Introducing Snack Words

The earliest things I remember about learning to write code are all related to trying to create games. Whether it was learning basic linear algebra to do 3D rotations or the basics of language parsing to make text adventures, most of my early learning was a quest to implement something silly. Over 20 years later, I've finally shipped something silly.

Snack Words is a simple word game. You are given six tiles, and you must make as many words from those letters as possible before time runs out. The twist is that you aren't playing alone; you are playing head-to-head against another person with the same tiles. Each game is short and fun, like a snack.

I've been working on Snack Words in my spare time over the last several months. I haven't yet written about it here, but I left Collecta in early October and have been working on a number of side projects since then. My wife and I did all the game design in a few weeks of lunch conversations and then I wrote the code between other projects. A small group of friends and family helped beta test everything along the way. Now I'm playing a game I created with people from all over the world.

The inspiration for the game came from a couple of places. My wife and I spent some time addicted to similar games, although we always wished for various features that were missing. When we decided to create Snack Words, we already had a healthy list of ideas. Another source came from my colleagues at Chesspark. We all wanted to make a simplified version of the game that focused on fast games where you didn't spend a lot of time matchmaking.

Please give it a try, and let me know what you think. I learned a lot of great stuff along the way, which I'll be writing about here. For example, I recently gave a talk at Erlang Factory where I showed how Erlang made the game server a simple endeavor; in fact, it's just slightly over 2,400 lines of code, including white space and comments. You might also be surprised to learn that I did not use XMPP for the protocol, and I have a post planned to explain that decision as well.

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