Announcing Wordament Snap Attack®

Today we are thrilled to unveil the newest member of the Wordament franchise: Wordament® Snap Attack® – the constant word tournament. Snap Attack is available today on Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8.1.

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Snap Attack is an entirely new kind of word building game built on the heritage of the Wordament, with a new game mechanic that we think you’ll love—we know we do! Snap Attack is game about building combinations of words. In each 2 ½ minute round, you compete with thousands of other players at once, trying to get the best score. All players use the exact same board and rack of tiles. Points are earned by building combinations of words, or as we call them, “Snaps.” Your score is then ranked against everyone that just played that round and you’ll immediately see how you did.

Here is a trailer for the game that shows it in action: http://youtu.be/2ulgGHcJhEI

Here is a screenshot of the game board before you’ve found your first Snap:

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Snap Attack might look familiar if you are a players of other word building games, but the similarities end as soon as you make your first Snap. For starters, every board comes with a set of preplaced tiles that you can’t move. These are colored black and all of your Snaps will attach to one of more of these tiles. Your tiles are blue and you can move those anywhere to make Snaps. All players get the same seven tiles and they will not change during the course of a round. With those tiles it’s possible to make thousands of unique Snaps.

Single-Snap example:

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This is an example of a Single-Snap. The L, A, and K are placed next to the E in LANCES and you earn 12 points. Unlike other games in this genre, play doesn’t stop here. You can continue to build on your own Snaps to make new Snaps. Let’s add on:

Multi-Snap example:

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If you drag the A and W from your rack, you can build the Snap “LAKE, LAW”, which is worth 28 points. Each complete Snap is fully scored each time, meaning the more tiles used in the Snap, the more points you will receive! In Snap Attack you want to always keep your tiles moving, trying to find that next high scoring Snap.

Once the round is over, Snap Attack displays the Snaps you made and the top plays on the board. This is a great opportunity to study the Snaps you missed and learn how to find them in the future.

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Once our servers have everyone’s results we show a real-time leaderboard. This contains all the players that played in the last round. If you’ve ever played Wordament, this should look very familiar.

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For full game rules visit this link

We will have much more to talk about in the coming days, but we are keeping it short today as we are itching to get in there and play with you! As always, hop on our Facebook page and let us know what you think. This game will evolve with its players over the coming months and we can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

For now, though, go install and start playing Snap Attack!

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Hall of Fame 2013

Today we are unveiling the 2013 Hall of Fame results on Wordament.com. This contains the top 250 players in each puzzle language from April – December 2013. Why April? Well, our app originally shipped as an indie game on April 1, 2011. We published our first Hall of Fame at the one-year mark for our app, and it summarized all of our top players way back before we had either Xbox or Facebook sign-in. On April 28th, 2012, we shipped the first version of Microsoft Wordament on Windows Phones, and then released the 2012 Hall of Fame in April of 2013 (one year later). As we’ve grown up, we have moved into better and better cadences of doing things. This year, we reset our leaderboards on the year, just as we said we would, back in April.

Looking back, 2013 was a great year for Wordament and a great year for our team. We shipped either new support for, or significantly updated releases for, every single platform: Windows Phone 7, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, iOS, Android, Kindle, and Windows 8.1. We also added more puzzle languages–in fact we now have more languages than any other mainstream 4×4 word finding game! But enough about us… what about you? This was an amazing year for our Wordamentalists. We saw whole new feats of amazing, in fact: DiscoPidgeon was dethroned as #1 in the Most Words in a single round category, which now belongs to LyndseyBrowning with 192 words in a single game. Don’t believe it? Here’s a round where she gets 165. DiscoPidgeon remained a #1 Wordament champ, though, in the High Score in a single game with 2,754 points. And, in the Total Score category? The amazing Singlefished — who we recognize as our newest Wordament Champion.

WordamentTrophy256He had let us know that he had a specific goal to end 2013 with, but we laughed out loud when we saw it: He finished the year with exactly 23,500,000 points. He obviously carefully planned that, and we applaud it. So much so, that we reached out to him and asked if he would share some tips on being a great Wordament player. Here’s what he said:

  • Take some time and get to know the higher scoring letters (G, P, K, Y, Z, X, etc). Focus on building words that include these higher scoring letters before moving onto another strategy. It doesn’t take long before these letters really stand out and it becomes second nature to focus on them.
  • Look for letter combinations that you can also build words with (ER, CK, ING, etc). My favourite combination is CK, especially when it pops up in a digram! “Snickering” is a word I always seem to find (CK, ER and ING multi combo!) and will always be one of the top scoring words on any board it appears on.
  • After a THEME round use your 17 seconds to learn and remember the top scoring theme words. You will be surprised how often they pop up and they end up being easy points once you’ve memorised them. In the vast majority of these theme rounds (when I recognise the theme words), the large scoring theme words will be the first words I swipe before looking for anything else.
  • Remember that multiple dictionaries are used to generate the boards so both “American English” and “British English” can be found on the same board, for example color/colour, check/cheque, defense/defence
  • Practice, practice, practice….. You’ve heard it before but it’s true!!! When I compare my “ALL TIME” average to my current “THIS MONTH” average I notice an improvement of about 300 points / 20 words! This difference in points/words isn’t because I suddenly got smarter or swallowed a dictionary, it’s purely down to the fact that I’ve had lots of practice (~55K full games completed) and finding words now is a whole lot easier than it used to be.
  • … and finally, always remember, “The harder you try, the luckier you get!”

Thank Singlefished! Those are really great tips… and you are an amazing Wordament champion.

Lastly, we wanted to close by saying that while we are really proud of 2013, we are not standing still. Our team is moving at an ever faster pace and the future is really exciting. We have some great things in store during 2014! This year’s Wordament competition is brand new and still anyone’s to win. Thanks for reading and for swiping those tiles!

Team Wordament

P.S. Can’t find the Hall of Fame? It’s on the navigation bar up top. Click on Hall of Fame | 2013 | and select a language.

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Unlocking the World Champ Achievement, or “Why is this achievement so difficult?”

This is a question we’ve been hearing quite a bit lately, so we thought we would explain our reason for why it’s so difficult to unlock and then tell you what you’ll need to concentrate on if you truly wish to conquer this achievement.

To be perfectly honest: we made this achievement difficult because we wanted to make certain that it goes to the game’s true champions. This achievement is a mark of a deeply committed player to our game and IS achievable by anyone that wants to get it… but you have to earn it.

The achievement text itself is deceptively simple: “Appear in the top 250 positions in any of the Top Players leaderboards.” Part of the reason it’s not more descriptive is that’s about the longest piece of text we can write there. Digging a little deeper, there’s some additional details.

There are two ways to unlock the World Champ achievement:

Lifetime “champion”
Originally, there we only two Top Players leaderboards: Total score (all time) and Average score (all time). To unlock this achievement via these leaderboards, you need to have played:

Total score (all time)

  • 100 full games (which means you’ve unlocked the “Sore Fingers” achievement)
  • earned 250,000 total points
  • appear in the top 250 positions in Total score (all time)

Average score (all time)

  • 100 full games
  • earned 85,000 total points
  • appear in the top 250 positions in Average score (all time)

“Champ of the ___”
The other way to earn the achievement is to focus on one specific Top Players leaderboard and be the best at that. There are many time-scoped leaderboards, like Total score (today) or Total score (this week). You still need to have played 100 full games of Wordament and unlocked “Sore Fingers” before you qualify. But then, you need to also:

  • earn 10,000 points within the time period of that leaderboard: 24 hours, this week, this month, etc
  • appear in the top 250 positions in that specific leaderboard.

Let’s work through an example, OK? Today is Friday, December 5th, 2013, so to win World Champ Total Score for today, you must: within the next 24 hours have completed 100 full* games since installing Wordament, earn 10,000 points (today), and appear in the top 250 positions within this leaderboard.

If you’re going for the weekly achievement: you must have completed 100 full games, earned 10,000 points during the week (Friday is day 5 of 7), and appear in the top 250 positions within this leaderboard.

If you’re going for the monthly achievement: you must have completed 100 full games, earned 10,000 points during the month (December 5th—today—is the 5th day of the month), and appear in the top 250 positions within this leaderboard.

So, there you have. That’s how you earn it. Have fun swiping tiles and you might just unlock it without it noticing!

* NOTE: A full game is a complete rotation of a puzzle where you’ve played during at least 1:50 seconds of the game board and then the individual results and Leaderboard rankings (:45). Anything less than the above is considered a partial game.

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Wordament for Windows 8.1

Today we shipped an update to Wordament for Windows 8.0 and 8.1 (both RT and x86) that has been in the works for many months. This update brings to Windows all of the great features you’ve come to know and love on Windows Phone, including Facebook sign-in, Guest mode and Tap to share scores. In addition to these great features we’ve also added fluid layout support. So, if you are running on Windows 8.1 you can now size Wordament to any size you like and we will layout in a way that best takes advantage of the space. This was no small feat. It’s hard enough to design great software, but to do it seamlessly at arbitrary sizes, took some careful planning. We are really happy with how this release has turned out. The coolest thing about the new Wordament on Windows 8.x, though? It’s an engineering feature–and it’s really nerdy. Historically, though, many readers have appreciated engineering tales, so we’ll share:

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Wordament grew up very fast. It seemed like it went from an indie game with a handful of players to a full on Microsoft title with millions of users, on lots of platforms, almost overnight. In that transition we ended up writing lots of code. For instance, in the course of a year we had ports of the Wordament client written in JavaScript, Objective C, C++ and C#. Each one of these ports has its own special issues, build processes and maintenance challenges. At the time, we were still a two person team and Jason and I were struggling to continue to innovate on Wordament, while supporting the “in-market” code bases we had shipped. So we started looking for a solution that would allow us to share more code between all of the platforms we were targeting. Funnily enough, the answer was sitting in our own backyard: C#.

As we looked around at the state of “cross platform development” on Windows, Windows Phone, iOS and Android we started to realize that C# was an excellent choice to target all modern mobile devices. So we did just that. With the help of Visual Studio for Windows and Xamarin for iOS and Android, we started a project to build a single version of Wordament’s source code that could target all the platforms we ship on. This release on Windows 8 marks the end of that journey. All of our clients are now proudly built out of one source tree and in one language. Even our service, which runs on Windows Azure, is built in C#. This is a huge efficiency win for our team of four.

Sure, as a player, it’s hard to articulate how this really benefits you, but it does: By having one set of source code, and not ports, we are able to offer a highly consistent experience no matter what device you are playing on. It also means we are able to quickly fix any issues across all our devices at once, and most importantly we are able to add new features to all platforms at once.

We really hope you enjoy this update to Wordament and as always we love hearing your thoughts on Facebook and in email.

Thanks,

John and Jason

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Experiencing connection issues?

The Xbox Terms of Use get periodically updated and today appears to be one of those days. Please visit http://www.xboxlive.com/, sign in and accept the latest Terms Of Use. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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LyndseyBrowning: Wordament’s new speed demon

If you have been watching the leaderboard lately you might recognize the name LyndseyBrowning. Today we are officially announcing her as the NEW Wordament Champion! She has set the new speed record in a single, 2:00 round: 193 words. Here’s a little about her, from Lyndsey herself:

I am a 27 year old Web Developer from the South Wales valleys (UK) who loves word games. I started playing word games around 10-11 years ago, which back then included Scrabble and any Boggle variation that I could get my hands on (or keyboard rather!).

I was drawn to Wordament due to its live multiplayer aspect, and being a competitive person by nature, I found myself right at home! I’m also a fan of the themed boards, which provide a challenge, even for an advanced player like myself. The Either/Or theme for example, doesn’t follow the typical 16×16 style and is therefore a great challenge, testing your focus!

I also particularly like the Long Word theme as longer words are usually my weakness but these boards give me an opportunity to find words I wouldn’t normally dream of finding. On a themed board recently I managed to find CONSTELLATION, which I was very proud of :)

One piece of advice I always give to beginners is to always study the words missed at the end of each round. You will be surprised how much you will take in and remember from that, especially as you start to see the same word patterns being missed. Secondly, don’t focus on the game timer, focus only on finding words. It can be a distraction and once you’re in the flow of the game, you don’t need any distractions. 

I also tend to tell people to find an area of the board to begin with and find all words you can in that area before moving on to the next. This allows you to scan other areas of the board whilst you are swiping words in your current area. 

Finally, learn some common anagrams, they will help. One of my favourites is RETAINS, which can make:

ANESTRI ANTSIER NASTIER RETINAS RETSINA RETAINS RATINES, STEARIN STAINER

And S is your friend! Most words can be pluralised. Even if you aren’t sure, just try it! Also consider suffixes such as ED, ER, IER, ING, ION, IEST… And prefixes such as RE, PRE, PRO, MIS (which incidentally can sometimes be found on themed boards).

Here’s the breakdown of the game that led her to becoming the new champion

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Lyndsey’s results:

Found common words Found obscure words

gasped +34,  panics +32,  scaped +32,  scapes +32,  spaces +32,  spades +32,  coding +32,  pangs +22,  dangs +21,  gapes +21,  scads +21,  sings +21,  snags +21,  snaps +21,  spans +21,  gaped +21,  capes +19,  gains +19,  paces +19,  scans +19,  scape +19,  sodas +19,  space +19,  spade +19,  caped +19,  panic +19,  cains +18,  codes +18,  dices +18,  napes +18,  panes +18,  sides +18,  aides +16,  canes +16,  deans +16,  dines +16,  sanes +16,  snide +16,  anise +15,  gasp +13,  caps +12,  dags +12,  gads +12,  pang +12,  cads +11,  cods +11,  docs +11,  gins +11,  nags +11,  naps +11,  pans +11,  sang +11,  scad +11,  sics +11,  sign +11,  sing +11,  snag +11,  snap +11,  span +11,  sped +11,  dang +11,  gape +11,  paid +11,  aids +10,  apes +10,  cans +10,  dins +10,  peas +10,  said +10,  scan +10,  secs +10,  soda +10,  aped +10,  cape +10,  gain +10,  gap +10,  pace +10,  aces +9,  asp +9,  dies +9,  gas +9,  ices +9,  ides +9,  odes +9,  seas +9,  side +9,  spa +9,  cain +9,  cap +9,  code +9,  dice +9,  dig +9,  gad +9,  nape +9,  pane +9,  sac +8,  sane +8,  sic +8,  sod +8,  aide +8,  cad +8,  cane +8,  cod +8,  dean +8,  dine +8,  doc +8,  gin +8,  nag +8,  nap +8,  nice +8,  pan +8,  sec +7,  sin +7,  aid +7,  ape +7,  can +7,  din +7,  pea +7,  sea +6,  ace +6,  die +6,  ice +6,  ode +6

canids +30,  speans +30,  scags +22,  gadis +21,  pacas +21,  cadis +19,  codas +19,  sadis +19,  saids +19,  spaes +19,  cades +18,  canid +18,  daces +18,  peans +18,  sades +18,  sains +18,  spean +18,  cines +16,  nides +16,  daps +12,  gids +12,  pacs +12,  scag +12,  gadi +11,  paca +11,  ados +10,  agin +10,  cadi +10,  casa +10,  coda +10,  dans +10,  gaed +10,  gaes +10,  gies +10,  ocas +10,  odas +10,  sadi +10,  spae +10,  ains +9,  anis +9,  cade +9,  cag +9,  dace +9,  dag +9,  dap +9,  gid +9,  gien +9,  pac +9,  pean +9,  sade +9,  sain +9,  sice +9,  sig +9,  anes +8,  cine +8,  odea +8,  sine +8,  ado +7,  dan +7,  gae +7,  gie +7,  oca +7,  oda +7,  san +7,  ade +6,  ain +6,  ani +6,  ens +6,  sei +6,  ane +5

And, for non-believers (people that think she’s cheating) here’s a link to a game she recently posted onto YouTube where she found 165 words in a single round: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjC3Vbgva8k&sns=em

Until today, the only person that was hitting the top of the thermometer was DiscoPidgeon. Now, with the influx of new players from Android (that have been training on Wordament-like games for a while), we have a handful of players that are able to consistently break the 170 boundary without cheating. As such, we are taking steps to let legitimate players submit scores above 170 words (the current round cap), while still ensuring that blatant cheaters get the ban-hammer.

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New platforms, New puzzles, New languages, New players

It’s been a really busy week at the Wordament Headquarters and we have lots to talk about. Today we are pleased to announce a Windows Phone 8 native version of Wordament in the Marketplace. Previously, Wordament was a Windows Phone 7 native app, which would work on Windows Phone 8, but depending on your screen aspect ratio you might end up with the dreaded letterboxing. This is no longer a problem; with the new release Wordament will fill up a HTC 8X as well as it does a Nokia 1020. If you docked us a star in the marketplace for this in the past, it might be a good time to go re-rate us ;)

As developers, we are a very data driven and one thing we are constantly studying is connectivity to our services. We have spent many hours tuning our protocols and trying different strategies to make sure every user, no matter how far from our data centers, is able to play. We have noticed for some time now, that many users on Windows Phone’s occasionally have issues connecting to Xbox and thus can’t sign into Wordament. Frankly, we find these stories heart breaking as there is often little we can do from our offices. However, we have been working with the Xbox team on this issue and we have a patch in this newest build that should enable players having troubles to get connected. If you have been one of the users experiencing connectivity issues we’d ask that you update and let us know if the latest Wordament fixes your situation.

New puzzle and language features

Wordament is powered by an always-on cloud service running in Windows Azure. It allows us to constantly improve and update the game, and we are always improving our content photo 2photo 1for the game across all languages. Today, we are launching support for two more puzzle languages: Norwegian and Turkish. We launched Danish a while back and we heard from a number of users that Norwegian support would be great–we listened, but we have to say that Norwegian is a pretty difficult language to “get right.” We’ve done our best with the content that’s available to us, but we suspect there are some “invalid” words in there. We’d love the help of any native Norwegian speakers to give us a list of words they find during play that are “wrong.” As always, you can send us feedback to: wordament@microsoft.com.

For Turkish, we enlisted the help of some colleagues in Microsoft Research to help clean up our lexicon, but, as with all of our non-English languages we have limited native language comprehension. So, just as with Norwegian, please feel free to give us feedback. We do listen, and we do update our lexicons as we hear about problems.

This week, we also launched support for new puzzle types in our non-English languages. Specifically, we added support for our “potpourri” puzzles that appear every 5th round. You should see: High value X, X in the corners, Either/or, and Speed rounds in most languages–so be sure to sign in to your favorite non-English language and try out the fun new content.

New players

Lastly, we have had a large number of requests for an Android version of Wordament over the past several years. We believe that Wordament is a game best played with all your friends. Since it’s a BYOD world, we’ve decide to bring Android into the Wordament family. Wordament is available on your Ice-cream Sandwich and above device starting today. We look forward to the new players and competition. Take it easy on them, as they are a few months behind.

Here is a little clip we put together of Wordament running on all sorts of devices: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VgwpT4HkXA

Thanks for playing!

-Team Wordament

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