StoryLines (free) is a simple app that does a good job of facilitating a simple party game. You might know the game best as Telephone Pictionary, the Caption Game or my personal favorite, Eat Poop You Cat. Whatever you want to call it, StoryLines delivers the great party game experience, and at a great price.
The idea behind the game is very simple. The first player must come up with a sentence or phrase, and write it down. The next player must then illustrate that phrase to the best of his or her ability. The third player will then try to describe what is happening in the picture without seeing the original phrase, and so on, until everyone has a chance to contribute. Drawing skill is not a prerequisite for this game, and in fact, the more difficult it is to decipher the drawings, the more silly the results become.
I found that StoryLines did a great job of streamlining the process of the game, and allows people to play anywhere, without the need for pencils and paper, or a hard surface to write on. For text entry, the standard on-screen keyboard is used. For the drawing portion, your finger becomes the pencil as you create the next masterpiece to go with the previous caption. The extra real estate on the iPad really helps in this case, and I would think that any drawings on smaller devices might suffer a bit from lack of room.
Unfortunately, there is only one size and color of pencil, which on one hand stays true to the essence of the game, but on the other hand, would be a place where the iOS could easily improve on the original concept.
Besides the pass-and-play method, the app has the ability to connect with Facebook and create a new game with the ubiquitous social networking site. This essentially allows players with and without iOS devices to enjoy the app, and was a very good idea on the developer’s part. Unfortunately, both play methods have a set limit of nine links, which means a maximum of nine people can have their own input to any given game. I have seen the paper-and-pencil version work well with a group of 15, so it surprises and disappoints me that the upper limit of links was set so low.
No matter the number of links in your game, after all of the inputs have been entered, the app will display how the story unfolded, in all its glory. At this point, the group can huddle around the screen to see how the story goes from original caption to ending one, with the ability to pause (and laugh) at any individual phrase or caption along the way. A nice touch was to display the actual “pencil” strokes in the order they were drawn, to showcase the individual budding Picassos in the group.
StoryLines is a light app that might not have a lot of bells and whistles, but it succeeds in delivering a fun party game experience for adults and children alike. This app could be useful in a number of situations, including birthday parties, a communications class or a way to pass the miles on a long road trip. No matter what the setting, the app is a lot of fun, plus it’s quite hard to beat the price of free. Happy drawing!