Apps for Kids podcast 007: Mini Painters


Apps for Kids is Boing Boing's podcast about cool smartphone apps for kids and parents. My co-host is my 8-year-old daughter, Jane Frauenfelder. Today, we review a multiplayer game called Mini Painters. It's free for iPhone and iPad in the iTunes store.

[Video Link] Here's a video of Jane playing Mini Painters.

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  1. “and would like to have Jane and I try”

    The easiest way to figure out this particular sentence construction is to drop the other person….would you say “would like to have I try” or “would like to have ME try”?

  2. Ugh, there are some UI interactions in that game that make it clear that the developers didn’t test out the game on enough kids.

    Why does that big alert box appear right in the middle of the drawing space while you’re supposed to be drawing?? It happens once in the beginning while Jane is drawing the tower, and once again at 0:45 when she’s trying to draw the street, and causes her to mess up.

    My guess from experience: too many meetings and/or managers. “I know it says ‘tower’ right at the top, but if we don’t also flash “Draw tower” three times while their drawing, how will they know what to do? No, you can’t just hide it off in some corner somewhere — what if they miss it?”

    1. Hi SamSam!  Our engineers will address the issue you mentioned in your reply today.  Thank you very much for watching the vid and reading the coverage for Mini Painters.

      We always welcome constructive input.

  3. @Samsam – Give Depict a try (just search on your phone).  It’s v1.0 of Mini Painters.  

    AiryLabs simply ripped us off with this clone. Sure, it has new artwork that’s more structured for kids, however the core gameplay, layout, user flows, scoring, etc was out of our game.

    Unfortunately they didn’t completely rip us off – our game plays a lot smoother and seems to have much better multiplayer interactions because of our awesome multiplayer server. I’d also wager that ours has much better moderation simply because we’ve been constantly refining that to try and keep the riffraff under control.

    Anyway, I’m super annoyed that this is even an issue. I knew someday we’d get cloned (after all Pictionary is MUCH better played with multiple choice rather than typing in words) however their app really just looks like ours re-skinned a little… Sad day when indy devs are cloned by other indy devs – especially a company that apparently prides itself on it’s big heart for child friendly games and charity work!

    1. Hi Tim, we’re big fans of Depict and think it’s a great game. When we built Mini Painters, we based it off of the core mechanics of, as you know, Pictionary, which has been around since 1985… there are many games on both mobile and web which are based on the same concept, and the decision to have a multiple-choice mode flowed naturally from the fact that mobile and tablet devices are terrible data entry devices. 

      As an example, OMGPOP’s “draw my thing” features the same type of user flow, scoring system, and core gameplay. Certainly, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but it’s our opinion that you’re being unfair and combative, which we regret.

      Mini Painters is a great game too and we have undoubtedly different goals for it than you do for Depict. We will continue to update and improve our game, and look forward to seeing cool new Depict features as well. Best of luck to you!

      1. My opinion is that you’re lying.  

        Or you’re defending yourself by saying you’ve ripped off Draw My Thing rather than Depict.

        The fact is that we’re both drawing & guessing, Pictionary-ish, games…  

        However, Depict was the only one who’s core gameplay revolved around multiple choice.  That’s what makes Depict an entirely different gameplay experience than any other Pictionary inspired games (mobile or on the web)!  It completely changes the interactions of the players. Coupling this with our particular scoring system is what makes the game fast paced, competitive, and fun to play.

        Depict has a very unique and fine tuned gameplay experience that didn’t originate without months of testing and refinement. However, somehow, you’ve managed to launch a game that has all our learnings and none of our pitfalls… Suuuure.

        From my point of view you simply went through our game screen by screen and tried to come up with way to improve on it.  The irony is that Depict 2 matches your game almost 1to1, so I’m obviously on the right track as far as new features and UI enhancements.

        – Why have players use avatars in the same layout and placement as our game?
        – Why show all scoring and player alerts in the same place and timing as our game?
        – Why does your end-of-round and beginning-of-round gameplay screens look the same as ours?
        – Why do you tap the empty avatars to invite new players? (this one in particular is just astoundingly shameful because it’s so unique.)
        Listen, I get that there’s nothing I can do about a clone.  I get that you’ve taken our foundation and built new and interesting stuff on top of it.  I get that it’s cutesy and has good artwork. I get that you were looking to make the best version of Depict that you could for your audience.

        I just don’t get why you won’t admit it.

        1. Again, I’m sorry you feel this way and seem to be willfully misinterpreting much of what I’ve said. Almost all of the design and UI decisions you mentioned flow out of the core mechanic, which as I stated before you have no claim over and has been around for many years.

          I will respond in particular though to the “tap the empty avatars to invite new players.” We do not have this feature in our main game, only in practice mode. If you’re in Mini Painters’ practice/single player mode, wouldn’t it stand to reason that you may want to join available multiplayer rooms if there are other players in the system? Thus, we added the feature of “tap to join” available rooms up top, by the player avatar. This is different functionality from inviting players to your room. The fact that you don’t understand our functionality and still called it ‘astoundingly shameful’ speaks volumes about your mindset.

          Good luck with Depict 2!

          1. I know that tapping an avatar simply joins the public game.   Just like ours did in version 1.2 before we implemented the ability to invite players into an existing room…

            I’m sorry you’re not able to admit that the core mechanic of the game (multiple choice presented to guessers) dramatically changes the gameplay experience beyond what other Pictionary games across the web and mobile space deliver.

            I’m also sorry that you’re hiding behind the cover that because it’s within the genre of a drawing and guessing game it’s cool to just upend another indy dev.

            I do agree that most of our game UI and flows originate from that core mechanic and as I pointed out I’ve worked hard on those over the past 2 years and you have not.  How were you able build something with all my wins and none of my losses?

            Can you seriously hold these two games up side by side and stand by that your game is not a clone?

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