Wordament is Alive on Xbox LIVE

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Wordament is my favorite game on Windows Phone.  In fact, it is the only game I’ve consistently played since I got my phone a year ago.  Throughout the year, the Wordament team has made consistent progress and improvements to the core game.  In the last couple of weeks, they’ve done a massive overhaul and re-launched Wordament on Xbox LIVE.

Video of What’s New in Wordament in May 2012

What’s Better

  1. A ton of people are playing it!
    Wordament is a massively multiplayer online word game.  When I first started playing it, there may have been 100-200 people playing simultaneously.  Now I have participated in games with more than 1500 simultaneous players!  This is amazing!  Unfortunately for some, it is now incredibly competitive.  Getting in the top 10 means beating 5x-10x more people than before.  Especially since a lot of these people don’t have anything better to do than to play (and uhh blog about) Wordament.
  2. It’s beautiful and sounds great!
    Clearly the team has spent some time on the aesthetics.  I liked the subtle color and accent changes they made last year, but the recent changes bring it to a whole new level.  The sound effects they’ve introduced are pretty subtle and useful. I really like the warning music that chimes in at the end of each round. I rarely look at the time because I’m very focused on the game.  The 10 second warning chime helps me recalibrate my strategy. It’s also fun when someone is playing next to me, they can hear how fast I am compared to them. Feel the pressure, n00b!  (I’m looking at you, Tim!).  There’s also a new Live Tile with the XBox LIVE brand. I didn’t realize this until I saw a co-worker’s phone with a different tile.  If your phone still shows the old graphic like mine did, you can just unpin Wordament from your home screen and re-pin and your phone will update to the new graphic.

    Old and Busted

    New Hotness

     

  3. You can earn Xbox LIVE Achievements!
    The Wordament team has a great post on all of the thought and care that went into describing these achievements.  Even though they had a principle of “Achievements don’t need herculean efforts to be rewarding”, some are damn near impossible!  For example, there’s an achievement for winning a round.  That’s going to be impossible for 95% of the players out there.
  4. Frenemies++
    Your XBox live friends are now added to your Frenemies list by default.  I hope this means that a Kinect enabled version of the game is coming at some point in the future… otherwise, I will never play against any of my XBox LIVE friends since none of them have Windows Phones.  Though, they will likely get the game on Windows 8 slates whenever those become broadly available.
  5. You can have others play under your account and not affect your rankings
    Guest mode is one of the greatest features for Wordament enthusiasts like me.  I had played the “good boyfriend” and allowed my ex’s family to play under my account… all the while I was shouting out word combinations so that DJ Kod’s ratings wouldn’t suffer too badly.  Well I don’t have to worry about that any longer because I don’t have a girlfriend!  Oh wait, no… that’s not the reason… I don’t have to worry now because there is a feature called Guest Mode that allows people to play on your phone without it counting against toward your long-term averages and therefore not affecting your rank.  This is great if you want to hand the phone to a colleague whose Fingers of Fury may not live up to your standards and make you furious.  This is also useful if you want to practice… or if you’ve had too much to drink at a Cinco de Mayo party and want to play, but know you’re not in a condition to live up to your own standards.

Some Unfortunate Downsides

  • All previous rankings/scores are gone!
    If you were doing well in the rankings before, they’re all gone now!  You have to start from scratch.  If I were Wicketwok, who had millions of points, I’d request to be put on suicide watch.
  • Windows 8 has a different user list than Windows Phone
    I was on my phone playing against a friend who was playing on a Windows 8 Consumer preview slate.  We both had the same board starting around the same time, but somehow he was playing against 300 people and I was playing against 1300.  Perhaps there is still some missing integration between Windows 8’s version and the Windows Phone version?

Suggestions/Requests for the Wordament Team

  • When you unlock an achievement or a round completes, allow me to take a screen shot of the board.  It’s unfortunate this isn’t built into the Windows Phone platform like it is on iOS.  If you want to see a great in-app example of how this is done, check out 4th & Mayor.  For example, if I beat 1400 other people, I clearly don’t have any friends in real life… so I’d love to be able to take a screenshot of DJ Kod being number 1 and share it out on Facebook where 8 of you are going to see it and 1 of you will make a snarky comment about how surprised you are that I don’t speak in a lisp.
  • Make it easy for me to share the app with others.  This is also something that should be baked in the Windows Phone platform.  I’d love to be able to easily share any app I have installed.  Adding it to the context menu in the app list seems like the natural place to me instead of trying to sift through the marketplace.
  • New achievement: “Fingers of Fury” – Swiped 15 words in 10 seconds.
  • Ad-free version: let me buy a version without ads.  I never want anything that shows up on those ads, so let me pay a dollar so I never accidentally tap an ad during the game and have it take me to a skin whitening site.  I’m plenty white as it is.
  • Keep up the great work!  You’ve built an incredibly addictive game that even non-word-game enthusiasts enjoy.

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About Paul Mestemaker

Paul Mestemaker is a full stack engineer /Product guy who splits time between Los Angeles and San Francisco. He helps startups launch their MVPs and gather feedback through usability tests and live site metrics. In his former life, Paul was a co-founder of Mythly Studios and System Center Advisor and Head of Product at Close Inc. He co-authored a book on SQL Server performance tuning. He has been rated as a top speaker at conferences (TechEd, PASS, Connections, et al). He is also a guest lecturer at Colleges and Universities across the U.S. He was the co-host of a weekly tech news show with over 6 million views. Paul's proudest accomplishments is unlocking the "World Champ" achievement on Wordament.

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