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As Wordle excitement takes over the internet, a bunch of creative minds—programmers, math enthusiasts, and all kinds of nerds—decided to join the fun, sparking a burst of creativity!
Now, every day, people are enjoying this simple yet super popular game. You get six tries to guess a five-letter word, and each time, the game shows you which letters you guessed right (and if they’re in the right spot). Back in January, Hannah Park, who recently finished a coding boot camp, made her own version of Wordle for fun and learning. She used cool tools like React, TypeScript, and Tailwind. How awesome is that?
And then a London-based data scientist/physicist, Richard Mann (along with Imogen Mann) had an idea for a version where instead of letters, players guess the numbers and operators in a mathematical equation.
They forked Park’s code (with some help from Marcus Tettmar, the cofounder/chief technology officer of a personal finance app, Untied) to create Nerdle. “We think it’s just as fun playing with numbers as playing with letters,” explained the game’s info page. “See if you agree!”
If 26 letters aren’t enough for you, try playing with numbers instead!
Nerdle 1 2/6
— Richard Mann (@richardajmann) January 20, 2022
But wait, there’s more tech wizardry happening with Wordle! Over in Norwich, England, a clever 18-year-old programmer named James Livesey took things to the next level. He came up with Bytle, a game where players take a shot at guessing an unsigned 8-bit integer.
Here’s the twist: players have to input regular base-10 numbers, preferably between 0 and 255. But here’s the cool part—each guess transforms into binary before revealing eight boxes in green and yellow. These boxes show which of the resulting 8 bits are correct.
And that’s not all. Developers Ian Ross and Colin M. Saunders went a step further, creating a Python module that pits Wordle against homemade bots. They’re throwing down the gauntlet, challenging developers to put their creations to the test in 1,000-word competitions at botfights.ai.
Looking for Answers
But other programmers are trying their hands at creating Wordle solvers. Christian Genco, a developer based in Colleyville, Texas, has built an impressive multi-featured Wordle solver that also lets players input the words they’ve guessed — and then displays every possible word remaining. (Click on the letters in your guess to change the color to green or yellow.)
It also calculates your best possible next guess — the choice that will eliminate the most remaining words. “HAHAHAHA IT WORKS SO WELL,” Genco posted jubilantly on Twitter when his tool solved puzzle No. 203 with just three guesses.
And Genco’s Wordle Solver can also be used to replay the game with your own guesses, just to see how close you were getting — or how far away.
But the saga continues as this Wordle-solving army encounters their dark counterparts—developers unleashing variations like “Evil Wordle” into the mix.
The mind behind “Absurdle” boasts an AI that’s seriously slippery, requiring genuine effort to extract useful information and corner it. (And if you enjoyed Absurdle, give HATETRIS a go, the adversarial take on Tetris.)
Other developers are jumping on the bandwagon with their own guess-evading algorithms. Ravi Parikh, the programmer behind the internal app-building platform Airplane.dev, crafted the Evil Wordle page, explaining, “Every time you guess, I look at all possible 5-letter words that would fit all your guesses and choose the match pattern that results in the most possible words. My goal is to maximize the amount of guesses it takes to find the word.”
Recent discussions on Hacker News are buzzing with tales of how these Wordle-solving programs are handling these tricky, word-changing clones.
The social contract we are all upholding to not spoil the day’s Wordle has slightly restored my faith in humanity.
— Sarah Bessey (@SarahBessey) January 25, 2022
On Thursday CNET reported that a game developer named Guilherme Töws had created a “new, much more evil” clone called Dordle, in which the solution is two five-letter words, side by side, with players trying to guess them both (by still guessing just one five-letter word).
The games site Kotaku describes Dordle as “a nightmare that only begets pain and sorrow, so only accomplished word-guessers should give this one a try unless you like getting owned by a video game.”
But Kotaku also calls the spinoffs “stellar examples of what happens when smart people mess around for fun … These games can be as simple or complex as they like, and likely increasingly strange as time goes on.
“I’m excited to see what incredibly weird word-guessing games will emerge from the collective consciousness next.”
Has anyone tried putting all the Wordle answers together to see if they spell out a warning
— Jessie Cannizzaro (@JessCannizzaro) January 26, 2022
If Wordle Were a City
Other developers are also trying to build a better Wordle. Hello World replicates the original game’s mechanics — but adds a slider at the top of the puzzle that expands the length of the word (and your guess words) to up to 11 letters.
Someone’s even created a variation they’re describing as “Crosswordle: Sudoku Meets Wordle,” a surprising difficult puzzle where you try to fill in a set of guesses that lead to a word — including appropriate letters for each yellow or green box.
I crocheted a Wordle pic.twitter.com/DQOpzRTQsV
— April Fiet (@aprilfiet) January 25, 2022
but what if i cross stitch every single one of my wordle results pic.twitter.com/g312E8WrCC
— abcdefghijklmnopqrs_uvwxyz (@traceyfanclub) January 8, 2022
Meanwhile, some developers have focused their efforts on bringing the joy of Wordle to other parts of the globe. There are now versions that use Yiddish and Hebrew words, and one where the words are Norwegian.
Look a bit longer, and you’ll find at least two versions using French words, plus two versions using Danish words — including one at the domain wørdle.dk. There are versions in Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish, Finnish, Romanian and even one in Bulgarian.
All across Twitter, there are wonderful stories of Wordle unlocking even more unexpected forms of creativity. Laura Tilton, a tech education professional, recently tweeted that she’s been creating visualizations of the game’s most frequently-used letters with Google Data Studio. Julian Glander, a computer graphics arts, is converting his blocks into fanciful 3-D images.
The WordleInPaint Twitter feed tried translating its guesses into cartoons using Microsoft’s Paint. David McFarlane, an associate lecturer on computer music design at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute, claims to have built a Wordle sequencer “that turns your results into music.”
I made a Wordle sequencer that turns your results into music pic.twitter.com/oIkowweojz
— David McFarlane (@dvd_mcf) January 11, 2022
And one developer even created a web page that turns tweets with Wordle’s spoiler-free colored blocks into the colorful skyscrapers from the game Townscraper.
Ultimately, there might be something deeply ingrained in the technical mindset that views the entire Wordle craze as a fresh toy, waiting to be dissected and explored.
Joining the ranks of those examining the game from unique angles is Ben Hamner, the CTO/co-founder of Kaggle (previously dubbed “an AirBnB for data scientists”). Hamner, on Thursday, revealed that he’d uncovered a method to pinpoint the Wordle word simply by analyzing all the yellow/green/gray squares people were sharing on Twitter.
“Since I started collecting Twitter data (Wordle 210-222), this method generated the correct Wordle answer on the first attempt every day!” Hamner wrote on his blog.
Though they’ve discovered some tweets are more useful than others …
I’ve mastered Wordle.
My new game is trying to create words and intentionally avoid the correct word in order to make patterns.
Wordle 207 6/6
⬜ ⬜ ⬜
⬜ ⬜ ⬜
— Ryan Hartman (@rhartman) January 12, 2022
But maybe the true colors of the tech community shine brightest in the story of Steven Cravotta, who at the age of 18 made another entirely different app — which he also named Wordle. Four years later, its downloads unexpectedly spiked this month, according to Cravotta’s Twitter account, suddenly attracting over 200,000 downloads in just one week.
This tale has a happy ending. Cravotta reached out to Josh Wardle, the actual creator of the now-viral game Wordle, with Cravotta promising to just donate the money to a charity — specifically, a tutoring/mentoring program called Boost! West Oakland.
Indeed, some Wordle variations are less inspired. Slate recently highlighted knock-offs, such as the profanity-filled Sweardle and a satirical one-letter version (yes, consonants allowed) that naturally takes a lot longer to crack.
For an official take, Slate reached out to Wordle’s original creator, Wardle, a former software engineer at Reddit and Pinterest who, since December, has been a software engineer for the New York art collective MSCHF. Wardle shared that all the clones were giving him a warm and satisfied feeling inside.
“As someone who creates stuff, to see people so inspired by something that you created that they want to riff on it, that’s amazing,” he said. “That makes me feel so good.”
Featured image courtesy of Wordle.
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