Clockwords: Prelude

Screen shot 2009-09-22 at 12.31.29 AM Clockwords is a word/defense game by Gabob, who previously did Now Boarding (mentioned here). This time, they’re using a story that I wrote to go with their gameplay concept. I’ve really enjoyed this — it’s exhilarating seeing what the artist has done with my suggestions, and fun to work on something a little different from my usual format. The core gameplay lets you build words, but (in contrast with most word games) in a way that doesn’t absolutely restrict you to a set of letters on the board. If you’re the kind of person who gets frustrated by all the great words you can ALMOST make in Boggle or Scrabble, Clockwords might be up your alley. What’s more, as you play you gain the ability to manipulate which letters are available for future use.

This installment is just the Prelude; future installments will contain a lot more of the plot, and more variations on the core play.

11 thoughts on “Clockwords: Prelude

  1. This game is excellent fun, although I haven’t progressed far enough for it to present much of a challenge yet.

    The plot is intriguing. The introduction seemed rather longer than I’m used to, for an online Flash game. I wonder if the information would be better presented spread out over several intra-level cutscenes? Although I guess that might have involved some gameplay changes (e.g. having a “no pressure” game variant for the first level or two while you become familiar with the machine, before the arrival of the insects).

    The boiler is a nice addition – slightly confusing at first, but very intuitive after a little experimentation.

    I look forward to playing more, both of the prelude and of whatever comes next.

  2. The Flash applet does not work on my browser, apparently. It seems to preload all of its content, but then shows only a blank panel.

    Is the Flash applet only an intro to a website (that You could maybe send me a link to, please?), or IS it the actual game?

    • I’ve had this happen to me once or twice as well, and emailed Gabob about it; I don’t know why it happens. (It didn’t happen the last few times I loaded the game, so I assumed it had now been fixed.) If they mention a correction to me, I’ll pass it along. To the best of my knowledge there’s no way to skip ahead and get to the game elsewhere.

  3. Fun, although – it reminds me of one of the deeply-flawed IQ tests that were administered to immigrants in the early C20th, which included a question where you had to say as many words as possible in your native language. Most people did very poorly, which was used to demonstrate that immigrants were all mentally deficient.

    And part of this game is that if the letters you’re given don’t immediately suggest a word to you, it’s better strategy to just reel off as many random long words and hope that you hit the letters, rather than fretting over using as many letters as possible. Which, for me, was quite hard – my brain kept demanding that there must be some extra things that I should be worrying about, and that I shouldn’t type until I’d figured those out.

  4. I’m not a fan of this one. There seems to be too little time to think and little incentive to come up with new words that use as many of the given letters as possible. And do I really have to play through 40 levels, all alike, just to advance the story?

    I also encountered some bugs/oddities:
    – I’ve left the game and returned, and my progress was saved, but all my letters have turned into level 1 iron ‘A’s!
    – The in-game ads for “Now Boarding” misspell “passengers” (ironic)
    – Why are perfectly valid and common words like FUCK not in your dictionary? (And if say that’s not a proper word, could you explain why NIGGER is?)

    I think in the word-typing genre (?) I prefer DeepLeap and Typing of the Dead.

    • I didn’t do anything with the dictionary selection, so I don’t know what criteria were used to determine “appropriate” language for the game.

      The thing about iron As is a bit mysterious. I’ll pass that on.

      • Are you sure you didn’t influence the dictionary? I notice “grue” is in there (I had no idea it was a word outside of Zork until I looked it up just now!)

        Also nice to know that disestablishmentarian is in there, even though antidisestablishmentarianism isn’t. :)

  5. To be honest, the game doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. It’s very, very easy if all you do is type random words that have one or two of the letters on the board. And that appears to be the only way to get extra letters at the end of each level. The way that one would think to play — trying to use as many letters in a word as possible, trying to expand the number of cells — is very much more challenging, yet does not give you any rewards. Combining letters doesn’t seem to be worthwhile (in part because I’ve gotten so few letters due to playing the first few levels like Scrabble/Boggle rather than “how many words can you think of”), and there seems to be a huge mechanic built around microtransactions, which makes the game hard to grasp. Finally, every level feels like it’s the same (only very slightly harder), a feeling enhanced by the lack of any story after the intro.

    In terms of the story itself, while I found it sort of cute and whimsical, it actually was hard to follow (am I an idiot?) what exactly was going on with the machine and the inventor, and the whole thing felt like a highly convoluted exercise to make a plot that would fit weird game mechanics — only the plot didn’t really fit the weird game mechanics because nothing in the plot suggested that what the machine did was rattle off words and shoot out letters.

    All said, it’s kind of enjoyable because I like typing (?!) and like words, but it feels pretty half-baked.

    • Yeah, I tend to think there should be bonus damage for using multiple bonus letters at a time. Heck, you could even change it up so that you get a special bonus for long chains of adjacent bonus letters, special bonuses for words composed of all specials, etc.

      That might actually give you an incentive to come up with optimum words rather than just spewing “seraglio” and the like every time you don’t see something obvious.

      Fun little game, though!

  6. Pingback: Clockwords « The Quern

    • mmm… in my mind, this doesn’t combine the best aspect of the tower defense genre at all. For me, the best aspect of tower defense is mazing, which you can’t do here.

      It’s still a fun game, though at higher levels in the game, you really don’t start getting better letters at all. In fact, it’s easier for me to go back to level 8 and destroy the level quickly and gain several level 1 letters than it is to play level 22, where I’m probably going to get far fewer letters from it, all of which are still only going to be level 1.

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