Game: MSN Upwords - Livre d'Or

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Game: MSN Upwords
Sunday, 13 March 2005 at 01:33 pm
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Short review: MSN Upwords sucks.

Why? The interface is ugly and slow, all special effects and no usability. The AI is dreadful, with no idea of strategic play even on the high levels; the only difference between low levels and high is that it's tuned so that the average AI score is higher as you go up. It's completely uncustomizable (other than the ability to set the AI level). It has no facility for human versus human play. You can't turn off the 'offensive words' filter; you can set it to 'lenient' rather than 'strict', but even the lenient version disallows such words as dork, popish and is generally annoying with its prissy little error messages. Oh, and it has a weird bug so that it quite often mis-calculates whether you have used up all your letters or not, and as Upwords penalizes very heavily for letters left in the rack at the end, this often makes the difference between loss and victory.

But the suckiest of sucky things about it is that it uses the Encarta dictionary. The Encarta dictionary is a second-rate dictionary to start with, and it's particularly bad for word games. It doesn't include most of the standard 2lws. And more to the point, because it is designed for looking words up, rather than word games, it doesn't have most variants of words listed as separate entries. So it can usually cope with plurals, but not with adding -er, -ed, re-, un- etc to even the most common words. And since prefixes, suffixes and 2lws comprise most of the strategic basis of Upwords, the game is nearly unplayable.

The reason I'm particularly annoyed with how bad this version is is that Microsoft, being Microsoft, have done a pretty thorough job of killing off every other online or downloadable version of Upwords on the whole internet. There used to be a good online verison at, and I miss that. Yes, I know Hasbro owns the licence to Upwords and they're entitled to restrict distribution of it to Microsoft if they want to. But I'm still very annoyed about the Hobson's choice between paying $20 for a really crap version of the game, and no game at all. And the only way to play networked games is via MSN messenger, same crappy version and requiring a fairly hefty monthly subscription. Grrr.

Oh, and from my last post, there seems to be a consensus in favour of the purple version of my journal, so it's purple for a while. The font is quite small but it's scalable if you don't like it.

Moooood: infuriatedinfuriated
Tuuuuune: Lord of all hopefulness (on the radio)
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doseybat: default
Date:March 13th, 2005 07:01 pm (UTC)
5 hours after journal entry, 10:01 pm (doseybat's time)

off topic

it looks like we are not going to be able to make it up after all, beause of the length of the drive and not enough holiday.. *sorry* maybe we will se you when you are all finished and less stressed?
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livredor: portrait
Date:March 13th, 2005 08:01 pm (UTC)
6 hours after journal entry, 09:01 pm (livredor's time)

Re: off topic

Don't worry about it, Bat. I'd love to see you, but I think I'd probably love so less in the final week before I submit, so it's not a problem.

I am blatantly going to see you when I'm finished and unstressed! If I don't manage it between submitting and viva, I'm going to come back to Cambridge just as soon as I can after finishing, so in the best case scenario I'm home by the end of May. And this summer is earmarked for visiting all my friends, cos I've not had any time off from education since I was four so I deserve a break!

Oh, and I'm probably going to the parents for the Passover week (end of April), because it's in that slack month between submitting and viva, and if I'm here I'll get roped into doing a million things and it'll generally be a lot more relaxing to be chez parents. So maybe we could meet up then if you don't mind the fact that I'm going to be more than usually funny about eating.

I'm sorry I'm not very sociable at the moment. I keep telling myself I'll get my life back soon!
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pir_anha: default
Date:March 13th, 2005 10:14 pm (UTC)
8 hours after journal entry, 03:14 pm (pir_anha's time)

Re: Game: MSN Upwords

this sort of strategy by microsoft and the resultant crappiness of their offerings -- because they, of all people, don't do anything decently if there isn't competition -- has led me to boycott them whenever possible (ie. when it's not client-driven for our business). and i let them know, in writing (not email). i wrote to hasbro as well.

it can be hard to do, but i consider it worth it. there are lots of games. i can manage to find another one i like, even when i really enjoy something like upwords.

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