Copag Cartamundi is one of the most famous game companies in the World. Its product line is extensive, with options for the whole family, and licensed brands such as Disney, Marvel and Pokémon. Its main product is the traditional playing card game with a global presence.
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. The main goals were to amplify Copag’s branding, and to connect with new and young clients.
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 the discovery process, data analysis, research, sketches, prototypes, usability testing, final screens and copywriting.
The first thing we did was benchmark research. We were looking for pros and cons of the main apps available in stores. We noticed that paid games had much higher quality than free games. As our goal was branding, we aimed for having the same quality as paid games.
We ran a survey with Copag’s user base to understand their consumption of digital games. In addition, we tried to understand the key aspects and characteristics within each card game.
After that, we made a lot of sketches, both for the table, the cards and the interaction assets. Then, we developed prototypes and several tests both with users and within our team.
We had the soft launch at the end of 2016. Since then, we’ve iterated and updated the app, and included ad networks to display Copag product ads in between the games.
Of course, one of the main things to focus in a playing card game app is to reproduce the game experience itself in the app, without being too literal, while 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 a move, the AI playing skills, etc.
1 – The table
We decided to bring real aspects to the table, to have an instant connection with the players. The player can choose between different types of tables to play their hands. There’s a fun aspect to that, and the player can make a connection with the places where it is common to play, such as university tables, or barbecue parties.
2 – The cards
We’ve redesigned the playing cards, so that they could have a real fit to each game. The Truco cards have a design similar to the physical model of the cards, because each player only holds 3 cards at a time. The Buraco cards have a really unique design, since they are horizontal with the suits and numbers on the left, so the player can pile dozens of cards horizontally, and is still able to see each one without any problem. Finally, the Paciência cards are vertical, with suits and numbers on the top, so the player can also pile dozens of cards, but on a vertical axis.
The cards also have different designs on the back to be chosen by the players, both made exclusively for the games, or adapted from Copag’s real back card designs.
3 – Sound design
Each scenario has its own sound design. It is good to add some reality to the game, but we didn’t count on that to be very important to the player, 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 most important aspects of 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 were considering making an easy, medium, and hard selection, but in the end decided to create 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 expressions.
The apps were a huge success. People really enjoyed the game components, the AI interface, and the game design. They were are all listed in the top 100 free games in both app stores. Copag’s Truco was the best hit. It was Editor’s Choice both in App Store and Google Play, and is always in the Top 5 in the Casino category.
The apps were later bought by Megajogos, an app publisher in Brazil.
© 2022 Fabio Michelan