not making it impossible for you to win. I’m not yet sure the best way to do this, so there is probably a lot of work left in that department.

He’s not exaggerating when he says the AI is really good. I’ve played the game about 500 times now, put effort into analyzing strategy, and I basically never lose to other humans anymore, but I’ve been playing the AI in a beta version of the app and I’m lucky if I can beat it 10% of the time, even when I’m straining every last neuron. So yeah,it’s good. I’m impressed because it’s running on weak hardware and Ketchup isn’t a straightforward AI challenge.

The AI has also taught me that my understanding of the game isn’t what I thought it was, which is both humbling and thrilling.

[EDIT] Because interest in this game keeps growing, I’m close to pulling the trigger on a Kickstarter. Whether I do will be contingent on whether I can find a way to create an unusually beautiful physical set at a reasonable price point. I have some ideas about how to do it, which I may post about later, but tell me what features/design elements you’d like a physical set to have, if you have any such desires.

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From → Essays

3 Comments
  1. Padi (FauxSloMo at iggc) permalink

    Ketchup on iOS and an official physical set? Yeah, I’d buy both of those! I’d like some way to keep the stones in place like that Produto board, and maybe some kind of numeric score tickers instead of the track? Oh, and please no eye-searing bright red and green color scheme. Maybe these are all no-brainers though.

    • nickbentley1000 permalink

      I agree with all points. I understand how terrible that color scheme is, and I’ve been studying the aesthetic and cognitive effects of different color schemes, and I promise to get it right. Also the stones will definitely click into place.

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