Wednesday, March 31, 2010

War Of Words

"Is this made by the same guys that did that other one"

I knew which game she was referring to, "Puzzle Quest, no it's not. It does borrow a lot from it though."

"Borrowed? it's exactly the same game just with words, more like stealing." She laughed.

And I started thinking about the line that we drew when deciding how tangible something must be to have copyright protection. Ideas cannot be copyrighted, but why is that? Game mechanics and the code that was used to create the mechanics can be protected, but not the gameplay that results?

She asked for the controller, which only happened occasionally. The quest description popped up and I got halfway through the first sentence, then it disappeared.

"Where you reading that?"

"Yeah but I can read it later." I was assuming I would be able to.

Soon after the game started I told her the right trigger moves the letters up. And then I told her about the right thumbstick and the spells, press Y to cast. I didn't feel any need to go into of the details. The low level spells aren't anything special anyway.

She made a couple good words but was slaughtered, "I killed it" She said and dropped the controller to the floor.

Both players are presented with the same letter sequence.

The battles can be a bit difficult, For a few games I tried to copy what the AI was doing. The AI is a fast speller with a preternatural understanding of the grid, I was able to store a few of its words into my memory and with practice I could probably beat the AI at its own game, or at least tie.

The only way to win is not to play.

But if you're not lost in your own world, playing a game only you can understand, then you won't be noticing the other side that much, except when the AI is destroying you, then you will become paralyzed.

If you happen to be stuck on a particular quest, take heart in the fact that solving tavern puzzles and searching for treasure both offer XP. The former entails an anagram variant and the latter is always a riddle. I've solved them all so far but one, and I find myself wandering around the countryside thinking about the engima. Maybe the dragon knows the answer.

After you gain a few levels, try the quest again. A few levels difference between you and your opponent will slow the game down a lot, and allow you to focus on big words or casting spells. Darthuvius is level 28 at the moment and I have encountered a level 32 ghost in a haunted tower. After solving all the riddles and the easier tavern puzzles, I am forced to try the instant battle mode from the main menu for XP. These non-campaign battles will allow you to level, so you could theoretically play only these and then stomp through the entire game if you wish since the quest enemies in the game don't scale.

Word games need to strike a balance between relaxation and stress. I would side with the relaxists of course. If any game features an endless or timeless mode, that is always the first one I accept. Time limits and the FireLine in War Of Words usually just annoy me. If your letters touch the flames they explode causing serious harm and destruction of many letters, which you may have been just about to use. There's a spell which calls forth a giant boulder to halt the upward progress of your letters, so maybe there's a spell to remove these timelimits altogether. Probably a pretty high level spell I imagine.

Every advance in level comes with the learning of a new spell, their effects can be damaging, transfiguring, thieving, and lifesaving when used at the right time. You might find certain powerful combos as well.

The game has its faults of course, as every game does. On the overhead map, you would think that pulling the thumbstick down would point your character to the town that is on the southerly road. Your direction recognition needs to be a bit more precise to get around Lexica. Maybe even floating point precise. But with a little button mashing you can get around the map.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The word is a virus

I like word games. Do you? Let us begin with the simple things, not one, not two, but THREE hangman simulations are currently available for your wordplay needs.




I enjoyed Hang 'Em High the most, if only for the poorly animated crackshot sequence at the end. The developers of Hang 'Em High and Simply Hangman have each released another game besides hangman. While Hangman Deluxe seems to be that developers only release. This presents us with a problem.

One of the reasons I enjoy the Indie Channel is because of the fact that a good portion of my dollars are funneled into the pockets of the developers. If a developer doesn't sell enough copies to meet the $150 dollar payout minimum, they might never see a check and MS pockets what the gamer was intending to go to the developer. I believe the Indie Channel audience is large enough that most new games released will see a check or two, but we are now over a year into this thing and I am beginning to wonder about the back catalog. And whether or not a significant portion of the eight hundred and thirty six games currently on the service will be generating any monies for their developers after another year, especially when there is sure to be another eight hundred newer games available.

If you are thinking about purchasing a hangman game, you are aren't you? Then I would suggest Hang 'Em High. The developer just released a new game a few days ago. Payout limits are per developer so Hang 'Em High is the best bet that your 80 points will be sent to the developer and not MS.

It's Anagram time!!




What do you know! Three Anagram Games as well :) They all have their faults but I think Words In A Word is the most polished and fun, not to mention actually playable. I reviewed this game awhile back. 

Interestingly, Puzzle was created by the same developer as Simply Hangman. I wonder if there is a secret wordgame project in the works? At any rate, the developers of Words In A Word have four games up on the indie channel so again, if you are looking for an anagram game your best bet is this one.

An Oldie But Goodie!


Word Soup was actually a launch title for the channel, and the novelty factor probably helped the game generate some downloads and sales. I enjoy playing the untimed mode, I play word games to relax most of all. What's interesting about this game is that it began its life as an electronic pub game over in Europe. Arkanoid I can understand but a randomized word search? Maybe the game was a test to see how drunk you were, if you could actually play the game that would mean you need to drink some more.

This is the only game the developer has submitted to the indie channel. I checked out their website and sent them an email but haven't heard back from them. I bought this game on day one, I am sure a lot of people did. The audience for the channel has surely grown and you are all word game fans right? and taking the time to look through the entire catalog? Even so I wonder how many sales Word Soup will get this year, it will be interesting to find out, if we ever can.

I forget what to call this one

But I did review it a bit ago. Actually, I think I peer reviewed this game. If I recall correctly one of the only reviewers to actually give the online portion a test. C'est la vie.



The simplest, but also one of my favorite types of word games. Having said that I had some problems with this game. There is just something about small letters on a big screen that just doesn't seem to work. You should download it and then select the 20x20 grid just for a laugh. Do you see that multicolored thing in the lower right corner? It's supposed to control the media player but guess what? That's right, it doesn't.


I appreciate new entrants into the wordgame genre but I thought this game needed some work when it was in playtest and I still think it needs more work today. The dev has posted a flash version of the game here to try, Flash Puzzwords.

Which Brings us to the Genesis of this posting.

War Of Words

War Of Words appears to be a randomized free form anagrammer with some RPG elements borrowed heavily from Puzzle Quest. I am really excited about this one but I am a bit worried about the gameplay, namely if the constant stream of randomized letters is going to allow me to make words in any sort of satisfying fashion. The game is currently in peer review and will hopefully be available on the Xbox Indie Channel shortly. Unless someone uncovers a code 4 crash or something which happens about 100% of the time I think. Go check out the developers page, War of Words Blog.