Friday, August 1, 2008

So long Scrabulous... Hello WordScraper

It was inevitable. Hasbro was going to insist that Scrabulous be removed from Facebook and replaced by an official version (developed and published by EA).

Sadly the official version pales in comparison to Scrabulous. Although I shouldn't be, I am still amazed that folks think that it's OK to release an inferior product when the killer app already exists. Hasbro/EA released a flashy, bulky version of the game that completely missed the mark in terms of what users craved: A polished, light weight version of the game that allowed for quick and effortless play.

In a stroke of genius, the inventors of Scrabulous released an application called WordScraper. This game is a generic letter tile laying game where users can create custom boards and rules sets. Of course the feature set makes it super easy for someone to create a custom board and set of rules that mimics Scrabble (I'm currently playing a couple of games using this rule set). But it also lets folks be amateur designers and iterate on novel rules and board set ups. This is some really cool stuff -- especially when combined with some community features that will allow people to rate other people's custom games/rules and, presumably, surface the most popular variants.

Kudos to the creators of Scrabulous (and now WordScraper). They've put power back into the hands of the passionate community -- and this will likely inspire more loyalty in its users... Even those who simply play using traditional Scrabble rules.

The developers have also been super responsive to community feedback in the past and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see them add some really cool new features that promotes user generation of content in new and interesting ways.

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