I made a game I call Phrazy

posted by Jeff | Thursday, April 28, 2022, 6:40 PM | comments: 0

I mentioned previously that I was building a simple word game, and I decided to call it Phrazy, like a cross between phrase and crazy. Or something cute because it ends with a Y. Whatever, it was the best I can do. I won't rehash the parts I already talked about, but now that you can see it, I'll be more specific. I started sharing it today more widely, because it seems good enough. I'm thinking about ways to visually tweak it, but I'm not a designer (though I'm proud of my whirly growing guess tokens).

Playing Wordle got me to thinking about making something myself because I was so thrilled that it was web based and not a native app. I always liked playing Hangman in school. Remember that? Now think about it in the context of your adulthood, or parenthood, and ask yourself why children were playing something that might result in the horrible death of a stick man. That's messed up, even if we never saw it that way as kids.

Anyway, I wanted something that you couldn't really lose, was simple enough to code and engaging enough that you'd try again the next day. I also wanted something that could vary a lot, and phrases come in a lot of forms and from many places. So yeah, it was a variation on Hangman from the start.

But if you can guess all the letters but one and still win, what's the incentive? My assumption was that there's some intrinsic motivation to discover stuff, and talking with friends, that seems plausible. Beyond that, some kind of timing and scoring seemed appropriate.

My first attempt was to have a countdown timer, and every guess subtracted time off the clock. I found quickly that this led to either very little time left with many guesses, or very little time with few guesses. There was no in between. But it also shortened the play time to an average of 20 seconds. My testing friends mostly thought that was fine, but I didn't care for it.

I doubled down on the discovery joy, and decided that maybe if you are competitive, I could tell you where you ranked the next day. The order is by fewest letters guessed, then time elapsed. So that's the whole game. One puzzle per day.

As I said previously, this was a chance to try new things. Coding for a game is way out of the norm for me, because it's all about changing state and reacting to it visually, where most of my career work has been to push data around as fast as possible. The other interesting thing was the play testing. I also haven't really gone the distance with modern CSS before, let alone little animations, so you'll notice some of those. I revisited Blazor, the webassembly tech I used for my private music service, and I really like it. I'll write a separate post about that eventually.

I don't know if it will catch on, and I guess it doesn't matter that much. I was just excited to branch out. Maybe I'll do another if the right idea comes along. Next, I want to revisit the forums and see if I can do some hard things this time around.


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