Blindfold Spin & Solve: Letters

This is the second blog about Blindfold Spin and Solve – a game inspired by Wheel of Fortune.

The two most common actions in this game are spinning the wheel, and picking a letter.  I received so many complaints about the complexity of picking a letter from an alphabet at the bottom of the screen, I changed the game to let you type the letter, using the keypad.  This also works using an attached bluetooth braille or qwerty keyboard.

letter_freq

If you think you know the answer, you just type it in – something that couldn’t be done with the alphabet at the bottom of the screen.

The next step was to build a computer competitor against whom you could play.  The first step was using the generic algorithm all my games have to combine the computer’s skill with luck, and determine if the computer will pick the a correct letter or a wrong letter.  Remember, like all Blindfold Games, you can set the skill and name of the computer competitor.

If the computer must pick a correct consonant, it picks based on letter frequency.  Letter T is the commonly used letter for English words, the entire list, in order, is: T, N,  S, R, H, D, L, C, M,  F, Y, W, G, P, B, V, K, X, Q, J, Z.  So if the computer will be a correct letter, and it knows the letters T and N are not in the puzzle, but the letter S is in the puzzle, it will pick letter S.

If there are very few letters left, and the computer thinks you are about to solve the puzzle, and the computer’s skill is good, sometimes the computer will guess the correct answer.

If the computer must pick the wrong letter, it uses the above frequency table to pick a letter that’s not in the puzzle.  Every so often, the computer will also buy a vowel.  Many experts have analyzed this game, and concluded the best way to increase your earnings is to never buy a vowel, but instead have your opponent buy the vowels.  Spin and Spell was originally designed like that, but people commented that it wasn’t realistic.  Now the computer opponent will buy a vowel from time to time.

There are over a dozen more rules that affect the computer’s play, but they are too detailed to describe here.

As a final step, I collected all of the suggestions for being a great player at these types of games, and included a strategy guide.  The first version was approved by Apple, and released, and that’s when the complaints starting rolling in.

 

 

 

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Blindfold Racer Championship 2016

Equal Access, Equal Fun – Equal Play for Everyone

In our mission to give gamers everywhere equal access to an intense, high energy, adrenaline rush: Project Starfish and BlindfoldGames.org have joined forces to level the playing ground.

Registration and Practice Time:                September 1 to 29, 2016

  1. Register here:                                        http://blindfoldracer.org
  2. Join our Facebook Group:                  Blindfold Racer Championship 2016
  3. Or, follow us on Twitter                     @BlindfoldRacer

Once you register, you’ll receive an email with game download instructions and detailed contest rules. When you join our Facebook Group or follow us on Twitter, you’ll earn $1 in credit towards the purchase of other Blindfold Games.

And for each friend you invite to the Championship, both you and your friend earn another $1 credit of Blindfold Games credit.

  • Official Game Time:                                September 30 to October 16, 2016
  • Email us:                                                     racer2016@pstarfish.org
  • Call us:                                                        781-262-0520

Contest is open to visually impaired and sighted people of all ages, from the United States and other countries.

Hands on your Phone, Eyes off the Road!

Blindfold Spin & Solve: Wheels of Fortune

Next to monopoly, Wheel of Fortune was the most requested game that people have asked for.  I kept avoiding it since I didn’t know how to find all of the phrases used in the game.  From my initial research,  over the past few decades, there are thousands of phrases in the TV Game.

wheel of fortune wheel

I stumbled across someone who collected common phrases that are used in dozens of TV Games similar to Wheel of Fortune, and he gave me his list of 8,000 phrases, divided into about two dozen categories.

When I’m building a game that is similar to a copyrighted game, I have to take special precautions.  First, I must to come up with a unique game name, and modify the rules sufficiently to not infringe on the copyright.  I usually look at other clones of the game that have been available for many years on Windows computers, and follow their rules.  There are some legal precedents here that I’m adhering to.

The first step in building Spin And Solve was to create a spinning wheel with all of the options such as “$450”, “$900”, “Lose a Turn” or “Bankrupt”.   While I had some spinning wheel sounds from the Roulette game, I wanted a more realistic sound, so I found some good wheel spins on a Sound Effects website.  I usually buy sounds from either SoundDogs.com, SoundSnap.com or use free sounds from FreeSound.com.

Like all of my games, having just one sound effect leads to a very boring game.  Pretty soon, you begin to recognize the identical sound for the wheel spin, and in real life, each time you spin the wheel, the sound is slightly different.  I usually create about 10 variants of each sound, and randomly pick a different variant each time.  With the spinning wheel sound, I created about a dozen variants.

To spin the wheel, you swipe down with 2 fingers.  I’ve used this gesture in other games, and it feels correct.

In the first version that was tested, the screen is presented with all of the words of the phrase.  You move from letter to letter by flicking left and right, and word to word by flicking up and down.  To pick a letter after you spin the wheel, you use the alphabet that’s at the bottom of the screen.  To buy a vowel, you also use the vowel alphabet that is at the bottom of the screen.

Everyone liked the general game layout, but it was too slow to play, and it had no ability to let  you guess the phrase.  More on that next time.

 

 

 

 

 

Blindfold Games on Cool Blind Tech

I was recently interviewed by James Oates of Cool Blind Tech along with  Kevin Andrews of RS Games.  We talked for about half-hour about how we both got into building games for the blindness community, and about our partnership to bring RS Games to the iPhone and iPad.

Here’s the podcast link for Jame’s interview with us:

Here’s the podcast link where James demonstrates the Blindfold RS Games app:

Thanks for all of the testers who helped us make this product great, and to the people at RS Games who trusted us enough to collaborate on this project.