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Why Cheat in Games Like Letterpress With Apps Like Lettercheat?

Posted by Carter Dotson on November 29th, 2012

The modern era of asynchronous multiplayer has led to not only people playing more word games, but more people flagrantly cheating at them. After all, it’s a lot easier to cheat at something when the opponent can be physically far away, or someone completely unknown. There’s no immediate repercussions. So while Scrabble clones like Words With Friends have allowed for a cottage industry of cheating apps to rise up, to turn the tide in the favor of those who wish to win by any means necessary.

The cheats are quickly evolving beyond just looking up Scrabble words online, though: they’re starting to exploit this sufficiently advanced technology that we carry around in our pockets. One Words With Friends hack for jailbroken devices actually hijacked the game to make any word playable. And one App Store app for iOS original word game Letterpress makes cheating almost too easy.

Lettercheat doesn’t do anything as malicious as hijacking a game’s rules, but it does use an impressive technological trick for unscrupulous purposes: it recognizes the game board based on a screenshot, and analyzes the letters on the board to find the best words to be played. It can even find, when available, moves that will end the game instantaneously. But the developers, who ask only for $0.99 after getting to try 2 games of cheating (piggybacking off of Letterpress’ business model), also promise something else: the ability to “Smurf” a game board by turning it all blue in the game’s default theme. Even the avatar carries this theme.

But why? Why intentionally release an app that is designed to break a competitive multiplayer game like this?

Loren Brichter, creator of Letterpress, doesn’t know. “I don’t get it. But it’s an inherent human problem, you can solve it technically or legally — capitalism promises that where there’s a want there’s a product. Maybe it’s a by-product of the competitive primordial brain overwhelming the reason why you’re competing in the first place (to have fun).”

The Lettercheat creators did not respond to a direct email as of press time, but did share their reasoning on their website and in a blog post. They say that “Lettercheat is meant to be a companion app to the Letterpress game. We’re hoping that the app can help you develop strategy skills and better understand how to win. Plus it’s a lot of fun to see an entirely blue board.”

While there will be some that use this as a fun tool, there will be those who use it to try and win, and such a tool seems difficult to conquer. And because this is a multiplayer game, there doesn’t seem to be the kind of “victimless crime” aspect and moral imperative that some players of the recent My Little Pony game have claimed as why they use a hack that reduces or eliminates the cost for expensive items in the game. However, that game is primarily a singleplayer experience, and Letterpress is meant for fun with other players, though there’s no global leaderboard for those mastering the game. If this cheat allows people to have fun with the game, and if it’s used responsibly, what harm is there?

There isn’t really a good solution for these kinds of cheats, at least from a technical perspective, either for creators or players. But there is a human one, as Loren Brichter suggests: “play with friends you trust not to cheat.”

Official Twitter App Updated for iPad Compatibility

Posted by Carter Dotson on September 3rd, 2010
+ Universal & Apple Watch App - Designed for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: LIMITED :: Read Review »

When Twitter acquired Loren Brichter's acclaimed Tweetie app and made it the official Twitter app on iPhone, it came with the promise that Twitter for iPad was in the works as well. Twitter has just updated Twitter for iPhone to version 3.1, bringing iPad support to the now universal app.

The first thing you notice about Twitter for iPad is that it feels very smooth and intuitive, much like how Loren Brichter's other apps have felt. The app is far more complex than Twitter for iPhone, though. Swiping across a tweet no longer calls up the reply and favorite options, for example - it's now used for moving tabs in and out of view, so you can hide or return to a specific user or tweet view that you called up. You can add multiple accounts, and can upload pictures and video, view your lists, and all the other features that have become standard to most Twitter apps, including Twitter for iPhone.

Links are opened in an ingenious way - when you click on a tweet with a link, it opens up a smaller web view of the link, so that you can view it without it taking up the whole screen, but you can expand it to the whole screen if you wish. If you want a quick view of a conversation between people, you can use 2 fingers to drag down from the tweet to open up a view of the last few tweets. Sadly, image hosting services do not open up in-line previews of the images in your stream, you have to click on the links to view the images. Profiles now show a list of 5 users who are considered 'similar' to that user for you to also follow. Also, links to tweets do not open as a native view in the app, they open up the tweet in the mobile Twitter site.

Twitlonger support is implemented for standard tweets, but not for DMs. The miniature DM reply view also doesn't show character count, and only lets you edit the DM by calling up the draft, by hitting the new tweet button. It's very unintuitive, and something that needs to be fixed. There's a lot of little tweaks that the app needs, as this is clearly a 1.0 release focused on the bigger picture than on minutiae, and there is a lot of complexity to this app that makes little things easy to miss. But, given the state of Twitter apps on the iPad, a Loren Brichter-developed app with a lot of intriguing and new interface features for free (can you say multiple account support?) is welcome. The app is sure to receive future updates as well, making it worth keeping an eye on for iPad-owning Twitter users.

Tweetie 2 / Twitter Review

+ Universal & Apple Watch App - Designed for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch
By Arron Hirst on October 12th, 2009
Our rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar :: LIMITED
The second coming of arguably the most popular Twitter client on the iPhone has arrived. Loren Brichter's Tweetie 2. But what features does this version bring, and can it really compete with the original in as far as style and ease of use? The answer? Yes
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