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Ncik @ Radivarl  


Dial-A-Word (WAP)

You remember the original Matrix movie? And you remember that phone Neo got through the post at the office? It was a modified Nokia 8110, and based on it Nokia brought out quite a similar acting Nokia 7110 (don't ask about Nokia's handset numberings!). It was the first mobile phone to have a WAP browser.

WAP browsers on phones really didn't go down well when they first came out. However, as users couldn't just download games onto their phones in those days (the possibility didn't exist in those phones), several companies thought to try their luck at making browser based games.

Now, the WAP specification was very limited - there's was only so much you could do with it. Individual page downloads could only be about 1KB in size, possibilities for animations were extremely limited, and the phones at the time had tiny screens (96 pixels x 65 pixels - you get personal forum avatar icons bigger than that these days!), so what you could do in this media was quite restricted. However, for a company whose main project was dwindling away, this looked like an interesting revenue stream to start looking at - small applications, a possibly blossoming market, and a company without all its eggs in one basket.

Working with a basic client-server gaming model, the user would direct their browser to a particular location and the server would feed back pages of game info with links providing the connection mechanism back to the server again. No game code was processed on the end user's handset (it wasn't possible), so everything was controlled by the server.

Kind of a reverse-predictive-text game, Dial-A-Word was one of my first WAP games when io Productions started moving into the mobile space and becoming iomo. Written in Perl (shudder! I really am not a fan of Perl), the game concept was very simple. Basically, it would show you a number (for example, the "847328" in the screenshots above), and the user would guess what word this would create using the letters assigned to each number on the mobile phone keypad (A/B/C to 2, D/E/F to 3, etc.). Of course, these days with predictive text entry an' all, this game would be a piece of cake - simply type "847328" into your phone and the answer would pop up, but back then you didn't have that on the phone, so it was quite a good little puzzle. You could have multiple guesses, with hints given, a certain number of lives, and your final score got stored on all-time and daily scoreboards on the server.

I don't think it got distributed too widely, but it introduced me a world quite different to PC/console development.