iPhone app for UC designed puzzle


Two University of Canterbury academics have developed an iPhone puzzle game they believe will be the next big thing in the international electronic puzzle world.

Dr Nicola Ward Petty and Dr Shane Dye from the University’s Department of Management, with former UC staff member Bruce Webster, have created an iPhone application for a puzzle game they invented called Rogo.

Originally developed by Dr Petty and Dr Dye for pencil and paper, Rogo is a treasure hunt that challenges players to plot a path around numbers on a crossword-like grid, gathering the highest possible score. Players are told the maximum number of moves allowed and the perfect score — the better the path chosen the closer to the score you get. A video on how to play the game is available on YouTube.

Each Rogo puzzle has a unique solution, which has been generated and tested using a special computer algorithm designed by Creative Heuristics Ltd, the company set up by Dr Petty and Dr Dye.

The application went on sale on the Apple App Store on 2 December and Dr Petty and Dr Dye said that if the game was half as popular as Angry Birds, a game created by a Finnish developer which has sold 6.5 million copies, they would be “extremely happy”.

“Rogo is completely new and original,” Dr Petty said.

“It’s a mixture of a maze, word-search and Sudoku, with an innovative and intuitive interface. It will soon be played on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch in subways, in waiting rooms, and even in classrooms in the United States, Japan and China as well as in its home town of Christchurch, New Zealand.”

The idea for Rogo came from the outdoor sport of rogaining, a long-distance cross-country navigation event similar to orienteering in which teams visit as many checkpoints as they wish in a set time. Each checkpoint has a different value assigned to it, making strategy and route selection vital to achieving the best score.
However, the mathematics behind the game comes from the field of operations research, the field in which Dr Dye and Dr Petty are involved as academics.

Dr Petty said the application took just over a year to develop and was programmed by Mr Webster.

“Bruce has brought his own brilliance and originality to the game play that takes it out of being simply a converted paper-based game and into a category of its own. The graphics are original and a little quirky, and the background music has been provided by friends and relatives. Photographs of handmade paper provide backgrounds to the different sets of puzzles.”

Dr Petty said trials of the game have shown it to be popular among school children of all ages through to senior citizens wanting to keep their brains active.

For those who do not own an iPhone or iPod touch daily puzzles are available on the website, www.rogopuzzle.com.

Dr Petty said Creative Heuristics was also exploring publication options. Some of the early, handmade books are available in New Zealand on TradeMe.

“Creative Heuristics Ltd has many other ideas in the pipeline — Rogo is only the beginning. The company plans to become internationally known for innovative, high-quality puzzle and game design and educational software applications. Our mission statement is to ‘Have fun, make money and do good’.”