Reflecting on the past few weeks, it struck us today that we never did justice to one of the newest features we launched in Beta, then pulled, tweaked, and re-launched. Part of the reason for the stealth launch was that we were unsure whether the concept would work. We’ve had Digram puzzles for a long time, but actual themed puzzles were something we really wanted to try out. It’s part of the reason we introduced the title bar beneath the puzzle way back when…
Some of you have mentioned that the “title bar is hard to notice” or that “sometimes a themed puzzle comes and goes without noticing it until the end.” We intentionally put the title bar beneath the puzzle because of the ergonomics of the phone and the various hand postures we know that you play with (both from play testing as well as our YouTube T-shirt contest). If we shifted the puzzle down to have the title on top, the game would be less comfortable and you might accidentally hit one of the soft-key buttons. Although some folks go out of their way to make their ads get accidentally clicked, we have always tried to be low-key about the fact that we use advertising to fund the cost of running our server-infrastructure. Ad clicks certainly do help us, though, so we wouldn’t complain if you clicked a few on occasion to support our advertisers!
Back to the themes, we currently have 22 themed word lists that we are building puzzles from. They are:
We always require a minimum of 6 words, or 21 letters making up themed words. We are continuing to tweak both the word lists, the categories, and the puzzle maker to ensure that our variety and quality is always improving.
On the scoring front, themed puzzles (but not Digrams) have a slight change to the scoring: Themed words get both an extra 5% added to their score, and then an extra 10 points. Why? Because we know that finding words in a given theme takes time, and if you start hunting for those, we don’t want you to be penalized for chasing the secondary goal. During our beta period, the scoring was a bit too aggressive and the themed puzzles just destroyed the play balance. So, we analyzed the scores possible on themed puzzles and the words everyone was finding and tuned the scoring to this, which feels “about right.”
As always, we’d love your feedback on these. In particular, are their categories you’d like to see? Heck, you can even contribute word lists to us! That would be great. Also, let us know when you think a word should have been “in category.” A number of you already have to our support mail alias–so thanks for that!
Also, I want to say thanks to all the players that noticed these puzzles during our beta period and asked for us to return them when we shut them off for a few days to better tune our words and categories. Initially, we had three more categories, but they got scrapped during that blackout: art, elements, and materials–they were just too obscure. It made us feel really good to know that players see the puzzle changes we make and ask for them when they disappear.
Thanks for listening!