How to Play WOF (click here to get right to the actual game instructions)
WOF is a word game, the object of which is to outscore your two opponents in a turn-based game of guessing letters in a word or multi-word phrase. A random element shakes things up by making some turns more valuable than others, and yet other turns worthless or even worse; will you have the combination of board dominance (via word knowledge) as well as sheer instinct that enables you to come out on top?
Of course, astute readers will have recognized this synopsis to be essentially the format of the game show Wheel of Fortune (r) and its translations. You may have already witnessed this practice, of upstart projects here at SourceForge effectively describing something popular in terms that make it seem a lot more alien than it really is, just because they want to
steer clear of any chance of pulling the wrong string only to find out there's an 800-pound gorilla on the other end, wielding a trademark lawsuit. If not, then you have now.
So anyway, WOF (officially, the game name is in all uppercase but the letters don't stand for anything). It's played online, between 3 willing players, using Internet Relay Chat (IRC) as the medium. I personally see to games being hosted on four networks; if you don't already have an IRC-capable client, get one (I like XChat--click here for a Windows version) and then you're ready to connect to one of the following:
In each of these three networks:
- the game is held in the channel "#wof" (typing /join #wof once you're connected to a network will get you there, assuming you don't configure your client to automatically join that channel upon connecting)
- the game uses the configuration "us_s27_config.ini", simulating the current format of the U.S. TV show as accurately as I can. This point is subject to change in the future.
Even if you don't have a standalone IRC client and don't want to download one, the "Play Now!" link at the top of the page will let you take part in a game, using the first of the listed networks, from within the confines of your browser! Unfortunately, because of the way WOF works as of the current version (1.27.04), starting a game in one network immediately prevents games from taking place in the other networks served by the same client, and the users therein may have no way of knowing why. This behavior may be alleviated in a far-off future version, or at least I may rig up a system that lets me put an image here that tells if there's a game in progress or not. If you'd like to host your own WOF server, see the Game Hosts page.
OUTSIDE THE GAME
!newgame - a request to start a game of WOF
!join - a declaration of interest to join a requested game
- When you feel like playing WOF, the first step is to make sure you're on one of the networks where it's run. Then if you see there are 3 willing players there, or if you think you can gather some interest, declare a !newgame. This initiates a game request, tied to the channel you're in, and enters you as a player.
- A game request ends when it either obtains 3 players, in which case it's replaced with a game, or 10 minutes elapse, in which case the request simply fizzles. Currently there is no way to cancel a request prematurely.
- You can put any comments you like after !newgame, and the game doesn't try to process them. If you have opponents in mind, you might want to put a comment calling them out specifically, for example.
!unjoin - a deparature notice, removing your name from the list of interested players
- If you join a channel that has an active game request, you will be notified by the game host of this fact, and reminded that you can type !join at that point. If you do use !join, you'll be added as a player, and if that makes you the third player, the game will start.
- If you started the request with !newgame, there's no need to !join since you're already entered as a player. You obviously can't join again to a game you're already in on, and if you change your nickname, you don't need to join again: your presence in the game follows you through the name change.
!wofstats - view the all-time stats for a given player
- If you thought you wanted to join the game, but then changed your mind, you can use !unjoin. You'll be dropped as a player and someone else can take your place.
- Unfortunately, the player basis of a live game currently has no provisions to be changed. As such, you can't !unjoin a game that's already in progress, which also means that the third player won't have any opportunity to unjoin.
- As an alternative to typing !unjoin, you can simply leave the channel (/part) or disconnect from the server (/quit). In either case, if the game hasn't started and you're currently signed on as a player, you will be automatically dropped from the game, though you will be allowed to rejoin with !join once you come back.
- Provided the game host you're using has enabled SQL support for tracking statistics, you can use !wofstats NAME to see how many games NAME has played, how many they've won, their overall and best single-game winnings, and whether they're the defending champion. There's currently no distinction between networks, so if you play under the name "woffer" on one network, then play using the same name on another network, the stats from both will be tracked under the same cumulative total.
- By default, !wofstats with no further argument will display the stats for your current nickname.
- !wofstats only works when there's neither a running game nor a pending game request.
DURING THE GAME
!audience - a declaration of interest to lighten up the atmosphere and allow spectators to talk
- Depending on the configuration, a WOF game may run in "moderated mode", which means that the channel mode "+m" is set while a game is running. This +m means that only users who have a status within the channel (such as the +v mode that's awarded to the participants at that time) are allowed to say anything. This does have its uses for drowning out outside interference, but some people might want a more casual game where non-players can chat among everyone else. To suit this crowd, WOF has !audience. Any player can put in for it at any time, and with unanimous consent of the players--all three putting in for !audience at any point in the game--the +m will be removed.
- Caveats: There isn't yet a way to withdraw your consent to remove moderation, nor, if one player is clearly not responding and gets disqualified for inactivity, will moderation turn itself off just from the two remaining players.
WOF has support for tossup puzzles, where letters in random positions of the puzzle are filled in, one at a time. In the configuration on display, letters come at 5-second intervals; reducing the interval much further is likely to run into the IRC server's "excess flood" detector, or even create a significant amount of client-side lag. Anyway, once you've seen enough of the puzzle that you think you have the answer...
!solve - an attempt to solve a WOF puzzle
- If it's your turn, or if it's a free-for-all/tossup puzzle, you can call !solve. On its own, !solve gives you a 20-second timeframe to type out the answer on your next line. Alternatively, you can place your guess on the same line, as !solve ANSWER HERE, and it will be entered immediately.
- When using the first form, the next line you type that has 2 or more letters in it, no matter what it is, will be entered as your solution. This means it's not advised to shout "YES" after finding out that your ring-in was acknowledged first in a toss-up, for example--it will take "YES" to be your guess, which probably isn't correct.
- Solutions are not case sensitive. Even though the puzzle board always appears in capital letters, you can go ahead and use lowercase letters to save keystrokes.
- If you solve incorrectly during a round, you pass the turn to the next player. If you solve incorrectly during a toss-up, you will be unable to ring in again for the remainder of that puzzle.
The bulk of the game of WOF takes place in rounds. Depending on the game configuration, the first player to start a given round will depend on the most recent player who solved a toss-up correctly, or on random selection. During a player's turn, that player may call any of the following:
!solve - as above
!spin - a spin of the wheel
!buy - a call to buy a vowel
- It wouldn't be WOF without the wheel. Its whim can determine if the next turn you take has the potential to singlehandedly win you the game, or if it's over before it even starts. To spin the wheel, use !spin. There are currently twenty-two supported rules that can appear on a spin (plus a twenty-third pseudo-rule), though the configuration on display exhibits just nine:
- cash $600 $2500 The bread and butter of the wheel. Upon spinning cash, you will be asked for a consonant, and for each time it appears in the puzzle, you'll receive money equal to the cash value you spun (of course not actual money that'll let you go to the store for a shopping spree, but this "money" will at least help you to defeat your opponents in WOF.) If you spin $400 and guess the letter S, you get $400 if there's one S in the puzzle, or $1,600 if there's four of them. If there are no Ss, you get no money and you lose your turn. Try to avoid that if you can.
- loseaturn LOSE A TURN loseaturn, on the other hand, isn't so nice. It's like landing on cash and being forced to guess the letter X when you know it's not in the puzzle. Except it doesn't wait for you to type in an X, it just moves the turn along and lets the next player do things.
- bankrupt BANKRUPT Of course, this is loseaturn's famed bigger brother. If you land on bankrupt, again you don't get to pick a letter, and you lose a turn...in addition, you also lose the cash and prizes you've amassed for the round. Almost like a real bankruptcy that you keep hearing about in the news these days...no you don't go to debtors' prison, or get forced to leave the game. Just reorganize, pay off what you can, and how conveniently, you have some protected assets (namely, those won in prior rounds) that the bankruptcy can't take away! In short, yes it is unfortunate, but it does happen, and hopefully you'll get the chance to snap back in the game.
- bonusboost BANKRUPTONE MILLIONBANKRUPT This is actually an example of a subspace, a pseudo-rule that can be subdivided into an arbitrary number of sections. Here the outer sections play just like normal bankrupts; only the inner section takes the rule "bonusboost". Anyway, if you get bonusboost, you'll be asked for a consonant. A correct consonant here...no it's not worth a million dollars. It's worth...absolutely nothing, though you do get to pick up the space and put it in front of you. Then, you have to solve the current puzzle, or it's worth absolutely nothing. Even after solving, you can't get any bankrupts for the rest of the game, or it's worth absolutely nothing. You have to come out on top at the end of the game, or it's worth absolutely nothing. And then when you win the game, a single space on the bonus wheel will be "lifted", revealing an amount ten times as high. If you spin any of the other 23 bonus spaces, your bonusboost is worth absolutely nothing. And of course you still have to solve the bonus puzzle correctly to prevent it from being worth absolutely nothing. Sounds like a waste of time? Maybe it is. But consider it an interesting exercise in people's psychological reactions to large numbers.
- wildcard WILD CARD Like the bonusboost, the wildcard prompts you for a consonant and doesn't give you any money on a correct guess, just something to pick up and hold on to. However, it's a lot easier to convert the wildcard into monetary assets. After any spin that has a cash value to it, if you're holding a wildcard, you can turn it in with !wildcard and guess another consonant without having to risk spinning the wheel again--rather, the wheel will be "locked in" on the cash value it had at the last spin. Needless to say, it's a good idea to turn in wildcard after the big amounts, $2500/$3500/$5000, and in fact the game will remind you that you have a wildcard waiting for use in such situations. As an alternative, if you hang onto it for the entire game (without going bankrupt), then win the game, you get to pick an extra consonant at the bonus puzzle--possibly making it that much easier to figure out the puzzle.
- prize TRIP ($7,043) Because WOF doesn't have the budget to actually fly you out on trips, the term "TRIP" is just for flavor, and a space like this should just be counted as $7,043 of WOF money (at least after you've solved the puzzle anyway. Until then, it doesn't count toward your podium total--which means, for instance, that you can't spend that "money" to buy vowels.) As with cash, you'll be asked for a consonant, but if it's correct, you only get the value of the prize once, even if the letter appears more than once. Additionally, you "lift" the prize space from the wheel when this happens, so that no one will be landing on that prize for the rest of the game, and in its place will be a different space (probably cash). Prizes can take on many different forms, values, and appearances, but WOF is configurable enough that the single rule "prize" can handle most of them.
- jackpot JACKPOT It's not visible on the space itself, but this plays like a $500 cash space. Oh, and one other thing: when this space is on the wheel in round 1 (or whatver other round the configuration dictates), there's a running jackpot that starts at $5,000, and on any spin with a cash value (including jackpot itself), the jackpot goes up by that value regardless of whether the called letter is in the puzzle or not. If you land on jackpot and call a correct letter, in addition to the cash, you can claim the entire amount of the jackpot--all you have to do is solve the puzzle right away. That means no more spinning, no vowels, no letting the turn pass around the board back to you and trying to solve again (that is, you can do any of those things, but doing so won't allow you to cash in the jackpot unless you somehow spin jackpot again in the round.)
- freeplay FREE PLAY Like jackpot, freeplay is a $500 space that shows no visible sign of being such. Unlike jackpot, freeplay doesn't offer the glamour of huge payouts for solving; the purpose of freeplay is more as a workhorse space, meant for consistency. See, instead of picking a consonant at $500, you can also use this space to select a vowel. You don't get any money for it if you do, but a vowel obtained this way doesn't cost you anything either (which is somewhat of a bargain--see !buy below). And on top of that option, freeplay is a risk-free space: even if you pick a letter that isn't there, you can't lose your turn from it, and you get to spin again! (Of course, that extra spin may well cause you to lose your turn...but what were you expecting this space to be, Superman?)
- mystery (?)$1000 Again, landing on mystery will prompt you for a consonant. If it's there, you'll have a choice to make. You can type "N" or wait 15 seconds, and if you do, the mystery space will work just like cash, for a respectable $1,000 per letter. Or...you can type "Y" to turn the space over, in case you want to gamble. Half the time, the mystery will reveal itself to be a $10,000 cash prize...but the other half, it's a bankrupt, and you'll lose not only the $1,000 per letter you could have had, but also any other money you had this round, and you lose the turn to boot. Note that when it's time for mystery to go on the wheel, there are actually two of these spaces. After one has been flipped, the other stays on the wheel, but no matter what the outcome of the first flip was, you don't get the option to flip the second one. You'll "just" have to stick with it as a $1,000 cash space.
- For your convenience, you can put arguments on the same line after !spin. For my convenience, any such arguments will be thrown away and ignored. Doing something like !spin s would simply be bad strategy, without yet knowing what you're going to spin, and I wouldn't want you to get into that habit. On the other hand, !wildcard s, if you have the wildcard, is fine and probably does just what you want it to (unless there are no Ss in the puzzle, in which case it's debatable.)
- The game configuration you use may allow "open spins"; i.e. when there's not a game running, anyone can use !spin just for fun, to test out the wheel. The exhibited configuration does allow this (with the round 3 wheel as the demo round)...just use it at your own risk.
!letters - a check of the remaining letters
- Five letters are classified as vowels in WOF: A, E, I, O, and U. Four of them are among the five most commonly used letters in English, and the fifth is...just along for the ride, I guess. The letter Y, even going beyond "sometimes" and to the point of "usually" a vowel in English, doesn't have that classification in WOF...all the better for you, I guess. It must be some exclusive club, because you can't just call these five letters off a spin: you have to pay to make them show up. The cost is $250, no matter how many times the vowel of choice appears in the puzzle (even if it's zero), and !buy is how you call upon them.
- As with !solve, you can either call !buy standalone, prompting you for a letter on the next line, or include the letter right there: !buy e will hand in the money and check for the letter E in the puzzle immediately. Of course if there are no Es in this case, the turn passes to the next player.
- If you don't even have $250 (and an important note here, most prize spaces don't contribute to your available cash for this purpose), you'll be unable to use !buy. Too bad.
!puzzle - a glance at the puzzle
- If you call a letter that's already been called in the same round, your call obviously doesn't accomplish much, and you lose your turn to boot. In case you've forgotten which letters have and haven't been picked, and don't want to take the risk, call !letters. Doing so will bring up the list of letters that haven't been called yet, with vowels in red.
!score - a recap of everyone's total bank
- If all the players are on a long collective cold streak, without having picked up a good letter in a while; or if there's been a good deal of chatter to fill up the screen, you may not even be able to look back and see how much of the puzzle has been filled in. Fortunately, you can use !puzzle to recall it right away.
!rscore - a recap of everyone's round score
- Each player's total bank is only displayed between rounds. If you want to double-check what the totals are, in case--say--you're looking to see how big a lead you would need to overcome, to help you determine how long you should keep spinning, that's what !score is for. Using that will display the amount of money each player has locked up safely.
- The round scores are automatically displayed much more frequently--at every change of possession--but nonetheless it's still possible to get on a long hot streak and lose track of what everyone else has. You can use !rscore to bring that information back up, if you want to assess your risk of spinning again and see what your opponents might gain if your spin turns sour.
DELINQUENCY STRIKES: Because the Internet is a limited means of long-distance communication, you can't really keep tabs on who's actively paying attention to the game and who's not. If someone's not paying attention (or possibly even if their connection gives out and they get disconnected from the server), there isn't really much I can do to force them to do so, but what I can do is move the game along without them. If you don't call any game-related actions for 2 minutes after the start of your turn, or 1 minute after you call a correct letter and get to continue your turn, you will receive a strike and forcefully lose your turn. No, we're not going to wait 15 more seconds for a free spin inquiry to time out even if you have one of those. If it happens a second time in the same game, you get disqualified, losing all your turns for the rest of the game even if you come back. So try to avoid that. Note that if you get disconnected and have to rejoin, you will receive a +v if the game is moderated, and you'll be informed that it's your turn upon entering if it is in fact such. That's probably a hint for you to get caught back up by using !puzzle and !letters.
PRIZE PUZZLES: WOF configurations can nominate one of a given number of rounds as a "Prize Puzzle". If and when the game gets to that round, it will be announced as such at the start of the round, and whoever solves the puzzle will score a prize worth a good chunk of WOF money, in addition to anything else they picked up in the round.
SUPPLEMENT PUZZLES: Some puzzles will have supplements, and can typically be recognized by categories such as "WHAT IS IT?" If you solve such a puzzle, you get a chance to earn $3,000 afterwards (or some other amount if the configuration is set up differently), simply by providing the answer to the question that the puzzle is alluding to. You get 20 seconds to provide your answer, and--at least for now--can make any number of guesses within that time. This behavior may change in a future update.
THE BELL/FINAL ROUND At some point in the game, the bell will ring. I have the current configuration set to ring no earlier than the start of round 4, no later than the start of round 6, and otherwise it rings at the first spin/buy/solve prompt that occurs at least 20 minutes after the game started, as long as there are any consonants left.
- When the bell rings (it won't actually produce an audible bell, unless you specially adapt your IRC client to this game and trigger it to do so), the wheel will be spun one last time. If the spin isn't a cash spin, it's silently discarded and respun until it is, and then $1,000 is added to the cash value. This will serve as the value for all the consonants in the remainder of the round.
- Once the game gets to the final spin, !spin, !buy, and !solve will no longer do anything. (You can still use !letters, !puzzle, !score, or !rscore if you need to check things.) Each player's turn from here on will consist of guessing a single letter. You no longer have to pay to reveal vowels after the final spin, but they aren't worth any money either.
- If the letter you call is good, you get your cash (or not, if it's a vowel). Then you have 20 seconds to solve. This time limit may seem a bit long, if you're familiar with a 5- or 3-second limit, but because we're dealing with typed answers, the player needs some time to actually type the answer out. If you definitely don't know the puzzle, but want the game to move on faster, you can just type "pass" or another nonsense phrase, which will be registered as an incorrect answer.
- If you solve incorrectly, or pick a letter that's not in the puzzle, the turn passes to the next player. There's no way to use a free spin, or to guess more than one letter in a turn, at the final spin.
- A correct solve ends the round and brings you to the final totals, to see who won!
- At the start of the bonus puzzle, non-winning players have their +v removed, so that the winner can have the stage to himself or herself if the players didn't choose to allow spectators. Then the puzzle appears, and the player has 30 seconds to pick letters.
- Typically the winner will pick 3 consonants and a vowel, though the wildcard can be used for an extra consonant here. Letters may be entered all on the same line "cpma", one per line "d ENTER c ENTER...", or anywhere in between. If time runs out before you pick all your letters, any remaining slots will be filled with default choices.
- If you make a mistake and pick letters you don't actually want (for example, you type "ah" intending it simply as an interjection, only to find that it counts as the letters A and H), you can use !clear, erasing all your picks.
- Then you'll see the puzzle with your letter choices filled in, and you'll have the usual 20 seconds to solve. You don't need to preface your guesses with !solve, and feel free to guess as many things as you like before time runs out.
- Whether you get the correct answer or not, your bonus prize will be revealed, followed by the game stats, and the channel will return to normal (including the removal of +m if it was a moderated game) so that another game can start or people can make open spins.
Any other ideas? Send them to me!
- 6-Player Team Games - This is a feature I fully intend to allow in the game. The one big roadblock to adding support for this, is coming up with a good way to divvy up the players into teams (if two players both intend to be teammates, they should be provided a way to request such, and that request should be honored).
- Other Game Layouts - The game already supports many of these, but as there's only one WOF server in existence so far, they don't have much of a chance to see the light. I may consider having a client-side way to change the game configuration, or at least have a newgame request be able to specify the configuration to be used in that single game.