Dragon Scribe HELP

What’s going on here?? I tapped the “go!” button and now I can’t figure out what to do!

Does your screen look like this?


If there’s no globe on your keyboard (next to the spacebar), you’ll need to enable the “Chinese (Simplified)” keyboard before you can play. Don’t worry; it’ll only take half a minute and it’s easy to reverse.

Here’s how:

  • Go to your iPhone’s “Settings” application.
  • Go to “General / Keyboard / International Keyboards”
  • Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the list and select “Chinese (Simplified)”
  • Enable “Handwriting”

That’s it!

Just restart Dragon Scribe, and now you should have the magic globe button next to your spacebar:


Now simply tap the globe button and your keyboard will change to the “Chinese (Simplified)”, and you’re good to go:


(I’m terribly sorry that Dragon Scribe can’t do this preliminary setup for you, but the iPhone’s programming environment is fairly restrictive on what we developers can and cannot do — with good reason, too, as you wouldn’t want our programs mucking about with your iPhone’s settings anyway!)

How do I switch to the Chinese keyboard?

Once you have the keyboard setup (see the previous question), this part is easy: Simply tap on the globe button next to the space bar and the Chinese character-entry pad will pop right up. I like to do this when the “Ready? Set… Go!” animation is playing.

Just remember, the next time you use your keyboard in another application, you’ll need to tap the globe to return it to your native language.

I’m drawing the characters exactly right but it’s not working!

No offense — but no, you’re not. As an English speaker, I didn’t realize this until I starting writing Dragon Scribe, but when drawing Chinese characters it’s very important that you draw the strokes in the correct direction and in the correct order! So even if your drawing looks perfect, if you started with the wrong stroke or drew in the wrong direction, the iPhone will not recognize it as the character you intend. And this is not just an iPhone (or Dragon Scribe) thing — it applies when writing Chinese in real life too. (My Chinese friends tell me that you’ll look like a bit of a fool if you draw Chinese characters in the wrong stroke order!)

Okay, so how do I draw the various characters?

My favorite way is to just experiment within the game. Set the game on “easy” level and just try drawing the various characters different ways until you get them right. When you have them all figured out on “easy” level, step up to “medium”. (Note: “medium” level and above are only available on the full version of Dragon Scribe.) But be warned: “medium” level is considerably harder than “easy”, because there are many more strokes per character here.

When you have “medium” mastered, step up to “hard” level. I have a confession: I have a lot of trouble with this difficulty setting and have not yet cracked 1,000 points. But hey, that’s what makes the game fun! The “expert” level includes all 100 most common Chinese characters. By the time you get here, you’ll start noticing patterns in the Chinese language (see the next section) and be able to draw many characters the very first time you see them.

And if you get bored with that, “native” level — available only on the soon-to-be-released Dragon Scribe Pro — will include all 1,000 of the most common Chinese characters. Master these, and you’ll know how to write roughly 90% of the Chinese language as it’s commonly used.

Come on, give me some hints — surely there is a method to this madness?

Yes, there is! Here are some basic rules:

  • Generally speaking, you should draw characters from the upper left to the lower right.
  • Horizontal strokes usually proceed vertical strokes.
  • For characters that look like something drawn within something else, you generally start from the outside and work your way in. For example, if the character there’s something inside a box, draw the box first, then draw whatever’s inside it.

I’ve run across a few rules compilations on the web that give a more complete run-down of the rules. (These are also listed under the “Help Drawing Chinese Characters” links to the right if you’re using a computer.)

But I’m stumped! I can’t figure out how to draw a certain character and it makes me sad and frustrated.

Don’t fret, help is available! Because Chinese is such a popular language, there are plenty of references online to help you learn how to write specific characters correctly. Here are just a couple:

(And psssst: I’m working on putting individual character hints into the game itself!)