Puzzle updates

Sometimes, I don’t think we give enough credit to the folks that work so hard to keep Wordament’s puzzles always great and always fresh. Some of those people are members of our game community, like Echo Foxtrot DJ, Autogrin and Buffy42 that have provided us with many of the great theme puzzles we all play, but we also have help from our two part-time team members: oOo Scruff oOo and Rogosh Wot. This week, we’ve introduced Autogrin and Buffy’s latest English theme creation: Construction. When you see it, look for words like: BRICKWORK, CARPENTRY, DRYWALL, SCAFFOLDING, TILE, and TOOLS.

We talk a lot about English changes, because the engineering team’s native language is English, but we are also continuing to add and support themes through all of the non-English languages as well. In just the month of April, for example, we’ve added the following themes:

  • Danish: Furniture
  • Dutch: Family
  • Finnish: Travel, Flowers
  • French: Flowers
  • German: Clothing, Hair, Flowers
  • Italian: Flowers
  • Polish: Travel, Furniture
  • Portuguese (Brazil): Travel, Furniture
  • Russian: Travel, Furniture
  • Swedish: Furniture

We are also always tweaking the contents of our themed lists as we discover new and interesting words. Sometimes the community tells us words to add, but we are also always learning new words and adding them to ours theme. Translating themes has also introduced us to a lot of words that were always “in English” that we didn’t know existed, and that’s where some of these come from as well. Here’s some example word additions to some of our lists, just in the past week:

  • Clothing theme: KELLY – a man’s hat, such as a derby.
  • Crime theme: DRAGNET – an organized system for catching a wanted criminal.
  • Land Features theme: EVERGLADE(S) – low, swampy land that’s characterized by tall grassed and extensive waterways.
  • Politics theme: BRINKSMANSHIP – a practice of pushing a political or diplomatic situation to the brink of crisis in order to achieve the greatest advantage.
  • Publications theme: GAZETTE(S) – a newspaper.
  • Small theme: PEEWEE – tiny; very small.
  • Weather theme: ZEPHYR(S) – a mild, gentle breeze.

We hope you continue to find our puzzles fun and fresh. We are always working to try new things (without breaking the game’s rules). If you ever have suggestions for words or theme lists, feel free to contact us! wordament@microsoft.com.

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Welcome to Competition Year 3!

Today, we are proud to “reset” our leaderboards to begin a new year of competition. Last year, as we launched on Xbox, it was truly a full, forced reset of everything. At that time, we were resetting everyone’s player account to move everyone to Xbox. This year, existing players get to retain all of their personal player stats. This includes your personal bests, like number of top 10 wins and your best word.

So, what exactly are we “resetting” then—in fact, nothing. We aren’t resetting anything to zero. Instead, we are adding a whole new collection of leaderboards to allow you to compete in a fun new variety of ways. Below is a listing of the new Top Players leaderboards:

Year 2 Top Player’s Leaderboards

Year 3 Top Player’s Leaderboards

Total score (all time)

Average score (all time)

Total score (all time)

Average score (all time)

Total score (today)

Total score (this week)

Total score (this month)

Total score (this year)

Average score (this week)

Average score (this month)

Average score (this year)

High score (this month)

High score (this year)

Most words (this month)

Most words (this year)

The “all time” category remains exactly as it always has, but we are now adding 11 new Top Players leaderboards for you to look at and enjoy. These leaderboards are available in all puzzle languages, right now.

Total Score

The time-scoped Total score leaderboards show player’s total accrued score across from every full and partial game played, within the chosen time window. There are a couple of important things we want to call out:

· Total score (today) is based on the last 24 rolling hours of game play. It does not reset at a specific point in time. Rather, games you played more than 24 hours ago will just naturally fall out.

· Total score (this week), (this month), and (this year) all automatically reset at their appropriate interval. Weekly leaderboards, for example, reset on Monday morning at some time between 12:00 AM and 3:00 AM in the time zone closest to that’s language edition’s “center of play.” Meaning, the Italian puzzle language will reset between 12:00 AM – 3:00 AM in Central European Time. Spanish puzzle language edition resets between 12:00 AM – 3:00 AM in Central Time (North America).

· Because of this, once a week the Total score (today) will be higher than Total score (this week) for 24 hours. Similarly, at the beginning of each month, it’s possible for Total score (this month) to be less than Total score (this week), unless the first day of the month is Monday.

Average Score

Over time we’ve had a lot of requests for “show me my average now vs. all time.” This is especially important as new, high-performing players will naturally have better average scores than players that have played Wordament for months or years. Our response to this request is the new Average score (this week, this month, and this year) leaderboards. Over these time intervals, your average score is scoped. If you are improving, then your Average score (this week) should be higher than in longer time periods. Also, if a new, high performing player enters the scene, you can compare how you are doing relative to them on a fixed time interval. For those that want all the details on Average score:

· Average score is only computed on full games (games where you played for at least 1:50 seconds).

· Average score (this week) and (this month) will only list you after you have completed 20 full games (during the week or month, respectively).

· Average score (this year) will only list you after you have completed 50 full games this year.

High score and Most words

We are also introducing two new kinds of Top Player’s leaderboards: High score and Most words. These are both in response to the interest these have generated when we’ve snapshotted results to our Facebook page from time-to-time. These leaderboards show everyone’s single game best score and single game most words over the selected time period. These are starting right now, and do not take any results into account prior to today, so these will change quickly over the next few days.

As a sub-point, we have always and will continue to patrol our leaderboards and ban “show boaters.” If you are suspended for “suspicious play” in one of these two leaderboards in particular, we will review your results and in many cases require you to provide a video of yourself playing at that level of performance if you are in the top 5 positions and you don’t have a history of being a top player. Sorry to be so blunt about that, but we take the reputation of our game and our leaderboards seriously and will continue to do so.

Friends and Frenemies enabled

All of these leaderboards are Friends and Frenemies enabled, so as new players join the game, you can compare yourself against them in all of these leaderboards! This should provide you with a number of new ways to compete accurately on the stats front.

World Champ Achievement

The wording for the “World Champ Achievement” has always been pretty vague: Score in the top 250 places in any of the Top Player’s leaderboards. As of right now, the World Champ achievement will only unlock on the two “all time” leaderboards, but by the end of this week (Friday 4/26), we will begin unlocking the World Champ achievement to the top 250 in all categories, with one minor, but important detail: in the Week, Month, and Year leaderboards, a full 24 hours must elapse from each “reset”. That way, there is a bit of an achievement rush at the first of each week, month, and year, but it takes 24 hours of competition before it will trigger.

Year 4 will begin on January 1, 2014

In moving to “auto resetting” leaderboards, we will now be resetting our (this year) leaderboards at the start of each calendar year. That makes this competition year shorter than the last two, but no less exciting.

Thanks for supporting us with your time and attention for two full years!

While we have even more exciting things coming during this competition year, we wanted to say thanks for all of your support during these past two years. We hope you like these changes, and look forward to continuing to serve you fresh new ways of competing!

Team Wordament

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Wordament’s highest scoring English board

As we quickly approach the end of Wordament’s Year 2 Competition, we hit a milestone in English that we are pretty excited about: We ran our highest scoring board to date, and have a new, top English Wordament Champion: BoomRShine!

WordamentTrophy256

BoomRShine is a long-time player and always keeping people on their toes at the top, but we’ve never been able to credit him as a “Wordament Champ”… until now. In this round, he earned 2,450 points on 106 words — our best score on an English board to date! Other people actually found more words, but BoomR had the right combination of words and score to oust everyone in a clean victory! Great work BoomRShine! You are our newest Wordament Champion.

Here’s the board from that round, and a glance back at the top-ten finishers in that round:

Highest-Scoring Top finishers in this round:

Top-10-Highest-Round

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Wordament – now in Danish and Norwegian

We love continuing to expand the reach of Wordament to every possible player. Today we are launching one new BETA language edition: “Dansk BETA.” The interesting thing about Danish is that it also appears to overlap about 99% with Bokmål (one of the two major Norwegian languages—the “Book language” as described on Wikipedia) – so we are effectively getting a two for one here. Sorry fans of Nynorsk, we don’t have anything for you today. Smile

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This BETA launch is also the first language edition we’ve shipped with all puzzle features in right from the get go. So, you will find normal, Digram, and themed puzzles if you give the game a try today. Also, this language edition, like all of the others, is available to all of our game clients: Windows Phone, Windows 8, iOS, and Web. So, if you or someone you know enjoys Danish or Norwegian – let them know that Wordament now speaks their language!

To try it out, you need to have an Xbox account and go to Help and Options, where you can select Puzzle language. The new “Dansk BETA” will be in the list and ready to try!

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New English puzzle types, better themes for all languages

We have a very small studio – we are just a handful of team members – and we love continuous improvement. Wordament is coming close to its 2nd anniversary, and I can’t even tell you at this point how many times we’ve shipped! One of the ways that we ship is with new, carefully crafted puzzles that go live each week. In fact, we generate 10 days worth of new puzzles every 7 days, so that IF something goes wrong, we have 3 days to fix it without having to give up a whole weekend. After all, like you, we need to play too!

New English puzzle types

Today we are shipping a new batch of puzzles with some fun new “mix-ins.” A while back we introduced a “4th category of puzzles” – what we on the team lovingly refer to as “Potpourri puzzles” – like the High Value X, or X in the corners, or Long Word. Today we have three new varieties added in, and a new “5th category of puzzle”:

new-puzzle-types

  • Prefix – There’s one tile on the board that can only be used to START words. It cannot be used in the middle or end of words.
  • Either/Or – There’s a special tile, like V/U on the board. It can be used as either a V or a U. There will never be a case where it can be used as both within the same puzzle. For example, you won’t find an E / S tile where both E-A-T and S-A-T are playable.
  • Suffix – There’s one tile on the board that can only be used to END words. Like prefix, it can’t be used at the beginning or middle of words. Also, and you might find this frustrating – you can’t add anything after the suffix. So, if the suffix is –ING, you can make E-N-D-ING, but not E-N-D-ING-S.

Each new tile has a subtle, but special appearance on the board. The prefix tile ends with a hyphen, so “UN-” or “RE-”. The Either / Or tile has a slash: “J / K”. And the suffix tile begins with a hyphen, as in “-ED” or “-ING.”

We are also unveiling a new 5th category of puzzle, which for now appears every other set of five puzzles and introduces the “Speed Round”. For those that like to keep track, our puzzle progression is:

Normal – Potpourri – Digram – Normal / Speed – Theme

The Speed Round is an all out race where word count matters MUCH more than word score. Why? Because all words are worth exactly 10 points. If you look close, you’ll even notice that none of the tiles have values… just letters. So, in this round, 25 words = 250 points. No bonuses, no perks for finding a long word. Just go as fast as you can. We want to give special thanks to Wicketewok who suggested this puzzle during one of our many conversations about Wordament.

For now, we are running the Speed Round only every 10th puzzle. Based on feedback, we may run it more (every set of 5) or less (demote it to a Potpourri puzzle), but for now, we believe it is worth it’s own category.

Improved themes for all languages

This work item was less about the words and more about the way we generate themed puzzles. We hope that you find that the theme diversity is much better and that the hidden words include a better variety. All of our themes have hundreds of words, but not all of them run. This is a step towards getting much richer variation in the words that run. We have also made it so that EACH theme needs to run once before they repeat, so you will not see the Chickens theme running back-to-back, which has happened before.

Available in all versions: right now

The last thing is: no client update is required for these new features. They will just show up automatically. So, whether you have Windows Phone, Windows 8, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Web Beta, you have access to these cool new puzzles right now.

What are you waiting for… see you in the leaderboards!

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Wordament… one more thing…

Over the past two years, one of the requests we’ve gotten time-and-again was to please bring Wordament to Windows 7. Today, we are unveiling a Wordament experiment… a Web-based version of our game that you can play with your mouse in Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10, Google Chrome, and Firefox browsers. Have a Mac and want to try Wordament? You’ll need Chrome, but you can play too in this HTML5 version of Wordament. With this release, you can play the in the same puzzles as everyone else in the world all at the same time.

Wordament Web Beta, like our other versions of Wordament, allows everyone to play together in one continuous, world-wide tournament. We support the same 12 puzzle languages in the Web version, just the same as on Windows 8 PCs and phones. And, like other versions of Wordament, the Web beta lets you sign-in to your Xbox account and earn ten achievements worth 50 Gamerscore.

Even though this is a beta, this is a screen-for-screen match to our existing versions. You can view your stats, manage frenemies, check the leaderboards and of course play!

To access the web version, browse to http://www.xbox.com/marketplace/product/wordament.

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When you access the Wordament Web Beta, you can jump in and play as a Guest by simply swiping PLAY. If you already have an Xbox account, then you can sign in to start earning achievements and have your results displayed on the Leaderboards. If you’d like to create a free Xbox account, you can click Sign in, and click the Sign Up button.

So, where do we go from here with this Beta? That depends largely on the feedback and engagement we get. This is an experiment and we are eager to see what happens.

Enjoy!

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Wordament now on iOS

We would like to send a warm “Welcome!” to all of the gamers on iPod Touch, iPhones, and iPads. If you have one of these devices, then, we’ve got a fun game available for you! In our continuing quest to bring Wordament to every player, on every device, we are really happy to announce that Wordament is now available in the Apple App Store – and real-time, competitive word finding will never be the same!

Wordament-iOS-header

To download it from iTunes (in the US marketplace), click here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wordament/id580935508?mt=8

Wordament on iOS is “pure Wordament” – it connects to the same servers, plays with the same players as Windows Phone and Windows 8. Everyone plays together in one continuous world-wide tournament in 12 puzzle languages across all devices. Our iOS version supports 7 UI languages as well: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, and Swedish. If you’ve ever played Wordament – you will feel right at home. We’ve worked hard to make it screen-for-screen identical with our Window Phone version. If you’re just hearing about Wordament for the first time: Welcome! We hope you like what you find!

Once you’ve downloaded Wordament, you will be presented with our Sign In screen. If you already have an Xbox account, or any free Microsoft Account (Hotmail, SkyDrive, or a Windows 8 account), then you can enter that and you will be in playing right away. If you don’t already have one, you can jump in and play as a Guest by clicking the link at the bottom of the screen. Guests do not rank in our leaderboards, but this option offers a quick and fun way to see what the game is all about.

wm_login

Wordament is the first Xbox title to come to iOS with real Xbox Achievements! When you sign in with your free Microsoft account, you can earn up to 50 Gamerscore from our 10 achievements and you’ll have access to all of your Xbox Friends and Wordament Frenemies. If you’ve played on Windows Phone or Window 8 and jump to the iOS version, all of your player stats and friends will follow your account automatically.

Wordament-iOS-Start

So, please install it and give it a try—and tell your friends! We are very proud of our first version of this great game coming to all the iOS devices in the world.

Team Wordament

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