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Smartle: How to improve our daily word puzzle game?

9 Sep 2023

In previous blogs we talked about the problems that we had while creating Smartle, our daily word puzzle. We think it’s interesting to openly talk about what we are working on at the moment and to share how we come to a particular decision.

Today we would like to put into the spotlight a challenge which we are yet to solve: how to balance complexity and accessibility of a daily word puzzle game?

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Our main goal was to design a daily word search game that was both challenging and engaging, and also catering to players of varying skill levels. It was a tricky balancing act between crafting puzzles that were too easy and puzzles that could potentially overwhelm the player.

Right now there is one single game set for all players all around the world. Everyday there is a new challenge. Sometimes it is an easy word puzzle that can be solved by anyone in less than 5 minutes. On other days it can be a rare collection of letters that even players who solve word puzzles as a daily hobby would take hours to complete.

How do we reach the right balance? On one hand, we want to ensure that everyone can enjoy Smartle, regardless of their word puzzle proficiency. On the other hand, we recognize the value of pushing the boundaries of players' linguistic prowess, offering puzzles that make you pause, think, and ultimately feel the euphoria of cracking the code.

We are now exploring the options to improve Smartle word search experience. One improvement can be introducing hints — a subtle nudge in the right direction when a player is stuck in their daily word game. These hints won't give away the solution but will be more like word search tips which are tailored to the specific day’s game.

Another direction we're considering is diversifying the playing field. Currently our game is a 5x5 word square. Maybe players would like to have the choice to tackle puzzles of different sizes? In that case they of course would need to deal with not 5 but 4-letter words, which seems to be easier. Plus, this expansion could give you even more reasons to return to Smartle daily.

One possible scenario would be that the player starts with a simple 4x4 playing square. After they successfully finish the 4x4 game they can play a more advanced version of 5x5 word square field. Potentially we could make the play field as big as we want, so a 6x6 playing field is also an open option for the most challenging word search puzzles.

While we are not yet 100% sure that we will implement hints and different difficulty levels, this approach seems to have no disadvantages. For the players that love challenging word search puzzles nothing will change. There still will be a daily word puzzle with 5 letters on the 5x5 word square field. For those who play Smartle for the therapeutic word search there will be even more possibilities because more variants of the game will become accessible. And of course, there will be a leaderboard for all players in all game sizes.

If you are reading this and see any potential disadvantages or have valuable feedback on these improvements, please don't hesitate to contact us. Stay tuned for more updates and exciting enhancements, and thank you for making Smartle a part of your daily word puzzle routine.

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