Menangle, NSW, Australia – They live in the Australian bush and call themselves “Sly Fox Productions”. She trains horses. He builds apps. “To tell the truth, Lee’s not much good around the farm”, Frances confides, “so I encourage him to make himself useful elsewhere. Writing iPhone applications seemed an obvious choice.” Some kind of puzzle, she suggested, but no arithmetic. He set out to create the ultimate word game.
Lee trawled through the history of word games, looking for inspiration – crosswords, anagrams, acrostics – until he found his ideal puzzle. Perhaps the oldest of them all, the “word square” – letters arranged into a square to form words both across and down. Combining crosswords, anagrams and acrostics together in one neat package. They have been around for thousands of years, have even been pulled from the ruins of ancient Pompeii. So perfect that they were once believed to have mystical powers.
Lee made his own, less profound, discovery… word squares are fun! “It’s like trying to untangle six interlocking anagrams all at once!”, he says. “Crosswords seem lazy by comparison – there’s all those gaps, and the words only intersect here and there. In a word square, every single letter is an intersection. Every letter counts!”
When he took the first puzzle to Frances, it was too hard. She couldn’t do it. Neither could Lee: “It took me hours to solve. I couldn’t believe that a tiny 3×3 square – just nine letters – could be so difficult.” “I was hopeless in the beginning”, admits Frances, “but I am improving.”
And that is where the real work started. They tried and discarded many ideas, spent hundreds of hours play-testing. The result? “Crosswords/Downwords”, with a comprehensive hints-and-cheats system, a built-in dictionary, and puzzles with multiple solutions. A game that can be enjoyed by young children, yet still challenge any Scrabble champion.
The perfect word game? “I don’t know about perfect”, says Frances, “but it’s pretty clever.”
Pricing and Availability:
Crosswords / Downwords 1.2 is only $0.99 USD (or equivalent amount in other currencies) and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Games category.
Lee and Frances Borkman are Sly Fox Productions Pty Ltd, a family business creating quality iPhone games and tools. They work from their small horse property below the Southern Highlands in rural New South Wales. Copyright (C) 2010 Sly Fox Productions Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.