Why Twingly launched Wordfeusk, a “helper” app for Wordfeud

Hundreds of thousands of Swedes have lately been infected by the Wordfeud virus. Wordfeud is a Scrabble-like app for iPhone and Android with which you can play against random users or your friends. The app which was created by the Norwegian developer Håkon Bertheussen, managed to become viral hit, scoring more than 700.000 downloads only in Sweden.

A few days ago, Twingly launched Wordfeusk, a web app that might be a useful helper for all Wordfeud addicts who play in Swedish. It’s partly a just for fun project, and partly an attempt to make people donate money to Doctors without Borders in the time they would otherwise sit and mull over which word they can create next. Until today, Wordfeusk has been used more than 160.000 times.

We asked Marcus Svensson, one of the two Twingly developers who created Wordfeusk, a couple of questions about the background of Wordfeusk and the reactions they got.

Describe Wordfeusk in a few words.
It is a “helper” app for Wordfeud. Given a Wordfeud board and your letters it calculates the highest scoring words you can play. Helper is somewhat of an euphemism here…

One could also say “cheater”…
Exactly.

When and why did you and Oskar come up with the idea?
It started when a friend challenged me to a game of Wordfeud. I had never heard of it before, and pretty soon I discovered the hard way how the rules differ from Scrabble as my friend increased his lead. So I started hacking away at a Python program to play for me, trying to stall each move as long as possible so I would be able to come back in the game. I said to myself  that it isn’t cheating if I program it myself and start after the match has started” : D

I finished it enough to help me come back and the game actually ended in a draw. When Martin (Twingly CEO) heard about it he wanted to make it somewhat more usable – I only had a Python program that I used by editing a text file in Emacs and then run from the command prompt. So Oskar made a great HTML/JavaScript GUI for it and I set up my program as a webservice.

What kind of reactions did you get so far?
There are other cheat tools for Wordfeud, so hopefully the difference is that Doctors without Borders get donations instead of someone selling the cheat. We have only gotten one upset mail, and I have never seen so many spelling errors in one mail so maybe Wordfeud wasn’t for that person anyway.

Some people also tried to create new stuff based on Wordfeusk, like Johan Liesén who set up a bot that connects Wordfeusk to Wordfeud, so that you can play against Wordfeusk by challenging the player “ladyboner”.

So users simply need to add that username to their contact list in Wordfeud?
Yes.

But is it possible to win against the bot?
I don’t think so, unless you’re playing with Wordfeusk yourself. “ladyboner” always plays the highest scoring word though, regardless if that opens up possibilities for the opponent, so it has weaknesses.

What kind of wordlist do you use for Wordfeusk?
We use DSSO, I just googled for a Swedish dictionary with a usable license and that’s the one I found. Turns out it was the same as Wordfeud uses.

Do you have any stats about the words created with Wordfeusk?
Well, the highest scoring word so far has been “Taxichaufför” (taxi driver in Swedish) which led to 485 points! And here is a list of the most common highest scoring words:

CD (448 times created as the highest scoring word)
EX (399)
PC  (391)
ZO (371)
AX (360)
FEZ (357)
SIC (346)
AU (341)
ZETA (325)

Do you think people will still play Wordfeud in 6 month?
Yeah I think so, but maybe people will start playing more with people they know instead of random opponents.

4 thoughts on “Why Twingly launched Wordfeusk, a “helper” app for Wordfeud

  1. Johan (@liesen) October 12, 2011 / 14:09

    Should mention that ladyboner only plays games in Swedish on normal board types (randomized is coming soon).

    And of course it’s possible to win against the bot; quite a few players have done so already.

  2. Martin Johansson October 29, 2011 / 13:10

    Det har kommit en skitbra app till android market! Wordfeud Mastermind heter den. Den gör allt automatisk genom att hämta informationen från ditt wordfeudkonto. Hittar alla ord på alla språk och stöder random boards. Jag har spelat massa spel på svenska redan och vunnit alla. 🙂
    Dessutom har jag provat ett fåtal spel på andra språk och där verkar jag vinna alla hittills.

    Länk: market.android.com/details?id=se.ballefjongberga.wfmm

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