we have a multiplayer online game building upon game center and we are using the game center functionality for the matchmaking of groups (2 to 4 players). This works fine for a game based on WLAN or bluetooth communication: one player hosts a game, the others see it in their list and join it.
But for online games across the internet it gets difficult to create a solution that is useable from an UX perspective: You can create a group and use the game center screen to add other players to the game, BUT:
- users do not understand, that they need to invite specific players using the "invite Friends" button, before they press "Play Now"
- users are not aware of the fact, that "Play Now" implicitly means they are matched with random players
- users do not understand, that if they want to play with less than four players, they need to click on the "4 players" option to change that
- users do not understand, that if they want to invite several people, they need to invite them all at once and not one by one
- the i-message invitations are correctly displayed on some devices, but do not work on other devices.
We would have liked to build our own UI using Game Center in the backend, but there seems to be no API call to create the invitations without using the Game Center UI.
Our next try will now to require users to be game Center friends first before they can play together in an online game (it seems like matching existing friends is possible using the API only and thus with your own GUI). But this means an additional step outside the app for people to play the game.
Any ideas how to approach this differently? I searched for Game Center based games in the app store to see what they do - but none of them seems to be using game center to create online groups with specific friends to play a game. Is Game Center just not the right choice for this?
Thanks for your help