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Scrabble for RISC OS:Challenging and graphical desktop fun

By Chris Williams. Published: 17th Jan 07:53:00 | Permalink | Printable

X-Word is not another desktop puzzle game. It's Scrabble with style. Inspired by a Scrabble game for Machintosh computers, and hard it might be to believe, X-Word combines smooth graphics and the challenge of Scrabble to present a terrific desktop distraction.

There can be up to four players, including intelligent computer opponents whose Scrabble ability can be adjusted to suit you. Three different dictionaries are provided; one for children, one for teenagers and also one for adults. The tile lettering can be set to your favourite font and various options like tile weighting and bonus point settings are provided for extra control over the game.
The standard Scrabble board, scoring system and rules are all supported as well as a neat tile arranger. To place a tile, you simply drag and drop it over to the position on the board or make up a word in the arranger and drag the whole word onto the board.
Finally, X-Word is charityware; if you enjoy using it, donate some money to Shelter.

We spoke to author Alan Trewarthaand it seems quite a lot of development has gone into X-Word. A major task was designing the computer opponent's reasoning to present a challenge to a human player. Alan invested some time doing a little research before buying a PDF document over the net.
"The algorithm I used is based on a reasonably well-known paper by a couple of guys called Appel and Jacobson... The hardest part of the A&J approach is compiling the lexicon into a compact data structure that A&J called a 'DAWG', a rather nice tree-like structure. Once you've got that, the rest falls into place.
"In fact, if anyone wants to write a good 'anagram genius' app, they could do worse than start with my compiled lexicon of words and the code to parse the lexicons."

Having developed X-Word using Zap, the Stronghelp manuals, Artworks and a combination of TemplEd and WinEd, Alan has left the uncompressed source code within X-Word for others to take a look at. Alan also enlisted the help of Hans van Gink, an assembly programmer who provided the code to compile and prepare the lexicons.
"Hans was of enormous help in providing the whizzy assembler code to compile the larger lexicons", Alan mentions. "I wrote the first algorithms entirely in BASIC and believe me, the 10,000 word lexicon took 4 days to compile. Hans' code did it in under an hour I think.
"Now I can get back to the Inform text game that I've been writing for the last three years."


Contacts
X-Word for RISC OS: www.xword.riscos.org.uk

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