Wordament 2.5 released for Windows Phone and iOS

Today we are proud to release an update to Windows Phone and iOS versions of Wordament. This app update, which we call Wordament 2.5, brings with it features that players have been asking for, as well as a host of stability and performance bug fixes. We’ve been hard at work for months on this update and we are excited to share it with you today. Here is what’s new:

Sign in with Facebook

We’ve heard from many players who want the ability to sign in to Wordament with a Facebook account. In Wordament 2.5 we have two ways to sign in: with an Xbox LIVE account or a Facebook account. Sign in how you like, everyone still plays in the same room. Both types of accounts can play Wordament, show up in Wordament’s Leaderboards and compete with Frenemies, however the only way to earn Gamerscore and Achievements is with an Xbox LIVE account.

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Signing in to Wordament with a Facebook account

Share your accomplishments

Do you feel like screaming from the top of a mountain when you get a new high score? What about when you finally beat that Frenemy you have been chasing for months? Now you can proclaim your greatness right from our real-time leaderboards with the new “Tap to share” feature.

“Tap to share” makes it simple to tell your Facebook friends, Twitter followers or even just a friend in email or SMS about your recent Wordament accomplishments. If you aren’t following us on Twitter or fans of our Facebook page, now would be a great time to add us. You might even find us congratulating you when you share those accomplishments.

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Tap to share in action on an iPhone

Updated look

Once you get signed in, you will notice a refreshed look and feel to Wordament. Every release we have refined our visual look to make things more useful and attractive. As we develop new features, the UI design often needs to evolve. The challenge this release was determining how to integrate Facebook accounts alongside an Xbox LIVE accounts. We played with several designs but ultimately this one stuck and felt the most like the natural evolution of our user experience.

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You might notice we no longer display the language edition at the top of the screen. In this new design we change the P L A Y tiles to the localized word for “play” in the edition you are playing. It’s never been more clear which edition you are playing.Flags.ong

Flags in real-time Leaderboards

We made a small, but important tweak to our real-time leaderboards screen to display the country flag, in addition to the three letter country code, for each player. It really highlights the international appeal of Wordament.

 

Theme picking on Windows Phone

When we launched Wordament on Windows 8 we provided the ability to pick what color theme Wordament should use. We did this because Windows 8 did not have an accent color clip_image014available to an app like Windows Phones did. We started to receive feedback that many Windows Phone customers wanted to be able to pick a Wordament theme independently of their device’s accent color like they could do on Windows 8. Now you can. In Wordament 2.5 you can pick any of our 20 stunning themes or go along for the ride with your devices accent color. The choice is yours.

Native iPad support

Wordament 2.5 has moved to being a Universal App on iOS, and not just as a phone app. In our testing, we found that some of us scored better on a smaller board, and others really liked how easy on the eyes a larger board was. So we split the differences and added a new button on the iPad that lets you zoom in and out on the board so you can decide which mode you like best.

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Most importantly: thank you. Without players like you, Wordament isn’t a game worth playing. Our game is built on the Wordament community. So thank you for helping spread the word and choosing to spend your gaming time with us.

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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!

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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:

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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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