Obstacle course ahead

We’re happy to announce the release of our fourth game mode, 8-Spot! If you’ve found yourself making some of the same words over again in the game, this variation throws up some roadblocks to mix things up. You start each game with 5 to 8 letters already randomly placed (“spotted”) in hearts, diamonds, clubs or spades. To distinguish spotted letters from ones you place, spotted letters have a grayed appearance for black suits, and appear pale red for red suits. Similarly, when you drag to highlight your words in the icon area, highlight colors also differ between letters you placed and spotted ones.

Different suits indicate different numbers of spots. Spades start with 5 spots, clubs 6, diamonds 7, and hearts 8. The suit in each game is chosen randomly, as are spotted letters and locations. Each time you use a spotted letter to make a word, you score a bonus point. A spotted letter can garner any number of bonus points (once in each word that it appears), and a word scores a bonus point for each spotted letter it has. Among adjustments we’ve made in this variation, the usability of letters increases the more spots there are.

The irreplaceable human touch

Below are some test games, as well as (at bottom) the second game we ever played after updating to the 8-Spot release version (1.5.5). That may be the highest score we’ve had in this mode. You may find Blu Yonder, STB’s built-in opponent, much easier to outscore in 8-Spot. Blu takes a spring break in these screenshots. Although in general Blu Yonder’s approach is patterned after our own personal style, the jump to dealing with spotted letters is a big one. We tend to visually scope out opportunities in the big spotted picture, which so far has proved very hard to translate to a neat algorithm for Blu.

As is our bent, we color these sample games here with fake words and meanings beyond the real words that tally actual points. We dub it faux-cabulary. No harm in facetiously finding phoney stuff as a side activity, and it may have a beneficial effect all its own anyway. We mostly stuck with the default color scheme here, focusing on the different suits. The bottom effort was one of those avalanche games where we were in double digits with only a few letters left to place. Tight spots can lead to some pretty mean thrills in this game.

8-Spot obstacle course game 201 points

Alunar: Of a planet with no moon.
Yarry: (Of a situation) Dire, scary or otherwise unenviable.
Astorm: (Nautical) Toward or facing a storm or rough weather.
Ulnarose: Resembling or related to the elbow: The ulnarose fifth hole takes a wicked dogleg to the left.

8-Spot obstacle course game 181 points

More is not always better

Strooge: A strutting buffoon: Strangely, The 1,682 Strooges movie series never quite lived up to expectations.
Torelli: A ring- or donut-shaped pasta.
Mugoots: Boots, usually made of rubber, designed for dense mud or muck.
Trile: A support for a small plant.
Cistrell: A decorative Scandinavian ledge at the base of a steeple where diminutive imp figures sometimes dwell.

8-Spot obstacle course game 283 points

Spince: The chance of landing on a given selection by spinning a spinner, as in a board game.
Nitter: To complain about inconsequential things.
Retitia: The pattern of shapes, letters, etc. in an eye chart.
Spiceroy: A chef with a special mastery of herbs and spices.

8-Spot obstacle course game 117 points

Whose dictionary is it anyway?

Rosondy: A flavorful drink made from raisins and quince.
Binny: Stubborn; Intransigent.
Snowday: A cancelled day off from school due to snow (absolutely a thing where we come from): How is snowday not in the dictionary?
Oweday: An unscheduled extra day of school to make up for too many snowdays in a season; comeuppance.
Oreow: The awkwardness, adversity and fine line of dealing with two friends at odds with each other.

8-Spot 172 points

Batingle: To effervesce with anticipation to the point of speechlessness.
Depting: Deftly adjusting to changing conditions.
Legnite: A mineral mined alongside coal.
Nitabic: Given to nostalgic urgings, as by revisiting one’s childhood.

8-Spot 437 points

Adveer: To lean vicariously when watching an immersive video, wayward sports shot, student driver, etc., in a futile attempt to influence trajectory or outcome.
Revida: A user feedback question, e. g. “Was this answer helpful?”
Wrapee: A gift, snack, sandwich filling, etc. wrapped by someone or something.
Crispersed: The scattered state of chips, crumbs, etc., at the bottom of a bag of snack food or bowl.


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