Showing all posts tagged: games

For short work breaks fast fun cross platform puzzle games

25 July 2022
Screen shot of Map, a game by Simon Tatham

Cambridge based British software engineer Simon Tatham, creator of PuTTY, which I once required the services of, has also made available a collection of puzzle-like games, designed to be played for two to three minutes at a time.

I wrote this collection because I thought there should be more small desktop toys available: little games you can pop up in a window and play for two or three minutes while you take a break from whatever else you were doing.

As Tatham notes, few of the games were actually invented by him, but he has made them playable across several computer platforms, notably Windows, Apple Mac, and Unix.

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Illustrations from Stamma on the Game of Chess 1818 edition

22 July 2022
Illustration from Stamma on the Game of Chess, 1818 edition

Wednesday 20 July may have been Miles Franklin day in Australia — being the occasion the winner of the annual prestige literary award is announced — but it was also International Chess Day. Also known as World Chess Day, 20 July marks the day International Chess Federation was established in 1924, although International Chess Day didn’t come into being until 1966.

In honour of the beloved checkered board game, the University Of Wisconsin Milwaukee Special Collections have posted images from the 1818 edition of Stamma on the Game of Chess, which contained numerous illustrations of game openings and critical situations. Much of the text was written by Philipp Stamma, and edited by William Lewis, who were eighteenth century chess masters.

Illustration from Stamma on the Game of Chess, 1818 edition

Although I play from time to time, I’m not the biggest chess aficionado you’d ever meet, but I was intrigued to learn game pieces were often coloured red and black, rather than the white, or ivory, and black pieces I’m more familiar with. There’s an interesting, though brief, discussion about red chess pieces here.

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Spotify has bought music trivia game Heardle

19 July 2022

Heardle, the invention of a web and app designer based in London, who last I read wished not to reveal his identity, has been bought by music streamer Spotify. That’s probably not a surprise to too many people.

Spotify announced Tuesday that it has purchased Heardle, one of the many themed trivia games that cropped up in the wake of Wordle’s blockbuster success. Heardle is Spotify’s first game acquisition, and the company hopes it will play a dual role: in addition to keeping music nerds engaged, it can act as a music discovery tool.

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Write Emily Dickinson poems with 90s-style game EmilyBlaster

4 July 2022
EmilyBlaster video game screenshot

EmilyBlaster is a game developed by characters in Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, the latest novel by Los Angeles based American author Gabrielle Zevin, which is being published by Penguin Random House tomorrow, 5 July 2022.

This isn’t something we see every day, a device, or object, featured in a work of fiction that becomes actual or tangible. The object of the game is pretty simple, all the more so if you’re familiar with the work of nineteenth century American poet Emily Dickinson. To succeed a player needs to shoot words appearing on the screen in the correct order, to form one of Dickinson’s poems, which is shown before the game begins.

My accuracy level was — let’s say — nothing to write home about, but maybe you’ll fare better. The game itself — by the sounds of things — is one of many produced by Sam Masur, and Sadie Green, who collaborate successfully while still studying at university in Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow:

On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.

Zevin says EmilyBlaster is one of the first games she devised in the novel, which she intended be simple yet effective:

It’s the simplest game in the book, and I needed it to be convincingly something a clever college student might be able to make on limited resources and time in the 1990s. The game was inspired by the poetry of Emily Dickinson and by edutainment games of the 1980s, like Math Blaster!

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Does solving Wordle in three or less lines make you a genius?

29 March 2022

If you’re regularly figuring out daily word puzzle Wordle in two or three attempts, it might mean you’re possessed of above average intelligence, but not necessarily, says Karl Quinn, writing for the Sydney Morning Herald.

So, the next time some smug colleague or housemate comes over all Einstein-like just because they nailed that day’s Wordle, feel free to tell them to pull their head, with its averagely sized brain, in. As Loren Mowszowski says, “People who are good at Wordle can be chuffed about their language and problem-solving skills but I don’t think they can lay claim to being ‘smarter’, per se.”

Then again, it doesn’t mean they’re not either.

I’ve cracked a couple of Wordle games in two or three attempts. In the case of two lines I put it down to luck. For instance if the letters A, T, C, and H show green on the first line, an element of luck is necessary, given there are still numerous words formed by these letters. Batch. Catch (if it’s a dual letter word). Latch. Match. Watch.

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The best Wordle players in the world live in Canberra

17 March 2022
Wordle game 242 non-spoiler grid

Swedish Wordle players solve the well-known word game in an average of three-point-seven-two lines, according to data analysed by Wordtips. But here’s something, Canberra, the Australian capital, is the global city with the best overall average, clocking a staggering three-point-five-eight line average.

Now we know what our parliamentarians are doing when we see them gazing at their smartphones, while they’re meant to be governing the country. As a whole, Australia comes in with a line average of three-point-eight (remember Wordle players have six attempts to figure out the word of the day).

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Heardle, the musical version of Wordle

9 March 2022

Heardle takes the Wordle experience, and translates it to music. You have six attempts to guess the title of a snippet of music, which you can hear anywhere from five to thirty seconds of, to help you figure it out.

Heardle is one of several variations of Josh Wardle’s word game (I’m not talking about outright duplicates here), that have spawned since October 2021.

It’s the latest in a string of Wordle-inspired online games to have popped up recently, including Worldle, which tests users’ geography knowledge, Dungleon, featuring fantasy characters over words, and the battle royale version, Squabble, where up to 99 players can race to figure out the word correctly, losing health points if they guess wrong.

If you’re familiar with music released in the last ten years, then you should have little difficulty winning Heardle. But will it be the next big thing, behind Wordle? Possibly. According to its creators “Heardle was made for a small group of friends, then somehow gained millions of players overnight.”

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Wordle, a one word conversation starter

26 February 2022

In a time where there are perhaps few safe, neutral, topics of small talk — even the weather is off bounds in some circles — it’s reassuring to know that Wordle is something we converse about in most situations, says Amelia Lester, writing for The Sydney Morning Herald. Provided of course whoever we’re talking to is familiar with the word game.

That leaves one subject to carry us all forward through parties and get-togethers with people we’ve never met before, or whose names we can’t quite remember, or friends of friends we’re not sure whether we like. That subject is Wordle. The world hasn’t been so united since late March of 2020, when Tiger King gripped the globe. Why is Wordle entrancing? The reason must surely be: it makes us feel smart. It’s easier than a crossword, but scratches the same itch.

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Wordle is not harder says The New York Times

18 February 2022
Wordle game 242 non-spoiler grid

The New York Times, now the owner of Wordle, have confirmed they have not made the ever-popular word game more difficult. Anyone playing recently — game 242 anyone? — might’ve had cause to suspect as much though. No, apparently the game retains the same “solution set”, being some two thousand five hundred words, added by creator Josh Wardle last October. The New York Times has however confirmed the removal of “potentially offensive” words from the original solution set.

The main change that the Times made was to remove some words: the game’s new owners have removed some offensive language both from the list of valid guesses for the game (specifically, offensive language and slurs) and from Wardle’s solutions, in addition to removing some more difficult words from the original set (like “AGORA” and “PUPAL”).

If anything then, they’ve made the game easier, though Agora would not be too difficult for me, after seeing the 2009 film of the same name.

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Wordle words for him and her

12 February 2022

Gender has an influence on vocabulary comprehension, and some words are more familiar to one gender than others it seems. For instance, peplum, tulle, bandeau, and taffeta are words likely to be better known to women, while milliamp, boson, parsec, and shemale (who would have thought), are generally more familiar to men.

There’s a few words on the chart put together by Yuri Vishnevsky I’ve not seen until now, but I’ve made a note of the five-letter words in case they pop-up on Wordle one day.

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When will Wordle run out of five letter words?

4 February 2022
Wordle puzzle

Fans of riotously popular word game Wordle need not fret — for now at least — about the daily challenge running out of five letter words. According to WordFinderX, there are over 158,000 five-letter English language words, depending which dictionary you refer to. That’s several centuries of daily puzzles.

On the other extreme, we are told there are a mere 5,350 words only available to word games. Even so, that makes for fourteen and a half year’s worth of units of language. Plenty of time to worry about what to do next. Let the fun continue.

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Wordle bought by New York Times

2 February 2022

Word game Wordle, created by Josh Wardle, and hugely popular with — among others — the book-reading posse, plus one or two game developers looking for a piece of the word-game-gone-viral action, has been bought by the New York Times.

Created by a Reddit engineer and launched in October, Wordle gives players just six guesses to determine a five-letter word that changes every day. The soothing daily puzzle has become a hit since its launch, quickly attracting hundreds of thousands, then millions, of players. Social media posts about its game of the day have become ubiquitous, along with screenshots of the game’s distinctive grid.

Update: on the topic of Wordle “copies”, instructions for installing the official real version of the game, rather than an imitation.

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