You know… sometimes things that look too good to be true, turn out to be true… and we need to suspend our inner skeptic. And, in the case of AngryPanda, this weekend, our system failed him—and I apologize. We’ve been getting a fair number of complaints in our Marketplace reviews that there are “too many cheaters” and we understand that the value of a community tournament is ruined if a cheater gets in an makes a farce of the system. Early on, in our very first build, we had a bug where people could carry scores from previous games on into future games getting a monotonically higher and higher score and word count. Because of the (at the time) 7-day Microsoft certification process, we couldn’t address the issue fast enough by waiting for it to “go through cert.”
So, we started building an anti-cheating system in both the phone and our Wordament.net service. We’ve been ratcheting the rules recently, but went too far in a couple of cases. I feel bad about AngryPanda in particular—who reached out an asked today, “What’s wrong my my account?” It turns out our cheating system had flagged him as a cheater in a game where he got 1493 points on 52 words. Incredible.
We had a great conversation and he shared a lot of tips that I thought I’d pass on to folks, who also encounter players that seem “inhumanly good”:
- If you look at the words I got, you’ll see that most of them used the digraph tile and were fairly long. I had another game today where I broke 1100 with a digraph and few words. One of them scored +93, which blew my mind. I think it was “secretest” with the “re”.
- As far as high average scores, here’s my history, I hope it will clear things up. I started playing Boggle-like games in 2000 with Tangleword, but I wasn’t a fast enough typer for 3-4 letter words. Using the mouse, though, I became a monster at the 5-6-7, and eventually 8-letter boards. For a while in college I would copy the missing words lists and read them aloud like bedtime prayers. Have you ever played Word Dojo on a MegaTouch machine? My high score on that is 2.1 million. When I play Boggle with family I am restricted to 5 letter words or longer. If there is an “ing”, I can only do 6. Nobody plays Scrabble with me because I’m obnoxious about getting big scores, as my wife will attest.
- Here are my tips for getting high scores: I always take about 3 seconds to look at the board and strategize before I touch it. I scan for prefixes, suffixes, digraphs, blends, and high scoring tiles. Then I go to town. My fingers are huge, too, so I get tons of mistakes and it thinks I am guessing all the time. I probably lose 10 seconds a game due to finger size. But the long words save me.
So, welcome back AngryPanda. We will all have to sit up a little straighter in our chairs when you are playing in there!
Engineer / Gamer
You vs. the Internet