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Four Play

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Four Play Followed by Hot Air
Four Play
FourPlaygameplay

Gameplay on old cellphone

Released August 7th 2005[1]
Play It Adobe website
Levels One
Game Type Mobile phone game
Genre Board Game, connect four
Websites Adobe website[2]
Controls
Instr-keyboard

See #Controls

Credits Artwork
Matthew Annal

Programming
Heather Stancliffe
Music
This game features no music.

Four Play is a mobile phone game created by Nitrome as a test[2] for Flash Lite. Released on August 7th 2005[1], the game was released when the Adobe website began to showcase Flash Lite projects[2], for anyone to download and play on their phone.

This game is one of Nitrome's early games, made and distributed before Nitrome transitioned from cellphone games to internet browser games. Nitrome's decision to not put the game on Nitrome.com was because the game was viewed as a test game[2].

Controls

Up Down Navigate through the menus Enter Select an option in a menu
Page up: go back to the previous page
Page down: Go back to the menu (only on first page of multiplayer)
Right Left Navigate the UFO
Enter Drop an alien

Gameplay

Four Play plays exactly the same as Connect Four, with coloured aliens as pieces to be dropped on a grid and the objective being for one player to get a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal line of four or more aliens. The game contains a single player[3] and multiplayer mode[3]. In single player mode, the player plays against an AI opponent[3] named "phone", while in multiplayer mode, two player's play against each other.

Nitrome game - 4 Play (gameplay)01:50

Nitrome game - 4 Play (gameplay)

Multiplayer

In multiplayer mode, the players plays against an other opponent who is currently playing the same game in multiplayer mode[note 1]. When the first player enter multiplayer mode, they have to enter a username to identify themselves[note 1]. After that, the player connects to the internet and enters the server lobby. The player has to wait until somebody else enters the lobby as well[note 1]. When this happens, the first player will be able to select the opposing player's name from the list[note 1], and send an invitation[note 2] to them to start a game. When the second player accepts the invitation[note 2], the game starts. During a game, the message "lost player" appears if the opposing player leaves,[note 3], and the player presumably returns to the game lobby.

Menus

Four Play contains multiple menus, and is quite different in terms of menus than regular Nitrome game.

Nitrome game - 4 Play (menu)01:35

Nitrome game - 4 Play (menu)

Splash menu

This menu is accessed after the startup. The Four Play logo is displayed at the top of the screen, with the "start" button close to the button. A pink alien in a saucer will come from the left side of the screen, go below the logo, and then move to the right off the screen. A few second later, the alien will come from the right side of screen, go behind the logo, and move off the left side of the screen. During this movement back to the left side, the alien is smaller than before.

Pressing enter will take the player to the menu

Main menu

The menu contains five buttons, the five buttons being "options", "about", "one player", "two player", and "exit". The player can navigate the menu by using the Up and Down buttons, and selecting an option by pressing enter. The "about" button leads to the about page, "Pinkball one player" starts a game with a computer controlled player, "PinkballBlueball two player" starts two player mode, and "exit" does nothing. The options button cannot be accessed at all.

About

The about page contains a semi-transparent black bar at the top of the screen that is labelled "about", and below this being a box that contains information on the game. Below this big box are "back" and "exit" buttons. This page informs the player about the game's story and also about information about the game's creators and the game's development. The following content is in the about section:

Every cosmic solar cycle, the pinkies and blueys travel back to their home planet to mate and reproduce. As always there is a scramble for available space. Their courtship ritual dictates that they must form a row of four of their own colour in order to mate. Taking it in turns, the aim of the game is to form a row of four before the opposing colour does so. In doing this you will ensure the survival of their species!----------------------Four Play was created by Matthew Annal and Heather Stancliffe of Nitrome to evaluate the Flash Lite player and as a demonstration of what can be achieved with it. -----------------------Nitrome develop [sic] java and flash based games and interactives [sic] for the web and mobile devices. For further information visit our website: www.nitrome.com or email us at: info@nitrome.com


Pinkballone player

Starts a one player game.

PinkballBlueballtwo player

Starts a two player game. This section has a bar at the top that reads "enter a user name:", below this being another bar that the player can interact with, and below this is the background of the page. Clicking on the lower bar (on a computer), or pressing the "tab" button on a keyboard, allows the player to type an eight letter name.

Lowercase, uppercase, and a large variety of symbols can be used in the player's name, although no numbers can be used. Pressing the "page up" button after entering a name takes the player to the game lobby, while pressing "page down" takes the player back to the menu.

If a player joins, the player would somehow be able to invite them to a game by sending an invite to them. This invite can be accepted or declined. Presumably, after accepting an invite, the game would start.

Game lobby

This lobby lists all available players for the player to play against. A bar at the top of the screen is labelled "choose your opponent:", and below this is an upwards pointing isosceles triangle, and below this are four bars, and below the fourth one is a downwards pointing isosceles triangle.

The player can scroll upwards and downwards by pressing Up and Down, respectively. A triangle is highlighted when the player moves in that direction. At the bottom of the screen are the "back" and "exit" buttons. When a player joins, the player can send an invitation[note 2] to them to start a game, and if they accept, the game starts.

When accessing the game lobby, the player's computer/phone will try to connect to http://www.nitrome.com/connectfour/joinlobby.php?playername=" "playername" [note 3]

exit

This button, when selected with Enter, should send the player back to the splash menu, however, it does not.

options

A completely inaccessible option. It is not known what it contains.

Story

The about page of the game explains the story behind the game:

"Every cosmic solar cycle, the pinkies and blueys travel back to their home planet to mate and reproduce. As always there is a scramble for available space. Their courtship ritual dictates that they must form a row of four of their own colour in order to mate. Taking it in turns, the aim of the game is to form a row of four before the opposing colour does so. In doing this you will ensure the survival of their species!"

Graphics

Unlike Mobile Chick Flick, Four Player's graphics are all done in .svg instead of .png and/or .jpg. The only graphic not in .svg is the game's logo. Notably, although everything being in .svg would likely improve graphics, this is quite the opposite in terms of text. When viewed at the screen size of a Nokia phone, some text appears semi-blurry around the edges, and not as clear as when seen at a higher screen solution.

Reception

Four Play was only reviewed by one site, Frame27[3], which praised the game's art and design being "professional", but criticized the game's slowness, this slowness likely being the slowness of dropping an alien, although the review may also be talking about navigating the menus.

The review also criticized the the turn warning during gameplay (""...turn" warning showing up all the time, gets really annoying too."). This turn warning refers to something that indicates the next player's turn.

Trivia

  • Four Play has been stated as slow on Nokia phones[3], and is also slow on computers. It is not known why this is.
  • Four Play is the only cellphone Nitrome game to have been released, Mobile Chick Flick, the other known mobile phone Nitrome game, was never released as mobile phone game due to lack of funding.
  • Four Play is the only Nitrome game with online multiplayer.

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Although multiplayer is no longer available, the following coding in the game explains how multiplayer would have worked:

    The variable "myurl = " indicates the URL the player connecting to a lobby goes to, while "playername" in "+ playername" is substituted with the player's user name. The presence of an invitation function is indicated by the code in the second scrollable box.
    fscommand2("SetSoftKeys", "BACK", "EXIT");
     endlobbyplayers = "wait";
     myurl = "http://www.nitrome.com/connectfour/joinlobby.php?playername=" + playername;
     loadVariables(myurl, _self);
     tellTarget("_level0/upbutton")
     {
     gotoAndStop(2);
     }
    
     if (endgetstatus == "done") 
     {
     isinvitation = substring(retrievedplayerstatus, 1, 10);
     if (isinvitation == "INVITATION") 
     {
     opponentname = substring(retrievedplayerstatus, 12, -1);
     mycolour = "red";
     gotoAndStop("invite");
     }
     else 
     {
     endgetstatus = "wait";
     myurl = "http://www.nitrome.com/connectfour/getstatus.php?playername=" + playername;
     loadVariables(myurl, _self);
     }
     }
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Although multiplayer is no longer available, the following coding in the game explains how invitations would have worked:

    The word "Push" in its second occurrence in the below code likely refers to actions the player could perform. As such, ""INVITATION"" in "Push "opponentstatus" "INVITATION_" "playername"" would refers to actions that could be performed by the player, while code below this code refers to checking certain statuses of the selected actions.
    ConstantPool 
    Push "EXIT" "MENU" "SetSoftKeys" "3"
    Pop
    Push "opponentstatus" "INVITATION_" "playername"
    GetVariable
    StringAdd
    SetVariable
    Push "donesetstatus" "wait"
    SetVariable
    Push "mycolour" "blue"
    SetVariable
    Push "myurl" "http://www.nitrome.com/connectfour/setstatus.php?opponentname=" "opponentname"
    GetVariable
    StringAdd
    Push "&opponentstatus="
    StringAdd
    Push "opponentstatus"
    GetVariable
    StringAdd
    SetVariable
    Push "myurl"
    GetVariable
    Push "_self"
    GetVariable
    GetURL2 true true 0
    
  3. 3.0 3.1 Although multiplayer is no longer available, the following coding in the game explains how certain messages in the game would have been displayed:

    The action "GoToLabel" likely refers to a label that is gone to when an event happens. In the above variable "If loc0058", loc0058 likely refers to a status of the opponent. If the below variable comes after the "If loc0058", then a message corresponding to the code "lostplayer" would be displayed if the event corresponding to "loc0058" happens. Considering the name of the variable "lostplayer", it is safe to assume that these two variables ("If loc0058" and "GoToLabel "lost player" ") would be used to display a message if one player disconnected from the game.
    playConstantPool 
    Push "waitcount" "waitcount"
    GetVariable
    Push "1"
    Add
    SetVariable
    Push "waitcount"
    GetVariable
    Push "20"
    Less
    Not
    Not
    If loc0058
    GoToLabel "lostplayer"
    Jump loc0112
    loc0058:Push "endgetstatus"
    GetVariable
    Push "done"
    StringEquals
    Not
    If loc0095
    GoToLabel "opponent_taketurn"
    Play
    Jump loc0112
    loc0095:Push "myurl" "http://www.nitrome.com/connectfour/getstatus.php?playername=" "playername"
    GetVariable
    StringAdd
    SetVariable
    Push "myurl"
    GetVariable
    Push "_self"
    GetVariable
    GetURL2 true true 0
    GoToLabel "waiting"
    Play
    loc0112:

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Internet Archive Wayback Machine: Nitrome.com - September 23rd 2005 → News: 08-07-05 - Flash Lite Game You can now download our latest creation: "Four Play" from the Macromedia Flash Lite Exchange
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Nitrome Blog - Wiki Collaboration → Comment:
    4Play was a small test game for Flash Light. It was pretty much connect 4 with a single player AI mode and a two player turn based mode. It was released at the time somewhere on the Adobe website in the area they were using to showcase flash lite projects and anyone could download it into their phone from there at the time. This is a little after the J2ME days when Nokia was king. We never put it on the Nitrome website because it really was more of a test and was therefore thought to be too simple. It is yet another example of Nitromes long time interest in mobile :)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Frame 27 * Flash Mobile Game Reviews: Flash Mobile Game Review: Four Play

See also

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