Woorddict is one of those games where you have to quickly spell out words quickly. It can be fun an addictive once you get the hang of it. The game is available for Android and can be downloaded from Google Play.
Pattern matching and chain reactions
The way this game works is that letters fall from the top in a similar manner to the way Tetris drops shapes from the sky except that the letters in here are always square. Once some letters have been dropped, users can start spelling out words. Once a word is correctly spelled out, the letters in it will blink and cause the letters above them to drop down a bit. This type of game play has potential that the game doesn’t fully meet. We all know that users love matching patterns and word spelling is fun enough from that aspect. However, we also know that users love causing chain reactions. One really great example for that is Candy Crush Saga where after working their way to a few super candies they can match a pattern that will cause a huge chain reaction. My idea for adding chain reactions into Woorddict has to parts:
- Making words of 4 letters and more to create wildcard blocks once they are spelled out
- Automatically match patterns of letters that fall in the same row or column to allow chain reactions – this requires some fine tuning on two levels:
- Allowing or disallowing letters to not be one next to the other as long as they are in the same row/column
- Allowing or disallowing letters to be in the wrong order
With the combination of these two, matching one word can cause an effect where matching a 3 letter word could make letters fall and form a 4 letter word, resulting in a wild card block that makes another 3 letter word. This is a lot more fun compared to the current setup. Of course, you can complement the chain reaction with some bling and cheering.
Game progression scheme is a must
The game is designed as a single level mode and lacks any sense of accomplishment and progression except for a record system where you can beat your high scores. That’s simply not enough to retain users over time. Users needs to feel that they are making progress so they can get invested in the game. There are two ways to do it.
Option 1 – Adding levels, worlds and gates
This is the option most puzzle games go for. It requires the game designer to come up with different levels that differ from one another but more importantly the levels need a completion criteria – some goal that if the user reaches you can call the level completed. There are a few ways to come up with different levels for Woorddict:
- Changing the shape and size of the play area
- Variating on the completion criteria:
- Achieve a certain score before the area is filled
- Achieve a certain score in a short time of 60 or 90 seconds
- Match certain letters that are “locked” to free them up (although this might feel a bit too close to CCS)
The progress of a user through the levels can be visualized and gamified in multiple ways.
Option 2 – Adding challenges and missions
In this option the game preserves it’s single level mode and uses missions as the main form of accomplishment. There are a few types of missions that can be given here:
- Reach a score of at least x in a single level
- Spell a word with a score of at least x
- Spell a minimum of x words
- Spell a word of at least x letters
- Spell a word of at least x letters that includes a specific letter
- Last at least 120 seconds
The missions should be aggregated in challenges where winning a challenge have the following impact:
- Moving to a new challenge / set of missions
- Game becomes more complex:
- Unlocking new 2 letter combos
- Making letters drop faster
- Making new power-ups available
To complete the experience, the following personal records should be celebrated:
- Best score
- Highest score word
- Longest word
- Highest number of words
- Longest lasting session
Selling upgrades is about showing clear value
Woorddict is skipping the full fledged virtual economy and has a simple inventory of 4 upgrades each selling for $0.99. That setup is familiar from many successful puzzle and casual games. The game does a good job in placing the items for sale in front of users as they start a new session. This method might seem a bit pushy to some developers but it has proven a key ingredient in the success of many games. The thing that is missing in this game is a clearer description of what the upgrades actually do and why the user should buy them. This is an area where little work can go a long way.
Final tip – game name and App Store optimization
Woorddict is a pretty solid game that can be fun and with the suggested improvements can even be a hit (no guarentees there). However, no one will play the game unless they find it in the Google Play store and with a name like Woorddict, the designer is not making it any easier for users. I highly suggest relaunching the game with a different name that people actually might be searching for. This is where an hour spent on research can turn into thousands of downloads. More over, it will be pretty easy to localize this game to other languages where the market is less competative – I suggest exploring that as well.