Saturday, August 2, 2008

Never mind... Word Crack (er... Scraper) is here

I haven't been this excited about a Facebook game since Griddle.

I just completed a couple of rounds of Word Scraper -- Live Play and it is going to be terribly addicting. Think of a mash-up between Scrabble and a real time strategy game. Well, maybe more Tetris than RTS, but still... You take a random map (the 15x15 grid, but randomize bonus tiles) and a time constraint and then feed players letters as they try to maximize their score. To be successful, players need to grok the "map" and position themselves in ways that max out the scoring. There's a constantly updating leader board that lets you know how you're faring against the hundreds of other players.

Yeah, it's laggy.

Yeah, it needs some UI love.

But it is incredibly addictive and will likely become the next major drain on my time once a more polished version comes out.

Improvement suggestions:

Game Shell UI:

  • It's annoying that the landing page doesn't list my current turn-based games in progress, but instead forces me to choose Turn Based or Live Mode before I get to see if I have any available Turn Based games.
Game UI:
  • Need better keyboard commands: Need to have an "enter" [enter] key to submit the word; need to have a "clear" [ctrl] key to return all tiles to rack; need to have a "horizontal arrow" [rightarrow] key to type word across; need to have a "down arrow" [downarrow] key to type word down.
  • Need to display point values on letter tiles (to allow for non-standard point values).
Core Game Play:
  • Random Maps: I think that they are correct to only split the population by dictionary now (British vs. US). However, as soon as this game starts to take off there are all sorts of cool opportunities to provide a variety of custom experiences suited to different play styles. For instance, some folks will prefer "easy boards" (resource rich) while others will prefer resource poor boards, and some will prefer complete randomization (removing symmetry, reshaping the board in radical ways, changing point values, etc). Popular variants will likely emerge and need to be supported...
Social Play:
  • Need to surface popular modes, leader boards, etc. There should also be ways to group with like-minded and/or skilled players for the best experience.
  • Co-op play: Man, oh man, do I wish that Brian and I could go head-to-head against other pairs of players. Even if direct competition isn't supported, allowing arbitrary groups of people to team up and compete in the current game could be really fun.
  • Lag.
  • Inability to see a static version of the leader board after a game completes (it scrolls off the screen and can't be retrieved).

No comments: