Fun Fun Fun

Cancel All Your Plans: The Team Behind ‘Dots’ Releases Sequel

The new game, TwoDots, adds new worlds, characters and a story to the original formula.
This sequel isn't the 'Dots' you recognize. (Photo via Dots)

This sequel is unrecognizable from the Dots you know and love. (Photo via Dots)

If you don’t know about Dots, congratulations. You’ve escaped being one of the 20 million players who are sucked into the dot-connecting frenzy. But for those who are hooked on the minimalist puzzle game, get ready to cancel whatever productive plans you had for the rest of the day: the team behind your addiction just put out a sequel.

There are a number of new features in TwoDots that add a little spice to the original Dots formula. The game boards come in all shapes and sizes, there are new challenges, 85 levels and new kinds of dots, like “anchor dots” in the underwater segment of the game’s story.

TwoDots brings the same addictive gameplay, only with more a story than "make squares." (via Dots)

TwoDots brings the same addictive gameplay, only with more a story than “make squares.” (via Dots)

“In TwoDots, it’s really about this sort of story that you’re embarking upon,” the game’s Lead Designer, David Hohusen, told Betabeat. “It’s radically different.”

The new features are as much an improvement on the first game as they are an experiment for the Dots team to figure out what works and what doesn’t, Dots CEO Paul Murphy told Betabeat. The Dots team refuses to be a one hit wonder, and is looking beyond just making new games — they want to enter whole new markets.

A different playing field

Dots recently teamed up with Chinese tech giant Alibaba, becoming the first Western game available through Alibaba’s platform. They spent a weekend in Beijing to figure out what the Chinese mobile user wants, and realized they needed to take a much different approach to capturing the Chinese consumer.

For example, Dots was designed to be artistic and mysterious, with gamers learning the twists and turns as they play around with the app. But that round-about approach doesn’t fly with Chinese gamers.

“Chinese gamers are very experimental,” Mr. Murphy said. “They’ll try almost every game they come across, but abandon them very quickly.”

(Artwork via Dots)

(Artwork via Dots)

So in order to get Chinese gamers to try Dots and keep using it, they lowered the price of the app and made it more accessible, adding tutorials early on so that Chinese gamers were hooked early.

“Design will always be a part of everything we do, but we don’t want to be tied down to always having a super minimal aesthetic,” Mr. Murphy said. “We want to explore more narratives.”

The original Dots is played over 500 million times every month, and inspired Quartz to write an “ultimate strategy guide.” It’s got a colorful, clean and easily recognizable look, and simple game mechanics — you just connect dots to make squares and rack up points.

Follow Jack Smith IV on Twitter or via RSS. jsmith@observer.com