Review: Doodle Roulette brings Pictionary to your Facebook Timeline
Online Pictionary is awesome, but sometimes you get sick of playing with strangers. So why not play with semi-strangers, also known as your Facebook friends?
Doodle Roulette is a Facebook game that brings Pictionary to your Facebook Timeline without much clutter. The majority of the game is actually played within Doodle Roulette’s Facebook app (not on your Timeline) but you occasionally have the chance to include your Facebook friends in your Pictionary game. The best part about this “inclusion” is that it’s pretty noncommittal: your friends can guess your doodles directly from your Timeline, and they never have to go through an app or sign up for the game.
Writing on the wall
Here’s how it works: when you open up the Doodle Roulette app, you’re presented with a roulette wheel. The wheel has several sections, including sections for drawing, guessing, and prizes. If you land on one of the drawing sections (“Do a doodle” or “Mega doodle”) you will have to pick one of three doodle options and draw it. The options are ranked from easiest to hardest; harder doodles earn you more coins if they are guessed correctly by other Doodle Roulette players.
If you land on one of the guessing sections (“Guess a doodle” or “Mega guess”), you will have to guess someone else’s doodle. The “Mega” sections (“Mega doodle” and “Mega guess”) let you play on your Facebook wall. “Mega doodle” lets you post a doodle to your Facebook wall so that your Facebook friends can try to guess what it is. To guess, all your Facebook friends have to do is leave a comment; if the correct word is in the comment, they will win that round. “Mega guess” only comes around if you have other friends playing Doodle Roulette, and lets you guess one of your friends’ doodles on their Facebook wall.
If you land on one of the prize sections you’ll get a prize in the form of either coins or stars. Coins, which can also be earned as you draw and guess doodles, will let you upgrade your doodle palette (you start out with basic colors such as red, green, blue, and black). Stars will let you get new words when you’re drawing, and get hints when you’re guessing other people’s doodles.
Doodle Roulette is a fun, simple Pictionary game, but its interface seems a bit unfinished. First of all, the app seems to come in two sizes within the Facebook window, and it switches sizes constantly. Let me explain: when you start out playing the game, the app takes up about half of the screen. However, if you press the plus button at the bottom of the doodle page (the plus button is where you get additional color palettes), the app will suddenly grow to fill up the entire screen. This is convenient because it gives you more space to draw, but it doesn’t seem like a feature; it seems like a bug.
Also, the app offers additional palettes (including grayscale, reds and oranges, yellows and greens, cyans and blues, purples and magentas, pastels, and earth tones) that you can presumably purchase using coins. However, nowhere does it say how many coins you’ll need for each palette. Instead, when you click on a palette, the app will ask you want to go to the coin shop, where you can purchase coins in different amounts (e.g. 400 coins for $1.90, 1200 coins for $4.90, or 5000 coins for $9.90). Of course, I’m not sure how you would know how many coins to purchase, since the palettes cost some unknown sum of coins.
Doodle Roulette has the potential to be an addictive Facebook game, but it’s just not there yet. The interface is unpolished and the game seems unfinished; for example, there are no time limits on drawing, nor are there any limits on the number of guesses you can make. The app says that the “first rule” of Doodle Roulette is that you’re not allowed to write out the answer, but there’s no way to report a user who’s writing. In other words, this game has a long way to go before it will be able to capture the attention of your average Facebook user.
Plus, it only sort of brings Pictionary to your Facebook Timeline. Only some of your doodles appear on your Facebook Timeline, and because your friends don’t have to join the game to participate, there's no guarantee they'll actually play. Thus Doodle Roulette actually keeps your friends from signing up for the game, which means that you end up playing with strangers most of the time anyway.