Rel8able – a free word game

We don’t do games. It’s just not our thing. But then in the last couple of years many of us have found ourselves doing things we’d never done before, from sourdough starting to Zooming, via mask-wearing and working in our PJs (you know you did, at least once). When the first lockdown came in March 2020, as desktop developer at TWF CIC I saw weeks of unallocated time stretching in front of me. So I decided to build a game. A word game. To make matters slightly tricky I decided to build the game using the same toolkit we use for developing BIDBase. It’s really not designed for building games.

I called it Rel8able. I chose that ghastly mash-up of letters and numbers mainly because any URL using the actual word ‘relatable’ is already held captive by someone, somewhere and this was to be a free game, so no budget for paying URL ransoms.

Weeks went by and it seemed that my calendar wouldn’t be quite as empty as I had thought, and so Rel8able went onto the back burner. Until Wordle came along. I fell for Wordle in a big way, as did my partner and many of our friends and colleagues. It was a chance conversation with a person who fulfils both roles (friend and colleague) that led me to tell her about the game I’d almost-built nearly two years earlier. I described the gameplay. “I’d play it”, she said, “you should finish it”. So I have. And now you can play it here.

The gameplay works like this on a desktop (though the game is responsive, i.e. reasonably mobile-friendly):

  • The left panel is your space to play the game. You are presented with two random words and have 120 characters to make a relationship between them (both words must be included exactly). The relationship you create can be funny, accurate, fictional, anything. As the tagline goes: ‘Witty, Weird, Wise, Whatever’. You submit your play, which is then sent for voting on anonymously by other players.
  • The centre panel is the voting space. You are presented with a play that someone else made and can up-vote or down-vote it. The only thing you know about this player is what kind of voter they are: generous, even or mean. You may, or may not, let that influence your vote. After submitting your vote you can move on to the next play, if there is one.
  • The right panel is the scoreboard, which shows all players scores accumulated across all their plays this month.

Every month Rel8able archives player scores and awards fictional medals for the top 3 scoring players, as well as a ‘Marmite’ medal for the player with the most divisive scores (i.e. least difference between up and down votes). Then all scores are reset to zero, to allow newer players to get a chance for glory in the new month.

OK let’s get a few grumps out of the way:

  • “It’s not very pretty”. That’s because it was built with a tool designed for making business database systems. We don’t do games, remember?
  • “You have to register and login”. Yes, sorry about that. We have no intention of doing anything horrible with your data. We’re not that sort of company.
  • “It’s not as good as Wordle”. Harsh, but probably true. Wordle is a beautiful example of elegant, simple design, no doubt about that. What I will say in Rel8able’s defence is that it is much more creative than Wordle, and facilitates anonymous interaction with other players via the voting system, scoreboard and associated glory.

Everyone here at The Wisdom Factory CIC hopes you enjoy playing Rel8able.

Author: Mike Mounfield

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