Facebook's new Scrabble

Recently, the Scrabble game available on the Facebook changed to a new version. I'm not sure why but I assume they think this one will be more profitable somehow. That doesn't bother me, I have no problem with them making money when they're providing me with a free game. What does bother me though is that the new Scrabble is shit.

Let's start with the bugs. The old Scrabble wasn't perfect, but it pretty much worked as intended. The same can't be said of the new version. Firstly, it doesn't like small screens. The old one had two size options, which was not a lot of choice, but was better than nothing and it worked on screens as small as 1024x768. The monitor I normally have Facebook on is 1440x900 and that's barely enough. If the window isn't maximised I can't see all of the board and even when it is I can't see all of the controls at once. Opening the dictionary makes the game list disappear and vice-versa.

The player lists and stats are another problem. For a while I couldn't invite mum to play because her name just didn't appear on the list. She hadn't blocked it or anything, the game was just ignoring her for some reason. And even once people are playing sometimes their stats vanish. I'm in the middle of a game right now with someone the game is telling me has no stats because they've never played. In fact it asked me if I wanted to invite them to play.

Then there's the new visual options. The game defaults to an awful bright green board with flat tiles that I hate, but that's OK because you can change it to the classic look or even pay to get different looks. Sounds reasonable. Except that it regularly forgets which board and tiles you've selected. Almost every second time I load the game up I have to tell it to switch back to the board and tiles I like because it keeps resetting to the default.

And just today I noticed a new problem. The function for sending your opponent a notification when it's their turn seems to be broken, I'm just getting a popup saying "try again later" every time I try to use it.

But even if all those problems were fixed and it actually worked as it's supposed to it still wouldn't be as good as the old version, because for some reason they've decided to remove a bunch of features.

Firstly and most significantly, they've removed the timer options. Every game is now on a 48 hour timer. It used to be that you could set the turn length to 2 minutes, 10 minutes, an hour, a day or a week. That was awesome. If you wanted to sit down and play a quick game of Scrabble then you'd play with a two-minute timer and it would really force you to think fast and keep the game moving and you could be done in half an hour. That sort of game is no longer possible.

The other thing is that the game no longer updates in real time. If you sit there with the board on your screen waiting for your opponent to make a move, it will never happen. The game only updates when you hit the refresh button. So even if you have an opponent playing you in real time, you have to keep reloading to see when they've moved.

And when you're playing multiple games you have to select each one from the list (which on small screens means closing the dictionary/move list screen to reopen the game list) because the "next game" button from the old version is gone. And even playing your word is more of a hassle since they got rid of the click-to-place feature. You used to be able to click a spot on the board then click the tiles in your tray in sequence to place them on the board. That option's gone now.

And as part of their new "pay for premium features" change they've gotten rid of the "remaining tiles" count. You can pay to get it back or keep your own count in Notepad or something, but the game used to do it for you and now it doesn't.

One thing they have added is alternative dictionaries, which I guess is nice if you're foreign, but now instead of defaulting to the official word list it defaults to the American word list and you have to change it every single time you start a game.

And on top of all that, the dictionary is slow when you look up a word and every time you finish your turn it asks you if you want to start a new game, no matter how many games you're already involved in. And there's no way to go back to the old version. So what am I supposed to do here, switch to Words With Friends? All the bonus squares are wrong and so are the letter values. Unacceptable. The only option is continue playing this shitty game and hope they fix it.

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