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Tivo wordsmith game

2006-03-26 , ,

Tivo has this addictive word game titled “Wordsmith”. You assemble words from columns of random letter tiles drawn from a pool. Letters are selected from the head of the column exposing the letters beneath to play. Words must be three or more letters long and present in what seems to be a modified scrabble dictionary. The game continues until there are no letters, less than three letters or no move that would result in a valid word. You score points by letter value and a multiplier for length of word. Letter frequencies appear to be similar to Scrabble but blanks tiles are replaced with (I guess) additional vowels.

Maria broke 980 points immediately, broke 1000 soon after and held the top three scores. She fed me trash talk for several days until I broke 1025. Twelve years together and I had never seen that side of her personality. Tsk, tsk, tsk, there are few things worse than a bad winner. :)

BEZIQUES”, as I recently scored, is worth 224 points.

Aside from scoring the above word, it wasn’t enough to beat my high score of 1059. I’ve read that someone scored 1078. I think 1100 is possible with a lucky draw of letters.

I was annoyed by the occasional delays the game experiences and, being curious, I ran a packet capture at my firewall to see what it was doing. Surprisingly, not much. Everything interesting must happen on the server side. Somewhere on an IP assigned to UUNet is the server and all that goes over the wire are the images (made with Adobe Photoshop) and the user’s commands. I’m guessing that game state and scores are tied to the Tivo unit’s media code. It might be entertaining to reverse engineer the protocol and write a client to play it without the Tivo.


Comments [18]

2006-04-02 11:27 , Melissa

Can you play this game on anything besides tivo??? If so please advise what the name of the game is and where I can purchase it...
Thanks in advance,

2006-04-02 15:56 , Ross

Not as far as I know. I haven\'t seen one like it. I also haven\'t done more than take a cursory look at the tcpdump so I can\'t say what\'s involved in writing a client if that is possible.

I agree it would be nice.

2006-04-04 02:49 , Roger

I just tried this game today - hadn\'t paid much attention to the Tivo extras before. First try was 1127 - not bad for a beginner (but I do other word games). After wasting too much time, my best effort was 1307. Best word from that game was \"quarreling\".

One thing I noticed was that the game crashes once in a while. It does say \"Beta\" on the left side. I wonder if there will be a stabler update.

2006-04-04 18:37 , Roger

Arrgh! The game died on me again today. What was frustrating was that I was in the middle of a monster game. Early in the game I made \"temporalized\" for 312 pts. I had 841 and was about to make \"bewitched\" when the game died.
I had more than 1/2 of the letters left, so this was going to be a big number. Arrgh!

2006-04-04 20:03 , Ross

Odd, I\'ve had the game freeze for periods of time (as long as three minutes, which smells of a TCP timeout) but not visibly die or crash. It is fairly \"chatty\" back to the server and I\'ve seen retransmits in the packet capture. You could be seeing the effect of network congestion.

Good scoring words, though!

2006-04-05 09:45 , Roger

I too have seen the \"long pause\" - I agree with you, it is likely network related. (My local broadband is prone to short outages, so this would make sense.)

When the game dies though, it is a \"hard crash\" - it makes an illegal memory reference and that\'s the end.
Doesn\'t affect the rest of Tivo\'s operation though (Hurray for Linux!)

2006-05-13 03:49 , Greg Smith

I\'ve seen plenty of long pauses as well, but no crashes here in many, many games. My cable modem is pretty solid, so my data also fits network issues as the likely crash culprit.

I crack 1000 regularly, but so far my best game has been a mere 1132. I\'m not so obsessed with overall score, my thing is to try and make the biggest scoring individual words with the 12 possible letter positions. I\'ll scroll through a dozen boards looking at where the big letters are before picking one to play. So far my best is \"jeopardizing\" at 384 (12x32), soundly beating my previous efforts with \"homogenized\" and \"oxidization\". There some other good 12-letter words that use two of the big letters in them; \"quantization\" is another I keep trying to build. The highest scoring playable word I\'ve noted but not managed to place yet is \"quixotically\", which would be 396 (12x33). I haven\'t discovered anything so far you could play with the Wordsmith subset that hits 408 (12x34) points.

I\'m sure the rest of you who play will sympathize with my two most dissapointing games. For one, I realized I could line up \"quizicality\" only to discover the word actually has two z\'s in it. The other, I had all the letters to make \"axiomatically\" only to realize halfway through adding them that it\'s 13 letters. Sigh.

2006-05-19 06:35 , Andrew

Great to find this blog. I scored 1115 the other day and I was so pleased with myself. I played \"familiarized\" in that game, which scored 325 I think. That was my highest scoring word ever. I\'ve played a total of 12 times.

My problem is that my Tivo is on a Plasma screen and I don\'t want to burn in my screen -- so I get nervous about playing for too long. The game would be more interesting if there were a way to have a time penalty (or bonus) based on speed of play.

Have fun!

2006-05-21 09:56 , Ross

I\'ve managed to score 1153 and several other scores in excess of 1100. Like Greg, above, I\'ve been restarting boards to get ones with \"better\" letter arrangements and have tried playing not for high score but to see what I can get on a single play and how often I can fill the rack. I\'ve placed \"informative\" and \"oxidization\" and a few others but didn\'t note them. In terms of strategy, going strictly for word length doesn\'t improve overall score.

2006-06-23 09:37 , Kevin Chouinard

I think the highest scoring single word is HYROXYZINES for 456 points. I just scored it in a game, but I had to manipulate the board with a lot of low-scoring words to get it.

2006-06-24 22:37 , Bruce

Addictive like Heroin!

Thanks for the good tips. Some grast words on this list!
ALPHABETIZED (i believe) was 330 and I have used
EXQUSITELY (300+) 4 times in the past two days (look for it!)
I was lucky enought to use REJUVENATING immediately followed by BIOLOGICAL without any other work.

I do question the idea that big words don\'t help in the final score.

If you have 12 tiles each worth 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 1,2,3,4,5,6 for sake of arg. If you can make two words out of each set you get 2 x (6 x 21) or 252.
If you can make one word, it would be 12 x 42 or 504!!!!
Anoter example is if they are all worth one, two words is 2 x (6x6) or 72, while one word is 12 x 12 or 144.

In both cases you double the score using one word instead of two. The trick is not having to \"burn up\" too many small words to free up the big words that you see.

I hope this math makes sense. I have been using the other side of my brain playing Wordsmith tonight!

Please update us with any great scores or words - this game is a blast!

2006-07-03 23:42 , Kevin Chouinard

Oops, that word above should be hydroxyzines.

2006-07-09 06:55 , Ross

Filled the rack with KALEIDOSCOPE, 252 points.

2006-08-08 20:30 , NoraW

I have been playing WORDSMITH for several months now. It is very addictive. I bought my husband TIVO for Christmas so he can keep up with all of his TV. However, I always seem to beat him to the controls each night so I can get my \"fix.\"
Anyway, my strategy of play is a lot different. I realized that my highest scores are usually filled with uneventful words, although I do try to beat 200 points several times in a game.
Also, I haven\'t been picking and choosing my games.. I take what\'s given and play to the bitter end, sometimes I score only in the 800\'s. My high score right now is only 1130 (I\'ve cleared the high scores a few times.)
For my husband\'s sake I hope someone comes out with a version not on TIVO!

2006-09-26 10:43 , this woman’s work - » Two things

[...] 2. Yesterday Noah was playing this scrabble-like game on the Tivo and Brett and I were armchair quarterbacking from the couch. (He’s getting pretty good.) Madison was dancing in the middle of the room and Noah couldn’t see past her to the screen. I told him to move by us so he did and kept on playing. Madison stopped her dancing, looked at us, and then said to me, “But now I’m having trouble getting in his way!” [...]

2006-10-22 00:25 , Uni

Hello to all. Just read all the comments.. and my daughter was saying she got 500pts from using all her letters. She didn\'t ever tell me the word though. Is this really possible? I usually play with my friend Gary and we have never seen it. Please respond.

Thanks All,


2008-07-10 23:41 , bcharest

Hi there. Been playing Wordsmith since January. It can be a great sedative if you\'re having trouble falling asleep. Other times, I just want to beat my high scores or get great individual word scores. Best individual word was EQUALIZATION - 360 pts. High scores range from 1151 - 1292, with 4 of the 10 above 1200. Not too shabby. If I gotta be OCD, might as well put it to good use and build brain power. But too bad my OCD doesn\'t make me want to clean my house.

2008-10-01 12:09 , Ross

This might be interesting to some of you...

Mark Abramowitz wrote a word game inspired by Wordsmith. Check out

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