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Wordscraper

Today, Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla resurrected their recently murdered Scrabulous app under a new name, Wordscraper. This incarnation works much like the original, with a few significant differences:

  1. You can create your own board layout (this includes layouts based on the original Scrabble board), or you can generate a random one.
  2. You can share your boards with others.
  3. The board uses circles instead of squares.
  4. You can add “premium” circles that quadruple or pentuple your words and letters.

In short, it’s Scrabble on steroids. Not shying from an unfortunate situation, the Agarwalla brothers used their technical prowess to create a game that’s even more fun and robust than the original.

They made lemonade out of lemons. What every designer must do.

I’m no lawyer, but I suspect it’ll be harder for Hasbro and Mattel to claim copyright infringement against Wordscraper.

A related aside:

A couple of weeks ago, Electronic Arts sent me a private invitation to check out the official Scrabble Facebook app. I’ve been addicted to Scrabulous, but I got curious.

After some installation snafus, I finally got the beta working.

I had hoped Scrabble would compare well to Scrabulous. I was wrong.

The official Scrabble app is cumbersome, overly designed, and hard to play. Here’s a quick summary of what I don’t like:

  1. The loading time is wretched, even with the distracting animation.
  2. The visual design focuses more on the Scrabble branding than making the board easy to read and use.
  3. The Flash animations don’t add anything to the game.
  4. You can’t use the keyboard to lay your tiles.
  5. No obvious way to “host” public tables and have others join.

If Hasbro/Mattel/Electronic Arts wants to appease the fans of Scrabulous, they should either buy them out and rerelease it.

Or, they should create a better version of online Scrabble. Unfortunately, the Agarwallas have already done that. Twice.

7 Comments

  • lester

    gravatarAug 1, 2008
    3:23 am

    I love Scrabulous, and was very bummed when it was off Facebook. Thank you for posting this!

  • Patrick

    gravatarAug 1, 2008
    7:57 am

    that looks rad.

  • Christina

    gravatarAug 6, 2008
    4:02 am

    Copyright for the name, no, but patent on the game idea, perhaps. I work at an IP law firm and I’m not even sure. Might investigate this while taking a break, perhaps…

  • Christina

    gravatarAug 6, 2008
    4:08 am

    …or google it right now… A search on “scrabble patent” turns up this: http://home.teleport.com/~stevena/scrabble/legal/issues.html Last para. points out the patent isn’t an issue, but looks like there are some other trademark things involved that I’m not sure Scrabulous has addressed only because I’m not familiar enough with their game. (I prefer not to become addicted so I just haven’t bothered to try it out…)

  • eydie

    gravatarSep 27, 2008
    2:04 pm

    i can’t figure wordscraper out. would someone please email me and explain it to me in simple terms.

  • Mark Allsop (KingTrigger)

    gravatarFeb 20, 2009
    3:29 am

    just keep emailing Hasbro as I have done & will continue to do. they are so short sighted they seem to be unable to see when they are on to a good thing Alfred Butts would, I’m sure be on the side of the Agarwallas. Hasbro will have to come up with something as good or give in, its just up to the millions of Scrabulous fans to apply sufficient pressure. Have a look at the Hasbro mission statement…..their actions fly in the face of what they stand for. Shame on Hasbro. DO IT NOW email Hasbro and get them to give us some tangible answers. bring it on

  • Mark (KingTrigger)

    gravatarFeb 20, 2009
    3:33 am

    here is where you Email Hasbro Consumer Affairs