Push yourself

Keeping you on your toes

In many games and puzzles, you can get into something of a comfort zone depending on how you play. With that in mind, we’ve been developing a variation to take you slightly out of your zone, forcing you to explore new possibilities and push yourself to make a few new words. Today we’ll preview this new game mode called 8-Spot that has you “spot” several letters in random locations before starting your own letter placement. This creates more of a challenge, so there are a couple of tweaks to ease the burden. The 25 letters you get will tend to be easier to make words with, and the pattern of icons will be slightly “knottier” than, say, Love Letters. And any time you use a “spotted” letter, you get a bonus point, which does add up.

8-Spot Spade user screenshot showing proper number of spots

The number of spots ranges from 5 to 8, which correspond to different playing card suits. Spades will have 5 spots, clubs 6, diamonds 7, and hearts 8. The suit in each game is chosen randomly, as are spotted letters and locations. To distinguish them from white letters you place, spotted letters will have a grayed appearance for black suits, and a redder shade of pale for red suits. Similarly, when you drag to highlight your words in the icons, highlight colors will also differ between letters you placed and spotted ones. Unlike our ongoing series of mockups, which are imaginings still on the drawing board, 8-Spot is in active development to be our fourth standard equipment variation. We hope to have it out in the near future.

Slightly spotty

By way of demonstration, as we usually do in sample games, just for kicks we’ve picked out some choice faux-cabulary, things that aren’t words but looked word-y and suggested apt or oddball definitions. Scoring and winning are fulfilling, but playing around like this is a neat by-product to try out too. Blu Yonder (The app’s opponent; Tap the switch icon in the top bar after you’ve placed the 25th letter to see its results) screenshots are easily identified by the blue top bar. Note how in the bottom game, Blu made excellent use of the often marginalized V. We have found Blu’s 8-Spot efforts more beatable, and varied, than in other game modes. Spots are harder to program for. All the more wins for you.

8-Spot heart user screenshot; Push yourself with randomly pre-placed letters
Spotted, or randomly pre-placed letters appear as pale or grayed.

On to the extra entries:

Tumacle: A budding branch of a cactus.
Nautol: Naval law protocol: Not all nautol corresponds to the law of the sea.
Gromut: A bland gruel sometimes served on long ocean voyages: Not all gromut tastes like mud.
Chumoree: The victim of a prank: Not all chumorees find practical jokes involving gromut funny.

8-Spot heart Blu Yonder screenshot
Blu Yonder faces the same conditions as you, including which letters are spotted where.

For subtlety, the ighs have it

Caslom: A basic style of residential architecture popular in early 20th-century America.
Tucosh: A western style hat.
Ighs: Silent sighs, often accompanied by furtive eye rolls.
Celsa: A cool, refreshing grapefruit-lime drink. Can’t have fake words without phony foods.

8-Spot diamond user screenshot

Rince: To shudder or wince at the sight, mention or recollection of a past bad thing, person or experience.
Mepris (adjective): Romantically attached; In a relationship.
Incedeny: Pompous procession, pageantry or fanfare. From the British incede.
Snirp: To grin, smirk, snort or laugh derisively, mockingly or in schadenfreude.

8-Spot club user screenshot

Boys in the hood

Franged: Disconcerted, fazed, shaken or bothered.
Degin: To begin dining: Let’s degin!.
Sidoo: To slide down a snowy slope on a homemade or makeshift flat object, as cardboard or a large lid. Also the object itself: We used to sidoo on anything we could find. Grampa was none too pleased when we used the hood of his ’49 Hudson. No apple pie for us that day, though Gram did slip us the leftover bit of crust she baked with cinnamon.
Gnab: To awkwardly but decisively catch or capture an elusive thing or creature, as a wild goose. Bonus points if done while sidooing.

8-Spot spade user screenshot

Behind-the-scenes action

Oops. How did that happen? This seems like a good spot for a little peek inside the development process. You may notice in these spade screenshots, twice the normal five spots appear as grayed. Only five were actually grayed when playing, as they should be. The extras showed up after certain highlighting drag sequences. It’s through test games that things like this come to light. We’ve been able to reproduce the doubling, which is a first step in fixing things: a recipe. And, like a good mensch in a mini-mid-life crisis, we’re working to get rid of the unwanted gray area. The screenshot near the top of this post (purple background) shows the proper five grayed spots for spades. And now to the last two batches of bogus words.

Braite: Breathless waiting or anticipation: The braite is so great I can’t stand it!.
Spone: A spoon-dropped cookie or scone. Something to wash down the Celsa.
Lanesit: To occupy a driving lane in such a way as to obstruct faster traffic. See laneac.
Antops: A clandestine program or spy operation to incapacitate an enemy with ants. Definitely a bug, but also a feature.

8-Spot spade Blu Yonder screenshot; Push yourself by daring to go up the middle with V
What derring-do. That is some shut-down mileage out of the V by Blu Yonder. Many more V-words appeared further up the list.

The pestren are staven for only so long

Staven (adjective): Held at bay or gamely thwarted.
Tertan: A rugged material suited to outdoor sporting use.
Pestren: Insistent people or pets working in highly coordinated teams or in succession to achieve an implicit common goal: Every morning like clockwork, it’s the same thing. The pestren won’t stop until duly acknowledged and shown appropriate TLC.
Itsen: Small details often not worth mentioning: Time is short. We really need to skip the small stuff and cut to the chase. Itsen abomination.

Push yourself and fly! Kids sidooing on snowy Hobson's Hill on a tractor hood
Nothing beats sidooing on an Allis-Chalmers tractor hood.


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