US20110230246A1 - Social networking word game - Google Patents

Social networking word game Download PDF

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US20110230246A1
US20110230246A1 US13/048,235 US201113048235A US2011230246A1 US 20110230246 A1 US20110230246 A1 US 20110230246A1 US 201113048235 A US201113048235 A US 201113048235A US 2011230246 A1 US2011230246 A1 US 2011230246A1
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word
game
player
words
letter
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Michael Helman Brook
Lun-Shin Yuen
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Michael Helman Brook
Lun-Shin Yuen
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/45Controlling the progress of the video game
    • A63F13/46Computing the game score
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/80Special adaptations for executing a specific game genre or game mode
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/04Geographical or like games ; Educational games
    • A63F3/0421Electric word or number games
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/04Geographical or like games ; Educational games
    • A63F3/0423Word games, e.g. scrabble
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/60Generating or modifying game content before or while executing the game program, e.g. authoring tools specially adapted for game development or game-integrated level editor
    • A63F13/65Generating or modifying game content before or while executing the game program, e.g. authoring tools specially adapted for game development or game-integrated level editor automatically by game devices or servers from real world data, e.g. measurement in live racing competition
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F3/00Board games; Raffle games
    • A63F3/04Geographical or like games ; Educational games
    • A63F3/0423Word games, e.g. scrabble
    • A63F2003/0428Crosswords
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F11/00Game accessories of general use, e.g. score counters, boxes
    • A63F11/0051Indicators of values, e.g. score counters
    • A63F2011/0062Play elements marked with value or score
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F2300/00Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game
    • A63F2300/60Methods for processing data by generating or executing the game program
    • A63F2300/61Score computation
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F2300/00Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game
    • A63F2300/80Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game specially adapted for executing a specific type of game
    • A63F2300/8064Quiz

Abstract

A social networking word game that features a set of letters generated randomly from a list of player-associated names or themed words, with letter values determined by the ordinal position of the letter in the name or word, wherein the player is presented with a set of these randomly generated letters and corresponding values and must within a given time limit and a given point system, assemble the highest scoring single word or words. Each player's unique game content may in turn be used to generate new instances of the game. The game can be played as part of a community of players, where each player's unique sub-community is managed by a server, which handles player-to-player challenges and the presentation of game instances. The client side collects game data, the server side processes this data, and then makes it available to the community at large.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • A provisional patent application for this invention was filed Mar. 19, 2010 by the above inventors, priority which is claimed. The application number of the provisional patent is 61/315,467.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of Invention
  • This invention relates to word games, specifically social networking word games
  • REFERENCES CITED
    • U.S. Patent Documents
    • U.S. Pat. No. 742,498 October 1903 Roy
    • U.S. Pat. No. 977,117 November 1910 McPherson
    • U.S. Pat. No. 1,012,574 December 1911 Adams
    • U.S. Pat. No. 1,332,249 March 1920 Feero
    • U.S. Pat. No. 1,584,316 May 1926 Mayhew
    • U.S. Pat. No. 2,091,555 August 1937 Messinger
    • U.S. Pat. No. 2,265,334 December 1941 Armbruster
    • U.S. Pat. No. 2,783,998 March 1957 Collins
    • U.S. Pat. No. 3,326,557 June 1967 Berendt
    • U.S. Pat. No. 3,333,351 August 1967 Williams
    • U.S. Pat. No. 3,393,914 July 1968 Hill
    • U.S. Pat. No. 3,413,004 November 1968 Smith
    • U.S. Pat. No. 3,606,336 September 1971 Krause
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,014,548 March 1977 Trilling
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,026,558 May 1977 Patin
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,204,343 May 1980 Brooks
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,299,391 November 1981 Silver
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,341,387 July 1982 Freyman
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,402,513 September 1983 Head
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,448,423 May 1984 Augusta
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,469,329 September 1984 Guyer
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,601,473 July 1986 Dubren et al.
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,690,409 September 1987 Scalia
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,690,410 September 1987 Berton
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,826,175 May 1989 Quatrino
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,923,199 May 1990 Hahn
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,934,700 June 1990 Turek
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,934,711 June 1990 Runstein
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,966,366 October 1990 Mercado-Torres
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    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,024,440 June 1991 Tidalgo et al.
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,054,789 October 1991 Pellerin
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,100,150 March 1992 Larman
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    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,230,515 July 1993 Cohen
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,230,518 July 1993 Crowe et al.
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,306,153 April 1994 Foster
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,324,040 June 1994 Panda
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,417,432 May 1995 Dwyer
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,458,338 October 1995 Beardsley
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,558,328 September 1996 Krantz
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,564,710 October 1996 Bolding et al.
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,615,886 April 1997 Chalfin et al.
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,657,994 August 1997 O'Connor
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,769,421 June 1998 Wakefield
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,788,238 August 1998 LeBriton et al.
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,921,864 July 1999 Walker et al.
    • U.S. Pat. No. 6,168,439 January 2001 Anderson
    • U.S. Pat. No. 6,234,486 May 2001 Wallice
    • U.S. Pat. No. 6,241,246 June 2001 Guttin et al.
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    • U.S. Pat. No. 7,618,042 November 2009 Johnson
    OTHER REFERENCES
    • Letras. T M. game 1998 Letras Grand Isle Games, Inc.
    • Quiddler. T M. game 1998 Quiddler Set Enterprises, Inc.
    • Scrabble. T M. game
    • Word Yahtzee. T M. game
    • Scramble. T M. game
    • Boggle. T M. game
    • Bookworm. T M. Game
  • 2. Description of Prior Art
  • Word forming games using individual letters of the alphabet are known in the prior art. “Scrabble” (trademark) is the most famous. In this game, players receive a number of tiles containing letters and point values, from a fixed set of tiles which never changes. The point values are based on the frequency of the letters in the specific language. Players attempt to use all of their tiles to make words which they place on a game board, each player building on the first and subsequent words that are formed by players so the result looks like a crossword puzzle. Players add up the points on each of the letter tiles they use in their words and they record the result. Players end up with a total of points for the game which they compare with each others' score. There are other word forming games that have features similar to those in Scrabble. Some of these games use playing cards instead of tiles and they do not use a game board.
  • “Boggle” (trademark) is another type of word game. Boggle style games have a rectangular array of letters and the player is expected to form as many words from adjacent letters as is possible in a fixed time. Sometimes the player is given a bonus for finding specific words, using a specific letter, or for finding words of a longer length. Sometimes the letters are replaced by other letters once used, and sometimes the rectangular array of letters is fixed throughout the game. Popular casual games on the market which derive from Boggle include “Bookworm” (trademark) and “Scramble” (trademark).
  • “Word Yahtzee” (trademark) is a word game where the letters are chosen by rolling dice which have letters on their faces. After a roll the player has a set amount of time to make as many words as possible out of the letters rolled. The scoring is somewhat complex being based on a per letter value (as in Scrabble) with a number of other special situations (e.g., all vowels).
  • Some word card games consist of a deck of cards and method of play, the cards of which contain a letter of the alphabet and point designation. Player attempts to use all of his or her cards to form a word or words before other players. They also add up the point value of letters in the words they make to determine a score for the game. Games currently on the market called “Letras” (trademark) and “Quiddler” (trademark) are examples of these. Both Letras and Quiddler include a method of play in which one game consists of several hands. In Letras, the dealer decides on the number of cards to be dealt in each of such hands, such number to be between three and eight. Hands are dealt and words formed until a player accumulates a certain predetermined number of points. In Quiddler, the number of cards dealt in each hand is fixed, with the first hand being three cards, the next four, and on up to a hand of ten cards. Then point scores are compared.
  • Known prior art therefore discloses and suggests word games that, while possessing a common goal of forming words, suffer from the following disadvantages:
  • a) The object of most of these games is to form as many words as possible, rather than a single optimal word. There is a need for a word game which focuses on finding the single most valuable word.
  • b) The player has no control over the random selection of the letters from which the words are made, nor their corresponding point value. There is a need for a word game where part of the player's strategy is to influence the random selection of the available letters.
  • c) The point value of the letters is based on the frequency of use in the given language. There is a need for a word game in which the value of the letters is not just based on the infrequency of occurrence within the language, but rather can be influenced by the player, can differ for different instances of the same letter, and hence requires a layer of strategic word making apart from just word recognition (making mathematical calculations simultaneous with finding an optimal word).
  • d) The player is only presented with a small number of letters (seven or less) from which to make a word. There is a need for a word game with ten or more available letters to test players' vocabulary of longer words.
  • e) All words in the dictionary are considered with equal validity. There is a need for a word game which gives credit for recognizing the most common words and not penalizing the player for not recognizing esoteric three letter words or obscure longer words.
  • f) While some online games present players the opportunity to challenge other players to play a game with identical letter choices, there is a need for a game in which a player can personalize and customize the instance of the game that the challenged players must play.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • A multi-round word game in which players select a subset of their friends or contact list as the base names to determine a set of randomly selected letters and corresponding ordinal values, from which players must submit a valid optimal word within a given time frame, whose point value is determined by a combination of the ordinal values of each of the letters used, the length of the word, the time remaining when submitted, and the characteristics of the names and usage of the chosen base names.
  • OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES
  • Accordingly, several objects and advantages of the present invention are:
  • 1. The letters are selected from a set of base names or words selected by the player, giving the player some strategic control over which letters are selected by determining the pool of letters from which some are randomly selected
  • 2. The player is encouraged to expand the set of base names or words he is able to choose from, by, for example, acquiring new friends on a social networking site so that he has a broader range of base names or words to choose from
  • 3. The value of the letters is determined by their ordinal position in the base name or word, as opposed to the prior art where the letter values are either a uniform “1” (length of the word being the sole or primary determinant of value) or are determined by letter usage frequency, such as in Scrabble 4. Different instances of the same letter can have different values, encouraging the player to correctly choose the letter with higher value when forming the word for submission
  • 5. Players can challenge other players to replay the personalized and customized instance of the game that they have created through careful selection of the base names or words from which the randomly selected letters are chosen
  • 6. The dictionary is broken down into a set of common and uncommon words, and players may be rewarded for finding common words while not being penalized for missing esoteric or obscure words.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS Drawing Figures—Preferred Embodiment
  • FIG. 1 shows the game flow for an original game
  • FIGS. 1A-1F shows more detailed looks at the game flow components
  • FIG. 2 shows the graphical look of a tile
  • FIG. 3 shows how the game is scored
  • FIG. 4 shows a common and uncommon list of optimal words from a given set of letters and corresponding values
  • Drawing Figures—Alternative Embodiments
  • FIG. 5 shows the game flow for a replay game
  • FIG. 6 shows the scoring for a replay game
  • FIGS. 7A-7C show three alternatives for how game replay results can be presented
  • FIG. 8 shows the game flow for a ranked word game
  • FIG. 9 shows the scoring for a ranked word game
  • FIG. 10 shows the scoring for a cooperative team game
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION Definitions
  • Base Names or Words—the set of letters from which one letter is randomly selected and the ordinal value calculated
  • Game—a game is comprised of fixed rounds and a score which is a summary of the scores of all rounds
  • Game Instance—a specific set of fixed rounds, letter choices and values, and rules which is presented to the player as the current game
  • Length Bonus—a bonus given to the player for making a word of a certain length, for instance 25 points for a 7-letter word
  • Ordinal Value—the value assigned to a randomly selected letter based on the position of the letter in the base name or word; for instance, in the name John Doe, the “e” would have an ordinal value of 7 because it is the seventh letter, whereas the “h” would have an ordinal value of 3 because it is the third letter
  • Replay Game—a game in which a player is offered exactly the same tiles as was previously offered other players of that exact same game
  • Round—a round is a single opportunity for a player to choose the optimal word or words from a given set of letters
  • Streak Bonus—a bonus given to the player for using the randomly selected letter from the same base name or word in the valid submitted word in subsequent rounds; for instance, in the name John Doe, if the player is offered an “e” in round 1, and uses it to submit the word “patent”, and then is offered an “n” in round 2, and uses it to submit the word “application”, the player may receive a streak bonus of 1 point
  • Streak Penalty—a penalty given to the player for NOT using the randomly selected letter from the same base name or word in the valid submitted word in subsequent rounds; for instance, in the name John Doe, if the player is offered an “e” in round 1, and submits the word “applicant”, and then is offered an “n” in round 2, and submits the word “accept”, the player may receive a streak penalty of negative 1 point
  • Tile—the combination of a letter and its corresponding ordinal value
  • Preferred Embodiment
  • The Preferred Embodiment of the game consists of a player selecting a subset of names from a broader lists of base names, for example a subset of 10 names from a Facebook friends list of 300 names. The game then generates a single tile from each of these names, each tile containing a letter and its ordinal value. The player then creates the single highest value word in the limited time available, and submits it. The game's dictionary checks the validity of the word, and if valid the game presents the scoring of the word. The player then makes adjustments to the subset of 10 names, and the process continues for 10 rounds.
  • FIG. 1 shows the game flow for this Preferred Embodiment.
  • FIG. 1A shows a scrolling list of all the player's Facebook friends on the list, and the subset of 10 the player has selected for the first round.
  • FIG. 1B shows how the game creates tiles by randomly selecting one letter from each name in the subset of 10, and assigning it an ordinal value.
  • FIG. 1C shows the word the player has created from the rack of 10 tiles, just prior to submission.
  • FIG. 1D shows the scoring of the word after the dictionary has established the validity of the word, with a breakdown of points awarded for Tile Value, Time Bonus, Length Bonus, and Streak Bonus.
  • FIG. 1E shows a revised subset of names that the player has selected for round 2, with the previously used letters of the names removed, and the streak bonus/penalty values listed to the right of the relevant names.
  • FIG. 1F shows the words and unused tiles after the player has finished the game, that is, all 10 rounds, as well as the final score of the game.
  • FIG. 2 shows the makeup of a sample tile. Each tile includes a letter, an ordinal value for the letter, and a background for the tile.
  • FIG. 3 shows how the Total Points are calculated for a single round, by adding the Tile Value, Time Bonus, Length Bonus, and Streak Bonus.
  • FIG. 4 shows how a completed round is presented to a player, indicating how the player's word was scored, and how it compares with lists of both all “common” words and all “full dictionary” words the player could have made from the 10 tiles offered.
  • Alternative Embodiments
  • In the first Alternative Embodiment, the player does not need to select a subset of names from which tiles are generated. Instead, the tiles from a previous original game are used, speeding up game play. All other aspects of the game are the same. Since the player is replaying a game from previously generated tiles, it is possible to do a “fair” comparison of the player's game with other player's initial plays of that same game.
  • FIG. 5 shows the game flow for this first Alternative Embodiment
  • FIG. 6 shows how the score is calculated for this first Alternative Embodiment.
  • FIG. 7A shows one way the comparative scores between two (or more) players of the same game can be displayed, in this case just showing the time the game was played, and the comparative scores of the two players.
  • FIG. 7B shows another way the comparative games can be displayed, in this case showing the words and scoring for each of the 10 rounds for both players.
  • FIG. 7C shows yet a third way the comparative games can be displayed, in this case comparing the players' performance against the top 10 dictionary words that could have been possibly made from the 10 tiles offered.
  • In the second Alternative Embodiment, the player is tasked with trying to come up with as many of the highest 20 scoring words as possible from the set of 10 tiles offered. The player has unlimited time to do so, but loses points as time passes.
  • FIG. 8 shows the game flow for this second Alternative Embodiment.
  • FIG. 9 shows the game display for this second Alternative Embodiment. The available tiles are displayed in the upper rack, from which the player creates words for submission. The game displays three lists of the submitted words, along with the points received for the submitted word. The left most list contains spaces for the top 20 ranked common valid words that could possibly be created from the 10 available tiles. The center list contains any uncommon valid words the player submits. The right most list contains any valid words the player has submitted that have values below the 20th ranked word. The player receives no points for these “unranked” words.
  • In the third Alternative Embodiment, players each play the same instance of a game individually, synchronously or asynchronously, and the top individual score from each round is used to generate a team score for the 10 round game.
  • FIG. 10 shows how a team score is calculated from the top score in each round. Three players played the game individually, and the best word and score for each round is taken to create a team score for comparative purposes against other teams.
  • Operation Of Invention—Preferred Embodiment
  • A method and system for playing the Preferred Embodiment of the game are disclosed (using one gender for simplicity's sake). FIG. 1 shows the game flow for an original game of ten rounds. In Step 100, the player is presented with a list of base names or words. This list might be a list of all a player's Facebook friends, her phone contact list, a themed list like all U.S. presidents, or list of names like U.S. capital cities. In Step 105, the player chooses a subset of ten of these names from the base list of what could be a few dozen or a few hundred base names. FIG. 1A shows these steps in more detail, with an alphabetized list of base names on the left hand side, and options for adding or removing friend names to the subset of ten on the right hand side. The player could ask for the subset of names to be automatically chosen by the game, or she could pick a few and then ask the game to randomly fill in the rest, or she could have the game choose and then adjust the randomly selected list.
  • There are strategies to picking the subset of names. A good player will try to go for longer names, since the ordinal values have the potential to be higher. For instance, the “S” in the name John Jones would have an ordinal value of 9, whereas the “S” in the name Madeleine Landers would have an ordinal value of 15. But it is also important to pick names that have a low amount of difficult letters, like “Z” and “Q”, and to pick names that have a high vowel content to help ensure that at lest some of the ten letters are vowels. Names that have multiple letters used in common prefixes and suffixes are also valuable, like “I”, “N”, “G”, “S”. Of course, this is no guaranty that any particular letter will be randomly selected by the game, but it does influence the odds of the letter being selected at least once. Also, shorter names receive a higher streak bonus for consecutive use and lower names a higher streak penalty for lack of use, so an effective strategy mixes the use of long and short base names. Finally, since once a letter has been selected it is removed from the base name, a name that has been selected for the subset will decline on value. After five rounds, the name Madeleine Landers will only have 10 of its original 15 letters remaining, so even if the “S” is still available it will have an ordinal value of just 10.
  • For all the preceding reasons, it is important for a player to carefully choose her subset of ten names, and replace these in subsequent rounds. A player who does not replace the subset of ten names will find that some names no longer have any letters remaining, and hence no tile for that name will be created, and the others have tiles with low single-digit values, or even negative values once the streak penalties are factored in.
  • FIG. 1B shows how the game generates ten tiles from the subset list of Step 105. For each name, one letter is randomly chosen and assigned the ordinal value of the letter. For instance, in the first name “Adam Sussman”, the first S has been randomly selected and assigned an ordinal value of 5. A tile is created in Step 110 for each of the randomly generated letters from the subset of ten names from Step 105. This tile may have a generic background or a background that may be a picture relating to Adam Sussman, as in FIG. 2.
  • At the completion of Step 110, the player is presented with the ten tiles that have been generated and the timer starts winding down from 60 seconds. The player looks for the optimal word that she can make, simultaneously taking into account the value of each tile, a length bonus tied to the length of the word for words of six or more letters, the certainty of the validity of the word in the game's dictionary, and the time bonus for the amount of time remaining on the timer when the valid word is submitted. The first valid word submitted is the word from which the player's score is derived, so she wants to make sure that that is the best word she can come up with before submitting. To form a word, the player clicks on a tile in the top row list of all available letters and that tile is placed as the next tile in the word below. Depending on the device, the player can also touch select a tile or place it between letters or rearrange the order of the tile on either rack. FIG. 1C shows Step 115, where the player has formed the “optimal” word, and is ready to submit it for a validity check (Step 120 in FIG. 1). As FIG. 1C shows, the player can also have the game shuffle the remaining available tiles or completely clear the tiles that have been selected for the word, placing them back in the rack of available tiles above. The player can also click on a tile in the Word rack to remove it, returning it to the available tiles rack.
  • The player only gets to submit one valid word for scoring, no matter how many words she sees. That is one of the features that separates this game from many other word games in the prior art. If the player submits a word that is not in the games dictionary, the game will simply report back to the player that the “Word is not in the dictionary” and the player can use the remaining time, if any, to try again. Players are hence encouraged to “try” new words that they might be unsure of. However, the process of forming a word on the word rack takes time, so this discourages extensive guessing.
  • If a player fails to submit a valid word in the time frame allowed, the player “Times Out” and no valid word is submitted, the player receives zero points for the round.
  • If a player needs to pause the game (e.g. take a phone call on a mobile device), the tiles disappear and the player will return to that same moment in the game when the player is ready to resume playing that game.
  • After the player submits her valid word, the word is instantly scored in Step 125. FIG. 1D shows how the scores for the valid submitted word “BASHER” are presented in detailed breakdown. FIG. 3 shows how these scores were generated by category. The player received 23 points for the ordinal values of each tile, 1 for “B”, 2 for the “A”, 5 for the “S”, 7 for the “H”, 2 for the “E”, and 6 for the “R”. The remaining tiles are shown to the right of the submitted word, tempting the player to flesh out what word opportunity she missed, for instance “LASHER” which would have earned her ten more points. The player received 1 point in time bonus, since there were two seconds remaining when the valid word was submitted. The length bonus was 10 for a six letter word. Had she found a longer word, she could have received 25 points for seven letter word, 50 points for an eight letter word, 80 points for a nine letter word, or 120 points for a ten letter word. The streak bonus was 0 since this was the first round, and no consecutive use or disuse streaks had been established yet. Hence, the player received a total of 34 points for her entry of “BASHER”.
  • Note that had the player submitted the word “BASHER” with the other “R” tile, the one with an ordinal value of 3, she would have received three less points for the tile value. Part of the game play requires the player to quickly select not only the desired letter, but also the one with the most value since there are frequently two or more of the same letters with different values. In subsequent rounds, the players also have to take into account the streak values and streak continuation when making this decision, enhancing the difficulty of quick decision making and tile selection when playing this Preferred Embodiment. Having tiles of the same letter, but differing values is another feature that distinguishes this game from much of the prior art.
  • In Step 130, the game proceeds to Round 2. In FIG. 1E, the player is presented once again with the list of base names on the left, and the adjustable subset of selected names on the right. The streak bonus is presented to the right of the base names, and there is an “_” in place of the letter for the letters that were offered up in previous rounds. For instance, the “S” in the first name on the right, “Adam Sussman”, no longer appears (“Adam_ussman”), and there is a +1 to the right of Adam Sussman's name indicating that the “S” was used in the valid submitted word “BASHER” in the previous round. The player has removed three subset names and replaced them with three new names from the base name list, as indicated by the highlight of the three names at the bottom of the subset name list on the right.
  • Steps 100 through 130 are repeated until all ten rounds have been played. In Step 135 the game is ended and the final score is tallied. FIG. 1F shows one way of showing the words selected, the tiles bypassed, and the points, for all ten rounds in a summary fashion. FIG. 3 shows an alternative form, in which a player's single round is compared against the top ten possible dictionary words and top ten possible common words, and ranked accordingly. In this case, the player's word “ANOINTER” has a word score (tile plus length score, with time not factored in) of 136 points, placing it in a tie for #2 ranking on the Common Word Rank list on the left and in a tie for #4 ranking on the Dictionary Word Rank list on the right. The use of a common word rank list is yet another feature which distinguishes this game from much of the prior art.
  • Operations of Invention—Alternative Embodiments
  • In the first Alternative Embodiment, the player does not need to select a subset of names from which tiles are generated. Instead, the tiles from a previous original game are used, speeding up game play. All other aspects of the game are the same. Since the player is replaying a game from previously generated tiles, it is possible to do a “fair” comparison of the player's game with other players' initial plays of that same game. Also, this speeds up the game considerably, by cutting out steps 100 and 105.
  • FIG. 5 shows the game flow for the first Alternative Embodiment. The game, again the first of ten rounds, starts with a display of 10 tiles from a previously generated game (Step 210). The player submits a word (Step 215), the game dictionary checks the word for validity (Step 220), and then the game presents the scoring of that word (Step 225). FIG. 6 shows how the score is calculated in the Alternative Embodiment, basically the same as in the Preferred Embodiment, except there are no streaks and hence no streak bonus, it having been already incorporated into the tile's value.
  • After the ten rounds, the game ends and the final score is tallied (Step 235). The player then compares her score against other players of the same game. FIGS. 7A, 7B, and 7C provide three alternate ways for players to view comparative scores. In FIG. 7A, the players' photo, name, score and time and date of the game are displayed in order by score. In FIG. 7B, a player can compare her word and detailed score each round against another player who has also played that same game. In FIG. 7C, players are held in suspense as they compare their word and detailed score round by round against each other and against the Common Word Rank list and Dictionary Word Rank lists of highest scoring available words for that round. Only one round is displayed at a time, the player moving sequentially through the rounds with a running game score versus other players displayed in the upper right hand corner. Players can click on the word to see a dictionary definition of that word.
  • In the second Alternative Embodiment, the player is tasked with trying to come up with as many of the highest 20 scoring words as possible from the set of 10 tiles offered. The player has unlimited time to do so, but loses points as time passes. FIG. 8 shows the game flow for this second Alternative Embodiment. Again, as in the first Alternative Embodiment, the player is shown ten tiles from a previously generated game (Step 310). The player submits a word (Step 315) and the dictionary checks it for validity (Step 320).
  • FIG. 9 shows the game board and scoring once a word is submitted. If the word's tile plus length bonus score rank it in the top 20 of all common words possible from the Common Word Rank list for that round, the word is placed on the game's digital board in the left hand column, with points worth 21 less the common word rank received for the word. For example, in the case presented in FIG. 9, the word “ALIGNED” is the #3 ranked common word on the Common Word Rank list, and hence the player receives 21−3=18 points for submitting that word. There are initially empty slots for each of the top 20 ranked common words, and these are filled in the proper position as the player submits them. Words that have the same tile plus length bonus score are ranked alphabetically, hence in the above example “ALIGNED”, with a tile plus length bonus value of 78 is considered the #3 ranked word ahead of “DEALING, with has the same tile plus length bonus value.
  • If the submitted word is a valid dictionary word, but the tile plus length bonus value is below the value required to make the top 20 ranking of Common Word Rank list, then the word is listed in the right-most column, and the player receives no points for it. If the submitted word is a valid dictionary word and is of sufficient value to make the top 20 ranking of Common Word Rank list, but deemed an uncommon word, the player receives the same value as if the word had been on the Common Word Rank list. For example, in the case resented in FIG. 9, the player has submitted the word “ALIENAGE”, listed in the middle column, with a tile plus length value of 85. ALIENAGE is considered by the game's dictionary as an uncommon word, but its value of 85 would have put it as the top ranked common word, hence it is worth 21−1=20 to the player. Any uncommon words the player uncovers are placed in the middle column. The player has no idea how many of these words exist, so they end up truly being a bonus to the player for finding an uncommon word. However, if the player submits a word that is not considered valid by the dictionary, the player loses a point, promoting educated guesses only.
  • There is not time limit to the second Alternative Embodiment game. Instead, the player receives a time penalty of one point for every 15 seconds of time that expire. The player can end the game at any time. The object of this game is to achieve the high water mark score, that is the Max Score So Far listed in the far right hand corner of FIG. 9, in this case 108 points.
  • The player can pause the game at any time, and the game board disappears, with play picking up at the precise point the player paused when play resumes.
  • In the third Alternative Embodiment, players each play the same instance of a game individually, synchronously or asynchronously, and the top individual score from each round is used to generate a team score for the 10 round game. FIG. 10 shows instances of the same game being played by three separate players (Boxes 400, 410, and 420). The top scoring round by any of these three players is used in the calculation of the team's score, used to compare with the team's previous games or other team's or individual's scores of the same game. For round 1, the player in Box 420 had “STAMPERS” worth 149, including the time bonus, whereas the player in Box 410 also had “STAMPERS”, but only worth 138, while the player in Box 400 had “TRASHES” only worth 125. So, the 149 point “STAMPERS” from Box 420 is the one that is used in calculating the team's score for this round. Using this same methodology for all ten rounds, in this case the Team Score of 1192 is calculated by using high round scores of Box 420 for rounds 1-4 and 6-8, Box 410 for rounds 5 and 9, and Box 400 for round 10.
  • CONCLUSIONS, RAMIFICATIONS, AND SCOPE
  • Accordingly the reader will see that the proposed game provides:
  • a) a word game which focuses on finding the single most valuable word, instead of simply forming as many words as possible.
  • b) a word game in which the player has strategic influence over the specific letters available and their corresponding point values, instead of just being presented with letters of preset value from a fixed pool of letters.
  • c) a word game in which the values of the letters can be influenced by the player, instead of being based on the infrequency of occurrence within the language, and can differ even between instances of the same letter, forcing the player to make mathematical calculations simultaneous with finding an optimal word.
  • d) a word game which has more than seven letters available from which to make a word, extending players' vocabularies of longer words, prefixes, and suffixes.
  • e) a word game which gives credit for recognizing common words instead of penalizing players for not recognizing obscure three letter words or obscure longer words
  • f) a word game in which players can challenge other players to play a game with identical tile choices, the letters and values of which have been influenced by the initiating player
  • g) a word game in which players cooperate as a team playing synchronously or asynchronously to improve the team score and compete against other teams
  • While the above description contains many specificities, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention, but as merely providing illustrations of some of the presently preferred embodiment of the invention. For example, the number of available tiles from which to make a word could be more or less than ten; the amount of available time and the scoring for time remaining could be changed or turned off entirely; the streak bonuses and penalties could be adjusted or turned off entirely; the length bonuses could changed; the language, letters and dictionary could be changed to Spanish, German, French or other languages; or players could swap or acquire different base names from which to select from.
  • Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined not by the embodiment illustrated, but by the appended claims or their legal equivalents.

Claims (16)

1. In a word game of the type comprising, a set of letters generated randomly from a list of names or words, with letter values determined by the ordinal position of the letter in the name or word, wherein the player is presented with a set of these randomly generated letters and corresponding values and must within a given time limit and a given point system, assemble the highest scoring single word or words, the improvements in combination:
A) player chooses the base names or words from which the random letter and ordinal value is selected, which could for example be a subset of a list of the player's friends on a social networking site, player's contacts on a cell phone, or a themed list of names or words (e.g. U.S. Presidents)
B) game generates a set of letters and ordinal values from the list of base names or words provided by the player, with a letter and its given ordinal value referred to here together as a “tile”
C) player submits a single optimal word or multiple optimal words from the set of tiles
D) the submitted word is checked for validity against a dictionary list of words
E) the player is notified if the word is not listed in the dictionary
F) there may or may not be a penalty for submitting words that are not valid dictionary words
G) the dictionary may be broken into a set of common words and a set of uncommon words, or a subset of themed words may be created, and these may be scored differently
H) if the word is valid, the player is awarded points based on a point system that is unique for each instance of the game; the point system may or may not take into account the ordinal values of the letters, the specific sequence of the letters in the word selected, the “commonness” of the word in the specific language or compared to other players presented with the same letter and value choices, the length of the word, the amount of time expired before the player submitted the word, the point value rank of the word compared to other possible words that could have been made from the same set of letters
I) once a letter has been randomly selected for presentation by the game, that letter may or may not be available for selection again
J) the player may or may not be credited with bonus points for using letters from the same base name or word in consecutive rounds; likewise, the player may or may not be penalized for NOT using letters from the same base name or word in consecutive rounds
K) in subsequent game rounds, players can choose to replace one or more of the the base names or words used by the game to generate a letter with a different base name or word
L) if a player does not submit a valid word within the allotted time, the round ends, the player scores no points or alternatively receives a penalty, and play moves to the next round
M) some keyboard characters may be eliminated from consideration for random selection in the case where they are not letters in the alphabet of the dictionary used to validate words
N) after completion of the round or game, the player is presented with a list of the top ranking common and/or uncommon words that could have been made from the set of randomly selected letters
O) the background of the letter tiles may or may not be comprised of images representing the base name or word itself, which could for example be the profile picture of the player's friend whose name is used as the base name for randomly generating the letter
P) other data relating to the base name or word itself may also be made available to players or replay players, for example the base name or word itself, contact or social networking information for the person, product or organization whose base name is used, and/or additional photos or video tied to the base name.
Q) the game may be played using dictionaries of different languages, regardless of the base names or words from which the letters are randomly generated
2. In the game of claim 1, the specific set of letters and values (“tiles”) offered in a given round may be subsequently offered to other players
A) for the purposes of comparing one player's score to another player's score, from the same set of letters and values (creating a “fair” replay game)
B) for the purposes of generating a round that does not require the player to choose a set of base names or words from which the game randomly chooses a letter
3. In the game of claim 1, the original base name or words may be used by the game to randomly generate a new set of letters with corresponding ordinal values, to be presented to the original or other players; this randomly generated set of letters may itself be filtered by any number of criteria, for example presence of vowels, before presentation to players
4. In the game of claim 1, the list of names or words from which the letters will be randomly selected maybe itself selected randomly selected
5. In the game of claim 1, the specific instance where the number of randomly selected letters is 10, one from each of ten names or words, the ordinal value of each letter is the positional value of the letter in the name or word starting from the left, the number of rounds in a game are 10, the length bonus is 10 points for a six letter word, 25 points for a seven letter word, 50 points for an eight letter word, 80 points for a nine letter word, and 120 points for a ten letter word, and the time bonus is 1 point for every 2 seconds of the 60 seconds remaining on the timer
6. In the game of claim 1, the specific instance where the player can enter multiple words from the set of randomly selected letters, and receives points for the ordinal ranking of the word compared to the lists of either or both common and uncommon words that could be assembled from the set of randomly selected letters
7. In the game of claim 1, the player's or other players' scores can be presented as an index of highest scoring or most recently played games from which to select games for replay in which the player is presented with the identical set of randomly selected letters as the original player, and the scores are compared
8. In the game of claim 1, players may be able to create or be presented with a subgroup of other players with which to compare scores or challenge to play replay games
9. In the game of claim 1, the client may collect game information regarding player's games, such as time and date of original play, base names or words selected, words submitted, and points scored, pass this data onto the server, where it is aggregated and made available to other player's client applications
10. In the game of claim 1, where the same round is played synchronously between players who are online at the same time
11. In the game of claim 1, where players must achieve a set of game play requirements or alternatively buy access, to unlock a set of game features
12. In the game of claim 5, where once a letter has been randomly generated from the base name or word, that letter is no longer available for consideration in subsequent rounds, nor is it considered when determining the ordinal value of randomly selected letters from the the base name or word in subsequent rounds
13. In the game of claim 5, where the player receives a “streak bonus” of one or more points for each consecutive round that the player uses the randomly selected letter from the same base name or word in the valid submitted word; this streak ends when the player fails to use the randomly selected letter from the same base name or word in the valid submitted word, or removes the base name or word from consideration for the subsequent round
14. In the game of claim 5, where the player receives a “streak penalty” of one or more points for each consecutive round that the player fails to use the randomly selected letter from the same base name or word in the valid submitted word; this streak ends when the player uses the randomly selected letter from the same base name or word in the valid submitted word, or removes the base name or word from consideration for the subsequent round
15. In the game of claim 5, the streak bonus or streak penalty may be combined with the ordinal value of the randomly generated letter in display of the tile value to the player or replay players
16. In the game of claim 5, where the highest player score for a given round is combined with highest scores of teammates' rounds of the same game to establish a team score for comparative purposes with other teams or the team's previous and future games
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