In War of Words, there are basically three types of playable games – battles, chests, and puzzles. Battles are the most important and largest part of the game, and I’ve discussed them before. But there are two other “mini-games” available too.
Treasure chests are encountered at certain times within the game. They are filled with loot, typically mostly gold and you also get experience for opening them. To open them, you need to pick the lock. Since this is a word game, the best solution is to guess the secret password that will open the lock. The way this works is that you are presented with a set of letters in the normal game board. This board is not moving. You also see N blank spaces and so you know the size of the secret password you must guess. The letters making up the word are on the game board mixed in with other random letters. You are then given a series of hints which are just textual phrases. You must use the hints to guess the word. This mini-game is somewhat of a cross between hangman and twenty questions. Chests get harder to open as you progress. The words get tougher (longer and more obscure) as well as the random letters increase in number and the hints decrease in quality. Opening a chest will then reward you with experience and gold (and possibly other things).
The second type of mini game are what are called “Tavern Puzzles”. At the Inns in the cities, you have the option of visiting the tavern and playing word puzzles for loot. These puzzles consist of a fixed game board with specific letters on it. The goal of the game is to use the letters on the board to make words and eliminate all letters from the board. There can sometimes be more than one solution. To mix things up, some puzzles will give you a spell or two and some MP to use the spell. You must not only solve the puzzle by making words, but the spells must be utilized at some point to eliminate letters from the board. As long as all letters become eliminated, you will win the puzzle. The puzzles can get harder by putting more letters on the board, using tougher words, and by making obscure uses of spells. Your vocabulary and spell knowledge will aid you in solving the puzzles.
Technically speaking, both of these games are examples of “levels”. I will create XML data to describe them. For example, treasure chests are defined by the loot they give you, the secret word, and the hints. I would write this data into an XML file (possibly by using a custom built editor) and then create a custom content processor to write this data as an XNA binary type to load into the game via the Content Pipeline. For the tavern puzzles, there’s a little more to them and so I decided to create a “level editor” for it. Here’s a screen shot of a prototype of the editor:
As you can see, it is nothing elaborate. But I will be able to use this to create puzzles fairly quickly.