Blindfold Spin & Solve: Letters (#148)

IEP Process :  ECC Games for Visually Impaired Students

IEP Plan is our new organization where we are building ECC games and interactive simulations for blind students, based on a child’s Individual Educational Plan. 
The student’s progress in acquiring skills in our ECC-based games and interactive simulations will be maintained in a private secure cloud, visible to the school IEP team  in a web-based console . 
If you are a Special Ed Director , press for more information on trying these types of games as part of maximizing student outcomes, relating to their 
IEP Individual Educational Plan

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.
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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