We’re happy to announce our third game mode has shipped and is now available as part of version 1.5.0. Called Love Letters, it features colored candy hearts and a scoring system that helps folks not shooting for the moon keep pace with longer word makers. Below are two sample games, with words from the heart we or Blu Yonder made in bold print here.
Less can be more
Placing letters works the same as in Spell the Beans and Spell the Coffee. The scoring, shown in the chart in Scoring and Gameplay, gives extra weight to some shorter words. Normally, 3, 4 and 5 letter words score 1, 2 and 4 points respectively. In this variation, 3, 4 and 5 letter words whose hearts are all different colors score 3, 8 and 20 points. These bonus points are actually three, four and five times the normal values for three, four and five letter words. Words whose heart colors have a repeat score as usual.
Leveling the field
In the first game, above, you can see how bonus points boosted an otherwise lackluster score to 162 points on only 38 words. That’s an average of over four points per word. There were four six-letter words and three five-letter words, with the rest three or four letters. Yet that four-plus average translates to all five and six-letter words under normal scoring. Ursine, being six letters, couldn’t help having a repeated color, but it bears mentioning that the smaller cub made three points instead of one.
The next game shows a score of 277 with no super-long words, and a V, X, Q and K to deal with. The colors were dispersed nicely, which opened up many opportunities for multicolored bonus points. A five-letter word that gets 20 points is no mere smart aleck.
That synching feeling
Love Letters hearts are meant to evoke memories of colorful candies printed with messages of affection traditionally passed around in schoolrooms on Valentine’s Day in some parts of the world. As we enter another season of shout-outs here at the site, we heartily call attention to this year’s recently announced Ig Nobel Prizes, one of which was for a study of literal and figurative hearts. Scientists found that romantically attracted people meeting for the first time synchronize their heart rates, despite being neither aware nor in control of them.
Not the randomness we were looking for
We’d be remiss not to acknowledge another prize that went to researchers investigating the role of randomness (as opposed to talent) in success, the second Ig Nobel involving randomness for two of this particular team’s members. They found in 2010 that an organization’s efficiency would go up if they promoted people at random.
The latest award comes on the heels of scientists finding that random praising of employees can improve performance. We fully embrace randomness, and that may be an improvement over whatever institutional factors are actually in place now (nepotism, corruption, cronyism, bribery, sycophancy, discrimination, etc.). But it does seem like rewarding results, effort or ethicality taking circumstances into account is still better than basing things on luck or even innate talent.
There are a couple more points to note on Love Letters. When you drag your finger in the general rectangle area of the hearts, the highlighted words in the actual hearts appear as blue in all themes. Bonus-scoring words will show as cinnamon red with white letters. Also, you can ignore occasional hairline spaces between hearts – consider them touching. And some themes do look better than others as a background against the hearts. The mulberry mix is particularly easy on the eyes (see Love Letters info in the game manager).
[Update: With version 1.5.1, all users should have access to Love Letters. No need for existing updaters to re-download.]