Ngmoco Expands its “We” Franchise with We Doodle

We DoodleRecently acquired mobile and social developer Ngmoco is expanding its “We” series this week with a new release called We Doodle for both the iPhone and iPad. A Pictionary-style game, the release follows on the heels of We City, but brings a less common genre of game to the Apple platforms.

Some mobile gamers may remember the Pictionary premise was used by Charadium, another game published by ngmoco. We Doodle is definitely an improvement on the concept (and according to the folks over at Slide-to-Play, a direct upgrade from Charadium, though that title still appears to be available for iPhone) and while the core game-play is the same, We Doodle comes with stronger monetization opportunities and plenty of extra enhancements.

Because We Doodle is so similar to Charadium, we took a look at the iPad version, which was not available for Charadium — though besides providing much more room to create, the iPad rendition isn’t significantly different from the iPhone version. In either, you’re given something to draw and you sketch it with your finger while other players try to guess what it is before time runs out.

Live PlayWe Doodle improves on social play from Charadium with both synchronous and asynchronous game play. You are still able to join games with random people — similar to the classic Pictionary game. However, Ngmoco has also incorporated a turn based system with no time limit.

Now, you can now join turn-based games with both random players and friends from within the Plus+ network, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. The app informs you whether it is your turn to draw or guess, so you can play for a few minutes at a time at  your convenience.

Beyond the basic Pictionary rules and new, turn-based play, ngmoco included some bonuses in an in-game store. As you play, you earn experience towards levels and coins. Based on level, you can purchase items to “improve” your drawing skills.

StencilsYou can buy different types of brushes, ink colors, backgrounds and stencils. These not only make the game easier for the artist, thus easing the core play mechanic, but really let you get creative and digitally finger paint. Stencils consist of houses, people, trees and various shapes, but before you start thinking that this takes away from the Pictionary concept, don’t worry. You’ll still be tasked with drawing words as shapeless as ever. For example, how do you draw autumn?

Many of the items require high levels and many more an almost absurd amount of coin. You have to either fork out real cash for some tools, or play for quite a long time.

Stencils or not, many people still have little artistic talent, so the game also has a nice new feature called “Doodle Assist.” Long story short, it’s an optional mechanic that automatically improves the quality of your work. It cleans up lines and curves and even does a little bit of shading here and there. It’s not perfect, but it still does a nice job improving scribbly drawings.

Doodle AssistThe number one complaint from virtually everyone playing We Doodle is the intrusive presence of ads. As a free-to-play title, advertising is understandable, but these aren’t out-of-the way banners. They are giant, full-blown ads that pop up between turns and sit there for a long time before you can skip them. Oh, and the “skip” button is conveniently placed right below the button to show more about the ad — so, have fun if you have big fingers.

Other than the ads, We Doodle doesn’t have significant flaws. Even with the advertisements, it’s a fun game to play, and a good upgrade from Charadium, which was high quality to begin with. That in mind, between the iPhone and iPad versions, the iPad lends itself much better to this kind of game — the bigger canvas really improves the experience.