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Word Challenge
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Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi

Joined: 25 Apr 2003
Posts: 1143
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 7:34 am    Post subject: Word Challenge Reply with quote

I play casual games from time to time, but this one stole a week of my life:

I really like their high score system. They're tightly integrated with Facebook, and it shows you only the high scores of your friends. As you play the game, there's a column of your friends stacked up at the side, and every time your current score passes somebody's high score it scrolls up past them. It ranks you (and your friends) based on your high-score, all the way from "playground bully" and "hermit", up through the likes of "celebrity chef" and "lawyer" to "philosopher", "poet", and ultimately "anagram cyborg". To keep you coming back, it sends you a notification via Facebook whenever a friend beats your score, and you also have the option of "challenging" one of your friends: you play a game, it remembers your score and notifies your friend. When they respond, they play a single game (presumably with the same letters appearing) and your scores are compared.

So, will Moonpod's mysterious pirate-themed word game learn anything from Word Challenge? What's the high-score system like? Does it do anything to integrate with social networking sites? And how low will the barriers to entry be?
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Poo Bear
Pod Team
Pod Team

Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 4121
Location: Sheffield, UK

PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That sounds amazing. The facebook, twitter, myspace, flickr, etc social networking phenomenon passed me by I'm afraid. I should definitely create an account and check this out. Do you have to pay for it or is it just advert funded?

Currently our game doesn't even have a high score system. It's a single player adventure type experience so I'm not sure there would be interest in a simple high score table. If the game does well and that is the kind of thing people ask for then we'll be happy to add it.

As you're fighting against AI characters all the time, it would work well with an online human opponent or asynchronously by sharing dictionaries and stats to create a faked AI version of a human opponent. Turn based with two human players would probably work, but it would lose some of the excitement that time pressure brings.

I've noticed some mainstream games using ip detection to work out the player's country/county/city and then use that to form localised high score groups. That seems fairly simple and would make a high score table more exciting. Integrating into social networking apps to seamlessly create friends lists is a great idea.
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Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi

Joined: 25 Apr 2003
Posts: 1143
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Word Challenge is advert-funded, although I have no idea how well it's doing. After you finish a game and it's shown you your score, but before you return to the start screen, it sometimes shows you a brief advert. The always-present school-kid avatar that talks you through the game sits on the right eating popcorn and it says something like "and now, a message from our sponsor". So far I've mostly only seen adverts for one of their other games, but I think it's occasionally been for something else. There are also facebook adverts in the browser outside of the Flash game. For these, it seems like advertisers get a single small (110x80) image, and a short paragraph of text. I don't know if they get paid for them or not. I haven't found any of the adverts to be too intrusive. (Although Facebook is quite sneaky. My girlfriend and I became engaged recently, and so changed our "relationship status". Now we keep getting adverts for wedding stuff interspersed among the other entries when we view our "news feed". I can't say I'm a fan of Facebook overall, but it's worth the hassle even if only for Word Challenge.)
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