Sunday, August 16, 2015

Word Bowl

This must have been a program I started before I got the job at LOADSTAR and finished in time for my second full issue, LOADSTAR #45. It's obviously inspired by the Bowl-A-Score puzzles in variety puzzle magazines where you look for the 10-letter word among the letters arranged in a bowling triangle. Then you look for shorter words using the same 10 letters.

What impresses me 20 years later is that I had the gumption to thumb through every page in my Winston Simplified Dictionary, 1932 edition, looking for 10-letter words. I was one dedicated editor in those days.

And here is the Read It from 1987. Man, I was a babbler in those early days. And it probably gets worse as we move along. 

Welcome to the world of Big League Word Bowling! If you’ve been keeping up with your vocabulary and anagramming skills you may get that 300 game you’ve been pining for all these years. I finally did, and when I told the guys in my bowling league, they all said “Big deal.” But what do they know?

WORD BOWL is a game for all ages. There are seven levels, determined by the length of the words that are to be anagrammed. So if you are a college graduate and you want to challenge your daughter, who’s in the third grade, you play with the eight- or nine-letter words and have her play with the four- or five-letter words. Highest score wins. You don’t really play each other at the same time, you’re actually playing one at a time against yourselves, trying for the highest scores. WORD BOWL takes into account the level you’re on and handicaps appropriately.

The first thing you do is choose the length of the words you’ll be working with. You may choose any number between four and ten. The next mini-menu will ask if you want to play the game, or add to the word list. I’ve supplied each level with a hundred words; you will probably want to add words of your own, but more on that later. Choose “play the game”.

The next screen will show your scorecard at the top, the pins (in the form of letters) to the left, and in the bottom middle will be the cursor, waiting for you to type in the word that the pins represent when unscrambled. At the very bottom are listed the functions of some of the F-keys.

If you can figure out the word that’s scrambled, enter it and press RETURN. If you’re right, you’ll get a strike in Frame #1. You’re on your way to a 300 game! If you can’t figure it out and would like a clue, position the cursor over the blank whose letter you want revealed and press F1.

You’ll be shown the letter, but now you can only make a spare if you guess the word. There is an indicator in the frame of the scorecard that tells you the score you’re shooting for in that frame. If you need another letter revealed, press F1 again and you’ll be trying to get a “9” in that frame. In order to get a 300 game you have to guess all ten words without pressing F1 even once. If you guess wrong, you’ll lose a pin for that frame.

Your final score won’t be tallied up until you have finished with Frame #10. Here’s how the scoring goes. The program assumes that a spare is made by knocking down nine pins on the first throw, then picking up the last pin on the next. If you bowl a strike or spare in the tenth frame, you’ll automatically strike out. Too bad it’s not like that in real bowling! Other than that, the scoring is the same as PBA scoring.

NOTE: The lowest score you can make in a frame is equal to eleven minus the level number, so it is possible to score as low as ten if you’re on level ten. On level five the lowest score possible is sixty.

You can see the All-Time Top scores at any time by pressing F3. Maybe your name will be on it? Press any key to return to the game in progress. F7 will show you a shorter version of these instructions. Again, press any key to get back to bowling. F8 will give you the option of playing another game at the same level, returning to the main menu for choosing another level or entering some of your own words, or exiting LOADSTAR.

Each level has 100 words except for level ten, which has over 300. I spent the worst part of a bad night thumbing page by page through my cheap dictionary entering in every ten-letter word I could find. I think I got them all, except for plurals of nine-letter words. Word Bowl doesn’t use plural words.

By the way, this is an excellent way to increase your word power. After entering in all of those ten-letter words, I can now usually score 300 on level ten. For a real challenge I try level eight or nine. I also found that I now know the definition of all of English’s ten-letter words. For what that’s worth!

To enter in words of your own, first choose the level from the main menu. Then choose “add to the word list”. After the file is loaded you’ll see that the program is waiting for you to enter a word. If you enter an “L” then RETURN, the current list of words will be printed on the screen. Hold down the SHIFT key to pause the listing. The SHIFT LOCK key will pause it also. When you have seen the whole list press any key and you’ll be ready to enter some words of your own.

Since WORD BOWL does not recognize anagrams of the word you enter, it’s a good idea to stay away from words that can be anagrammed two or more ways. For instance, if you enter the word “verse” then later, while playing the game, you’ll be mad when the program says “sorry” when you guess “sever”. It’s not always easy to see if a word can be anagrammed into another word, but it’s worth your time and may save you and your friends some frustration later.

When you have entered as many words as you want, you can enter “M” or simply press RETURN without entering anything and you will be prompted to save the list. If you don’t save it, your new words will be lost.

Some of the eight- and nine-letter words in the files are fairly high-falutin’, and most of the ten-letter words are, but use them in your day-to-day conversations anyway; it may increase your league average.

  Back to 2015. If you do try running these programs in an emulator, here's a caveat: saving to a PC's hard drive may not be the same as saving to a Commodore disk. In other words, some of the "save to disk" features of my programs may not work in an emulator on a PC. Please don't get mad. My life in programming  was interesting but ultimately trivial. Nothing you'll find in my LOADSTAR programs is important enough to give rise to anger, as you'll see in tomorrow night's program from the April 1988 issue of LOADSTAR: a little morsel called COMPUTER JUICER.