Monday, August 9, 2010

The two Scrabble-like Kindle games. UPDATED for 8/9 Amazon statement

UPDATE 8/9/2010 - See newly posted Amazon statement (below) on othe question of international distribution of the two "Amazon active content word games.

8/8/2010 - Contractors are still spending day and night at my place where flooding did some real damage so I've been moving around and not spending as much time on things Kindle.  Trying to catch up a bit, I'll be back tomorrow with more news.  Thanks for hanging in there during this.

See the original word-games posting.  This is just a follow up.

This question has been asked often this week because, for some reason, Amazon did not mention on the product-page that the games are accessible only by U.S. residents.  It must be an oversight, since items with free shipping available only to the Continental U.S. always carry a mention of this.  On the other hand, books available only in the U.S. due to publisher restrictions don't have geo-based caveats on them and non-US. Kindle owners find out when they try to order them.  However, Amazon does have full control over what the game product pages say.  What's more unclear is why Amazon "active content" is restricted.  Maybe they want to see if there are bugs before wider distribution, since they handle the unofficial beta-releases that way.

  A Kindle Community forums member, D. Gorman, posted an email response from Amazon Customer Service on this:
" I'm sorry for any inconvenience caused.  I'm unable to provide you more information about the availability of Kindle active content in Australia.  We value our international customers and hope to make Kindle active content available in more locations in the future.

  I'll make sure your feedback is passed on to the Kindle development team." '

UPDATE - 8/9/10 (Original posting was 8/8/10
Amazon Kindle Team posted a statement to the Amazon Kindle Forum about the international distribution question:
' The Amazon Kindle team says:
Thank you for your feedback regarding Every Word and Shuffled Row.

To clear up a couple of points of confusion, Every Word and Shuffled Row, and future active content titles, are designed for Kindle (latest generation), as well as Kindle (2nd Generation) and Kindle DX devices running software version 2.5.

These word games are currently available to US customers, however we look forward to offering all active content titles internationally in the future. '   [Emphasis mine]

  I'm usually not a computer-games type, but I had a chance to try these out, while waiting here and there, and find that I'm not doing much reading in waiting-situations where I used to, because the first game, Every Word, is sort of addictive for me, especially with the "relaxed" mode in which you're not timed, and it's amazing how many words there are that I never encountered, but that's typical of a Scrabble game too.  It can be educational if you take time to look up the meaning of the odder words.

  You get about 7 alpha characters and can move on to the next level of the game after you've put together the longest word that Every Word has in its database for those letters but of course you'd want to stay at the level to get as many of the the other, shorter words also, to build up points for the total game that way.  If you choose the Timed option, strategy is key.  You get just those 7 characters, which are static.

  A MILD TIP - With Scrabble, we can shift our tiles around.  There's a way to do that on the Kindle also.
  If I get the letters 'i'   'n'   'g' and I want to see what words I might be able to make ending in "ing" -- I type those letters in so that they appear on the line below and then I press the 'NextPage' button to shift the remaining 4 letters so that they're together and I can see them in various combinations with each "Next page" press.  Do the same with any letter-combos you have.
   Also, if the game needs a word you probably never heard of, the alpha positioning in the numbered sets of letters (4 characters, 6 characters) will give a clue too.

The other game, Shuffled Row is always timed.  You get 9 letters slowly coming onto the board, and as you look at them, soon the ones on the left scroll off and you can't use them anymore, as they never return, so you have to strategically decide whether to wait to make a long word or instead grab a weighty letter like 'x' or 'z' and find a word with it or decide whether to save good letters for later or watch them scroll off while you're deciding.  It's fun but can feel a bit hectic and isn't recommended if you're to be off to sleep soon.

Both games have fast response times, since all they do is refresh letters after short calculations.  There is more screen-ink shifting than when reading a book and there's a corresponding battery drain with each screen change, but the effect on the battery is small to medium, from what I've seen, although the constant movement used for Shuffled Row will use more of the battery power.

Check often:  Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
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  1. Thank you for these tips! I've been playing oth games obsessively since the moment they came out. What a great idea to add these games to make us enjoy our Kindles even more than we already do!!

  2. Clarissa,
    Yes, I have to stop this new habit since I'm not getting much reading done :-)

  3. Excuse my ignorance, but can you explain this?

    "the alpha positioning in the numbered set of letters will give a clue too"

  4. How can people living outside US download those games to Kindle 2? Is there a binary anywhere on Internet to download? Thanks!

  5. Anonymous,
    That's not your ignorance - it's my poorly worded statement in trying to keep it shorter.

    I meant that when you have a set of 4 characters that are still not filled out and one of them is 'dune' then a blank one after it cannot be 'dome' because 'o' comes before 'u'...

  6. Anonymous posting at 9:59:00 AM PDT
    If there's a binary, it wouldn't be an Amazon approved edition, so it probably would not be appropriate for me to say if I knew of one. But it looks as if they will make these available later.

    Sorry about this situation - it's a bit odd but I do think it's a matter of waiting until they see how it functions for everyone getting it and will likely distribute it more widely later.


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