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The Challenge

To create three traditional playing card games, both for iOS and Android. The games would be Truco, Buraco (Canasta) and Paciência (Solitaire). They would all be free with ads. The main goals was to amplify Copag’s branding, and to connect with new and young customers.

Copag Apps

My Role

I was the lead Designer working with a Visual Designer and a development partner to scope and design the features in the apps. I worked on sketches, wireframes, prototypes, UX design and visual design for the main flows of the apps.

Design Tools

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Sketch
  • InVision

Specific Issues

Of course, one of the main things to focus on a playing card game app, is to reproduce the game experience itself into the app, without being so literal, but having the same look and feel for the users. Things like the table, the players and their hands, their interaction, the sound design, the playing cards design, the time to make an action, the AI playing skills and so on. Some examples:

1 – The table

We’ve decided to bring real aspects to the table, to have an instant connection with the players. The player can choose from a Casino table to a Beach mat to play their hands. There’s a fun aspect to that, and the player can make a connection to the places where it is common to play, such as university tables, or barbecue parties.

Game tables

2 – The cards

We’ve redesigned the playing cards, so that they could have a real fit to each game. The Truco cards are the most common design, because each player only holds 3 cards at a time, so that doesn’t interfere on the gameplay. The Buraco cards have a really unique design, since they are horizontal with the suits and pips on the left, so the player can pile dozen of cards horizontally, and is still able to see each one without any problem. Finally, the Paciência cards are vertical, with suits and pips on the top, so the player can also pile dozen of cards, but on a vertical direction.

The cards also have different back designs to be chosen, both made exclusively for the games, or adapted from Copag’s real back designs.

Truco Cards
Buraco Cards
Paciência Cards
Card backs

3 – Sound design

Each scenario has its own sound design. It is good to ad some reality to the game, but we couldn’t depend on it to be that important, since we knew that our games were casual and fast, and players would probably play them without any sound whatsoever. The sound design is discreet, that way, the scenario plays an important role in the game, without being a distraction.

4 – AI playing skills

One of the main important things on playing cards games is the social component. Besides being able to play online with other players, we decided to create AI players that would resemble real players. We could make an “easy, medium, hard” selection, but we decided to make different personas. So, one AI is more distracted than the other, one plays more tight, other plays more loose, and so on. That way, it really feels like you’re playing with real people. The AI makes mistakes, “thinks” before making an action, bluffs, and makes fun of the other players, with the use of Emojis to represent their “faces”.

Game Ai
Game Ai

Design Process

The first thing we did was a benchmark research. We were looking for pros and cons of the main apps available on stores. After that, we’ve made a lot of sketches, both for the table, the cards and the interaction assets. Then, the prototypes and several tests with our team. We’ve made the soft launch at the end of 2014. Since then, we’ve iterated and updated the app, and included ad networks to display ads in between the games.

Truco Icon
Truco Icon
Buraco Icon
Buraco Icon
Paciência Icon
Paciência Icon
Config screens
Truco app
Buraco app
Paciência app
Copag apps

The Results

The apps are a huge success. People really enjoy the game components, the AI interface, and the game design. They were are all listed on top 100 free games on both app stores. Copag’s Truco is the best hit, was made app of the week one time on iTunes Store, and is always on Top 5 at Casino category. Later, we’ve developed and launched a Domino game with in-app purchases to be part of this product line.

Apps release