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OctaDial - a puzzle/logic game:


Executive Summary: its a game that involves shuffling colored tile faces between 9 octagon Tiles, using 4 overlapping Dials. It was inspired by memories of solving the Rubics Cube and similar devices, but there the similarity ends. Your first game will typically take around 50 minutes to solve it, but with a few techniques mastered you should get it down to around 20 minutes. Once you have mastered all the techniques, it can be solved in 3 to 5 minutes, depending on ones dexterity and current focus. The current World Record is 2 minutes 37 seconds (by a Medical GP in Frankston, Victoria, Australia)

OctaDial has a long history. It was invented in 1990 by our current Research and Development Manager, Steve Goschnick, when he was first learning the C++ language. There are some early concept sketches that lead to OctaDial down the bottom of this page. He was after a suitably complex programming task that stretched the features of the 'then' new C++ language, not too large such that it could be a learning exercise, but also not too small - as all our work attempts to arrive at a viable product or solution, as Time is a precious thing. (The visually astute will notice that our company logo is actually taken from the OctaDial game - it represents the completed game, it used to be a 'playable logo' via a Java applet, a concept we pitched and demonstrated in 1997 within the Melbourne IT Incubator)

What follows here is a reverse chronological (i.e. newest to oldest) selection of news and screenshots about various versions of OctaDial down the years, most recently, a version for the crisp new, high resolution, tablets and high-resolution smartphones running Android, that we launched on Google Play Store yesterday, 21st Feb 2013.

News for OctaDial:

OctaDial now at Google Play Store - for all Android Smartphones and Devices

Feb 22, 2013: We have just launched OCTADIAL on the Google Play store. This version has four sets of screen-graphics that the program chooses from optimally for the device it is currently running upon - so you get a great user experience no matter what Android device you are using. When we uploaded it to the Google Play store it reported back, that this version of OCTADIAL supports 2527 devices - that's a lot of variation of hardware out there in userland!

For example the screen resolution of the Google NEXUS 7 - a seven inch tablet - is a whopping 1280x800 pixels (that's the same number of pixels as a 13" Mac Book Pro, pre-Retina display). Games do look great on these high resolution tablets - provided that the app developer updates their graphics to the higher resolutions, instead of just doing a lazy scale-up of the old graphics artefacts; or worse, just letting the OS do the scaling for them! We have taken the proper path and updated OCTADIAL with nice crisp high-resolution images for these high-res smartphones and tablets, and appropriately designed smaller graphics for the lesser endowed 'Feature Phones' such as the sub-$100 Android's with just 320x240 pixels to play with.

Keep an eye out for OCTADIAL in the Google Play store - its a supreme bargain at around $1. Click here for Google Play store and then Search for OCTADIAL. Any Feedback or User reviews, very much appreciated:) in a very crowded app world.

One of the great features that Google has added to the Google Play store in very recent times, is that they have enabled app developers/publishers to put up different sets of screen-images on the store, for each of the languages that the app has been specifically localized for. That's great for OCTADIAL as we have it Internationalized (I18n) for seven languages at present, as follows:

  1. English
  2. Japanese
  3. South Korean
  4. French
  5. German
  6. Traditional Chinese
  7. Simplified Chinese

... with other languages to follow.

The following screenshot is from the Google Nexus 7 tablet in landscape mode (running Android OS 4.1, it looks the same on the recently upgraded OS 4.2.1), while the two after that are from a Samsung Galaxy SII (running Android OS 2.3.3) in portrait mode, one in the Japanese language localization, and the second in the South Korean localization:

Fig.1 - The minimalist main game screen is devoid of any language - so nothing lost in translation. (right-Click on the image to see it in full 1280x800 resolution)

Fig.2 - Menu screen with Settings popped, in the Japanese Localization (L10n).

Fig.3 - 'The Mission' screen in the South Korean L10n.

OctaDial BB10 - for BlackBerry OS 10 Smartphones and Devices

Jan 15, 2013: Research In Motion are launching their long anticipated BlackBerry 10 OS (i.e. a new Operating System for BlackBerry smart phones) at the end of this month (30 Jan 2013). We have had our hands on the pre-release developer model - the Dev Alpha BB10 for some months now - see the image of me playing OctaDial on it below.

As usual we took my OctaDial game to this new platform first - i.e. its our standard porting-test app, since it uses a lot of aspects of a new OS+device that put it to the test ... the image and vector graphic system; the database/file system (for storing both the current state of the game when you get otherwise interrupted (e.g. a phone call), plus the sorted list of 'Best Game Times' so far achieved; handling multiple screen resolutions and changes in orientation via the acceleration sensor; good use of touch; as a normalised measure of the various markets out there; etc.).

The screen resolution of the Dev Alpha BB10 is a whopping 1280x768 pixels - which looks great on a 4" phone - as long as the app developer updates their graphics to the higher resolutions, instead of just doing a lazy scale-up of the old graphics artefacts; or worse, just letting the OS do the scaling for them! Naturally, we didn't take that 'cheap' root but instead have updated the graphics with nice crisp high-resolution images for these high-res smartphones and tablets too (i.e. optimised for 4 sets of resolutions, not just one). Note: RIM plans to release six different models of smartphone running BB10 in 2013 alone.

Keep an eye out for it in the Blackberry App World store - its a supreme bargain at around $1 ... you can't even buy a cup of coffee for that these days, but the pleasure from playing OctaDial lasts and lasts. click here for BlackBerry App World

The following are some screenshots from the Blackberry OS10 Dev Alpha device version, in portrait mode:

Fig.1 - Opening Menu screen.

Fig.2 - Players 'Mission' screen.

Fig.3 - Starting position with color tile-faces evenly scattered.

Fig.4 - A game part-solved.

Fig.5 - The 'Settings' Menu selected.

Fig.6 - Music can be turned off/on, as can the rotation 'clicking' sounds.

Fig.7 - The 'About' screen on V1.2 of the BB OS 10 version.

OctaDial V1.0 for Android - our entry in Google's ADC Challenge in 2009

Sep 1, 2009: Solid Software entry in Google's Android Developers Challenge II:

Yesterday 31st August 2009 at 11.59.59, US Pacific Time, ADC II (Android Developers Challenge) accepted the final submissions. Solid Software got an Android version of OctaDial uploaded just 12 hours before the deadline - but with the feature-set complete and tested on several languages including: English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Japanese, German and some French and Italian. As you can see in the image of the 'game in motion' below, it is largely devoid of the need to support different languages, particularly on 'Touch' screen- empowered Android phones such as the HTC Magic.

However, the menus, options and instructions do have several paragraphs worth of natural language. The Android SDK (software developers kit) makes it relatively easy to include different languages and country Locales - much easier than other development systems we have used to date. The image below shows the OctaDial menu buttons in Traditional Chinese (with the phone in landscape mode) :

and the physical 'menu' button pop-ups such as the following screen on a Japanese phone:

Such menu button labels are relatively brief, however, other text-oriented windows such as the About screen and the player's Mission screen have more text, which requires more concise and accurate translation. The following images show the Mission screen in the following languages:

The Mission screen in French:

The Mission screen in Korean:

The Mission screen in German:

The Mission screen in Simplified Chinese:

The Mission screen in English:

The Mission screen in Traditional Chinese:

The About screen in English:


Google is providing about 2 million dollars (US) in prize money for ADC II (Android Developers Challenge), similar to last years amount, but their judging process is quite different and the there are 10 different categories of software. During September 2009 sometime, they are making all of the submissions freely available to 'community judges' to download and rate against a given set of criteria. Of course to become a community judge you will need an Android-powered phone, such as the HTC Magic or the HTC Hero phones, to access the downloads and do your judging. Details of the Android Developers Challenge are here: click here

Image 11: OctaDial in landscape mode on a HTC-Magic Android-power phone.

Until this Android smart phone version of OctaDial overviewed above, we hadn't done a version of OctaDial since it was invented here at Solid Software Pty Ltd by Steve Goschnick for MS-DOS computers back in the early 1990s. Its really been waiting for something like the current generation of Smart phones to come along, with the right combination of a decent sized screen and a good pixel resolution.

Historical Versions of Octadial:

OctaDial V2 for MS/DOS - Released 1992, Published by Dynamo House P/L

In 1992 a V2 for MS/DOS was published by Dynamo House P/L (Australia). The software package design was by Margaret Leunig (Graphic Artist sister of Michael Leunig, the Australian cartoonist), and screen graphics by early pioneer Computer Artist - Kim Lynch. It was for VGA video-card only PCs, and thereby didn't support multiple screen resolutions (as per the V1 for MS/DOS) - but it did have 3 modes: moving tiles, fixed tiles and 3D tiles.

Fig. 1: The software package cover design for Octadial V2 for MS/DOS, by Margaret Leunig

OctaDial V1 for MS-Dos - Released 1990, Published by Solid Software P/L

In 1990 the very first version of Octadial was developed and self-published by Steve Goschnick for Solid Software. V1 was less sophisticated artistically than V2, but more sophisticated technically. V1 was totally scalable (really just a big dynamic equation of several thousand lines of C++, including the definitions of the board and bevelled edges) and ran on a multitude of PC graphics video cards of the day including VGA, EGA and even the low resolution CGA color graphics adapter (eerily reminiscent of todays very high, high and low resolution Android phones).

Fig. 2: Screen image of Octadial V1 for MS/DOS, circ. 1990.

Conceptualization of Octadial

"I invented Octadial in early 1990 (in the year and month of the birth of my first son, Tim - the Artist who created the graphics in the current-day smartphone and tablet versions), as an extended exercise in the then new C++ language - one that turned out being commercialized and sold as a video game. The concept came about via a number of currents in my life at the time: from my love of wall/floor tile patterns (heavily represented in Melbourne's Edwardian period buildings) as a busy home rennovator; via a programming exercise/pitch I'd made in turtle graphics; and drawing some inspiration from the success of Rubics cube. The image below from my visual diary in 1990, is me playing around with various geometric patterns, envisaging numerous 'virtual gadgets' that could be made to work upon the screen via the magic that is software. The 'pitch' which included an exercise in turtle graphics, was one I made to a neighbour in 1989, who had invented and published a board game (the cardboard variety - called Metagon) that included octagonal shaped physical game pieces. The inventor of Metagon had been told by so-called 'experts' that his board game could 'not' be computerized. I said 'not true!' and then wrote a little C++ code that used turtle graphics to simply draw octagonal tiles on the screen, to back up my claim that it was indeed possible on PCs with VGA video cards - the mainstream computers of the day. My pitch to him to develop a video game of the board game, fell on deaf ears, but my appetite for writing on-screen graphics had been ignited. I upgraded my programming skills to include vector graphics proper and the 'virtual gadget' that is Octadial came to me by way of a dream in early 1990 - a type of dream I like to call 'invention dreams', which I'm sure most creative people have, whether or not they remember them specifically on waking." Steve Goschnick

Fig. 3: Visual diary entry playing with tile patterns that led to Octadial, circ. 1990.

Our Privacy Policy for Customer of OctaDial

We don't retain any data about customers who bought OCTADIAL through the App Stores by which it is currently available (at the present time just two such stores: 'Google Play'; and 'BlackBerry World'). What details Google Inc collect and what details Blackberry Inc collect, and what they do with them, is none of our business - you will have to refer to their Privacy Policies in that regard if it concerns you.

If you write to us by email about OctaDial, then naturally we will have your email address (and emails), thereafter. We don't pass on the email addresses of our customers (nor their emails) to anyone outside of Solid Software Pty Ltd. In-house, such an obtained email address will only be used to either: response to your original enquiry/suggestion; or, let you know about relevant new information about our apps, from time-to-time.

Customers who bought OCTADIAL prior to the existence of App Stores (e.g. our earlier MS-DOS version), will be represented in our client database. We do not pass on any information from our client database to any other organization or persons. The computers that run our client database, are in-house and are never connected to the Internet by either wire or wirelessly (no kidding).

This page last updated: November, 2013.

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