A Spell Of Good Fortune: Quest Of The Wordsmith

By John Walker on June 27th, 2012 at 8:00 pm.

Well, I made tar. It didn't help.

Oh my goodness, this is bursting with potential. Lying somewhere between Scrabble and Minecraft, cross-bred with Scribblenauts, is Quest Of The Wordsmith. A terrible name for a really interesting game. A spell your own survival sim.

Here’s the premise. You awake on an island, in nothing but your undies, and you need to survive. Night is coming, and if you’re going to have light to see by, you’re going to have to be able to spell it. Objects in the world can be destroyed, so long as you have the tools to destroy them. And when broken, they collapse into tiles that spell out their name. Kill a rat, and you get R, A and T, for instance. Take out skeleton from a nearby shipwreck and you’ve then got an N and a K, meaning you could make a tank. Use that to shoot down the bird, and you’ve got a B, enough to make a boat and see what’s on the neighbouring island.

It’s pretty primitive at the moment, the free version embedded in a website feeling extremely clunky, and lacking a lot of obvious words. But wow, I just love the idea. And while you may at first worry that as soon as you have a complete alphabet of tiles, you’ll just be able to spam the game, rather interestingly it only lets you create each object once. Which makes night time a bit scary, when you’ve already used “fire” and “torch”.

Clothes felt important, but I could only spell HAT and COAT.

Clearly, making something that feels complete means an extraordinary amount of work. Not only do you have to have thought of something for every word someone might try to spell, but also create an image for it, potentially animate it, and then have it follow the physics of the world. It took 5th cell two iterations and years of work before they managed to get Scribblenauts into shape, and that was with the funding of Warner Bros. I imagine that Wordsmith will struggle to get close to its ambitions, but it sure will be interesting watching it try.

I do wonder if the game has even more potential as vignettes, short challenges to survive with careful limitation of what letters you can get hold of. The game feels the most fun when you’re scrabbling to make a word with a limited supply, and less so when you can spell anything. But perhaps that’s one of the directions Cheers Games plans to take things. At the moment the rather inappropriately titled Quest Of The Wordsmith (there are no quests) is free on the website, but it’s designed to be a pre-order incentive for the first official chapter, Night Of The Wordsmith. That costs only $5 to pre-order, and will have new locations, puzzles and “hundreds of new words”.

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27 Comments »

  1. rei says:

    I made a noose and tried to hang myself from a tree, but I can’t figure out how to pick the thing up again after unsuccessfully trying to tie it to one of the elms.

    First impression is pretty good though.

    P.S. John your character needs a nose. Makes him look like Jean Reno!

    EDIT: I thought I would’ve solved the lighting issue with a flamethrower (luckily nothing seems to require ammo), but it doesn’t provide light, and also can’t be aimed :|

  2. Gasmask Hero says:

    I went into the mine and created a star, which followed me around. Which I think is sort of poetic, really.

  3. Maldomel says:

    Impressive. And I love how letters appear when enemies start killing each other.

  4. Humppakummitus says:

    My pet Nord thinks I look quite fetching in my pink bra, especially with the tan and the beard.

  5. HarryJW says:

    They had me as soon as “Yak” worked. And then you can ride it.

  6. Dizzard says:

    I made a stork and it keeps dropping babies. (which you can fight, so you have a constant supply of B A and Y)

    • InternetBatman says:

      If you wait you can also get an o from boy, and m and n from man.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      I had a bash last night and got nowhere, but you’ve just convinced me to give it another go.

  7. DisBeSrsBsns says:

    That was brilliant.

  8. misterT0AST says:

    Just kill the skeleton and the rat and you can have a LASER.
    From there it’s all downhill.
    I also made a spaceship and went as high as I could, but I couldn’t find anything in the sky.
    That was kind of disappointing.

  9. InternetBatman says:

    I wish that fireball wouldn’t deplete as soon you use it. In general I wasn’t crazy about the one use only mechanic, but I suppose they had to keep the use of death and hero down (take that dragon). I would like magic.

    Riding a dragon is the best though.

  10. dfgdfge250 says:

    sdfwe

  11. johnki says:

    I don’t really like that you can’t use the same word twice. Being able to use food items more than once would have saved my life.

    Other than that, I think it’s really clever, and it really challenged me to think about what to make to get the letters I need, even if some of the comments made it a little less challenging. :P

    I also like that when you die, it drops Y O U.

    • Phantoon says:

      potion, cookie, medicine all work too.

      • Dizzard says:

        Some other food items: Ale, Beer, Cake, Bean. Those all work too and they’re fairly easy to get.

  12. Mosby says:

    I made a ROC to fly around on – very cool :)

    And a LANTERN for light.

    Currently weilding a KATANA

    Fun game!

  13. Baines says:

    Made Firefox lock up for a bit, music started playing, then the Unity plugin crashed. I was using a somewhat old PC, but I’ve never seen a Unity browser game outright crash the plugin on it before.

    • LaurieCheers says:

      Author here; I’ve had one other report of this bug. It would really help track it down if you could give me more system specs. (how much memory, processor type, firefox version?)

      Thanks!

      • Baines says:

        Firefox 13.0.1
        Unity Player 3.4.2.27364

        Windows XP w/ Service Pack 3
        P4 2.8GHz (with the silly dual thread but not a real dual core tech) w/ 1.5GB RAM

        An old desktop PC, it isn’t my gaming rig, but what I use for general browsing and less process intensive stuff. (I use a better Win7 laptop for most games, and I’m not a bleeding edge PC gamer anyway.)

      • Rivensteel says:

        For some reason, the first time I entered the cave it spawned a huge number of boys which ended up dominating my computer. It completely locked up a thread and made Chrome almost completely unresponsive. I ended up just closing all browser windows.

        i7-950
        HD 6970
        24 GB RAM
        Fully patched Win7 64 and Chrome

  14. Rotteredder says:

    Really nice game. A doctor or a field will give a steady supply of health. Also ratman and droid rules!

  15. kaoswielder says:

    Can we make a Nuke ? :D

  16. Ian says:

    This looks pretty interesting, will need to have a look at this at home later.

    Could be a good game for kids too depending on how much you can avoid murdering stuff.

  17. benkc says:

    Any time I tried a new word that ended up making a pet, my previous pet became neutral. Is there any way to get your old pet back? I didn’t really want to trade in my Healer for a caterpillar.

    Definitely a neat idea.

  18. uuser says:

    an old shot of me and my pet woman (`~´)
    http://img411.imageshack.us/img411/3323/wordsmith.jpg
    from a version where you had to farm letters and could build things multiple times.

    Ps: god and death are nice pets. A lamp is a very nice item. also mech